• WisPolitics


 1:03 AM 

Delegate Diary: Time to go to work

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Stan Davis
I am writing this final entry just a few minutes after getting back to my hotel room after watching Senator Barack Obama give the speech of his life. I came to Denver thinking that I had a good grasp on the importance of what I would see here and the impact that it would have on me and the country. I now think that I underestimated the impact it would have on me and most likely on the country as well.

As I sat on the floor of Invesco Field before Sen. Obama's speech, I kept reminding myself to take it all in and appreciate the fact that I was so fortunate to be where I was at that moment. I also realized that it was very likely that my grandchildren would be reading about what I was about to see in their history books years from now.

I have been thinking a lot about how Barack's nomination alone will change what many young people perceive as the limits of what they can achieve in life. I have been thinking a lot about what his election would mean to children in America who now may think that certain professions or accomplishments are reserved for "other people." I have been thinking a lot about the impact that the election of Barack Obama as pesident of the United States will have on the lives of people across Africa and other struggling societies around the world. I have thought a lot about the fact that an entire village of Africans took AIDS tests that they had previously refused because Barack and Michelle Obama traveled to their village and set the example by taking the tests themselves. This is an example that gives you an idea of the impact that a President Obama could have not just at home, but across the globe.

Well, all of that thinking that I had done did not prepare me for what I saw tonight would mean to me. I know it meant the same to others as well, because I saw the tears in the eyes and on the cheeks of people all around me. For me personally, the fact that Barack Obama just accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party represents many things. It represents an acceptance by mainstream society that has not been achieved in the country's history for people who don't look "like the president on the dollar bill," to borrow a phrase. It also represents hope for the future that we really are moving toward a society that judges people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. It represents hope that my daughters will not have to live in a society where they are treated differently than their friends just because they may look different than their friends.

There is no question that we have a long way to go. If you don't believe me, just wait to see what types of code word laden attacks will be coming Obama's way for the remainder of this campaign. Obama is arrogant? It used to be described as uppity. Obama is out of touch with "working class Americans"? You mean like the ones he turned down the big bucks to advocate for on the streets of Chicago? Those working class Americans? Obama is an elitist? I think we can agree that both members of the United States Senate who are running for president of the United States can fairly be described as members of the elite class.

I can't really do much of an analysis of the speech at this point. It kind of washed over me as it was happening in real time. As I alternated between watching the big screen in the stadium and remembering that I was actually there and could watch the man with my own eyes a couple hundred feet in front of me. It was a surreal experience. I do remember being at first nervous, and then excited, that Obama was being stern, aggressive and critical of John McCain. Because he did it with his usual grace, I think that he can get away with going on the attack a bit. Before tonight, I did not think that he had that luxury for fear of being perceived as too scary to some Americans. Tonight he did it expertly.

The energy throughout the crown was electric. At one point I looked at the big screen when they had an overhead view of the full stadium with the floor covered with people as well. It was an awesome sight. You also have to realize that many of those people stood in line for up to five hours to get into the arena. I got to the arena at about 1 p.m. and then sat there until the speech started seven hours later. There was a level of engagement and sincere commitment to Obama and the country that you could feel as the speech went on and Barack got better and better.

At the end of the speech, I watched an African-American woman from Milwaukee who was in the row in front of me just start to shake her head and weep. She stood there for several minutes like she was the only one in the stadium. The NPR reporter who had interviewed me earlier was still standing next to me and we both noticed her at the same time. To my surprise, he did not point his camera at her to capture what must be considered a money shot in his business. He left her to have that private moment for herself while standing among 75,000 other people. I tried to talk to her after the speech was over and she just couldn't. She was overcome by the situation.

As people left the stadium after the speech, I really did not want to go. I wanted to stay there until they turned off the lights and forced me to leave. Even when most of the people were gone, the energy was still there. The awareness that I had just been part of history was becoming more real. Milton Bond and I just kept looking at each other and shaking our heads. Crying people were still walking by every once in a while. A text message from Patrick G. and the group that watched the speech at Jill's house briefly snapped me out of it long enough to respond and then call and talk to Patrick.

Our second congressional district delegation of myself, Francis Huntley Cooper, Mary Lang Sollinger, Roberta Gassman and Celia Jackson (I'm not sure where Bryan was at the time) had a series of little huddles and I said to each of them that this is where the real work begins. The goal of the campaign was not to get Barack nominated. The goal was to elect him president. This week has been a celebration. The time to celebrate ends when we leave Denver. It's time to go to work.

YES WE CAN!

-- Davis is a government relations partner at Axley Brynelson LLP.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

 9:05 PM 

New convention-related content from WisOpinion.com

In the latest "WisOpinion: The Show," Dave Zweifel of the Capital Times and Brian Fraley of the Wisconsin Institute for Leadership parse the Democratic National Convention and Joe Biden and how they're playing in Wisconsin.

Watch the show

In the newest edition of Battleground Banter, the AFL-CIO's Sara Rogers debates with lobbyist and former Commerce Secretary Bill McCoshen over the significance of Barack Obama's selection of Joe Biden as his running mate.

Read their thoughts

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 3:58 PM 

Youngest delegate inspired by "history making" convention

Twenty-one-year-old Jason Rae of Wisconsin is the youngest superdelegate in Denver. A senior at Marquette University, he has looked forward to the Democratic National Convention for months.

"Being here is absolutely fantastic," he said. "There is so much energy in the city, it is hard to really describe."

Like so many of the other delegates, he said he is honored to be a part of the "history making" 2008 convention. Rae said he is particularly honored to be the youngest superdelegate in attendance because he doesn't think his age is a fluke, rather an indication of what future party events will look like.

"This is a trend you're going to continue to see in coming years," he said. "Younger and younger people will be assuming roles in the party leadership."

Rae said listening to the speeches on the floor of the convention each night has been an experience he will never forget. U.S. Senators Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden stood out to him as being the best speakers thus far.

"When Kennedy walked out onto the stage we were left speechless," he said. "Hearing Biden deliver such a passionate speech while accepting the vice presidential nomination was inspiring and made me all the more confident in the ticket."

-- By Matt Clark

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 2:46 PM 

Thompson: Wisconsin will go for McCain

Contrary to the current Wisconsin governor's prediction this morning that strong turnout means Barack Obama will win the state "in a walk," former Gov. Tommy Thompson said John McCain will carry Wisconsin.

"Jim Doyle is drinking some Kool-Aid that is not very relevant to this election," Thompson said this afternoon in a conference call with reporters.

"Whoever motivates their base and gets voters to the polls on Election Day is going to win," Thompson said.

Thompson acknowledged that this appears to be a good year for Democrats, but he said that Obama is seeing his fortunes decline in the polls while McCain is rising. He said that may be due to Obama's "tremendous liberal positions" on abortion, or his tax plan.

"The more Barack Obama comes out with extremist views on taxation, on pro-choice and so on its going to lead to a Republican victory in November," Thompson said.

The experience factor also is in favor of McCain.

"Who would you like to have in the White House at 3 a.m. if Russia decides to invade another country? No question it's John McCain," said Thompson, who left Wisconsin to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the first George W. Bush Administration.

Thompson, who waged his own early campaign for president, said he's firmly behind the GOP nominee now.

"No question John was not my first choice. But I'm a Republican," Thompson said.

He said he has worked with McCain on a number of tasks, and called him "truthful, hard-working, patriotic and an individual you can talk to."

-- By Greg Bump

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 1:50 PM 

Wineke has no regrets over dumping Clinton delegate who's backing McCain

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Joe Wineke said he has no regrets about how the party handled a former Clinton delegate-turned-McCain supporter.

The party revoked Debra Bartoshevich's credentials as a Clinton delegate for the state after she publicly stated she was supporting McCain. She showed up at the convention this week anyway to appear at a McCain news conference and is now featured in a TV ad designed to appeal to former Clinton backers.

"How can you say you are a strong Hillary Clinton supporter and life-long Democrat and then make an argument that John McCain -- who is completely opposed to Hillary's agenda -- is a better candidate?" Wineke said this morning, adding there is "universal support for our action" to revoke her credentials.

Wineke said he was not worried that Bartoshevich's appearance in a new McCain ad would cause other Clinton supporters to follow suit.

"People here are united. If she wants to be in the McCain camp; go for it," he said. "I think that the McCain campaign thinks that they're going to fool all of the Clinton supporters and it isn't going to happen."

Wineke also spoke about former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman's appearance in front of the delegation Thursday. He said Siegelman's story is an important one because it highlights failings of the U.S. Justice Department.

"It's overzealous prosecutors perusing what -- by all indications -- is a political prosecution," he said. "How can you be handcuffed and put in jail for nine months because you appointed somebody who gave you a contributing to an unpaid board?"

Calling it a "clear case of Karl Rove trying to change the political process," Wineke said there was no doubt about the similarities between Siegelman's situation and that of Wisconsin's own Georgia Thompson.

