On Thursday, veteran political reporter, Walter Shapiro came by our booth at the DNC to talk to Warren about some of his most memorable conventions; and whether the event is worth the $68 million in taxpayer money price-tag.
These days the fight to party nomination is over by the time the delegates get to town, but Shapiro said the conventions allow someone like him to have conversations with real political operatives, giving insight into those who govern us. “To see the essence of a political party, that’s what a convention is good for,” Walter Shapiro told Warren.
During the week, delegates got to vote on their party platform and to hear their representatives at early morning breakfasts (below the California delegates had a chance to see Nancy Pelosi speak). One enthusiastic California delegate who we ran into Friday at the airport, said that these breakfasts were emptier once the late nights started kicking in.
The convention was part sporting event, part trade show and part civics at its best.
Our booth, in the basement of the Charlotte Convention Center was small and flimsy, just one space behind rows and rows of the papers we depend on for stories that matter, and for stories that matter less but contribute to the conversation.
Outside, vendors sold buttons and calendars and weird Obama hand puppets. Anti-abortion protesters held up their gory signs, women’s rights advocates dressed up like vaginas, and people handed out free protein bars.
At the arena, the lines for food were unwieldy. On Tuesday night my colleagues waited for almost 40 minutes for a fast food chicken sandwich that was as fluorescent as the lights (this was the same night that health-advocate Michelle Obama would take the stage). Like any good ball game, the halls were noisy, the seats in the nosebleeds, and the game playing out down below was an impassioned one.
We met teachers, Ford plant workers, veterans, and moms. We met the oldest delegate from CO, who fought for civil rights; and the youngest from Nevada, whose father just found work after a long stretch of unemployment. And we met a lot of State Reps. The Democrats’ talking points were clear: “things are better now than they were four years ago; women’s rights are at stake; Obama’s policies are working; we have to work together…”
Bill Clinton electrified the crowd; Michelle Obama had the floor on its feet during her passionate speech; Sandra Fluke went on the attack; Julian Castro told an American story; and the Foo Fighters played an acoustic set. All this came before Barack Obama stood on stage to accept the nomination for presidency, and tell the Democrats’ side of the story one more time in an effort to re-energize voters.
“The election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens, you were the change,” the president told a cheering crowd.
It was all a great prime-time show (“Honey Boo Boo” not withstanding), but it remains to be seen just how much difference it will make on the ground.
— Caitlin Shamberg, KCRW
Warren is back on the ground in Los Angeles and we’ll continue to post our political coverage here, as we get closer to November 6th.