The Curtis. Is it just a hotel?

By Evan Anderson – The Curtis. Is it just a hotel? Glitterati Patsy Stone would note, “it’s a concept, a destination a way of life” in other words, a really happenin’ scene.

En route to The Curtis, Iowa delegates encountered the first sightings of McCain marchers. Although the Wall St. Journal is reporting today that the McCain strategy in Denver is to flood the DNC sites with McCain-blue shirts and signs, today marked the first time that there has been more than just a sole McCain campaign sign spotting. Unfortunately, the McCain supporters numbered somewhere around ten to eleven, give or a take a body, and were marching just in front of the “Recreate 68” protestors on the 16th Ped-Mall.

Fortunately though, the DNC delegates did not jeer the McCain supporters. Police walking alongside these Republicans were all smiles and waves, no doubt thinking themselves lucky that so far there have been no more violent demonstrations. (However, if you believe what MSNBC would have you believe, that we are mere hours away from learning McCain’s running mate, the current trembling peace between these two houses will soon make civil hands unclean, again.)

No one can say having been at the Denver Convention until they’ve been to The Curtis hotel. The Ohio delegation is camped out there, everywhere there, with an internet wet-bar in the cramped lobby and the MySpace café many floors up above. NPR has a perch on the second floor; however, it is so quiet there one almost wonders if the police standing guard outside the elevators are really librarians in disguise.

The lobby is right out of the playbook from MTV’s idea of a great convention, with paisley designs beamed around the floors and walls and campaign memorabilia, including some risqué action figures and table books, set up along the walls. The glossy shelves in the Ohio delegation’s lobby café have a large Marge Simpson Pez dispenser and quite a lot of vaguely sixties-themed items and art designs. One almost looks around expecting to see Paul Newman or Abby Hoffmann jump out of the polished woodwork and start rallying against Hubert Humphrey.

Several Iowa delegation members attended a luncheon in the Marco Polo Room, up on the third floor of the Curtis. The event, held just doors down from an Ohio delegation reception in the Duck, Duck Goose Room, was hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. A special address to the assembled delegates was delivered by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright. Iowans attending the event were pleasantly surprised to discover that when the elevator doors open a recorded voice makes whimsical welcoming remarks, “Floor two. Peek-a-boo, I see you!”

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Pelosi praises Iowa delegation

By Evan Anderson – Making the rounds of the Rialto coffee-computer table still proves satisfying, with various Honored Guest-pass holders and minor media meddlers loitering around hoping for any tidbits or trivia.

Point of fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi already has been here and gone, the only person of interest left is Governor Culver milling around the hotel lobby with a grande something from Starbucks. The Nevada delegation is now easily identifiable thanks to the cowboy hats many received at their delegation’s breakfast earlier this morning. Our delegation received the praise of Speaker Pelosi, as well as French Toast with fruit and more pineapple. Senior ranking Illinois Senator Dick Durbin also paid the Iowa delegation a flying visit, thanking our caucuses for functioning so very well.

The helter-skelter headaches, familiar fallen arches and cramping calves are beginning to settle in for many of the Iowa delegates, with many thanking the DNC for providing bottles of Ibuprofen in the delegation’s welcoming bags. Said Peggy Whitworth, delegate from Cedar Rapids, “I hope I don’t fall asleep until after I get on the plane.” Whitworth went on to say that although tired from the convention activities, she nonetheless feels like a seven-year old, energized and eager for more.

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Kucinich, Schweitzer liven up convention

By Evan Anderson – Tuesday’s DNC convention left even the protestors and Republicans in Denver too passionately enlivened to sleep. Although it must be noted up front that Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich did receive the first minutes-long standing ovation, due to his fiery oration against small-minded Republican so-called “family values,” the night was young and the delegates were just warming up.

Kucinich had all the energy of a kitten suckling from a Starbucks’ espresso machine, which complemented his repeated slogan of “wake up America. Brian Schweitzer, Governor of Montana, came to the podium later in the lineup, but provided the most entertainment, and perhaps even the most overlooked political diss thus far on the convention floor.