Thompson was convicted of steering a state contract to executives who gave to Gov. Jim Doyle's re-election campaign. But it was overturned on appeal in a case that one judge said was "beyond thin."

"The parallels with Thompson are identical," he said.

-- By Matt Clark

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 1:37 PM 

Former Alabama guv calls charges politically motivated

Wisconsin's delegation heard from former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman today. He spoke about being indicted on charges of bribery and mail fraud for allegedly trading government appointments for campaign donations, a charge he said was politically motivated -- put together by Karl Rove and his allies to oust the Democrat from office.

"I was convicted of something that has never before been considered a crime -- appointing a contributor to a non-paid board," he said.

Siegelman said he was speaking out about the circumstances around his conviction because they have implications for the entire country, not just him or his home state.

"This is about restoring justice and preserving our democracy," he said. "It's about finding out who hijacked our Justice Department and used it as a political tool to go after a list of political enemies."

See a 60 Minutes report from February on his case

A New York Times editorial compared Siegelman's case to that of Georgia Thompson, the Wisconsin civil servant whose conviction on bid-rigging charges was thrown out on appeal.

See background on the Thompson case from the WisPolitics CourtWatch blog

-- By Matt Clark

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 12:55 PM 

Barrett, Nelson say Obama would be more receptive to urban concerns

Addressing the Wisconsin delegation's final breakfast meeting of the national convention, Mayors Tom Barrett and Larry Nelson, of Milwaukee and Waukesha, respectively, spoke about the need for greater federal emphasis on urban issues. They both outlined ways to improve the way the federal government doles out money and expressed a belief that an Obama administration would be more receptive to their ideas.

"Energy block grant programs would allow individual communities to decide what is the best energy-efficient practice," Nelson said.

"Mayors who have gathered together say that if John McCain wins this election we don't feel like we can pick up the phone and call or have a meeting with the White House about issues facing urban America," Barrett said.

Former Missouri Senator Jean Carnahan spoke to the Wisconsin delegates about the need to elect Obama. She said "too much has gone wrong" during the eight years of the Bush administration not to go in a different direction.

"There's a question we can be asking ourselves that Reagan posed back in his day. He said 'Are you as well off as you were four years ago?' We are paying more for gas today, homes are being foreclosed on, jobs are being shipped overseas, and we have spent $1 trillion on the war," Carnahan said. "We are definitely headed in the wrong direction."

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton and Tom Woodruff, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, also spoke at the morning meeting.

-- By Matt Clark

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 11:20 AM 

Doyle says young voters are over race issue

Gov. Jim Doyle said the impact of race on this presidential election is an "interesting generational issue," and that it might be a factor in some voters minds.

But, he said, those who would vote against Barack Obama because he is black aren't Dem voters.

"Most people who would make that judgment based on race were never going to vote for a Democrat anyway," he said this morning during a conference call from Denver.

Doyle said younger voters are less likely to hold those attitudes. Obama's campaign has been about getting past the race issue, and that mirrors younger voters feelings about it, he said.

"For older people that may be an issue. For younger people it's just totally not an issue," Doyle said.

Doyle said he's confident that with a strong voter turnout, Obama will win in Wisconsin. He also ripped Republicans for what he said are campaign tactics to discourage voting, "Karl Rove kind of stuff," as he termed it.

He said Republicans have employed the tactics to great effect in winning elections, but have found that dividing the country makes it difficult to govern.

Obama's acceptance speech tonight will include his plan to bring the troops out of Iraq "in a way that is responsible," his plan for an energy rebate and to invest in renewable energy, and making higher education more affordable, Doyle said.

When Obama made a stop in Eau Claire Sunday, Doyle said he and Obama had an opportunity during some quiet time to talk about the speech.

"He made it very clear that there would be some great emotion to it obviously on the 45th annivesary of Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech," Doyle said.

"I have never seen Barack Obama not rise to the occasion, so I think we are going to see a really remarkable speech tonight," Doyle said.

The governor said despite the 67-21 split of Wisconsin delegate votes for Obama and Clinton, the state party is fully unified behind Obama. He praised the Clintons for their "spectacular" speeches in support of Obama.

"If the story line much of the media looking at coming into this was that this party is divided. clearly everybody honestly looking at what happened in this convention has to complete that story line by saying that this party is coming out incredibly unified," Doyle said.

Doyle appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program this morning. He said he normally catches it when he's exercising in the morning, and called it "the best political show."

He also commented on being a punchline in David Letterman's "Top 10 List" this week. Doyle said his son sent him the clip.

"I don't know if it's good or bad. Nobody laughed -- nobody kind of understood the joke and nobody even laughed at it. So I'm not sure why I got singled out, but I did."

-- By Greg Bump

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 10:55 AM 

Black business leaders anticipating Obama's speech

The Small Business Times is reporting that Milwaukee-area black business leaders are eager to see Obama's speech tonight.

Dextra Hadnot, external affairs director at AT&T Wisconsin in Milwaukee, has been watching Obama's ascension closely.

"I've always been optimistic in my lifetime that our country could or would elect a person of color or even a woman president of the United States, and Barack Obama, not just because he is an African-American, he's the right person at the right time," Hadnot said. "And I'm especially proud of our country and our ability to put people like Barack Obama in position to lead our country."

See the full story here.

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 10:08 AM 

Brief disappointment gives way to elation over nomination


Gov. Jim Doyle celebrates Obama's nomination. (Photo courtesy of Uppity Wisconsin)
The abbreviated nomination process at yesterday's Democratic National Convention in Denver cut off before Gov. Jim Doyle got the chance to announce Wisconsin's vote tally, leaving some state delegates briefly disappointed.

A state Dem Party official says the final tally was 67 votes for Obama and 21 votes for Clinton.

"For a minute I was upset, but then being the political monster that I am, I understand that these things often happen," Obama delegate Martha Toran said this morning. "More important than the vote was the message. Both Clintons did what they needed to do and that's what counts."

Other Wisconsin delegates said they would have liked their votes to be announced to the convention, but also said that presenting a unified front was more important than hearing from every state.

"It was kind of a bummer that Wisconsin couldn't be a part of the official announcement, but the overall thing was prety well scripted and amazing to listen to," said Obama delegate J.D. Wine of La Crosse. "The magnificent unification of this week has overshadowed any little details like who speaks when or how things are technically recorded."

Bethany Ordaz of Madison said "the entire thing was really incredibly exciting."

"I was a little sad that we didn't see the governor give a quirky announcement to everyone, but I guess that doesn't really matter when you think of the overall process," she said.

Elizabeth Kai Smith, a non-delegate visitor to the convention from Wisconsin, said Obama fans "aren't going to lose any sleep over who said what when."

"I just think this week has been incredibly amazing. It's not every day that you see democracy come to life like this," she said. "If it weren't for Obama, this vivacious spirit would not have overtaken Denver."

-- By Matt Clark

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 9:08 AM 

Delegate Diary: History has been made

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Stan Davis
Before I get started, I want to take a moment to say a couple of things that I do not want to forget. I want to salute Dem Party Executive Director Jessica Erickson and her team for taking great care of us and making sure that we were in the right place and knew what to do when we got there. Things have been well organized, despite the fact that the size of this event lends itself to mass chaos. Nice job Jess and crew.

On Wednesday morning, the big question was what would happen in the afternoon. When would we vote? How would we vote? Would there be a roll call vote? Would that be a bad thing for Obama? Was Bill Clinton going to come through? We didn't know the answers to the process questions because the DNC had not told anyone yet. We didn't know what the political outcome would be because we just didn't. We would have to wait and see like everyone else.

One thing that I can say is that the things that the public has been reading at home about anxious Obama supporters and tension between Clinton and Obama delegates were pure fiction. I have seen no examples of that since I have been here. The anxiety that I have heard about has been from delegates when they make the mistake of watching the TV coverage and realize that the event being depicted usually bears no resemblance to what they are experiencing in real life.

At about 1:45 on Wednesday afternoon, I was having lunch with several people including fellow delegate and DWD Secretary Roberta Gassman. We had all agreed to walk down to the Cheesecake Factory for a little dessert when we got an urgent text from Doyle aide Jordan Primakow saying that the DNC needed all delegates to the Pepsi Center by 3:15. It was a tough call to make. Get our cheesecake or start making our way to Pepsi? We had no idea why we were being called there, because we had already voted that morning in the hotel. We obviously decided that the cheesecake would have to wait, and Roberta and I started heading for the shuttle which was a couple of blocks away.

With Roberta in her heels and me still recovering from knee surgery, we started a slow-speed pursuit of the shuttle that was sitting at its stop about a block away. There were a couple of times that we both started something that vaguely resembled a trot, but settled on waving our hands in the air to attract the attention of the DNC volunteer that was standing outside of the bus. We didn't want to miss the shuttle because the ride can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the traffic at the time, and the shuttles only come about every 30 minutes.

