Anticipation builds for Barack Obama’s big speech

By Evan Anderson – This is the time when some omnipotent voice comes out of the intercoms shouting, “Def con one. Repeat: we are at Def con one.”

The entire lobby of the hotel has been turned into an Ellis Island émigré holding pen as the non-floor-seated delegates mill about anticipating the moment fast approaching when the shuttles to Invesco field arrive.

Meanwhile the entire Rialto-Starbucks hub has more suits dashing around it clutching Blackberries than a herd of CPAs outside the IRS headquarters. At least the Iowa delegation’s breakfast had wonderfully full-fat bacon, croissants and sausage to sustain our energy levels (we’re going to need it).

Also sustaining the energy of the Iowa delegation was the incendiary speech from AFSCME International’s President Jerry McEntee. Following the seventeen-minute intro from Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, McEntee joshed the Iowa delegation, noting that he was asked only to speak for seven minutes. McEntee played a game with the delegates, asking who has attended the most conventions. McEntee won handedly, surprising many as he noted that his first convention was as one of just nine Muskie delegates in 1972.

McEntee praised the DNC and in particular the Iowa delegation for its continued support of labor. According to McEntee, over 25% of the delegates in Denver are union members. McEntee’s sharp words rang across the ballroom more sharply than any speaker yet invited to these breakfast meetings. However, not all of McEntee’s comments were praiseworthy. Iowa Governor Chet Culver was given a verbal reprimand by McEntee for Culver’s recent vetoes against union bargaining rights in Iowa. McEntee made sure the silencer was on his weaponry though, gently reminding Culver that his election was only made possible through the support of unions, including AFSCME.

McEntee also revealed the troubling stories of canvassing AFSCME members and asking those not identifying as Obama supporters what their rationale was. Said McEntee, when union workers told me they felt they could not support Obama because of their concerns over false and misleading claims that Obama might be a Muslim (“not that there’s anything wrong with that” to quote Seinfeld) McEntee said he was incredulous. When McEntee was told by some union workers that they couldn’t feel they could vote for Obama because of his race, McEntee received a minutes-long round of cheering and applause from the entire Iowa delegation with his retort, “That is [expletive deleted].”

Joe Manchin, Governor of West Virginia, stoked McEntee’s sparks and sizzles in his own address to the Iowa delegation. Manchin noted that West Virginia is indeed more conservative than he would prefer it to be, but Senator Obama has come behind from losing to Senator Clinton in their primary from the largest percentage spread in the state’s history, to currently leading McCain by five points in the latest media polling in the state.

This will likely be the last posting from Denver for many hours as the security is so necessarily restricted at Invesco that even toupees are sent through the metal detectors. Watch for many in the Iowa delegation in the upper sections, level 100. We may be leaving soon, but it is expected to take hours, all under the infuriatingly close observation of the sun’s full rays, to trudge through the security ranks.

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Iraq vet wears boots as tribute to fellow soldiers

By Rod Boshart – Iraqi war veteran Jacob Krapfl, 24, of New Vienna, has paid tribute to fellow U.S. soldiers this week by wearing his combat boots while attending the 2008 Democratic National Convention as an Iowa delegate.

Krapfl said the boots helps remind him of where he’s been and the people he served with during two tours in Iraq that ended in March 2005. “It’s nothing flashy, it’s silent but potent,” he said of his boot tribute.

Krapfl took to the convention floor to announce that Iowa delegates cast their 57 presidential nominating votes – 48 votes for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and nine votes for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The New Vienna delegate noted that Iowa was “where it all started with Barack Obama.” Before casting Iowa’s votes, Krapfl, a first-time delegate, told a television audience “Back on a cold winter’s night in January, Iowa planted the seeds for a new Field of Dreams for America with Barack Obama’s campaign for change.” Balloting was later suspended and Obama was nominated by acclamation.

