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Friday, September 07, 2012

 3:17 PM 

Delegate Diary: Not exhausted, just energized

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Sachin Chheda
Delegate diary
You wouldn't believe it, but I'm not exhausted today. Just energized. Writing Friday afternoon, I'm reflecting on an amazing experience, and one I'm sorry I didn't try to do earlier. Of course, it helped that I slept past 10 this morning.

There's so much to say about last night. The energy level was top notch from the moment we entered the arena. Most delegates got there pretty early -- getting the best seats, and not wanting to miss a thing.

A major highlight for the Wisconsin delegation, of course, was Tammy Baldwin on the main stage. Most of us wore Baldwin shirts, and from what we saw later, our enthusiasm was shared through many, many TV shots of the Wisconsin delegation during Tammy's speech.

She did great. She is a quiet, but tremendous leader who much more clearly shares the values of Wisconsin's middle class. We're ready to go to work and keep this seat in Democratic hands.

The stars (both political and Hollywood) were out in force last night. Although my personal highlight was hanging with Patricia Arquette earlier in the week (and I use 'hanging' very loosely here; it was like four sentences of interaction while she sat near me for an hour), the campaign's effort to get straight males to vote Dem this year was evident, with stage appearances by Kerry Washington, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Longoria. More than just beautiful women, all had substantive things to say, and compelling stories to tell of the role their community and government had in helping them succeed in life.

It was also a night filled with music, with the National Anthem performed by Marc Anthony, and James Taylor, Mary J Blige and the Foo Fighters doing sets as well. All helped the energy level stay high.

Former Michigan Gov Jennifer Granholm tore the roof off with a stemwinder extolling Obama's moves to save the auto industry, and if she is looking to get a network show, it was a great audition. The crowd was on its feet especially for her list of jobs saved by state, with Wisconsin coming just before states like Ohio and Michigan with more than 25,000 jobs saved.

The audience was also brought to tears again and again. Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords gave the pledge, and her courage and strength, and good humor (what a huge smile!) were evident. There were multiple tributes to our veterans and those currently in harm's way, and John Kerry's stand-up routine at Mitt Romney's expense (where was that guy in 2004!) gave way to a serious, quiet and proud examination of how Democrats have stood up to take care of military members and veterans. A four-star general then led a huge contingent of Iraq & Afghanistan veterans who support President Obama, and the crowd was feverish with gratitude for the sacrifices service members, veterans and their families have made. There was even a video about the woman in South Carolina who launched "Fired Up, Ready to Go" that was an incredible example of how volunteers really have an impact in this campaign, vs. the big money contributors.

There was also a surprising amount of attention paid to civil rights, for LGBT people and immigrants (clearly, the Obama campaign knows something about the good hearts of the American people), and the crowd loved Zach Wahls, an Iowa man raised by two moms who became a YouTube sensation for telling his story to state legislators. He gave a great speech. And obviously, despite the Thompson campaign's attempt earlier in the day to attack Tammy Baldwin's orientation, we're proud to stand with her and she had a prominent final-evening speaking slot.

The highlight of the night was of course President Obama and Vice President Biden giving their remarks, and the crowd was ecstatic. We loved Dr. Jill Biden as well, and there is no doubt the core of the Democratic Party left the convention energized, fired up and ready to go.

As I close this blog, and thank readers for following along, I want to just mention two quick things.

First, our seats were close to the stage but on the side, so in addition to seeing the speakers up close, we could also see the main central teleprompter. It was great fun all week to watch which speakers stuck to their prepared remarks, and which ones could deviate. Also, who stepped on their own applause lines. Obviously, President Clinton's tour de force was the master class in going off script to great positive effect. Ask my fellow delegates about that.

Second, we had fun. Like these guys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nHPBvTP7ik. That guy's colleague lassoed me yesterday and pulled me across as I crossed that street. Awesome.

Go vote!

Follow Sachin on Twitter @skchheda or see his Facebook page (facebook.com/sachinchheda) for pictures from #dnc2012.


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