During the ride to Pepsi, we speculated on why we had been summoned. We also checked the web on our Blackberries for any news that might help us figure things out. Had something gone wrong with the vote? Had people who had pledged for Barack switched sides? After a few minutes, we actually got it right. What made the most sense was that we were being called there for a voice vote to nominate Sen. Obama. It was actually a pretty quick trip and we headed in to meet the few members of our delegation who had beaten Roberta and me to the scene. After we had sat there in the still largely empty arena, we started making fun of ourselves for rushing over there like we had seen our own personal Batman spotlights.

The voting was to be closed at 4 p.m. and the roll call would begin. Word started to get around that the plan might be to start the roll call and at some point move that the full convention be asked to nominate Sen. Obama by acclamation. I watched as Jess Erickson and Joe Weinike and their staff tallied the votes and prepared to give the DNC Wisconsin's official final numbers. If I remember correctly, Sen. Obama received 67 of Wisconsin 92 delegates. Some Clinton delegates from Wisconsin decided to vote for Obama following the speech of Sen. Hillary Clinton, so the margin was larger than the result of the primary vote in February.

After some speeches, the third session of the Democratic National Convention was called to order. Shortly thereafter, the roll call of the states started with Alabama. At that point, it was a mystery as to how states would vote. It became evident early on that many delegates from other states had moved toward party unity because states which had been won by Sen. Clinton during the primary actually ending up with more votes being cast for Obama. Several state delegations made strong statements by voting unanimously for Obama. The roll call vote that the media and others thought would be a disaster for Obama was becoming a real time testament to the degree to which the Democratic Party had come back together to support its nominee.

When it was California's time to vote, it passed. A few minutes later, Illinois passed as well. About 20 minutes later, another state passed and yielded its position to New York. We were trying to figure out what was going to happen next when Sen. Clinton was shown on the big screen in the arena making her way to New York's podium with Gov. David Patterson. As she reached the microphone, she made what had to be a very difficult statement for her given how tough the primary was. She called on Democrats to rally behind Obama, made it clear that he is our candidate, and then moved to suspend the rules of the convention and called for a vote to nominate Obama by acclamation.

Speaker Pelosi took the podium and received about 5500 loud seconds to the motion and the motion passed. In classic Robert's Rule of Order form, Pelosi called for the nays, pounded the gavel, and declared that the ayes had prevailed almost simultaneously. For the record, I was listening for any nays being yelled out and did not hear any. Had there been any, I'm sure we would have heard about it in the media by now.

Well, it had been done. History had been made. Senator Barack Obama had been nominated to be the Democratic Party's candidate for President of the United States. As I just heard congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis of Georgia say in an interview, a down payment had been made on the dream that had been set forth by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. almost exactly 45 years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Our Governor had been standing by preparing to announce Wisconsin's vote total and probably make some of those comments like, "from Wisconsin, the real home of the happiest cows in America ..." Instead, we were all able to exhale, shake hands, and congratulate each other on what had been a long but ultimately successful journey.

After more speeches, the time for Bill Clinton to address the convention was approaching. We knew that he could seal the deal as far as party unity was concerned if he picked up where Sen. Clinton had left off. I was personally nervous because people seated near him during Hillary's speech had told me that he was getting very emotional while she was speaking, and he had not turned over a copy of his speech to the Obama team to review.

Well, the pre-South Carolina primary Bill Clinton was back. He gave an incredible speech that did everything anyone could have asked. If Hillary hit a home run, Bill hit one of those Barry Bonds shots that went way out of the park and into the waters of McCovey Cove. He showed his usual great timing and ability to play off of the reactions of the crowd. The energy in the arena was building until there was a permanent buzz. Everyone was standing, cheering and clapping as he finished. I found myself wanting him to keep going. It was a great speech.

The next featured speaker was someone who looked just like Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. He spoke with a passion and intensity that caused many in the crowd to remark that he would probably be president right now if he had been so passionate four years ago. Mary Lang Sallinger was sitting next to me and made a great observation about Kerry's performance. Mary said, "Barack just brings out the best in people." Mary's statement sums up much of what his campaign has been about and why it has been so successful. Having gotten to know Mary, her dedication to Obama, and her ability to get others involved, I can say that Mary brings out the best in people as well. I don't call her "Force of Nature" for nothing.

After Kerry, Joe Biden's son Beau came out to introduce his father. He started to tell the tale of Biden and his family, what he has been through and how their family has supported each other through tough times. We will probably be hearing more from Beau in the future if Obama/Biden wins because I think it is very likely that Beau, now attorney general of Delaware, will be appointed to replace Joe in the U.S. Senate.

Joe Biden gave a very good speech and introduced himself to America as an everyman who was not a creature of Washington despite serving for over 30 years in the Senate. He also gave a preview of his role as attack dog as he listed the many times where John McCain has been wrong on important issues but Obama has been right. Expect to see Biden blasting away at his "good friend of almost 22 years" for the next 70 days or so. Biden's time on stage ended with him being joined by a family which seemed to number about 85 people. It was a family values snapshot that you love to have in politics. Showing that the apple has not fallen far from the tree, they had to literally drag Biden's little grandson off of the stage. He was still trying to get back to the podium as the lights went down.

The energy and excitement as we left the arena and walked back toward downtown Denver was palpable. I won't spend much time on the Wisconsin party that took place because I didn't stay long. I was out of gas and managed to get to bed by 1:15 a.m. That's early in convention time. I am writing this at 7:42 a.m. Mountain Time and will be heading down soon to get my credentials for the day and attend the last delegation breakfast of the convention.

One last thing. Wednesday's celebrity sightings included will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, actor Blair Underwood, and TV Judge Greg Mathis.

-- -- Davis is a government relations partner at Axley Brynelson LLP.

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 9:07 AM 

Analysis: Democrats ready for the fight

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Chris Micklos
Commentary
Four years ago, the first commandment of John Kerry's Democratic National Convention was "speak no evil." Translation: There was to be no criticism of President Bush and the Republicans. Every now and then a speech managed to slip by the censors (clearly, President Carter didn't get the memo), but overall, it was a gentle convention that left the Republican candidate unscathed. Then, when the Republicans took the stage at their own convention, they destroyed Kerry, who never recovered and never effectively fought back. For those who may have missed it, Kerry lost.

Democrats in Denver have been worried over the past couple of days that Barack Obama hadn't learned a lesson of the Kerry campaign and would let John McCain off the hook, as well.

After three days of Barack Obama's DNC, Democrats are starting to feel good about a candidate -- and a campaign -- willing to fight back.

I don't expect Obama himself to use his acceptance speech to blast away at John McCain, but after a slow start earlier in the week, this convention has featured a line-up of speakers who have stepped up to the microphone and taken McCain to task. On Wednesday night, in primetime, that lineup included President Bill Clinton, Sen. John Kerry (apparently he learned a lesson, too), and Obama's vice-presidential nominee, Sen. Joe Biden.

Their collective take on John McCain was a lacerating indictment of McCain's campaign, his judgment, and his pledge to bring America four more years of President Bush's foreign and domestic policy.

None of the speakers was more effective than Joe Biden, and his performance bodes awfully well for the next two months of the Obama-Biden campaign.

Simply put, Biden showed why Obama picked him as his running mate. He was down to earth and plain spoken. His story was moving and demonstrative of working-class values and concerns. And his criticisms of John McCain were backed up by his own stature and credibility.

Biden questioned McCain's judgment on foreign policy.

Biden criticized McCain's failure to support an increased minimum wage.

Biden took McCain to task for his support for tax breaks for the corporate special interests.

And through it all, Biden came off as reasonable, credible, and a voice of working-class families around the country. By comparison, when Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty -- two of McCain's potential VP picks -- criticize Obama, they seem petulant and petty.

More important, though, than the effectiveness of Biden was the willingness of the Obama campaign to take the gloves off and get into the fight. This marks a dramatic change from the last presidential election and makes an Obama victory more likely than it would otherwise be.

Voters won't believe that a candidate will fight for them if he's not willing to fight for himself, and Barack Obama is starting to show voters that he's a fighter.

-- Micklos is partner and senior strategist at Visuality, a Madison-based media consulting firm. Contact him at chris@visuality.com.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

 5:08 PM 

Roll call begins

The roll call is underway.

The only question is how many of Clinton's three dozen delegates decided to back Obama for the roll call.

Wisconsin delegates began casting their ballots at their hotel this morning, but the results won't be official until later. It's unclear if Wisconsin will get the chance to announce its tally publicly before the roll is cut off.

UPDATE: The roll call is cut off at the New York delegation, when Hillary Clinton moves that the convention rules be suspended to nominate Barack Obama. Speaker Pelosi presided over the motion, approved by a voice vote of the full delegation.