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Iowa is where it all started for Barack Obama

By Rod Boshart – By no surprise, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama carried a lopsided majority of Iowa’s delegation in the roll call vote to nominate Obama as the party’s presidential candidate today during the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Obama garnered 48 or Iowa’s 57 nominating votes, while nine Iowa delegates voted for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Jacob Krapfl, 24, a veteran of the Iraq War and a native of New Vienna, announced Iowa’s roll call vote on the convention floor, saying Iowa was the state “where it all started for Barack Obama.

“Back on a cold winter’s night in January, Iowa planted the seeds for a new Field of Dreams for America with Barack Obama’s campaign for change,” he told a televised audience.

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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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How I met Joe Biden, Michelle Obama and Janet Napolitano

By Katherine MarcanoTuesday was another exciting day, and busy as well. In the morning I participated in a forum with Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Janet Napolitano, the governnor of Arizona among other distinguished guest.

I introduced Michelle to a crowd of at least 350 people, I felt very comfortable and relaxed. I had already met with Michelle so I felt very confident with her.

Michelle Obama is a humble, down to earth individual who also is very strong and intelligent and believe it or not she does listen, and always asks for advice and ideas. She likes to encourage people to do their very best and speak up!

Now Joe Biden made me smile and I laughed so much with him it actually reminded me of my father and I even told him so. I met his wife and OMG I was so confused and excited I actually confused her with Caroline Kennedy. Either way she was laughing and flattered that I thought she was 30 years younger. Mrs. Biden is a gorgeous lady, not only in looks but in spirit as well. I was very surprised when she was talking to me and then Biden mentioned again that she has been an educator for 27 years.

I was very much impressed after the forum was done with Senator Biden’s daughter Ashley. She came right after I walked down the stage and introduced herself to me, told me she too is a social work major and that she worked with juveniles in the correctional facilities. I was impressed and grateful to hear this I think her job is a very noble one and she sounded very genuine ( I actually like her father better now because of the charisma of this young lady) Great father, awesome daughter all in all indeed a very descent family.

Later in the day at the Pepsi center an hour before my speech at the convention I was sent in to have my make up and hair done, and afterward placed in a holding room with so many senators, governors and important people I lost count. Someone stood out in that crowd and that was Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.Sshe sat right next to me, we spoke about her background, my background and how she became a governor.

She does not have any kids and she lives in a tiny apartment. I learned she love shoes with heels, she really take care of herself, but she always believes there is a time and place for everything. She is very excited about these elections, she confessed. She realizes this history in the making. She gave me advice/pointers for when my time came to speak.

I was afraid/concerned I was going to feel isolated like an outcast but all the women I met they have and shared so many stories similar to average American like myself. There is a governor that did not finish high school but went on to get her GED. I am pleased to know that at least some of our leader are courageous women that have a good head on their shoulders.

I am inspired, I am transformed. I will forever treasured my memories here in Denver. I pray to God that our great nation is lead on the right path back again by a leader. And i am 100% sure that Senator Obama is the right man to get the job accomplished.

I also wish to mention a few people who really have make my time in Denver worth my while. Mystique is a young lady from Washington DC, she was incharge of helping me with the media, Victoria and Jon they were my speech coaching team, and there are other individuals I met along the way. All of them share something in commom, the opportunithy to help save America, and bring it to the right path.

There of course are many things to do at this convention, but I decided to head back to Cedar Rapids tomorrow. I must return to my ordinary life, the one in which I drive myself instead of having a driver. I will have to pick up after myself. I will reuse my towel at least twice maybe three times intead of having a fresh one everyday. I will have to make my own bed, make my own food, and where my steel tows boots to go to work. I won’t have the fancy make up, or the fancy hair, but what I will have in my heart will be that I am continuing to pass along the messege on why Barack Obama is the right man for the job to lead us. He is ready, he definately has the energy.

I saw Hillary speak tonight also and all i can say is Bravooooooooooooooooo Hillary you Rock!

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