lessons from America

Denver Diary – Tuesday 26 Aug

A slow start to the day, feeling the effects of the night before and all my blogging.  At lunchtime I made my way to downtown Denver, to the Sheraton Hotel, for the Emily’s List reception. 

On the way I took this photo of the Denver skyline – a reminder if ever I needed one of the differences with the UK:

Emily’s List is the organisation that not just pushes for more women in politics and elected office but raises money for pro-choice female Democratic candidates.  “Early money is like yeast – it makes the dough rise” is their famous slogan and where their name comes from.  Their event is one of the biggest and most high profile at Convention.  $50 was the price of basic entry which I had to stump up (via a sponsor).  All these occasions are treated as fundraisers as well as having political and social purposes.

You can read what I thought of the event and the main speeches here 

Hillary was the one people had been waiting for:


You can see how far back us plebs who only donated $50 for the privilege of getting in were located. The VIPs who donated lots more money get to go in a reserved area closer to the stage.

Michelle Obama was my favourite – I’ve really warmed to her:


Hillary’s supporters were out in force in the room:


But there were plenty of people there happy to proclaim their Obama support, including this woman with the wonderful t-shirt ‘grandparents for Obama’.

And so to outside and the myriad protests which were going in the full public glare. First, the ‘nut jobs’: 


Then the fluffy ones:


But competing for my – and everyone else’s – attention (and winning) were the amazing array of merchandising stalls, official and unofficial, along 16th Street Mall.  I found some upmarket Obama and McCain dolls for sale … and got shouted out by the storeowner for taking a picture of them.


The walk through downtown took a long longer than it should have done, but I finally made it to the Bus Project’s ‘Trick or Vote’ reception.  It’s an awesome idea: door-to-door youth voter registration and turnout push on Halloween, just days before the election.  Americans take Halloween so much more seriously than us in terms of the dressing up. And that was proved at this reception, where along with the usual scary monsters, we had Roger and Jessica Rabbit helping out:


Leaving with my goodie bag (contents were everything you’d expect from the party’s theme), I walked the one block to the Big Tent; where I ended up spending most of the evening.

Over dinner, I happened to be sitting opposite Nate, which was a great piece of luck as I’d so far failed to track him down.  Nate is the founder of the fivethirtyeight blog – the one which I have drawn inspiration from for this blog.  After doing my bit of idol worship, we then chatted about UK politics, electoral reform and polling.  Unsurprisingly, Nate is not a huge fan of the national popular vote (the reform of the electoral college gaining some ground), as it would mean the redundancy or wholesale change of a large chunk of the innovative analysis he does.  I wasn’t the only fan who interuppted Nate’s attempts to blog the Convention’s proceedings:


When the main podium speeches started, and so did my liveblogging. You can read my efforts to tell the tale of the evening here .

Returning from the Pepsi Center after the speeches had finished, the West Virginia state blogger gave us his take on Hillary’s speech and on Applachian feeling towards Obama – almost all of the delegation had swung behind him and were preparing to cast their votes for him at the nomination roll call.  The blogger also spotted something which hadn’t been picked up upon as far as I was aware: the placards they were given in the hall had Hillary’s website on it and when you clicked on it you went straight through to her donation page.  Could this have been a very clever strategy of the Obama campaign to help the efforts to retire Hillary’s campaign debt?


After some late night comedy in the Big Tent, courtesy of some of the stars from Saturday Night Live, and similar outfits, I hit the pavements and headed home.  On the way I passed delegates clutching their placards and banners – nightly souvenirs.  Fittingly, some people were holding both the Obama and Hillary ones: a sign of unity that encapsulated the evening’s proceedings and the real mood; even if the traditional media were still desparately trying to push the splits story when it wasn’t there.


August 27, 2008 Posted by | Denver Diary | , , , , | Leave a comment