-- By JR Ross

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 2:10 PM 

Doyle makes Letterman's top 10 list

Gov. Jim Doyle made David Letterman's list of the "Top Ten Things Overheard At The Democratic National Convention" on last night's Late Show.

No. 5 was "Shut up! I'm trying to listen to Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle!"

After the line got a tepid laugh, Letterman repeated "Jim Doyle" before moving onto No. 4.

No. 1?

"Hey, it's a giant Al Gore balloon! Oh, wait. That's Al Gore."

Watch it here.

-- By JR Ross


 11:07 AM 

Delegate Diary: Day three kicks off

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Stan Davis
This morning's delegation breakfast had three really outstanding speeches. The first was given by Sen. Russ Feingold. He took us inside of his experience with Barack Obama as the pair worked members of both parties to pass the strongest government reform law in history following the Jack Abrahmoff scandal. He talked about how Obama took on members of his own party who were not very excited about losing the ability to hop on a private jet and other goodies that Feingold and Obama sought to take away.

Feingold also reminded us of the good judgment that Obama has shown in the past and that bringing someone with the experience of Joe Biden onto the ticket is not an indication of weakness, but a sign of maturity, strength and leadership.

Next up was Gov. Jim Doyle. There are few more impassioned supporters of Barack Obama than the governor, and it shows. Today, the governor started by praising the efforts of Sen. Feingold in working with the Doyle administration to get things done every day for the people of Wisconsin. He then talked about what a profound change it would be to have an Obama administration in Washington to actually work with him on issues like providing health care to children instead of working against him.

The Governor then introduced the morning's final speaker. She was Cecile Richards of NARAL. Ms. Richards is the daughter of the late Gov. Ann Richards of Texas. In her speech, Richards recited the records of both candidates on women's health issues and issues generally. She told us that 50 percent of Sen. McCain's female supporters are pro-choice and many do not know that he is not. I was also surprised to learn that while Joe Biden was the author of the Violence Against Women Act; John McCain actually voted against it.

In about 20 minutes, I will actually go cast my delegate vote for Sen. Obama. After that, I may head to a caucus meeting or two before heading to the Pepsi Center for another night of speeches. Tonight features Bill Clinton, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and V.P. Nominee Joe Biden. After the speeches, Wisconsin has a delegation party on the top floor of the Hyatt, which is all glass and apparently provides incredible views of the scenery and landscape of the Denver area.


-- Davis is a government relations partner at Axley Brynelson LLP.

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 2:54 AM 

Delegate Diary: Day Two

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Stan Davis
This morning's delegation breakfast featured two members of Wisconsin's Congressional delegation. Ron Kind from La Crosse did a nice job of getting the day started. A lot of people talk about him as one of the next Dems in line to be strong gubernatorial candidates whenever Gov. Doyle is done, of course. Although I regrettably missed it, Congresswoman Gwen Moore reportedly blew the doors off the room and had the delegation in a frenzy. Having seen he speak in the past, this does not surprise me.

After lunch, I went to the floor to watch Gov. Doyle address the convention. He did a great job, and the members of the delegation were vocal in their support and appreciative of the fact that Wisconsin was recognized by having our governor chosen to make the address.

What took place during the rest of the day made this my favorite day of the convention by far. I returned from the floor at about 6 o'clock having given my floor credentials to someone else and expecting to watch the speeches of Mark Warner and Hillary Clinton from my room. Instead, I ended having a great time for the next seven hours enjoying great company, dinner and music.

While I would love to get into great detail, as a temporary pretend journalist, I have to follow certain standards. Therefore, I will say that I had a great dinner with some very distinguished people, did return to the Pepsi Center to see Sen. Clinton's speech in person and attended an incredible concert by Grammy winning singer John Legend.

Regarding Clinton's speech, I thought that she did a great job of talking about her own campaign and marrying the issues that she championed to the message and strength of Sen. Obama. While she did not explicitly direct her supporters to vote for Obama as I and many others would have liked, she certainly got the point across that what matters most is winning this election. She seemed to be sincere in her support of Obama, and I hope that her supporters follow her lead and get behind him from here forward as many already have.

I have been present in person for the two best speeches I have ever heard Sen. Clinton give. The first was this February at Founder's Day. While I was not a big fan of the tone of that speech, it was still well conceived and delivered. Tonight's speech hit every point that it needed to hit to continue to unify the party and also acknowledged what Clinton accomplished during the primary campaign.

The highlight of the night was the John Legend concert. It was hosted by the Democratic Leadership Council and its chairman, former Congressman Harold Ford of Tennessee. It was in a small club, and Legend performed 14 songs and performed them well. The audience was made up primarily of people who are involved in Democratic politics, and Legend commented several times about his support for Obama and encouraged the members of the audience to remember why they got into politics in the first place and what it means to the people they serve.

Today was a lot of fun, and I think it was successful from a political standpoint. Senator Clinton hit a home rune with her speech and picked up right where Sen. Kennedy and Mrs. Obama left off. Now we will see if President Clinton and Sen. Joe Biden can keep the momentum going on Wednesday.

-- Davis is a government relations partner at Axley Brynelson LLP.

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 1:02 AM 

Speech pushes Clinton backers toward Obama camp


Picture courtesy of Uppity Wisconsin

A pair of Hillary Clinton-backing Wisconsin delegates turned to sports analogies to describe their reactions to her Tuesday night convention address.

"I thought it was a home run, grand slam, a touchdown, whatever sport analogy you want to insert -- it was a win," said delegate Shawn Pfaff. "She was magnanimous, confident, and put the team first."

"She really hit it out of the ballpark," said Heather Colburn, the delegation whip.

But Colburn said she and others were waiting to hear more from Clinton before deciding how to cast their votes during Wednesday's roll call. But overall she said "there is not a consensus at this point about how to move forward" among Wisconsin's Clinton backers.

"Some people feel like they were sent here to be a Hillary delegate and that means they will vote for her," Colburn said. "There are others who think this is Barack time and may vote for him. We really will have no idea how the vote will turn out until Hillary talks to us tomorrow and we actually cast our votes."

Saying she was "weighing the decision very carefully in my mind and heart," Colburn said, "I still feel like this is a second chance for me to show her my support by casting my vote for her."

There was no such hesitation for Clinton supporter Brett Hulsey.

"I will be voting for Obama," Hulsey said. "I've become an Obama guy. The drama is over and it's time for us to move on from here, focusing on beating McCain."

Hulsey said he was hearing similar sentiments from other Clinton backers.

"Just in talking to a few people on the way back from the Pepsi Center it seems people are comfortable with the idea of voting for Obama. I don't know how everyone feels, but I am not aware of any overwhelming lingering hostility. Everyone seems to be on board with the idea of an Obama/Biden ticket."

Both Hulsey and Pfaff praised Clinton's selflessness and her regard for the party.

"She unified the party tonight, no doubt," Pfaff said. "Most politicians only think about themselves and are generally pretty selfish. She was clearly thinking about Barack Obama becoming president, putting him before herself."

Adding another sports analogy into the mix, Hulsey said, "Nobody who wins the silver medal likes to stand up and congratulate the gold finisher. That said, she was very gracious and I do believe sincere."

Hulsey also said he wished Clinton's magnanimous side had shown through a little earlier in the process.

"I thought it was a great speech. I wish she would have made it months earlier," he said. "Throughout the campaign both Clinton and Obama found their voice, and obviously hers is a very confident one, but I think there was definitely something in her tone tonight that a lot of people appreciated and maybe would have been helpful during the primary season."

Overall, Hulsey was pleased with the result: "I think the speech helped us realize there is a common mission here, and that we are all after the same thing, which is to put a Democrat in the White House."

-- By Matt Clark and Mike Schramm

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 12:25 AM 

Analysis: McCain's record in the crosshairs

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Chris Micklos
Commentary
Hillary Clinton took to the podium tonight, and she delivered a phenomenal, inspiring speech that will easily rank as the best she has ever given. There will be a lot of words written and spoken about her performance tonight, but her full-throated endorsement of Barack Obama and stinging indictment of John McCain will no doubt go a long way toward bringing her supporters over to Team Obama. It was exactly what she needed to do, and the convention hall could not have been more enthusiastic and responsive.

However, for those wringing their hands over recent polls and concerned about Democratic defections to the Republican in November, the key comments to watch were not made from the Pepsi Center tonight but from a small press conference off-site on Monday.

Turncoat Wisconsin Democrat (and deposed DNC delegate) Deb Bartoshevich has gotten a bunch of publicity in recent days for starring in an ad for the McCain campaign. In fact, for all the attention she has gotten, her new-found Republican friends might even dub her a "celebrity".

But during a press conference to promote the ad, Bartoschevich was asked if she was concerned about McCain's anti-choice voting record. Her response: "Going back to 1999, John McCain did an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle saying that overturning Roe v. Wade would not make any sense, because then women would have to have illegal abortions."

