Wel­come back to our con­tin­u­ing cov­er­age of the 2012 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Char­lotte, North Car­oli­na. I’m at Room 208 in the Char­lotte Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, await­ing the begin­ning of the Con­ven­tion’s Open­ing Press Con­fer­ence, where DNCC CEO Steve Ker­ri­g­an, Char­lotte May­or Antho­ny Foxx, and oth­er DNCC offi­cials are wel­com­ing mem­bers of the press corps to the forty-sixth qua­dren­ni­al gath­er­ing of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party.

The weath­er is very nice out­side right now, although we’ve been warned that a few thun­der­show­ers might be rolling through lat­er this after­noon, which could momen­tar­i­ly put a damper on Car­oli­naFest, the big Labor Day cel­e­bra­tion the DNCC is hold­ing today for del­e­gates and res­i­dents of Charlotte.

Accord­ing­ly, there are quite a few pavil­ions and tent­ed areas set up in Uptown to pro­tect atten­dees from the elements.

The press con­fer­ence is just get­ting start­ed. I’m going to update this post as we go along, so it’s going to grow a bit longer every few minutes.

First up was CEO Steve Kerrigan.

He reit­er­at­ed how delight­ed Char­lotte is to host the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and remind­ed the media that he and his team have been work­ing for a very long time to get ready, to ensure that every­thing goes smoothly.

Ker­ri­g­an not­ed that mem­bers of the pub­lic are able to par­tic­i­pate in many aspects of the con­ven­tion, including:

  • Car­oli­naFest (as detailed above);
  • Cau­cus meet­ings at the Char­lotte Con­ven­tion Center;
  • The final day of the Con­ven­tion at Pan­ther Sta­di­um (free com­mu­ni­ty cre­den­tial required for access).

May­or Foxx, the host may­or, spoke next.

Mayor Anthony Foxx speaks at the DNC's opening press conference
Char­lotte May­or Antho­ny Foxx speaks at the DNC’s open­ing press con­fer­ence, flanked by Sec­re­tary Alice Ger­mond and Los Ange­les May­or Anto­nio Vil­laraigosa (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

“Through­out the con­ven­tion week, the world will have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to expe­ri­ence North Car­oli­na,” Foxx said. “Char­lotte res­i­dents are ready to put their best foot for­ward… We like to say hel­lo to you when you’re walk­ing down the street.”

Foxx described the inter­est in the fourth day of the con­ven­tion  as “over­whelm­ing”, not­ing that there were long lines to acquire com­mu­ni­ty credentials.

DNCC Chair Anto­nio Vil­laraigosa (who serves as May­or of Los Ange­les) said he is very much look­ing for­ward to gavel­ing the con­ven­tion to order tomor­row afternoon.

“After what we saw in Tam­pa, I’m proud to say this will be a con­ven­tion that will be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent,” Vil­laraigosa said.

“We’re going to engage every­body who’s a part of this effort. In Char­lotte, we’re going to present our vision, and we’re going to affirm our val­ues… We’re going to get down to busi­ness and get our coun­try mov­ing forward.”

After speak­ing in Eng­lish, Vil­laraigosa deliv­ered most of his remarks in Span­ish for the ben­e­fit of Span­ish-speak­ing Americans.

DNC Sec­re­tary Alice Ger­mond fol­lowed him to pro­vide the press with some num­bers about the convention.

“I have par­tic­i­pat­ed in ten pres­i­den­tial con­ven­tions,” Ger­mond said. “Because of that, I can say first­hand, this tru­ly the most diverse, the most open, the most trans­par­ent… the most excit­ing con­ven­tion [in our par­ty’s history].”

Some vital sta­tis­tics pro­vid­ed by DNC Sec­re­tary Alice Germond:

  • There are 5,559 delegates
  • There are 407 alternates
  • Fifty per­cent (half) of all del­e­gates are women
  • Twen­ty-sev­en per­cent of all del­e­gates are black
  • Record num­ber of youth — six hun­dred and forty four youth delegates
  • Old­est del­e­gate is Elzena John­son of Ter­ry, Mis­sis­sip­pi — born in 1914
  • Youngest del­e­gate is Samuel Ray of Iowa — born in 1994
  • Over four thou­sand watch par­ties have been sched­uled by local Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty organizations

DNCC offi­cials end­ed the press con­fer­ence by tak­ing questions.

Reporters swarm DNCC officials after opening press conference
Reporters from nation­al and local media out­lets swarm DNCC offi­cials after open­ing press con­fer­ence con­cludes at the Char­lotte Con­ven­tion Cen­ter (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

One reporter asked about the strate­gic impor­tance of pick­ing Char­lotte, North Car­oli­na as the host city of the con­ven­tion. May­or Foxx observed that North Car­oli­na is a bat­tle­ground state, as is Vir­ginia, its next door neighbor.

But he said that a major rea­son Char­lotte was picked was out of recog­ni­tion of its growth and devel­op­ment. The city has become a major finan­cial cen­ter (it is the head­quar­ters of Bank of Amer­i­ca, and has even been dubbed “Wall Street South”). From 2000 to 2010, Char­lot­te’s pop­u­la­tion increased by near­ly 200,000 peo­ple… and that’s not even count­ing the growth in Char­lot­te’s suburbs.

Reporters also asked when a spe­cif­ic sched­ule of speak­ers would be made avail­able (con­ven­tion offi­cials promised that it was com­ing) and how many His­pan­ic del­e­gates will be in atten­dance (Sec­re­tary Ger­mond plans to release final num­bers soon).

One reporter also asked if Barack Oba­ma’s speech on Thurs­day at Pan­ther Sta­di­um was con­tin­gent on the weath­er. Ker­ri­g­an said that Oba­ma will accept the nom­i­na­tion there “rain or shine”, though he hint­ed there is a worst-case con­tin­gency plan in case of very bad weather.

Con­ven­tion offi­cials proud­ly empha­sized that the 2012 DNC will be very dif­fer­ent than the Repub­li­can gath­er­ing in Tam­pa. There are near­ly three times as many del­e­gates par­tic­i­pat­ing in the DNC as the RNC, and this DNC — the most open in his­to­ry, they say — is much more acces­si­ble to the pub­lic than the RNC was.

We’ve now gone for about forty-five min­utes, and we’re wrap­ping up. I’ll sign off for now, and post again very soon.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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