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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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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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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Getting down to politics

By Evan Anderson – If, as the hipster song goes, that you “can’t trust that day,” Monday provided the mindless entertainment for the Iowa delegation while Tuesday is looking more and more productive for politicking.

Sadly however, those within earshot of the appropriate people at the breakfast table learned that Senator Tom Harkin will be departing Denver early Thursday and may not be attending Senator Obama‘s acceptance speech at Invesco field. Of course many in Iowa’s delegation were eager to share their trying stories of what security measures are like in Denver at the moment. Such is the state that it would take until Thursday morning, if you left now, to pass through security just to get into the parking lot of Invesco.

Standing committee members who ventured out and about the LoDo area last night shared their adventures over unhealthy white flour muffins and eggs with so-called “spicy” sausage. Apparently the traveling situations are made worse when the bomb squads are out and about, as if characters from either Orwell’s “1984” or else the “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.”

During the breakfast, delegates were “pleased beyond punch” to listen to Lt. Governor Patty Judge and Governor Culver punching the air with their passionate endorsements of Senator Obama’s record of experience serving Iowa’s unique renewable energy concerns.

Culver’s wife joking noted to several delegates that in future conventions it might be best to move all the celebratory gatherings from the evening to the morning so the delegation can get their eight hours of sleep. The breakfast concluded with a drawing for credentials to today’s convention. Delegates getting their name drawn for one of what can be described as “cherished” guest passes to Pepsi were suddenly the most popular persons in the room.

Latest updates on the hotel imbroglio: the Nevada delegation gets a coffee bar still smaller than ours, but the pastries served there looked far more heart-friendly. Delegates will need all the healthy foodstuffs they can lay their hands on as we prepare to ship out at O-Fourteen-Hundred hours for the Pepsi center to listen to several Iowans address the general assembly.

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Iowa delegates get first taste of convention

By Evan Anderson – Although the stark fields surrounding the Denver International Airport might remind people of Mongolia in the 1965 film, “Doctor Zhivago,” the Democratic Convention is the most colorful scene on the political stage today. DNC volunteers wearing orange shirts greeted the Iowa delegation early Sunday morning with banners and chants happily reverberating across the DIA terminal. The Iowa delegation itself is also colorful, from the immediately recognizable green of the AFSCME shirts so proudly worn by many within the delegation.

During the course of the day, the delegation made its way to the Pepsi Center to see what the convention already has to offer, including a two-story tall blue bear serenely gazing into the convention hall. Perhaps the bear is “think, think,”-thinking about whether or not to tear after the spurious protesters rallying a few blocks away. Certainly this blue statue is no Pooh-Bah, even though this particular bear is likely to see quite a few intrigues and red-tape entanglements as the week progresses.

Inside the convention hall, the Credentials Committee loudly endorsed Senator Obama’s “unity” plan to reinstate the Florida and Michigan delegates to the convention with full voting rights. Committee members in attendance extended their hearts and minds to those in Florida, including this particular blogger’s grandfather in Melbourne, so recently repeatedly ravaged by Tropical Storm Fay. Referring to Fay and the sometimes contentious primary political season, former Tallahassee mayor Scott Maddox had this to say, “We’ve come through Fay and plenty of other storms: we’ve suffered under not one but two Bushes. After the storm, the sun always comes out. Thank you, governor Dean, for bringing the process, the sun, back to Florida.” Immediately after the resolution’s adoption, a standing ovation rolled across the hall. Former Denver mayor, Wellington Webb, endorsed another resolution, also passed unanimously, to give the Michigan delegation its full voting strength.

The only other activity that occurred Sunday morning in Denver was the rearrangement on the convention floor of where to seat the Delaware delegation, according to the tradition of giving priority seating to the states of the party’s nominees. The Nevada delegation was bounced in favor of the nearby Idaho delegation seats. Cedar Rapids Democrats may remember Idaho resident and famous songwriter, Carole King, campaigning for John Kerry in Cedar Rapids in 2004 declaring that Idaho is indeed turning blue. The lead story of the Sunday Denver Post would not disagree with King, noting that Democrats are hopeful of blasting away the frosty grip of Republicans in the Western states with fierce fighting. Is it any wonder that the DNC chose Denver as the site for this convention but to remind Wyoming’s own Dick Cheney that the western states historically are more liberal than California? States in the Rocky Mountains gave women the right to vote far before many other states, the first woman, and pacifist, elected to congress came from the Rocky Mountains states. Liberal, the ideals of the party might be, but this convention has opened as strong and efficiently as McCain’s real estate empire.

Helping launch Obama’s road to the White House a good thing for Iowa delegation

By Rod Boshart – Helping launch the party’s presidential nominee’s road to the White House has its rewards. Iowa’s 57-member delegation is seated in proximity to the rostrum at the Pepsi Center, site for most of the 2008 Democratic National Convention official work and speeches. Other delegations with prime seating locations include Sen. Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois, host state Colorado and Delaware, which got moved to the front when Obama selected Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., as his running mate. By contrast, the Arkansas delegation is situated close to what would be considered the left field warning track in a baseball stadium.

Culver warming up

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver spent some time Sunday in the Pepsi Center practicing for his convention speech on Tuesday. The governor said he did a practice speech and “walk through” for the appearance he is slated to make at about 3 p.m. Mountain time. “It went very well,” he said in preparing for his five-minute address. The governor said he bought to new ties but hasn’t decided which he will wear for the occasion.