Now, that doesn't really sound like something said off the top of her head, does it? That sounds like something straight out of campaign talking points. In fact, that sounds like just the kind of bad information that the McCain campaign would put out to obscure their candidate's real record.

Of course, it may well be true that McCain said that nearly ten years ago, but that is not the John McCain who is running for president today.

This is the man who has gone on bended knee to embrace the right-wing ideologues whom he once called "agents of intolerance." This is the guy who will not commit to supporting as president the immigration bill that he himself authored in the Senate. And this is the committed anti-choice candidate who has this to say on his own campaign website: "John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned".

For the record, that's the exact same web site where you can also view the Bartoshevich ad.

The point isn't to embarrass Bartoshevich. The point isn't to make her feel absolutely ridiculous about basking in her 15 minutes of fame while demonstrating complete ignorance of McCain's position on such a fundamental Democratic issue.

The point is that many, many of those Democrats and independents who are still resisting Barack Obama don't actually know the real John McCain. And in Wisconsin, school starts after Labor Day, so over the next two months, you can be sure that Democrats will make sure that those voters learn who John McCain is, what he stands for, and what the stakes of this election will be.

For example: a John McCain presidency means the end of Roe v. Wade.

So, while Hillary Clinton's unity speech was very important and equally effective, the key to unifying Democrats and bringing independents on board for Obama will be to draw the contrast between both candidates and make sure that voters know the real John McCain. That process began tonight in Denver, and it will gain steam over the next several weeks.

If the sad Bartoshevich episode is instructive of anything, it demonstrates that a lot of McCain support is built on misperceptions and deliberate deceptions. That's the kind of foundation that the Democrats can really hammer away at.

Expect to hear a lot more hammering coming from Denver during the next couple of days.

-- Micklos is partner and senior strategist at Visuality, a Madison-based media consulting firm. Contact him at chris@visuality.com.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

 11:19 PM 

Clinton: 'Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our president'

Excerpts from New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's speech to close Tuesday night:
I am honored to be here tonight. A proud mother. A proud Democrat. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama. ... I haven't spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women's rights at home and around the world ... to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our country and the hopes of our people.

And you haven't worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.

No way. No how. No McCain.

Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our president. ...

To my supporters, my champions -- my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits -- from the bottom of my heart: Thank you.

You never gave in. You never gave up. And together we made history. ...

I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible? ...

We need to elect Barack Obama because we need a president who understands that America can't compete in a global economy by padding the pockets of energy speculators, while ignoring the workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas. We need a President who understands that we can't solve the problems of global warming by giving windfall profits to the oil companies while ignoring opportunities to invest in new technologies that will build a green economy. ...

when Barack Obama is in the White House, he'll revitalize our economy, defend the working people of America, and meet the global challenges of our time. Democrats know how to do this. As I recall, President Clinton and the Democrats did it before. And President Obama and the Democrats will do it again. ...

John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain doesn't think that 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis. John McCain wants to privatize Social Security. And in 2008, he still thinks it's okay when women don't earn equal pay for equal work.

With an agenda like that, it makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart. ...

We are Americans. We're not big on quitting.

But remember, before we can keep going, we have to get going by electing Barack Obama president.

We don't have a moment to lose or a vote to spare.

Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hang in the balance.
Read the full text of Clinton's speech

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 8:25 PM 

Walker focuses on taxes in response to Doyle's address

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker criticized Gov. Jim Doyle's and Barack Obama's records on taxes in response to Doyle's speech before the convention this evening.

Walker, who's widely expected to challenge Doyle for governor in 2010, pointed out that tonight's convention theme was "Renewing America's Promise" and accused Doyle of breaking a promise to voters.

"Before the last election, Jim Doyle said to the voters of the State of Wisconsin, specifically, 'we should not, we must not and I will not raise taxes," Walker said, before accusing him of proposing raising taxes and fees by nearly $3 billion after the election.

Walker then highlighted Obama's record on taxes, saying he's voted either against tax cuts or for tax increases 94 times in the Senate and, despite professing support for the middle class, voted to raise taxes on those making $42,000 per year.

"I don't know about you, but that's what I consider to be middle class," Walker said.

Walker said Obama wants higher taxes on income, investments, savings, businesses, Social Security and energy.

"He promises a better economy," Walker said, "but we know that taxing our way to prosperity is no way to grow the economy in Wisconsin and across this country."

Walker made his comments at a McCain campaign office in West Allis. As Walker spoke, about 15 campaign volunteers made calls to potential voters.



In a Q&A with reporters, Walker said McCain's maverick character will help him attract the support of Reagan Democrats and win Wisconsin.

He called Obama's choice of Joe Biden as a running mate "one of the weakest choices possible."

"He's been in the United States Senate for nearly four decades," Walker said of Biden, who was elected to the Senate in 1972. "He's a creature of Washington."

Walker said he expects McCain will pick an outsider to share the ticket with him.

"I think he's going to pick somebody's who's just as much as a maverick and an outsider as him," Walker said, adding he would likely look outside of Washington, D.C., for his pick.

-- By David Wise


 6:55 PM 

Baldwin: Obama will bring 'health care to all'

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Madison returned to a speaking role at a Democratic National Convention Tuesday evening to discuss health care reform, praising Barack Obama as "the change we need to bring health care to all."

"I had the privilege of speaking to this convention four years ago," Baldwin said, lamenting a continued increase in the number of uninsured Americans following the 2004 election. "Today, the number of uninsured has risen to 47 million people."

Baldwin said that number included more than 9 million children, but did not include millions more Americans who are underinsured. She related the story of a constituent from Beloit who was forced to declare bankruptcy after losing her savings and available credit in a failed attempt to treat her husband's cancer.

"For millions of Americans, many of them women, illness also means crushing debt," Baldwin said.

Baldwin, who supported Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin primary, called the current election a historic opportunity to change the course of the American health care system.

"For eight years we've had a president who's more concerned about the health of insurance companies than the health of the American people, and John McCain is more of the same," Baldwin said. "Barack Obama believes that investing in the American people restores the American Dream."

-- By Andy Szal

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 6:08 PM 

Doyle promotes Obama's clean energy job plan

Gov. Jim Doyle followed U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy's lead during his turn at the podium of the Democratic National Convention Tuesday evening, evoking former President John F. Kennedy when discussing Barack Obama's economic initiatives.

"Democrats, this is our time to revive the spirit of Kennedy that brought so many of us into public service and together here in this great hall," Doyle said. "We are ready to move past eight years of an economic doctrine that favors the rich and ignores the rest."

Doyle took the stage in the Pepsi Center just before 5 p.m. MDT to address Tuesday's convention theme, "Renewing America's Promise." Doyle said Americans, and Wisconsinites in particular, continue to work hard despite "finding their dreams further and further out of reach."

Doyle illustrated the potential for Obama's commitment to "green economy" jobs by relating his trip to Antigo-based Merit Gear, which received a $250,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce during Doyle's "Up North" tour last week.

The company has announced plans for a $23.6 million expansion in Antigo. Doyle praised the transition Merit Gear has made to manufacturing gears for windmills in his speech.

"Their largest and most highly-engineered gears are turning inside the generators of windmills," Doyle said. "The boom at Merit Gear can happen in factories and towns everywhere. But that will only happen if we have a president committed to investing in education, job training and low taxes for clean energy innovators."

Doyle quipped that his family was among the first to endorse Obama -- "about five minutes into the keynote speech he delivered four years ago" -- and pledged to work his hardest for the Illinois senator over the remainder of the campaign.

"I'll work for Barack Obama so that all of our children and grandchildren know what it means to have a president who works for us," Doyle said.


Read Doyle's prepared remarks



-- By Andy Szal

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 2:29 PM 

Sponsors line up for delegate celebrations

The Wisconsin delegation shared the Rochenge Skybox Conference Center at Coors Field with the delegations of Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington and host Colorado following the conclusion of Monday's convention agenda.

The event, featuring some of the largest and most critical states on the electoral map, was sponsored by four labor groups (Airline Pilots Association PAC, United Pilots PAC, the Association of Flight Attendants, and the Chicago Federation of Labor), along with Vets & Military Families for Progress.

For the rest of the week, the Wisconsin delegation will largely be on its own in Denver's hotels after the evening's speeches.

The delegate celebration tonight will be at the Marriott, hosted by We Energies, Pfizer, 3M and MillerCoors. On Wednesday night, the delegation moves to the Hyatt Grand with sponsorship from AT&T, Chrysler and the Potawatomi Tribe. AT&T is sponsoring the final night's celebration at the Marriott, which will be co-hosted by Wisconsin and Illinois.

Sponsors of the convention's delegate breakfasts at the Marriott are the Democratic Governor's Association, Xcel Energy, the National Association of Community Financial Institutions, and the campaign of U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl.

