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Monday, August 25, 2008

LIVE from Denver: Convention primer

A lot is going to be happening here in Denver over the next few days. This post provides an overview of how things have been set up and what's happening when. It's presented in Q&A style for easy reading.

Here we go!

Q: Where are the Northwest delegations sitting in the PepsiCenter?
A: This map (PDF, 4.5 MB) shows the layout inside of the arena. Zoom in at least once to see the state abbreviations. Washington is behind New Mexico and Montana, up above the actual floor. Oregon unfortunately has the worst location in the entire arena - as far back and away as it gets. Idaho is situated far back too, but not stuck in a corner like the Oregonians are.

Q: Which states have the best seating?
A: Illinois, of course (Barack's home state), Florida, Michigan (the rulebreakers), Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Alaska, New York, and North Dakota.

Q: What does the convention schedule look like in the evenings?
A: A quick overview of the big speakers, by day, is as follows:

Monday: Jesse Jackson, Jr., Jim Leach, Claire McCaskill, Michelle Obama, Kathleen Sebelius, plus a tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy (Kennedy is likely to make an appearance, according to multiple news reports).

Tuesday: Hillary Clinton, Mark Warner, Brian Schweitzer, Deval Patrick, Kathleen Sebelius, Janet Napolitano, Joe Manchin, Jim Doyle, Ed Rendell, Ted Strickland, David Paterson, Chet Culver, Bob Casey, Jr., Patrick Leahy, Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emanuel, and Chris van Hollen.

Wednesday: Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Bill Richardson, Tom Daschle, Evan Bayh, Jay Rockefeller, Harry Reid, Ken Salazar, James Clyburn, Robert Wexler, and Richard M. Daley. Tribute to veterans by Patrick Murphy and Tammy Duckworth.

Thursday: Barack Obama, Al Gore, Bill Ritter, and speakers to be announced.

The complete schedule is on the official Convention site.

Q: Did they come up with themes for each night?
A: Yes. Monday's theme is One Nation, Tuesday's is Renewing America's Promise (focus on economic opportunity and prosperity), Wednesday is Securing America's Future (focus on national defense and diplomacy abroad), and Thursday's is Change You Can Believe In.

Q: Where should I tune in if I want to watch the proceedings at home?
A: On television, C-SPAN will be your best bet for live and unfiltered gavel to gavel coverage, as CNN and MSNBC will frequently cut away from the speeches to feature their talking heads and army of conservative pundits.

The official DNC site is also offering video streaming in high definition - and you can even select your own camera angles.

Q: What kind of presence do the cable networks have?
A: They're trying to be noticed. CNN is situated in what appears to be a rented brick building just a stone's throw away from the PepsiCenter. The slogan, CNN=Politics is featured on multiple sides of the building. MSNBC has a stage nearby with banners featuring the likeness of Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews. I haven't seen the Fox Noise facilities, but I can tell you that Fox got an unfriendly reception this weekend (YouTube video) when they reported on a protest march.

Q: What does the stage look like?
A: The design of the podium and the stage were just unveiled this weekend by the Democratic National Committee. Take a look at the photos.

Q: What is security like?
A: Very heavy. Read my post from Sunday night for a firsthand account of the militarization around the PepsiCenter and Invesco Field.

Q: Who is the Convention Chair?
A: The Temporary Chair is Howard Dean, who runs the Democratic National Committee. The Permanent Chair is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Q: Are the Republicans in town?
A: Naturally. The Associated Press went out of their way to do a profile of the Republicans' efforts to distort and disrupt our Convention:
The GOP effort includes a "war room" and media center less than a mile from the convention hall and making top Republicans such as Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney available for press conferences and satellite interviews to television stations across the country, especially in swing states.

There's a new GOP web site with videos and ads, along with plans for rapid responses to attacks on GOP nominee-to-be John McCain and to speeches from the Democrats.

A staff of two dozen has set up shop in temporary workspace up the road from the Pepsi Center and thousands of journalists. Security at the war room is tight to avoid problems with Democratic protesters.
Democratic planners have been anticipating a Republican presence, however.

Q: What's the weather like in Colorado?
A: Currently warm and sunny with a few clouds on the horizon. The forecast looks good for the Convention. There was thunder last night in the Rocky Mountains, although it was pretty quiet in Denver itself.

Have a question that I didn't answer? Let us know in the comments!


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