Notes from the Democratic convention

Some snapshots from the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Denver:


As with every national political convention, there are political causes being aired here that won’t make the Democratic Party’s platform or the evening news — like vegetarianism.

There are street buskers and fine musicians playing for folding money and change all along the pedestrian precinct known as the 16th Street Mall. There’s even a guy dressed up as Santa Claus whose cause remains obscure.

Then there are Les Spencer, 60, and Tony Viessman, 76, of Rolla, Mo. They are "Rednecks for Obama." They had that message on a 6-by-8-foot banner outside the only access point Sunday to the Pepsi Center, where the convention kicks off tonight.

"Republican — they think the Democrats will take their guns away from them," Spencer said.

The security here is intense. There are helmeted horsemen in front of the Sheraton downtown where the California delegation is staying, and knots of police, most in riot gear, at almost every downtown intersection. The constant sirens and blue-and red-flashing lights mimic what’s going on down on the red-and-blue themed convention floor.

By comparison with Boston’s convention venue four years ago, the Pepsi Center floor space for delegates is small. That means many delegations will be seated in the gallery looking down on the floor. Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee are all up in the cheap seats. Florida and Colorado have the best real estate on the floor. The Scripps Howard News Service workspace is located right above the band, which, delightfully, contains not one, but two drum kits.

— Bartholomew Sullivan, Scripps Howard News Service.


Other Texans may be disappointed that Barack Obama passed over Texas Rep. Chet Edwards to be his running mate. But you’ll hear no whining from Edwards.

"Barack Obama chose the best candidate of all," Edwards said of Obama’s eventual pick, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.

Edwards, who was on Obama’s short list for the vice presidency, told the Texas delegation on Monday that being considered and vetted for the position was "the greatest privilege of my lifetime."

But, "Sen. Obama made the right decision and, I think, for the right reasons," he said.

Biden will be a strong campaigner and a great vice president, Edwards said. Not only has Biden been a leader on foreign policy, Edwards said, he also understands the concerns of everyday Americans who are worried about keeping their jobs and their homes.

— Michael Collins, SHNS


The Odd Couple strikes again? Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, onetime rivals for the Republican presidential nomination and — who knows? — possibilities for the vice presidency, have scheduled visits to Denver during the Democratic National Convention.

Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams said Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, plans to be on hand for a news conference Tuesday. Giuliani, former New York City mayor, is coming Wednesday.

The two men, who lost to John McCain in the Republican presidential primaries, are part of the Republican National Committee’s "war room" effort to give the media a GOP perspective on the Democratic convention. Prominent Republicans will hold news conferences both before and after the daily sessions of the Democratic Convention.

The theme for the Republican operation in Denver, Wadhams said, is "Not ready: A mile high and an inch deep" — a reference to GOP contentions that Obama is too inexperienced to serve as president despite his popularity among Democrats.

– Tom Humphrey, Rocky Mountain News.


A different kind of election is brewing between McCain and Obama.

It’s an "alection" distilled at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company in California. Lenny Mendonca of California is pitting McCain Ale against Obama Ale, both produced by his microbrewery. Voters go to the polls either at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company restaurant and brewery or online at

The poll tax is $3.75 a pop for a bottle of either beer. The Obama beer officially debuted this week just before the Democratic National Convention. Mendonca passed out 2,000 Obama beers to delighted Democrats, giving the senator from Illinois quite a lead over the senator from Arizona.

— Trish Choate, SHNS