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Thursday, July 28, 2016

 2:27 PM 

Delegate Diary: Tired but ready for a big night

Exhausted but energized. Those are the best words to describe my feelings at the moment.

It has been a tremendous week so far, and last night was one of the best convention experiences I’ve ever had.

The day started early with the Wisconsin delegation gathering for breakfast and credential distribution. We had a tremendous lineup of speakers to fire us up at the early hour, including Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Ron Kind, DNC Vice Chair R.T. Rybak and others. The crowd was especially enthralled with Booker, who had the entire room captivated.

I snuck out of breakfast before the last few speakers to make it to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the second and final Youth Council meeting of the convention that I had the privilege of chairing.

The Youth Council meeting was a packed house. When I got up on stage to call it to order, I was so inspired by all the young people who were getting involved in this convention and party for the first time. When people talk about an enthusiasm problem with millennials, they don’t know what they are saying. What I saw yesterday showed young people fired up and ready to go.

Our meeting had a panel on millennial topics in politics about how youth issues intersect with other communities and how to best advocate for progressive change. We had a few young candidates and elected officials stop by. And, to cap things off, Booker made a special appearance. Much like at the breakfast, he left that room spellbound. If you haven’t heard of him before, start paying attention. He is going places.

After the council meeting was done, I had just 20 minutes to grab lunch and then had to start making my way to the convention floor. Getting through security has been getting a bit faster each day, which is great. We made it in the arena just in time to vote to officially make Tim Kaine the vice presidential nominee.

Following that, the evening just kept getting better. We heard from some truly moving speakers, including the mother of one of the people killed in Orlando. We had Broadway singers perform. We had Lenny Kravitz on stage. It was a night I’m not sure can ever be beat.

The most interesting thing I think a lot of folks don’t know is that once you are in the hall, especially the later it gets, the chance of getting out is slim to none. What I mean is with so many people and so much energy for our speakers -- on top of all the security -- the fire marshals end up shutting the floor down and people can’t go in or out. That means you sip that bottle of water slowly so you don’t have to leave to use the restroom. If you do, the folks at the door say you likely won’t get back in. So after 7 p.m., I was glued to my seat.

The night went a lot later than I expected, but it was completely worth it. From Vice President Biden to Sen. Kaine, and then to President Obama, I was on my feet, waving the signs, cheering at the top of my lungs. My voice is starting to go this morning from so much screaming.

I won’t go into details on the speeches, because you can find that elsewhere. But between the three of them, I think it’ll be tough to top. But I’m sure Hillary Clinton will.

Once the activities adjourned for the evening, we headed out for some parties. We’ve learned the fastest way out is to take the subway back to City Center. It was a packed train, but it also saves about 45 minutes in travel time, so it’s worth a few minutes of discomfort.

We headed to two parties last night, one for the Truman National Security Project and another for the Economic Innovation Group & The Daily Beast. Even with several thousand people visiting Philadelphia, I ran into people at both parties I’ve met over the years.

We finally made it back to the hotel at about 2:30 a.m., only to start it all over again bright and early this morning. And let me tell you, I am exhausted. However, I’m also fired up and ready for tonight. I know conventions are a long, tiring affair, but they also are among the most motivating and inspiring things any political junkie can do.

I’m hurrying out the door this morning to get to the LGBT Caucus meeting and then to another event before the grand finale. More tomorrow.
-- By Jason Rae


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