Vice Presidential nominee, Joe Biden, at the Democratic National Convention
Wow! What an incredible day it's been in Denver. The national convention is amazing to experience. It's grand, well-choreographed, and touching; we get to know each speaker well. Some pretty exciting stuff happened today!
But I'm leaping ahead to the end, because, well, it's the end of the day, but let's start at the beginning. We began with the early morning delegation meeting, and Carol Williams handed out small fabric stickers of the Montana flag for the delegation to wear. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania spoke to the delegation (he spoke at the convention yesterday). Casey is a freshman senator, and began serving at the same time as our senator, Jon Tester. Casey talked about health care, and said that the SCHIP bill of earlier this year would provide six well-child visits within the first year of life. Early well-child care is very effective preventive health care, and the CHIP initiative to cover more kids is on the Montana ballot this year.
We (some of the Montana delegation) went downtown at 11, to the convention center to hear Hillary Clinton speak at 1:15. I bought a pin with Sox, the Clintons' cat, and a caption that says, "Send Sox back to the White House". It's great.
Hillary Clinton thanked her supporters, and released her delegates for the convention's Roll Call of the States today. She said, "I'm here to release you." She said to her supporters and delegates that they might feel an obligation to the voters in their states, and to their own loyalties as pledged delegates, and said, "Today, I cast my ballot for Barack Obama." She then left some wiggle-room for delegates, stating, "but I can't tell you what to do." After her speech last night in which she spoke so eloquently about being united as a party and supporting the Democratic candidate in the November election, Barack Obama, she spent a bit more time thanking her delegates today.
From the convention center, we left for the Pepsi Center and convention hall to be on the floor by 3 for the Roll Call of the States, in which each state reports its votes for the presidential candidates. On the walk into the Pepsi Center, I passed James Carville, then Al Sharpton. It's lousy with politicos and celebrities around here!
I joined Bob Ream, former Montana Democratic Party chairman, in section 234, directly below the NBC News suite and with an excellent unobstructed view of the stage. When I went out to buy a hot dog for lunch, the server talked with me a bit while I ate at a standing table. He was very gracious and gave me a button that read, "Sheboygan, WI, "Brat City" supports "BRAT" OBAMA! Nice! I think I'll start serving brat[wurst] obamas from the grill!
The Roll Call of the States was wonderful--it's our pomp and circumstance, and our official vote tallying--and Montana's delegates performed beautifully! Carol Williams, the first woman to serve as majority leader in the state senate, and Dennis McDonald, Montana Democratic Party chairman, reported the delegation's votes to the secretary. The order in which states are called upon to report is alphabetical, and during the course of the roll call, California passed; so did Illinois (to reserve its votes to push the total for Obama over). US Senator Daniel Inouye reported the Hawaii votes, and it was great to see him. When New Jersey's turn came up, it cast its votes (127) uanimously for Obama, and the entire convention hall started the "Yes, We Can" chant.
Then it got interesting and so exciting! (Just for background, many US Senators and Representatives are delegates, but not many spend much time on the floor.) When New Mexico's vote came up, New Mexico yielded its votes to Illinois. Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago, spoke on behalf of Illinois, and accepted New Mexico's votes along with Illinois' 185. Then Daley yielded those votes to New York! All of a sudden, Hillary Clinton, with many security personnel, strode down the aisle to the New York delegation and read for New York its 282 votes. She moved that the rules of the Roll Call proceedings be suspended, and that the delegates adopt by acclimation the nomination of Barack Obama for president! It was a very gracious thing to do, and by Obama's opponent in the primary. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, chair of the proceedings, asked for a voice vote, and the motion to adopt passed overwhelmingly. It was amazing to experience.
A number of speakers followed the Roll Call of the States, including all of the women US Representatives in attendance. For the first time in history, the majority of delegates at the convention are women!
Michelle Obama sat down in a suite directly below me before the 'big speakers' of the evening, and people were leaning over the railing to take pictures of her. I got some great shots of her from directly overhead. After I'd taken a photo and sat back in my chair, the guy sitting next to me said, "You realize you have a bunch of Secret Service watching you right now." Mmm, yup. So I was careful not to drop anything over the railing onto Mrs. Obama's head!
President Bill Clinton's speech was gracious and inspiring, and he echoed Hillary Clinton's support for Obama. He spoke about more people losing their homes to foreclosure, more people without health insurance, and the US force in Iraq. He said, "People around the world have always been more impressed with the power of our example rather than the example of our power."
John Kerry spoke after President Clinton, and then Beau Biden, Delaware Attorney General, introduced his dad, Joe Biden, nominee for Vice President! Biden is such a natural and easy speaker; he just seems so real. His working class upbringing is deeply ingrained, and he has some scrappiness in him that I don't think will ever go away. Biden introduced his mom in the crowd, as well as Jill, his wife. He said about hardship that "failure, failure in life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgiveable." He also said that the promise of America is that our tomorrows will be better than our todays, a sentiment to which our generations have always subscribed; that the future will be better for our kids than it was for our parents or for us.
The surprise of the night was Senator Barack Obama joining Joe Biden on stage. One of my favorite comments of his was that we could understand why he picked Joe Biden, and Jill Biden, and Beau Biden, and mama Biden, to join him!
There is such enthusiasm! The convention is a spectacle to be sure, but it's also the rally for change and for the election season, and I'm so humbled and honored and touched to be here to experience it. As I described to someone, it's my SuperBowl. Something big you'd like to get to, but don't think you'll ever manage. I can't believe it's almost over! One more day, and a big night tomorrow. I'll post more as we go!