Friday, August 29, 2008

Democratic National Convention - Denver, CO

5 days in Denver, Colorado. Lots of democrats, lots of people in suits, hot sunny weather lots of traffic, some interested people, a few scattered interviews, lots of protesters.
That's my impression about the Democratic National Convention. It's tough to write on so many days, so I'll break it down for you.

Work: We worked 10-12 hour days Monday - Thursday. We put a lot of money into this week to get a parking spot and do a few events, but it did not pay off. Mostly there were just a lot of random people walking around. Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty busy, but Monday and Thursday were slow. We were right across from the Colorado Convention Center and about a half mile away from the Pepsi Center, where most of the big activities were. We had two press credentials so we could get into the Pepsi Center and into the media areas. So, two of us were there trying to get the press to write stories on us or to visit the bus and two of us were at the bus. I really can't think of too many highlights. I did meet Michael Dukakis on Thursday at the bus. I happened to be the only one there at the time, so it was cool showing him around. I also saw Mitt Romney and Al Sharpton. I watched Michelle Obama speak along with Claire McCaskill. The Pepsi Center was packed. It was pretty cool. Lots of excitement and buzz in the air. Mostly, though, we were pretty tired by the time the big speeches came around so I didn't go see them. I watched the Obama speech at the Hard Rock Cafe, even there people were clapping and cheering. That was pretty cool.
But overall work was disappointing. I did a few interviews, but nothing too great. I like the regular bus tour much better.

Politics - Obviously most people there were big democrats, but there are still a few things you can take from the Convention. I feel Obama's final speech was good, but a pretty typical stump speech. At the convention you want to get people excited, get people hype, and not give away too much to your opponent. I feel Hilary's speech and Bill's speech were actually better, and more important to the party. Dems need to get Hilary voters to back Obama. We talked to one huge Hilary supporter who said she will not vote for Obama. That seems crazy to me. She will not vote for McCain either, but she was still so upset that Hilary was not the nominee. The Dems are in trouble if that is the trend. My colleague Jon pointed out that during the primaries democrats were split on sex and race, something hard to reconcile over. If they were both white old men, there would be no trouble once one was nominated, all the other's supporters would just join on. Not the case here.
I like the choice of Joe Biden as VP. He brings what Obama us lacking. An experienced white man who is strong on foreign policy. I like his keep-it-real style. His speech was kinda disappointing, though.
I feel in this current political climate Obama should be smoking McCain, but that is not the case. It will be an interesting fall.

People- Lots of people around. Lots of people just looking for free stuff. Like usual, most people that take the time to listen to what we have to say end up really being fans of Project Vote Smart.
Lots of young delegates around, lots of African-Americans. Lots of vendors selling stuff.
It's cool to see the families and stuff, all interested in the political process.

Protesters- Abortion pictures are gross. That was the most common thing people were protesting against. Lots of riot-geared police around and lots of police in general. The perimeter around the Pepsi Center got bigger everyday. Long security lines. It seemed to me that the police had everything under control. The first night we were there we had to leave the bus and clear the area. Then we heard these booms and flashing lights. I guess the police were sending a message to any potential protesters with concussion blasts or whatever they are. Pretty cool.

Rock the Vote- Rock the vote is lame. They were parked right in front of us in the same parking lot. I mean, registering people to vote is great, but they really are far from nonpartisan. They have corporate sponsorship and seem to stress certain progressive issues. They rely on celebrity endorsements and corporate money, pretty much the opposite of PVS. The best they could muster up at the Convention were a few WWE "Superstars" who I never heard of and a couple American Idol rejects. Also their tactics are a bit sketchy. They knew they would register very few people, so instead they were looking for volunteers to go out an register people and in order to get a free T-shirt you had to "volunteer". Rock the Vote will then use these "volunteer" numbers when releasing info to the press, saying something like "800 people were volunteering to register voters all over the city", when in actuality, they just gave out 800 shirts.
Maybe I'm just a hater.

Buses- Buses seem all the rage this year. I saw a Daily Show Bus, a CSPAN election bus, a CNN Election Bus, Rock the Vote was more a truck, there was a Breast Cancer Awareness bus, a ONE bus, a American Stories bus, a Maker's Mark Rock the Vote Bus, a bus called the Bus Legacy, and a New Mexico Tourism Bus. Oh, and our PVS bus. Pretty much despite the huge media presence, there was too much else going on for PVS to get attention. Boo-urns.

All and all it was an interesting week. I got to see a lot of things I've never seen before. It was hard work, sometimes fun. Denver was a cool city.


Thorzul said...

Michael Dukakis looks good in this picture. Relaxed. Good choice on eschewing the tie. He looks like he's ready to step into that Corona commercial with the Christmas lights on the palm tree. He will later throw his cell phone into the ocean.

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