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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

 10:47 AM 

Delegate Diary: Happy, but exhausted

Sachin Chheda
Delegate diary
I'm exhausted. It's a happy exhausted, but you just don't get enough sleep at these things.

Mostly, it's still about speeches. It's mid-morning Wednesday, and I could write 10 pages on Michelle Obama, NARAL President Nancy Keenan, Mayor Cory Booker, Govs. Deval Patrick, Ted Strickland and Lincoln Chafee, and so many more. I won't, but I could. One note is that the media and social media reaction and the room's reaction seem to be very different. On Facebook, people liked Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland a lot, but in the room it was just so-so. But in the room Booker seemed like a three-run homer, but some in the media apparently are saying it didn't play as well on TV.

We delegates are in a pretty good mood. Last night, there was a lot of emotion. The Kennedy tribute, the student, the firefighter, the woman with her daughter needing ObamaCare's lifting of lifetime caps, the mom who introduced her five children in different branches of the military and then introduced Mrs. Obama -- all brought tears.

I was especially moved by the directness and honesty of the Democratic embrace of marriage equality and abortion rights. No hiding our views, which contrasts, as I said the other day, with the GOP strategy. We are who we are, and we are progressive on social issues. Keenan especially energized the crowd -- she's a friend and a rising star after holding statewide elected office in Montana and spending the last eight years at NARAL. Many in the hall are eager to see what she'll do next. I think Rahm Emanuel had a great speech, but it was delivered flat and didn't seem to pump up the room the way many others did. Strickland made a lot of friends with an impassioned speech, and Patrick was the master of soaring oratory, as usual.

Breakfast yesterday and today featured heavy-hitters from the campaign and a lot of Wisconsin Democratic stars. Yesterday we heard from Debbie Wasserman Schulz, emphasizing the need to work hard for the next nine weeks to bring Wisconsin home, and the messaging focus on the middle class and how we need to not return to the failed policies of the past. We also heard from Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller and Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca. Both are very popular with the delegation, and it was a good reminder that the federal races that dominate the news aren't the only battlegrounds for the fall.

This morning's breakfast brought Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, who teased Gov. Jim Doyle about his enthusiasm for cheese. He also had a moving tribute to Vietnam-era veterans, who he noted didn't get treated very well upon their return, compared to those who fought in World War II, Korea, and in the Middle East conflicts of the 1990s and today.

We also got an updated brief from Obama Deputy Manager Stephanie Cutter, who proved that Dems aren't afraid to run on our record, and Dem ownership of "#AreYouBetterOff," which has to be seen as a failed attempt by the GOP to frame the debate. We aren't losing 750,000 jobs a month, Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive, so things do seem to be slightly better than they were four years ago.

Also speaking today was Howard Dean. He was fired up. And Congressman Ron Kind & Congresswoman Gwen Moore, although very different, both were very warmly and enthusiastically received. We have a diverse party.

And Tom Barrett closed things out with an adult, honest examination of where we are, where we're going, and how we're going to get there. He reminded us that Americans often have political amnesia, and we have to remind people how bad things were four years ago, and why they rejected the same policies and values that Romney and Ryan are promoting now. He also told a hilarious story about being on Geraldo Rivera's radio show at the GOP convention, with Geraldo having forgotten he was a Democrat until they were live on the air and Mayor Barrett was deep into his attack on the other side's Medicare proposals. And Tom made sure we showed our appreciation for Dem Party Chairman Mike Tate, Executive Director Maggie Brickerman, and their amazing staff to make sure we delegates have a great experience.

I also wanted to mention that there are still substantive things happening at the convention. A Small Business Council meeting yesterday drew a packed room of entrepreneurs and local elected officials. As a representative of Small Business Majority pointed out, there are 28 million small business owners in America, and only a small fraction are represented by any one interest group. There are many, many Democratic small business people (I was with a bunch from Wisconsin) and we have to have our voices heard louder. There was great discussion about how to start Democratic business councils across the country.

It's a convention, so I've bought some T-shirts. Ate some pizza. Gone to a few parties. I'm late for a lunch now. Until next time!

Follow Sachin on twitter at twitter.com/skchheda or Facebook at facebook.com/sachinchheda


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