Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 1 Rocks!

Monday, August 25

At noon, I went over to the Colorado Convention Center to attend the Rural Caucus. The convention center is where most of the Democratic interest group caucuses are taking place in late morning and early afternoon. One entrance is for delegates and other pass holders who can get in without a search. Others are subject to search at the other entrance.

Now you might wonder, how is Pleasanton rural? Well at one time it was, although that was far too long ago for me to remember, having moved there in 1987. However, I grew up in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, land of coal mines and farmland. My dad was a farmer for the first 10 years of my life. The rural lifestyle is indelibly etched in my mind.

Here is some of what I took away: What a lot of people fail to realize is that what rural people want is the same thing everyone else wants. And we can’t talk about helping rural folks without talking about making a profit. Small farmers and businessmen need to turn a profit or the rural lifestyles will not survive. These are America’s farmlands and energy production areas. A federal effort to rebuild energy infrastructure and retain manufacturing jobs would directly benefit rural America.

Jim Hightower (former Texas Ag commissioner) and Cecil Roberts (president of the United Mine Workers), were two of the speakers. Cecil Roberts is quite a fire-and-brimstone speaker! I got my photo taken with each one.

Outside the convention center (you need to understand that this is not the Pepsi Center where the convention is), there is a circus going on all day. There are all kinds of vendors hawking souvenirs, anti-abortion protesters holding grotesque banners, Code Pink people, people dressed in foam Statue of Liberty costumes, two people dressed up as pink pigs to advocate taxing meat to combat global warming, and police everywhere.

By the way, the weather here in Denver has been sunny and hot, temperatures about 90 and humid. I’m glad I brought plenty of shirts.

Lea, Ken and I caught the shuttle to the Pepsi Center right outside our hotel. It took an hour to get there because there was a traffic snafu along the way. Once we got there, it was a short walk to the security tents, where we had our bags searched and were given the once over with the metal detector wand. That was pretty fast though, and then it was a 300-yard walk to the Pepsi Center, where we all took photos to remember the occasion. The convention officially started at 3:00, and we got inside at 4:00. The live band was playing as we walked in. It was such an awesome and indescribable sight. The place was rocking with the huge stage and video screens and the music and the joy all around.

Once inside we entered the arena seating area and found out that the California section was on the other side from where we were. What a feeling it was to walk down those steps to the floor of the arena! This was it! This is what the long journey since February 2007 has been about! I am finally here to cast my vote on behalf of the voters of CD-11 for Barack Obama for our next president to restore our great nation, to take our country back! The choice in this election could not be starker. I am here to do my small part to save our country from the mediocrity, economic misery and malaise of the past 8 years.

If you can imagine in your mind the view looking toward the stage, the California section is to the right and occupying one and one-quarter sections of the lower bowl. These would be $75 and $50 seats at a Sharks game. In the shared section, Ohio has the first 7 rows, California has about 10 rows, and Georgia and Missouri are further up. Then we have all of the adjacent section.

Not every delegation is actually on the “floor,” which is the size of the Avalanche’s hockey rink. About 11 states are there, and they are the battleground states, except for Illinois and Delaware. I’m sure they are placed there for maximum TV visibility for those states viewers. The rest are in the lower bowl of the arena.

CNN is down on the actual floor right in front of our delegation. Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Donna Brazile, John King, and Jim Carville are sitting facing us, looking into their cameras. MSNBC"s Dick Gregory is also down on the floor to our left.

I was in heaven with my new digital SLR camera. I walked all around the floor snapping photos of anyone and anything. I took about 200 pictures and as soon as I can, I will upload a lot of them here.

We were all surprised that Ted Kennedy was here in person to speak. I was thinking maybe he’d send a video message. Everyone in the house loved “Uncle Teddy,” as Caroline called him in her introduction. He was magnificent in all respects as he riled up the crowd as only Ted Kennedy can do, touching on many of his signature issues.

Of course the highlight of Monday night was Michelle Obama. All day was like we were building to a crescendo with her speech. I think she hit just the right tone and message. The moment she talked about Barack driving home from the hospital with their newborn baby daughter was an emotional moment, especially for those of us who have done the exact same thing. I’m sure there was many a moist eye in the house. Michelle will make a great first lady. She has so much to offer, such an intelligent and caring lady and mother she is.

If Day 1 is any indicator, the rest of the convention promises to be a blast. I had a good idea what this convention would be like, but this has exceeded my expectations.

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