All posts by Bob Brink

Denver Report – Monday, August 25

It’s all about eyeballs. Because this year’s Democratic Convention is taking place in the Mountain Time Zone, the actual floor program is skewed toward late afternoon and early evening in order to catch prime time TV viewers on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Headline speakers are usually slotted between 6 PM and 9 PM MDT.

But the days start long before that. Every morning the state delegations — delegates and alternates, family and other guests, local media, and others — get the day going by gathering for breakfast. The program includes announcements of caucus meetings, housekeeping details about credentials, transportation, etc., and a few speakers. At Monday’s Virginia Delegation breakfast, Senate candidate Mark Warner told us why, even though he’s a gazillionaire, he needs a job. (His explanation below in the video clips.)

Midday is filled with policy meetings and lunches sponsored by various groups. Monday the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which supports state legislative races, sponsored a lunch at the Denver Aquarium. I have a hard time enjoying shrimp and scallop appetizers while staring into a fish tank.

In midafternoon, shuttle buses take us from our hotels over to the Pepsi Center. The journey Monday through clogged Denver streets and the security gantlet took a little more than an hour.

At 4 PM, the 100+ Virginia Delegation seats on the convention floor were starting to fill up; by 6 PM, every seat was taken and the aisles were jammed. I planted myself next to Minority Leader Ward Armstrong and his wife Pam (this week she’s the Delegate and he’s the guest), one row in front of Governor Kaine, his wife Ann Holton, and their family.

Our floor location adds to the congestion. In addition to being directly behind the much-in-demand Illinios Delegation, off to our left is the platform from which MSNBC commentators commentate. And all the still photographers are stationed behind us for their full frontal shots of the platform speakers.

What an incredible series of speakers they were! You’ve seen and read about Michelle Obama and the two Obama girls, but it’s hard to capture the excitement they generated in the hall. And Caroline Kennedy’s introduction of her Uncle Ted, followed by his passionate 12-minute address to the convention, was the emotional high point of the evening for many of us.

These powerful moments overshadowed appearances by many other speakers that were significant in their own right, like the brief documentary celebrating former President Carter, Mrs. Carter, and their humanitarian efforts over the past 25 years. And keep your eye on Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.

So the day that started before 8 AM ended after midnight with a post-session party sponsored by Governor Kaine — and it’s only Day One of the Convention.

Monday’s video clips: Mark Warner pleads for a job at breakfast, the Pepsi Center entrance and lobby, John Kerry’s Hair on MSNBC, and a few seconds of Michellomania.

Denver Report – Sunday, August 24

Greetings from the Democratic National Convention! Every day this week, time permitting, I’ll give some snapshots (and a little video) of what’s going on in Denver.


The airlines and local transportation and hotel systems are doing a pretty good job of absorbing the tens of thousands of people who’ve descended on Denver in a two-day span. Travel here wasn’t without glitches: Norfolk blogger (and Clinton delegate Vivian Paige ended up getting routed through Bozeman Montana (she asks, “. . .anybody know why there is an airport there?”), and Congressman Jim Moran and his wife were reportedly bumped from their National-to-Denver flight on Sunday afternoon because the airline overbooked.

Security presence so far is comprehensive but fairly unobtrusive: I imagine it will tighten up and become more visible later in the week.


Placement of state delegations on the floor of the convention is all about real estate. I haven’t been over to the Pepsi Center yet, but on CNN Sunday I saw a floorplan that says Virginia landed on Boardwalk: we’re front and center, directly behind — Illinois. (Over the weekend, the Delaware delegation got moved from the nosebleed seats down to a more prominent place in the front.


On Sunday night, the Kaine family and four busloads of Virginians headed out to a reception and concert at Red Rocks, an amphitheatre 15 miles outside Denver. The naturally formed open-air site is dominated by two 300 foot-tall sandstone monoliths that they say provide “acoustic perfection for any performance.” (I can’t attest to it personally: I had to get back to the hotel to download my videos before the concert began.)


As Jon Stewart would put it, your moment of Zen: a few minutes of the field trip. See how many Virginians you can identify (starting hint: The World’s Oldest Page).


For this political junkie, next week will be a died-and-gone-to-Heaven experience: I’ll be in Denver as an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention. It’ll be my first presidential convention since I was teargassed in Chicago in 1968 (well, actually I was working in a drugstore in the Loop and some of the teargas drifted over from Grant Park . . .)

I’m going to try to bring some of the sights of Denver back to my friends using a new toy: a $150 video camcorder that’s smaller than a deck of cards. You can upload videos directly from the camcorder to a laptop to Youtube on The Internets. Here’s my test run down in Richmond this morning:

As you can see, I may need to brush up a bit on my technique (like figuring out that if you try to film a scene while you’re walking, you could induce motion sickness). Still, this test roll is better than my initial try: I had the camera pointed the wrong direction and ended up with a 1-minute interview of my forehead.

So if things work out, next week I’ll post some video “Denver Reports” from the floor of the Convention. The experiment will be fun, and the experience will be unforgettable.

To think that all those folks have met Jim Gilmore . . .

From this morning’s Richmond Times-Dispatch:

” . . . Warner’s donors include singer and actress Barbra Streisand, movie director Steven Spielberg, television producer Norman Lear, bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley of Coeburn, singer and actress Bette Midler, musician Bruce Hornsby of Williamsburg, writer John Grisham of Albemarle County and Walt Disney President Robert Iger. Warner also received a donation from Madeleine K. Albright, secretary of state in President Bill Clinton’s second term.”