Notebook from Wednesday's Convention Hall
There's One "Aye" in Team At 4:50 PM MDT, downtown Denver witnessed history. A few minutes earlier, Illinois had passed on announcing its electoral vote count; tradition dictates that the process returns to the nominee's home state to cast the votes that put its candidate over the top. This time, after New Mexico cast its votes, Illinois was up again for the deciding announcement. But when Chicago Mayor Richie Daley promptly passed again, the buzz started. The arena's cameras quickly found Senator Hillary Clinton, amid her home state's delegation, where she called for a suspension of the of the roll call vote so the delegates could give Barack Obama the Democratic nomination by acclamation. The secretary called for a second, and with a single, rousing "Aye," the Democrats set aside the bruising primary campaign and sent the Pepsi Center crowd into jubilant celebration. Nineteen months of angst and acrimony--along with an immeasurable amount of centuries-old shame--washed almost entirely away in a single historic moment.
Bill Being Bill Between the perfectly coiffed politicians and their bulldozing handlers, slicked-back TV types, bloviating radio broadcasters, and earnestly smug print journalists, if we could harness the ego vibe stressing the seams of the Pepsi Center this week, our energy problems would be permanently solved. Wednesday's DNC program featured one of the leading contenders for World Heavyweight Champion of egoism, Bill Clinton. Anyone who knows the former president--and don't we all by now?--fully expected him to try and set the bar even higher than his Democratic predecessors have during their convention speeches. Arriving to a deafening roar and a blinding array of fluttering American flags, he didn't disappoint. The 5280 seats are situated in view of the teleprompter, and as he's known to do, the president ran more than 10 minutes long and freelanced from his prepared remarks, to great effect. He took the Bush administration to task for its myriad shortcomings--economic, military, political. He lavished praise on Obama and Joe Biden and pledged his (and his wife's) commitment to getting them elected. Using his trademark command of issues and conversational style, he showed once again that his ability to rally the troops remains peerless. At least, Democrats hope, until Thursday night. Cup o' Joe As Biden began his speech, a phalanx of photographers and cameramen rushed up press row and gathered on the landing above the stage. The rumor was confirmed: Obama was in the building. Demonstrating his legendary rep for garrulousness, Biden strayed from the teleprompter even more than President Clinton, speaking in almost hushed tones as he detailed the tragic shortcomings of the current administration. When his running mate surprised him onstage after the speech, the evening was complete, and the delighted crowd dispersed for the best night yet of citywide festivities.
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