As promised, WRUN Admin Pattie here, back to do this Convention Cop thing again, this time for the Democrats. As I mentioned last week, I’ve been a registered Democrat since I turned 18. Those expecting a non-partisan take on this evening’s event will be disappointed (though thanks for stopping by). As always, I will try to be fair and will point out what statements, affirmations, and issues I disagree with because even though this is the party named on my voter registration card, I don’t always like what they do and say.
Here’s the line-up for the night and rest assured, readers, I am fully caffeinated:
Speeches from the Time Warner Cable Arena:
7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.:
• Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.)
• Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack
• Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Md.)
• Education Secretary Arne Duncan
• Progress for People Video: Education
• American Voices Remarks
• Former Gov. Jim Hunt (N.C.)
• Remarks and Video Presentation in Memoriam
• Former Charlotte Mayor Harvey B. Gantt
• Jessica Sanchez, Singer/Songwriter
8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
• Stronger Together Video: Women’s Health
• Elizabeth Ann “Libby” Bruce
• Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America
• Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.)
• Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.)
• American Heroes Video: Veterans
• Ed Meagher
• Veterans Affairs Secretary General Eric Shinseki
• Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter
• Gov. John Hickenlooper (Colo.)
• Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of Roman Catholic Social Justice Organization, NETWORK
• Gov. Jack Markell (Del.)
9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.:
• Karen Mills
• Progress for People Video: Small Business
• Bill Butcher
• Calif. attorney general Kamala D. Harris
• Stronger Together Video: Immigration
• Benita Veliz, DREAM Act Activist
• Cristina Saralegui, Journalist, Actress, and Talk Show Host
• Sandra Fluke, Attorney and Women’s Rights Activist
• Austin Ligon, Co-Founder and Former CEO of CarMax, Inc.
• An Economy Build to Last Video: Auto-Industry
• Karen Eusanio
• Bob King, President of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)
• Randy Johnson, Cindy Hewitt, and David Foster, Former Employees at companies controlled by Romney’s Bain Capital
• Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.)
10:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.:
• Jim Sinegal, Co-Founder and Former CEO of Costco
• Elizabeth Warren, Candidate for Senate, Massachusetts
• DNC chair Antonio R. Villaraigosa
• Former president Bill Clinton
• Roll Call Vote
• Alice Germond, Secretary of the Democratic National Committee
• Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, California
• Retire Colors
Reaction to remarks by Nancy Pelosi:
Nancy Pelosi leads with the fact that she was the first mother and grandmother to be Speaker of the House. Nice touch. That segues nicely into the “Drive for 25” – the Democratic push to get the 25 more House seats they need for a majority. While praising Obama for leading on Health Care and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, she says he was blocked at almost every turn by the GOP and specifically on the DREAM Act. (Shout out to Latino voters!)
The money part of the speech is her list of items “on the ballot” in this election: Medicare, Social Security, Women’s rights (nice), Citizens United (also, nice inclusion), the “character of the country.”
Has Pelosi set the tone for the night: focus more on programs and specific issues, less on the overall economy? We’ll see. Twitter pundits mention that Pelosi should have listed the 2011 debt battle as evidence of one of the ways the GOP tried to hamstring the President. Probably. Maybe she’s leaving that for another speaker.
Reaction to remarks by Tom Vilsack:
Vilsack is apparently here to make the case that the Dems are better for rural America. Most interesting point is that he seems to be the only speaker at either convention to mention the Mid-west drought. Congress famously failed to act on drought relief or a farm bill before breaking for recess on August. Unfortunately, Vilsack does not chide Congress for this, I wish he did. He gives the President credit for his actions in redirecting Agriculture Department funds and purchases to help aid farmers after Congress failed to reach a consensus. The farm bill and drought relief is, sadly, a prime example of not only how Congressional Republicans and Democrats failed to work together, but of how the Senate and the House failed to reach consensus with competing legislation. Each chamber wants to do things their way and only their way so in the end, nothing is done.
Reaction to the Democratic Women of the Senate Video/Tribute:
The music annoys me. It’s a little too cutesy for a tribute to female lawmakers in my opinion.
The 12 Democratic women of the Senate march out and my first thought is, “We need more than that.” Then, maybe we would have had a chance of advancing a Paycheck Fairness Bill?
Reaction to remarks from Sen. Barbara Mikulski:
Speaking of the Paycheck Fairness Bill, its sponsor is at the mike. “Every issue is a woman’s issue. Equal pay for equal work is an all-American issue,” she says. Word to that. Mikulski repeats what is becoming a point made by many female speakers that this convention: The Affordable Care Act makes it illegal for insurers to charge women more for care. Like the video, some of Mikulski’s turns of phrase are too cutesy for my taste – “We work on macro issues and macaroni and cheese issues” – but her ending point is her best. To finish the work of the recovery, “We need reinforcements.” Read: elect more women. We’re working on it!
