Jerame Davis

Summary from DNC: Day 1

Filed By Jerame Davis | August 26, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: DNC, Michelle Obama, Ted Kennedy

If you're not already, be sure to follow my Twitter feed for regular updates throughout the day.

Indiana-sign.jpgThis is the first of the daily convention updates I'll be providing. It was a whirlwind day and I want to hit on a number of things.

Delegate Breakfast

7:30 came early, but I was excited to get started on the first day of the convention. I sat with my friend Lori, who is a delegate. We got a great table that included Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker. Dan is one of the best state party chairs we've ever had and I'm glad to call him a friend.

Lori and I got pulled out at the start for follow-up interviews with the Indianapolis Star. She, our friend Indianapolis City-County Council President Joanne Sanders, and I are being profiled in a story on Hillary delegates this week.

Congressman Baron Hill (IN-09) was the keynote speaker for breakfast. Hill is a good speaker, but I think he misread his audience a tad...

Hill got fired up quickly and gave a mostly inspiring address. But when speaking to a room in which the majority of folks backed Clinton in the primary, it's probably not good form to say, "we must make sure Hillary Clinton releases her delegates." That bit of the address came off as heavy-handed and preachy. I heard from a few folks afterward, and even Obama supporters thought Hill's comments were a bit much.

LGBT Caucus

Today's LGBT caucus was the first of two LGBT caucuses at the convention this week. There are nearly 375 LGBT participants (delegates, alternates, standing committee members, or pages) at this year's convention. Not only is this a record for LGBT representation, but we also set a record for the diversity of our caucus with queers of color making up over 40% of our caucus.

Things were a little chaotic at the caucus and it seemed nothing went as planned. Microphones broke down, the caucus agenda was scrapped by the second item. It was very confusing at first because they didn't really mention the fact that things were being shuffled until about half-way through the caucus.

Stonewall Democrats were well represented at the caucus. As an officer of the Indiana Stonewall Democrats, I was proud of their work. Jon Hoadley is doing a fantastic job moving Stonewall in the right direction. Under Jon, Stonewall has grown from 40 chapters to 90 chapters across the nation.

There were profiles of LGBT delegates and elected officials from across the country and each spoke briefly. Can you believe there is an Oklahoma State Representative who was elected as an out gay man? His name is Al McAffrey and he's just the kind of bombastic, gregarious guy you'd expect from Oklahoma (or even Texas) and I enjoyed meeting him and hearing him speak.

Tammy Baldwin closed the caucus with a speech about the party platform. This year, the Democratic Party Platform is the most inclusive and LGBT friendly ever. It calls for an end to Don't Ask Don't Tell, the passage of ENDA, and even calls for strict hate-crimes legislation.

Some have criticized that the words gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender weren't included in the language, but it does specifically mention gender identity, even if it is just a passing reference. Baby steps, folks - baby steps.

The next meeting of the LGBT caucus is Wednesday at Noon Denver time. I'll be Twittering live as usual.

Before the Gavel

Before the first gavel, we went to see some of the protesters around town. The anti-abortion protesters are evil to the core. There are some "Jesus freaks" running around with campaign posters for Jesus and shouting that he is the only true leader and other nonsense.

On the 16th Street Mall, we ran into some anti-LGBT protesters and watched for a while as the crowd engaged them and heckled them. One tried to engage me about sin and salvation, but I refused and he huffed off saying, "Well, you must be better than me." I replied, "Yes, I am."

On down the mall, we saw some Hillary Clinton protesters carrying signs and chanting, "Elected, not selected." Bil got some video of the protest, which was very peaceful.

We visited to Google/DailyKOS/YouTube Big Tent for a few minutes, but credential issues prevented us from staying too long because it took us 45 minutes just to get our passes.

The walk from the Big Tent to the Pepsi Center for the convention was confusing. The security is really over the top here. Many have blogged about the near police state that Denver has become and they are not exaggerating in the least. Cops in riot gear patrol the street non-stop. There is indeed at least one cop on every corner and the closer you get to the convention area, the more it looks like a war zone rather than a convention.

The Opening of the Convention

I missed the opening gavel due to the circuitous march to get into the secured area and into the Pepsi Center. We arrived and got to see several amazing speakers, including Barack Obama's sister and Jesse Jackson Jr. Jackson is by far a better speaker and more reasonable than his father, Jesse Jackson Sr. He fired up the convention more than any speaker before him.

There was a rather silly "town hall forum" with some low-level Democrats that practically no one paid attention to. I'm just not sure how you have a "town hall forum" when almost every question was pre-taped and pre-screened, and the answers were pat and obvious.

I was able to trade out credentials with a delegate and made it to the floor as Nancy Pelosi gave her speech. She's not the most engaging speaker, honestly, but she had a great message about the horrid Bush administration and how John McSame would carry on that legacy.

convention-floor.jpgThe energy on the floor is palpable. Compared to even the best seats, the floor is so much more alive and exciting. I was only able to stay for about 15 minutes, but it was truly amazing. I have tentatively scored a floor pass for Hillary Clinton's speech tonight - if so, it will be the highlight of my trip.

After leaving the floor, I returned to where the rest of my party was seated and it wasn't long before I got ran out of my seat. My credential for the convention is actually not very good at all. I get a "Special Guest" credential, which puts me in the nosebleed seats. I was able to sneak into the lower level with the help of a great security person, but as the arena filled, he told me I needed to give up my seat.

By then, even the nosebleed seats had almost filled, so we decided we'd just head back to the hotel and watch the convention live. The battery died on my phone, so I couldn't update Twitter, then we got on the wrong train and ended up spending more than an hour finding our way to the hotel.

So I missed the Kennedy address and part of Michelle Obama's address. I watched both of them afterwards and Kennedy was moving. He looked fantastic compared to a few weeks ago, and I am so glad he came to Denver. He's an institution unto himself, and it was good to have him here.

Michelle Obama rocked the house. She is a phenomenal speaker and an asset to the Obama team. I've criticized her for some things she said during the primary, but she was spot on last night. The Obama family is extraordinary and the Obama children are as adorable as they come.

Conclusion

These omnibus updates aren't the best, but I hope to write some in-depth pieces as time permits. There is a LOT I want to talk about, but time is precious right now. Again, follow my Twitter updates for up-to-the-minute info and analysis. I'll try to keep my phone charged for the day so the updates are more frequent and substantial.

Today (Tuesday) Hillary Clinton gives her address to the convention and should be the highlight of the evening. We're attending an LGBT Delegate lunch at which Rep. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Barney Frank will be giving the keynote address. Be sure to stay tuned as the day unfolds.


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