See the full delegate itinerary

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 2:27 PM 

Analysis: America meets the Obamas

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Chris Micklos
Commentary
Red-meat Democrats who were waiting for an onslaught of tough rhetoric lobbed in John McCain's direction will have to wait until tonight for the nasty zingers and one-liners. And there's no doubt that they will come. Hillary Clinton will be coming to the podium in prime time, and it won't surprise anyone if she zeroes in on McCain.

But Monday night took a different tone, and it was an outstanding first step toward introducing the Obama family and their story to America.

The night started out rather shakily. Other than a moving tribute and surprise speech by Ted Kennedy that brought the convention hall to their feet (and many to tears), the night was starting to look like a bust until Michelle Obama's older brother introduced her to the convention. When she followed him to the podium, it marked a seminal moment in the campaign.

Until tonight, the Republican narrative on Obama has been to frame him as "the other." Whether that amounts to overt racism or simply the kind of mind-numbing political attack that Republicans excel at ("John Kerry is practically French, the bastard!"), it has clearly begun to take root. From the right-wing internet campaigns that have convinced many that he is a secret Muslim to the TV ads that frame him as a "celebrity" or "elitist", the Republicans have effectively begun to plant the seeds of doubt in voters' minds. Tonight, Michelle Obama fought back, and it was smart and effective politics.

In unfolding the fundamentally American story of the Obamas' childhoods and upbringing, Michelle struck at the heart of the Republican attack. It will be hard to make charges of elitism stick to a man raised by a single mother and his grandparents, who pushed aside a high-paying job at a powerful law firm to work in a gritty Chicago neighborhood. And how "different" can the Obama family be when their family looks so much like ours and shares our same fundamental American values.

It say a lot about the effectiveness of the Republican attack machine that Monday night was necessary, but Michelle Obama could not have been more effective than she was in battling back those creeping perceptions.

There were several moments of note that should resonate with voters:
  • The enthusiasm of Michelle's older brother and the obvious pride of her mother.
  • The cheesy-but-effective reference to "The Brady Bunch".
  • The story of how she met Barack.
  • The moving way that she spoke about her father.
  • The expression of core values inherent in the story of her family and Barack's.
  • The story of their struggle to succeed and stay grounded in their family.
  • That wonderful family moment at the end, with their daughters on stage and Barack on video from Kansas City.
For many voters, this is the first time they've heard these stories and seen this side of the Obama family, and it paints a dramatically different picture to what they have been hearing from the other side.

All told, it was a tremendous response to the GOP narrative that will allow the convention to now pivot and start hitting the issues much harder.

-- Micklos is partner and senior strategist at Visuality, a Madison-based media consulting firm. Contact him at chris@visuality.com.

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 11:40 AM 

Lawton: McCain has shown 'a fundamental disrespect for women'

John McCain has shown "a fundamental disrespect for women," and female voters recognize the stark differences between the Republican and Barack Obama, Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton said today.

Lawton cited examples such as an off-the-cuff remark McCain made about his wife competing in a bikini contest at a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., and his fumbling for an answer when asked about insurance that covers drugs like Viagra but not birth control. McCain has voted against requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for birth control.

"(Obama) deeply respects women, and we can not say that about John McCain," Lawton said during a conference call with reporters from the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

McCain spokeswoman Leah Yoon wrote in an e-mail that McCain has always recognized women's unique issues, worked on things like women's health care options while in Congress and that "these outrageous claims further reinforce the lack of confidence their campaign has in convincing Hillary supporters to vote for Obama."

Lawton, who backed Hillary Clinton in the state Wisconsin primary and co-chaired her state campaign, said that Obama's decision to put Clinton's name up for nomination at the convention is recognition of the historic campaign she waged for the White House. She said the move is a "sign of the strength of the Democratic Party."

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, who joined Lawton on the call, said McCain has repeatedly voted against reproductive health rights for women. She also said the Arizona senator doesn't appreciate the economic plight of ordinary Americans, especially women.

Clinton will address the convention tonight, and Moore said she is anticipating the speech.

"Her comments and her remarks will help galvanize the 18 million supporters she attracted in a way that will push our nominee over the finish line in November," Moore said.

Lawton and Moore dismissed media reports about a rift between the Clinton and Obama camps as the product of an over-active 24-hour news cycle.

"People are making stories out of non-stories and sort of chewing their cud," Lawton said.

-- By Greg Bump

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 2:19 AM 

Delegate Diary: The first night

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Stan Davis
After the Voice of America interview, I headed to the Colorado Convention Center for the African American Caucus meeting. It was almost over by the time I made it through the very creative McCain supporters who were blocking the entrance and chanting NoBama! NoBama! I just bought some T-shirts for my kids and headed to lunch with two of my favorite current and former DOA secretaries and some other members of the Wisconsin delegation.

Secretary Jackson and I went to the floor at about 3 p.m. to watch Chairman Howard Dean turn things over to Speaker Pelosi. She called the meeting to order, and there was a series of speeches that led up to the adoption of the Democratic Party platform. The evening session was pretty amazing with the tribute to Sen. Kennedy and Kennedy's appearance and speech. The crowd was clearly moved and inspired.

After being introduced by her older brother, Michelle Obama took the stage and gave a great speech in which she emphasized the importance of family, honored Hillary Clinton for putting 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling and talked of her love of America. For me, the highlight of the night was when the Obama daughters came onto the stage. Their genuine excitement when Barack was shown on the screen in front of them did more to humanize Sen. Obama than any brilliant ad exec could. It is impossible to see those two girls and how poised and well raised they clearly are and believe that Michelle Obama is the "unpatriotic loose cannon" that their opponents are trying to portray her to be.

On the way out Milton Bond and I saw lots of famous faces. Milton ran into Spike Lee in the rest room and got to shake Joe Biden's hand as he and about 30 secret service guys walked by us. Walter Mondale was right behind Milton as he was shaking Biden's hand. After Milton saw all of those people, I got to talk to Minnesota U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken. We also ran into former Maryland GOP Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. We still aren't sure what he was doing there.

The after party was hosted by the Democratic Governors Association at an amusement park right by the Pepsi Center. Upon entry, we were greeted by lots of tiny foods on platters: tiny hotdogs, tiny nachos, tiny funnel cakes and tiny ice cream cones. I'm not sure what that was all about, but tiny versions of real food just ticks me off. It took us a while, but we eventually found the real barbeque and had a late dinner. On the bus ride home, Secretary Morgan and I ran into the attorney general of the state of Maryland and heard about his trip with his son to see a Packers game at Lambeau Field.

I haven't heard any "expert" analysis yet, but I think that the night could not have gone much better politically. Between Kennedy and Michelle, it seemed like a great success, and I hope that it put a human face on the people that some are spending millions to demonize and caricature. It is way past my bed time, so I'll have to see what the talking heads said in the morning.

-- Davis is a government relations partner at Axley Brynelson LLP.

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 5:24 PM 

Pocan joins others in calling for legislation to allow states to bring Guard home

Wisconsin State Rep. Mark Pocan joined a Maryland legislator, antiwar advocates and members of military families on the steps of the Colorado Capitol Monday afternoon in support of legislation that would allow states to pull their National Guard forces out of Iraq.

"This war should never have happened and certainly should not continue, but the cost to the people of Wisconsin has been tremendous," said Pocan, D-Madison. "It's been a cost of not getting dollars for education, it's been the cost of not getting dollars for health care, it's had real costs to every single taxpayer in Wisconsin and yet we as legislators in Wisconsin have very little to say about it."

Pocan appeared at the event in Denver during the first day of the Democratic National Convention to join the "Bring The Guard Home" national organization in promoting legislation that says the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force has expired and that there is no longer a "lawful basis for Guard deployments" in Iraq.

Parents of Iraqi veterans shared stories of their children returning home from duty and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and other debilitating mental health problems. They said they were distraught over the thought of their kids being injured for a war that they "don't need to be fighting."

The legislators in attendance represented 10 states that have shown interest in the proposal that would allow them to bring their Guard forces home on their own accord. Maryland Sen. Jamie Raskin said everything about the build up to and subsequent fighting in Iraq has been mishandled, and the states should be allowed to bring their involvement to an end.

"This will be the everlasting shame of the Bush Administration," he said.

Pocan said that while the entire country would have to deal with the aftermath of U.S. occupation of Iraq for years to come, the results could be felt right now in his home state.

"Literally thousands of people in Wisconsin have been impacted by losing family members and friends," he said.

-- By Matt Clark

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 4:46 PM 

Bartoshevich: McCain's experience won her over

Deb Bartoshevich, the former Hillary Clinton delegate from Waterford turned John McCain supporter, says she's sure of her support for the Arizona senator for president.

But she's done with political parties.

Bartoshevich is featured in a new McCain campaign ad that was released today and was in Denver for a news conference that featured Democrats and independents who are supporting McCain for president.

Clinton has urged her supporters to back Obama, but Bartoshevich said McCain's experience won her over, and she's also a committed independent after considering herself a lifelong Democrat.