Schweitzer, a dead ringer for Oscar nominee Jackie Oakey, followed the Keynote Speaker of the convention, former Virginia governor Mark Warner. Warner, well-known to Cedar Rapids democrats from his brief 2006 under-the-radar presidential exploration in Iowa, gave a lawyerly speech filled with much rational behind the need to remove the GOP from power. However intelligent Warner may be, some delegation members practically burst into “Show Me” from “My Fair Lady,” murmuring, “Words, words, words I’m so sick of words!”

Although many in the Virginia delegation were camped out in the hallways handing out blue and red Warner stickers with much gusto, they seemed the only group entirely enchanted with Warner’s address. Several Iowa delegates seated as Special Guests in section 351, next to Hawaii and Ohio delegation members, noted that Warner would make a wonderful teacher, but the former cell-phone magnate’s entire speech was forgotten about thirty-seconds into Schweitzer’s address.

Whether or not the Montana governor meant to deliberately overshadow Warner shall remain unknown to all, except a few pretentious -and therefore, only speculative- media talking heads. Schweitzer noted that natural, renewal energy is important to everyone, and that the only “green” promises McCain offers are greenback kickbacks to the Oil industry executives and further tax cuts for polluting industries in America. The standing ovation following Schweitzer’s address were remarkable, the entire general assembly seemed to anoint him the convention cycle’s protégée to watch for, which was exactly what DNC officials had anticipated would happen with Warner.

There was much love for Hillary Clinton throughout the entire convention hall even before she took the podium after 10:00pm Iowa time. Senator Clinton’s greatest successes in her speech include her slogan of “no McCain, no way,” as well as a myriad of symbolic calls for party unity. Delegates were given Unity-Hillary signs. It is clear now that the McCain campaign is the only “functioning” body in Denver that is striving to keep Clinton delegates from endorsing Obama.

Note of interest: speakers following Schweitzer, including many Congressmen, were overshadowed by the unexpected presence of Senator Joe Biden in the honored visitor’s gallery directly behind the Arizona delegation’s seating. Iowa delegation members stuck halfway up in the air back in section 351 were able to lean out and catch any number of “artistic” pictures of the top of Biden’s head (still balding).

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Chet chat

By Rod Boshart – Gov. Chet Culver used his three minutes of time to address convention delegates Tuesday by touting Iowa’s renewable energy effort and thanking Americans who have helped in the flood recovery effort. Culver said he looks forward to an Obama-Biden administration energy policy that will usher in 5 million new green-collar jobs and put an end to eight years of big oil companies and their Washington lobbyists directing national energy policy.

An experiment: Live coverage of Barack Obama

By The Gazette – Reporter Jeff Raasch just completed one of two live blogging experiments that appeared on today.

Raasch was in Davenport covering an town hall event with Barak Obama. Here is a replay of the live coverage.

Columnist and blogger Todd Dorman also did an experiment with live blogging. He is in Denver for the Democratic National Convention and attended a breakfast with the Iowa Delegation. Here is a  replay of his live blog coverage.

The live blogging application we used is provide by Cover It Live, a free service. It worked very well. One of the positive things about the application is that it allow for real-time reader interaction. Here are a few examples:

[Comment From McHale]
This live blog is just a few seconds ahead of KCRG’s live stream. Wow! Thanks to the media for looking for new ways to cover these events!

[Comment From Patty]
I think I would ask about his education plan. I have heard he supports universal pre-k education, which I am in support of. I just haven’t heard some of the other details. Thanks to the Gazette staff for hosting this. Great way to spend my lunch period!

[Comment From Tiffany]
Thank you for doing a great job covering this! It’s great to have some live local interaction.

Let us know what you think of these two experiments. We’d like to do more of them in the future.

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No horsing around

By Rod Boshart – Iowa Democrats arriving in Denver have been caught off guard by the magnitude of the security precautions surrounding the national convention that is expected to draw from 3,000 up to 10,000 protesters. Throngs of law enforcement officers armed with riot gear patrol the areas outside hotels where state delegations are housed by car, foot, helicopter, horseback and bicycle. Even the horses are equipped with plastic face shields.