Photo by Steven T. Jones
MEDIA, 15,002 STRONG
Kid Beyond and I arrived in Denver around 8 a.m., Aug. 25, after a 16-hour drive from Black Rock City, cruising through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, a couple of which Obama will probably need to win in November if he's to take the White House.
We headed into the city just as a gorgeous dawn was breaking, arriving with a few hours to spare before our Democratic National Convention press credential would have been redistributed to other journalists, who reportedly numbered more than 15,000. After arriving at my cousin Gina Brooks' house, we showered, got settled, and jumped on our bikes to pick up our press credentials.
All week, we and others who rented or borrowed the thousands of bicycles made available to visitors used the beautiful and efficient Cherry Creek Bike Trail to get around. It cut through the heart of Denver, passing the convention and performing arts centers, which boasted a great sculpture of a dancing couple, and ran close to the Big Tent in downtown on one side and the convention hall, the Pepsi Center, on the other.
It was a great way to travel and a marked contrast to the long car trip, which felt as if we were firing through tank after tank of gas. Bike travel also proved a smart move most of the streets around the convention were closed off and patrolled by police in riot gear riding trucks with extended running boards, with military helicopters circling overhead.
The massive Pepsi Center was less than half full a couple hours after the gavel fell to open the convention, but it filled quickly.
The broadcast media had it good, with prime floor space that made it all the more congested for the delegates and others with floor passes. Most journalists were tucked behind the stage or up in the cheap seats, and we couldn't even get free Internet access in the hall. But journalists could get online in the nearby media tents, which also offered free booze and food.
Even though Hillary Clinton announced she was releasing her delegates to vote for Obama, those I spoke to in San Francisco's delegation Laura Spanjian, Mirian Saez, and Clay Doherty were still planning to vote for Clinton on that Wednesday, although all said they would enthusiastically support Obama after that.
"It's important for me to respect all the people who voted for her and to honor the historic nature of her candidacy," Spanjian said. "And most of all, to respect her."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tried to rally the faithful for the "historic choice between two paths for our country." She belittled the view that John McCain is the most experienced presidential candidate. "John McCain has the experience of being wrong," she said, emphasizing his economic views and his instigation of the "catastrophic" Iraq War.
There were only a smattering of protesters outside the convention center, the most disturbing being anti-abortion activists bearing signs that read, "God hates Obama," "God is your enemy," "The Siege is Here," and one, wielded by a boy who was maybe 12, that read "God hates fags." Family values indeed.
THE ROLL CALL
San Francisco Sup. Chris Daly was giddy when I joined him in the two-thirds full California delegation during the nominating speeches for Obama and Clinton. It was partly because he was finally an official delegate, having been called up from his role as alternate a couple of hours earlier. But an even bigger reason for his joy was that he's a serious political wonk and just loves the roll call, the only official business of the convention.
"This is the best part of the convention, roll call. It's cool," Daly, the consummate vote counter, told me as we watched the chair ask each state for their votes.