"I'm just one voter," Bartoshevich said. "I was a Hillary Clinton Democrat, and I think people are going to have to make up their minds on what matters most to them."

-- By JR Ross

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 4:37 PM 

Wisconsin delegation seated off the floor

The convention has been officially opened in Denver, and while both parties have emphasized the importance of Wisconsin in November, the Badger State delegation is behind Ohio and a host of other states in proximity to the stage.

Wisconsin delegates will be seated off the floor of the Pepsi Center, in section 124, rows 7-18. The first six rows seat half of the Ohio delegation; the Nebraska delegation is seated behind Wisconsin. They are also surrounded by members of the California, Georgia and Missouri delegations.

The delegation will, however, have a good view -- they are located just to the left of the podium. The floor space next to the stage will feature host Colorado, Obama's native Illinois and Joe Biden's native Delaware.

The state party is boasting about its hotel, which, in addition to being shared with the Illinois delegation, is located less than a mile from the Pepsi Center.

See the convention seating chart


-- By Andy Szal

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 3:58 PM 

Analysis: Obama is shrewdly winning the expectations game

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Chris Micklos
Commentary
Team Obama clearly learned a thing or two during the primary campaign.

The first rule of a politics is to raise expectations for your opponent and to lower expectations for yourself. That makes it impossible for the opponent to live up to the hype, and easy for your own campaign to shine. And after getting their hats handed to them in the expectations game during the primaries, the Obama campaign has done a remarkable job of lowering expectations leading up to the Democratic National Convention.

As the DNC kicks off in Denver today and Democrats and media continue to stream into the Mile High City, the party is clearly succeeding in lowering expectations and setting the stage for an exceptional showing by Barack Obama.

After a triumphant victory in Iowa to start the campaign season, expectations for Obama soared so high that his campaign was never able to get them back under control. First the Hillary Clinton camp exploited the spin to a point where his ultimate victory in the primaries felt like a defeat, and then Republicans took over the game and managed to frame the summer as a series of missed opportunities by the Democrat.

But something has changed in the last couple of weeks, as the Republicans began to overplay their pre-convention spin.

When Obama named U.S. Sen. Joe Biden as his VP choice, Republicans released a TV ad framing the choice as a slight to Hillary Clinton, and Republican notables like Rudy Giuliani and Bill Bennett hit the talk show circuit to feign amazement and disappointed that Clinton was treated so shabbily. Republicans have been so successful at spinning the national media that the DNC begins today shrouded in questions and fraught with manufactured peril.

Will Clinton supporters stage massive demonstrations and disrupt the convention? Is there a real chance of a floor fight? What will Bill Clinton say from the podium? Will Clinton snub Obama ala Kennedy-Carter?

You practically expect TV coverage of the convention to look like newsreel footage of Chicago in '68.

And what about the folks with their names on the marquee? Will Michelle Obama wilt under the spotlight tonight? Will Joe Biden stay on message? Can Obama himself rise to the challenge of his past performances from the podium?

All this has led to dramatically lowered expectations this week in Denver.

In fact, the Republicans have been so successful in raising questions and spinning the media that they were practically ridiculed this weekend when they suddenly realized that it was time to raise expectations, not lower them. An embarrassing GOP memo this weekend suggesting Obama would enjoy a 15-point convention "bounce" in the polls was laughed off by the national media.

Meanwhile, Democrats have arrived in Denver feeling a mix of trepidation and excitement. In chatting up delegates and others on the ground here, nobody quite knows what to expect ... but you can sense the potential for a real celebration to bust out at any moment. The enthusiasm that Obama generated during the primaries is alive and well in Denver, and that will take center stage during the next several nights. This will be the first real introduction that Obama will have to most of the country, and there will be tens of thousands of adoring fans cheering him on and providing plenty of electricity to power the event.

In fact, despite all those huge crowds throughout the primaries and Obama's surprising ascension: thanks to Republican spin, the cheers and applause and genuine goodwill that will elevate this convention over the next four nights will feel like a shocking turn of events.

After all their hard work, the Republicans have helped set the stage for Barack Obama to exceed all expectations.

-- Micklos is partner and senior strategist at Visuality, a Madison-based media consulting firm.

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 12:57 PM 

Baldwin & Doyle: Dems will present unified front

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin and Gov. Jim Doyle said Democrats will present a unified front at the Democratic National Convention, but Baldwin said she wasn't yet sure who she will cast her ballot for on the convention floor.

Baldwin, one of the state's 16 superdelegates, supported U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin primary, but now says she is a "full partner" in the Barack Obama campaign. She said her speaking slot tomorrow night at the convention is a reflection of the unity of Democrats behind Obama.

Still, Baldwin said she has not been privy to the discussions between Clinton and Obama about how the final nomination vote will be orchestrated. She noted that in 1988, supporters of Jesse Jackson cast their ballots for him even though Michael Dukakis was the certain nominee.

"If you look at the history of the Democratic Party and Democratic conventions where they have nominated candidates ... sometimes there has been the posture that they would like those people who were committed delegates to actually vote for that nomination," Baldwin said.

"Until I hear that I certainly don't want to tie myself in a knot that I can't untie," she said.

Baldwin and Doyle, who will also speak tomorrow night, made the comments during a conference call today with Wisconsin reporters.

Baldwin noted that it's unusual to have two people from the same state speaking on the same evening, but said it is an indication of the importance of Wisconsin in the election.

"We have been a swing state for a number of presidential cycles," she said. "I hope that come election day we will become profoundly a blue state, but we need to work to make that so."

Doyle said Dem excitement going in to this week is "incredibly high," and called this a "historic, momentous convention."

He said he will highlight economic concerns in his speech, including bolstering the manufacturing economy, lowering the tax burden on the middle class and making a college education more accessible.

Baldwin, who also got a speaking slot at the 2004 Dem convention, will focus her speech on health care. She said the convention will be about "turning our hopefulness into action."

"This is the moment where we have all been inspired throughout the primary, we are coming together behind Senator Obama and we are filled with hope because he as a leader has expressed such a hopeful message," she said.

Baldwin brushed aside a new McCain TV ad featuring Clinton-backer Debra Bartoshevich of Waterford. Bartoshevich was originally a delegate to the Dem convention, but had her status revoked after she refused to back Obama following the primary.

"I am amazed at how much attention is given to one solitary person," she said. "I have found nobody who has expressed similar sentiments post-primary. By all the attention she's been getting both in the mainstream media and the McCain campaign I wouldn't be surprised if she's a secret VP candidate or maybe will even introduce him next week in St. Paul at the convention."

Baldwin said the people she worked with in the Clinton campaign have enthusiastically moved to the Obama effort.

"I think the McCain campaign will run with this as long as they can, but the American people and Wisconsin people are pretty clear that she's just one person and the Democratic Party is coming together with great unity," Baldwin said.

Listen to the conference call here.

-- By Greg Bump

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 11:10 AM 

Delegate Diary: Breakfast packed with top state Dems

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Stan Davis
Today is the first day of the DNC and the first daily Wisconsin delegation breakfast. Before breakfast, I took probably too much pleasure in watching the new arrivals on the elliptical machines next to me sucking wind as they tried to adjust to the fact that there is no oxygen in whatever this is that we are breathing out here.

After picking up my delegate credentials for the day, I headed into the breakfast. Lots of friends and former colleagues were there including Gov. Jim Doyle's Chief of Staff Susan Goodwin and Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Boyce. I happened to sit next to former Doyle staffer and Clinton Delegate Shawn Pfaff. In a sign that the Democratic Party is coming back together nicely, Shawn told The Wisconsin State Journal this morning that he was 100 percent behind Sen. Obama. By the time I was done working him over, I had him up to 110 percent. Many elected officials were also there including (and I am sure I will forget several) Ron Kind, Kathleen Falk, Russ Decker, Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore, Dawn Marie Sass, Pat Kreitlow and Gordon Hintz. Secretaries Roberta Gassman and Celia Jackson are both delegates and were at breakfast as well.

Dem party Chair Joe Wineke kicked the program off by telling us all of the rules and how everything is going to work over the next four days. Then he introduced them morning's keynote speaker, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. After providing a nice summary of all of the positive things that have been accomplished since the election of Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress in 2006, Tammy got the delegation energized by talking about the importance of electing Sen. Obama because of President Bush's vetoes of legislation such as S-CHIP, which would provide health care to 9 million currently uninsured children in America. Having attended three previous conventions herself, she told all of us first-timers to make sure to take it all in and appreciate the enormity and the historic nature of what is happening here in Denver. I intend to do just that.

The program continued after Congresswoman Baldwin, but I had to leave at that point. I am heading over to the convention floor in a few minutes to be interviewed for a Webcast on Voice of America that will be broadcast all over the world (but not in America). My main goal is to avoid creating any international incidents before lunch.

