Saturday, June 28, 2008

Democratic State Convention Liveblog 1

Democratic State Convention Liveblog

10:13 AM and hello from the floor of the convention, Technically, from the floor of the Obama preference group. The convention convened and then immediately broke into preference groups; Obama being the largest stayed in the main hall.

The lone person staffing the Preference Change table seemed to be attracting no business, but said earnestly that there had been some movement, all toward Obama.

Powers that be said the event was "closed press" until 10 AM; the good professor Redlawsk noted that all IDP events are open to the public and no one really had a good answer. Since I'm seated as a delegate anyway, I'm in one of those grays areas we bloggers land in sometimes, but here's the gist.

Team Obama's leadership is pushing unity and wants to let Team Clinton and Team Edwards the number of people they earned at the county conventions. However, it sounded like they want those people under the Obama banner. The subject of a convention roll call, which has popped up nationally in the last 48 or so hours, was raised, and not really answered. Though there were some skeptical questions, the unity message was generally well taken in the Obama camp.

Now it's 10:20, 20 minutes after the preference group caucuses were set to end, and Team Hillary and Team Edwards are just returning. First delay of many, I suspect.

"They say we won't be electing national delegates till 4:30," says Senator Bob Dvorsky, running for a trip to Denver. "AM or PM?" I ask.

1101 delegates seated thus far, just over a quorum.

10:28 and Harkin gets announced to one of the six standard approved campaign rally songs. I don't even wan to name it, it's been so overdone, but the singer was a Wilbury and the song has an air of steadfast defiance. Figure it out. The entire song plays... and Harkin does not actually appear. Uhh... woops.

Rules committee member Sandy Dockendorff makes a cryptic announcement: "If you have filed for national delegate, and you are NOT an Obama first choice person, you need to come see me." One person cheers loudly at the recognition that something must be up with the preference groups.

10:35 and we actually get Harkin; someone blows the cue, stops, then plays the same intro song AGAIN.

Here's Harkin:

After the intros and shoutout to all the campaigns, he praises leadership on flood - significantly placing Culver first then the congressional delegation.

The candidates names got varying levels of applause, Obama the loudest and Edwards rivaling Clinton.

On to the partisan rah-rah. "This year is gonna be even better than it was two years ago. This year reminds me of 1974, when I was first elected to Congress." That's the Watergate landslide.

In the 5th CD: "the King has no clothes." Reminds us of `74 when he and Berkley Bedell won the turf that now makes up the 5th." Also a shout-out to Becky Greenwald and the Iowa-Mississippi no women jinx.

As for Obama, he uses "Yes We Can" and "Yes We Must" -- as he voiced the second, I was expecting Hilary's "Yes We Will" instead. Some McCain bashing goes over well. Saves his own race for last. "People might say I have an easier race, but I have a healthy respect for anyone who wins a primary" like Reed did. "I'll hold nothing back to see that this Senate seat stays in Democrat hands."

"I have always fought for bold and progressive change," citing the laundry list of issues. "But in recent years we have gotten badly off track. I want to use my seniority in the Senate to help President Obama make that change."

Obama is right in that "this year's election is about rising above partisanship. People want to change the way that Washington does business." Cites his own record in bringing parties together, with of course the ADA first on the list.

"I'm the most vetoed Senator in the United States Senate" draws big, laughing applause.

The word UNITED appears over and over behind the podium. It's not an airline sponsorship. The smaller font below says FOR A STRONGER IOWA. And united is Harkin's final pitch at 10:58. At the VERY end he throws in the "Yes we will."

Looking around there's not much evidence of Edwards and Clinton beyond the sticker and button and shirt level. The scattered flyers from National delegate candidates all look like Obama, there's no banners or signs.

Patty Judge mostly talks flood and praises, then intros, the governor. No major scene as Culver takes the stage; there's been speculation he'd get a cool reception from the labor-heavy crowd.

After praising party leaders and offering standard predictions of victory, Culver calls flood "one of top ten worst natural disasters" in US history and tells several stories thereof. Possible special legislative session in August. He's leaving the convention to visit the 100% evacuated town of Oakville.

So, the reception after the labor bill veto is not nasty, but more just indifferent, as compared to Harkin, who always holds the attention of a partisan crowd.

"It is now 11:30 and we are still on time," brags convention chair Rob Tully, former party chair and congressional candidate.

Tom Vilsack is up, as the serious unity efforts begin. I landed in the check in line at the same time as Vilsack; he says he's now fired up and ready to go (in Obama speak). A bystander asks, "You have to check in like a regular person?"

"I am a regular person," he replied, his own short campaign for president long forgotten.

Back at the speech, he repeats the "fired up and ready to go" line. Primary process celebrated our diversity and proved "all people regardless of race or gender can be the next president of the United States." He's in full oratory voice early in the speech, shouting "It -- Is -- Democrats -- who" (insert issue here) and "To Those Who Would" (insert attack on Democrats here), "Don't -- Go -- There!" "Peace! Peace! PEACE!" gets them on their feet.

Former Senator Jean Carnahan is next; apparantly pinch hitting for Claire McCaskill, who was scheduled to keynote on the original convention date. They play Tom Petty again, this time "American Girl" which Hillary used briefly. They skip the line that I think of in the context of Clinton's campaign:

God it's so painful when something that's so close
is still so far out of reach

But Carnahan, like McCaskill, was with Obama.

The speeches have stalled the politicking somewhat. Some hubbub toward the back but most folks are doing the polite in their seats thing. Carnahan's rhetorical device is to tell semi-lengthy, low-key, folksy, Roosevelt-Truman era stories to illustrate Democratic programs.

Of the congressional delegation, only Leonard Boswell has been sighted thus far; the governor made note of Braley being on a flood-related district trip. Despite the earlier "on time" brag, one should note that it's now noon and no actual, concrete convention business has been conducted.

"You started something in Iowa: you started Barack Obama on his road to the White House," says Carnahan, drawing her first long applause. "And when you start something in Iowa, you finish the job." In front of me, Charlotte Eby and Mike Glover start typing faster, so I guess we all are pulling the same Carnahan quote.

Now the formal business begins, at 12:04: a state constitutional amendment about bylaws and notices. As minor acana as it gets; but then, I was the only person in the state to file a credentials challenge so I'm not one to talk.The kind of thing very few people care about, but they care about it passionately. Most of the rest of the press corps begins to pack up, signaling the beginning of the Long March. I'm promised to stick around to the bitter end or close to it, dear readers.

An abortive attempt to find a cup of coffee lands me at the One Iowa table, positioned as a demilitarized zone between the pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli tables. "We're a gay and lesbian group, so we're used to being the controversial ones," says the One Iowa volunteer, "but not now."

After precious little business is done, at 12:37 an hour recess for lunch. "We're still on schedule," Tully says again.

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