After the interview, I will be heading to the meeting of the African American Caucus and then to a couple of policy briefings later in the day. The convention floor opens at 3 p.m., and I plan to be there to see Speaker Pelosi gavel the proceedings to order and listen to many of the speakers that are scheduled. I scored a ticket to the Democratic Governors Association party tonight, so that should wrap up my Monday and probably start off my Tuesday as well.

-- Davis is a government relations partner at Axley Brynelson LLP.

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 10:16 AM 

Bartoshevich stars in new ad, GOP press conference

Former Hillary Clinton supporter Deb Bartoshevich, who was booted as a delegate to the Democratic Nation Convention after she refused to pledge her support to Barack Obama, stars in a TV ad released today the John McCain campaign.

"I'm a proud Hillary Clinton Democrat," Bartoshevich says in the ad. "She had the experience and judgment to be President.

"Now, in a first for me, I'm supporting a Republican, John McCain. I respect his maverick and independent streak, and now he's the one with the experience and judgment.

"A lot of Democrats will vote McCain. It's okay, really!"

Bartoshevich is also joining McCain campaign adviser Carly Fiorina for a press conference this morning in Denver.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairman Joe Wineke said despite Bartoshevich's defection, a "vast majority" of Clinton supporters are strongly backing Obama.

"The reason is clear: John McCain is out of touch with the struggles of middle class and working families," Wineke wrote in an email. "Hillary supporters know that Barack Obama has a great plan to provide tax relief for 95% of Americans, and turn our economy around for all Americans, while John McCain offers four more years of George W. Bush's massive giveaways to the wealthy elite and corporate giants."

-- By Greg Bump

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 10:52 PM 

Delegate Diary: The parties

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Stan Davis
The convention has't started yet, but the parties are in full swing as most delegates and other DNC participants have made it to Denver. The Democratic National Committee party and the Friends of New Orleans All-Star Jam-Balaya have been getting rave reviews from those who attended. I chose to attend a tribute to the civil rights movement which was followed by a concert by a great R&B group called Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. The event was delayed for at least an hour by the first bomb threat of the DNC. Once we finally got in, there was a lengthy program to get through before the music was to begin. To make a long story short, it got so late that some of us went back to the hotel and never heard a note of music. Those who did said it was outstanding and they were also invited to attend an after party honoring the daughter of California Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Before leaving, I did see Danny Glover, Tavis Smiley, Bob Johnson (surprisingly to me), and my former mayor, the Honorable Marion Barry. I think I saw Disney star Corbin Bleu there too, but I would have needed my daughters Jenna and Jada there to confirm that it was him.

One great party related story from Sunday night came from Milwaukee delegate Milton Bond. Milton entered what he thought was a club in downtown Denver only to find that it was actually a private party being hosted by some DC lobbyists. When the door person asked him if he had RSVP’d, Milton responded by saying, "Hell, I'm not even invited." Despite this fact, the always giving nature of the lobbyists prevailed and they invited Milton in after which he proceeded to eat his weight in free food.

-- Davis is a government relations partner at Axley Brynelson LLP.

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 4:01 PM 

Obama stumps in Eau Claire on his way to Denver for nomination

Barack Obama ripped John McCain as out of touch with the economic realities facing many Americans during a stop in this western Wisconsin city Sunday as he began the trek toward Denver to formally accept the Democratic nomination.

Obama mocked McCain campaign ads that warned the Democrat's tax plan could lead to economic disaster.

"Economic disaster is here," he said. "I don't have to lead you to anything. It showed up over the last eight years."



He also riffed on McCain campaign adviser Phil Gramm's assertion that America was in a "mental recession," telling the crowd at a city park that "It's not people's imagination that they're feeling more pinched and their budget doesn't balance at the end of the month."

"You just get a sense that these folks are out of touch," Obama said.

Obama chose Eau Claire, a city of more than 65,000, for his first stop on his way to Denver following Saturday's rally with his running mate, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, in Springfield, Ill.

Read more WisPolitics.com coverage of Obama's stop in Eau Claire

See more video from the Obama campaign here.

-- By Greg Bump

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 11:38 AM 

Ousted Dem delegate heading to Denver anyway

Deb Bartoshevich, the Wisconsin Hillary Clinton supporter stripped of her Democratic delegate status after she opted not to back Barack Obama for president, says she'll be going to the Democratic National Convention in Denver anyway.

Just not inside the convention hall, and not with Democrats.

Bartoshevich told WisPolitics at a house party she hosted for the McCain campaign on Aug. 14 that she'll be heading to Denver Sunday to participate in activities with the Republican Party before and during the first day of the convention. Bartoshevich said she plans to stay just one night in Denver.

She said she doesn't have plans yet to attend the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, but said she would "love to" if asked.

Republican Party of Wisconsin spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski, who attended the house party, said the RPW was looking into the possibility of getting Bartoshevich an invitation.

Bartoshevich said she is finding a lot of people who are saying they're not going to vote. "Don't give up that freedom; go out there and vote," she said. "Just vote for who you believe will be the best person to lead this country."

Read the full story: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=133624

-- By David Wise

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

 7:27 PM 

Delegate Diary: Thoughts on the Biden pick

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Stan Davis
My phone woke me up at 1:42am (MDT) to notify me that Sen. Obama had selected Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware to be his running mate and the Democratic nominee to be vice president of the United States (I refuse to use the term "Veep" here or anywhere else). Before we get into any substance, let's play six degrees of separation with Joe Biden. Back in the mid-90s when I was living in D.C. and working for Sen. Paul Wellstone, I lived in the basement apartment of an attorney named Sara Jones. While I lived there, Sara began to date and eventually married a gentleman named Jim Biden. Jim Biden is the younger brother of the man who hopes to be the next vice president. Is that three degrees?

As far as the pick is concerned, I think Sen. Obama made a great choice. Biden brings experience, but also has maintained an everyman image during his time in Washington. Far from not being able to tell you how many houses he owns, Biden still takes the train home to Wilmington from D.C. every night with the rest of the commuters. His foreign policy background serves as a great compliment to the judgment that Obama has demonstrated regarding national security issues when many with much more experience got things very, very wrong. Biden's experience in the ways of Washington will also be essential to actually implementing the change that Barack will bring to the country.

You either pick your V.P. to help you win a state or run the country. This pick is clearly intended to accomplish the latter. Just as President Bush did not select Dick Cheney to win Wyoming's three electoral votes, Obama was probably not too concerned about winning Delaware. Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia or Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico would have had an interesting impact on the electoral map by possibly helping Obama win those states. However, they all had their pros and cons, and I appreciate the decision to put the emphasis on successfully governing instead of pure electoral math.

Obama/Biden '08 - it has a nice ring to it.

-- Davis is a government relations partner at Axley Brynelson LLP.

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 3:07 PM 

Moore selected for panel discussion on women's issues in Congress

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, will participate in a panel discussion sponsored by Women's eNews on Wednesday in Denver.

The panel, titled "They Got the Memo: Members of Congress Reveal How They Push a Pro-Women Agenda," will also feature U.S. Reps. Lois Capps and Loretta Sanchez of California, Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Carolyn Maloney of New York, Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.

-- By Andy Szal

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 3:01 PM 

Pocan to address National Guard deployments

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, will join New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg and other state legislative sponsors of a proposal to end National Guard deployments to Iraq at a press conference Monday in Denver.

The event's organizers, the national Bring the Guard Home! campaign, argue that state legislatures must end Guard deployments, which they say are against the law, since Congress has not acted.

Wisconsin is one of 11 states where legislators are working with organizers to develop and pass Guard defederalization legislation.

In addition, Madison attorney and former national Green Party co-chairman Ben Manski will also address the press conferece.

See more: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=134252

-- By Andy Szal

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 2:31 PM 

Dems hope for unity at national convention

Gov. Jim Doyle is set to lead the Wisconsin delegation to the Democratic National Convention out west this week, where the nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate will be made official on Thursday.

As both parties move into the home stretch of the presidential campaign, the Democrats want to put their arduous primary behind them. Getting past the primary could come to a head when Hillary Clinton's name is put before the convention in a roll call.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Joe Wineke said many Clinton delegates may cast their convention votes for the New York senator, but rejected the notion that any negativity from Clinton supporters would cloud the Denver event.

Wineke said he expected Clinton, who will speak to the convention on Tuesday, to ask her supporters to endorse Obama on the final roll call and estimated that "about half of them will."

"We are going to have a very cordial vote," Wineke said. "I think it's good for unity."

Wineke said that the unity of the Democratic Party is the most important thing to showcase to voters during convention week, but also said that Democrats must convey that they will deal with the economy. He said the convention also presents an opportunity to continue introducing Obama to voters.

"I'm absolutely convinced that the more people get to know Senator Obama, the more they get to like him," Wineke said. "Because the vast majority are on his side on the issues."

-- By Andy Szal

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