Reaction to remarks from Arne Duncan:
The appearance of Arne Duncan signals that we’re entering an education block of speakers. As mentioned last week, my household is very much “the choir” to preach to on this issue. Two adults working in public education plus one child attending an urban public school.
Duncan’s speech is quotable, which is fine, but I find myself wishing for more on K through 12 class size and the importance of saving teaching jobs in urban school districts, in hopes of achieving the kinds of student teacher ratios that more affluent districts can tout.
He shifts to higher ed: “higher-ed is an economic necessity,” Duncan argues and mentions the President’s very laudable work to secure Pell Grants and keep student loan rates low. The Obama Administration gets a lot of criticism on K through 12 education, much of it valid, but I argue that they don’t get the credit they deserve on higher ed. Lost in the bickering over the debt battle is the little-known fact that the entire debt deal almost fell apart because some in the House GOP wanted to cut the Pell program to the bone. That the Pell program emerged with more funding and increased annual awards is remarkable. This is an important point to me because, as a employee of a large urban community college, I see firsthand everyday that Pell Grants assist lower-middle class and poor students, many of whom are the first in their families to obtain any kind of higher education. If you’re going to make the case that America can still provide a “path to the middle-class that goes through America’s classrooms,” you need to fund Pell Grants. Full stop.
Reaction to Pell Grant video and remarks by Miami-Dade Student Johanny Adames:
OK, the tactic of putting real people out there to make the case for the President is paying off. She’s terrific. I’m getting misty because I see this young lady and thousands like her everyday at my college. She is the face of millions of part-time college students in this country, who work, take care of families, and go to school.
Some background, Miami Dade College, one of the largest community colleges in the country, is a favorite of the Obama Administration. The President made a commencement speech there in 2011.
Reaction to remarks by Jim Hunt:
Hunt is making the business case for education and is doing a terrific job of it. His recount of the North Carolina education-to-research jobs-success story is causing some on Twitter to joke that he’s running for another term as governor. “Magic didn’t do it in NC. Education did it” is going to resonate. Gives Obama credit for focusing on community colleges more than any other president. I think it’s necessary to add that that is in no small part due to Dr. Jill Biden’s dedication to community colleges. Let’s give credit where credit is due.
Reaction to remarks by Elizabeth Ann “Libby” Bruce:
Interesting that Bruce is making the case for Planned Parenthood by recounting her experience with endometriosis, which is a condition that is often treated with hormonal contraception. The same contraception that the Blunt Amendment and other GOP-backed legislation tried to get bumped out of the Affordable Care Act. By the way, it’s a condition that I also suffer from. Once again, I am the choir.
Reaction to remarks by Cecile Richards:
As a speaker, Cecile is not her mom, the late force of nature Anne Richards, but she’s pretty damn good. She leads with a blunt (ha!) assessment of the Congressional GOP: “On day one they came after women’s health and have not let up since…It’s like we woke up in a bad episode of Mad Men.” Hey, I think I made that point!
She adds in some folksy Texas charm to chip away at the Romney-Ryan claim that their budget plan and proposed legislation helps women: “any more help from Mitt Romney and I’m going to have to take in ironing.” OK, yes, I did LOL at that one because it’s something MY grandmother would say and she’s definitely not from Texas. Overall I think Cecile Richards did Planned Parenthood proud.
Reaction to remarks by Steny Hoyer:
Leads with the well-known Mitch McConnell quote that the Republicans’ top priority was to make Obama a one-term president. Don’t expect that that will be the only time the speakers refer to that McConnell quote tonight. Not quite “we built that” but it will reappear, trust me. Hoyer then transitions into a Jesse Jackson quote to sharpen the point: “they want to drown the captain, and they’re prepared to sink the ship to do so.” That was unexpected but it’s a great line. Hoyer riffs on the theme of GOP obstructionism for a while before wrapping it up.
Around this time it dawned on me that most of the night was still to come. Yikes! Also, around this time I began to notice some scuttle on Twitter that the Dems were shaking up the speaker schedule for various reasons. A few speakers had been dropped or moved to Thursday. Hmmmm…
Reaction to remarks from Gov. John Hickenlooper:
Hickenlooper’s theme of “we, not just me” is very well executed, especially when paired with his point about the history of the American west not being just “rugged individualism but about communities.” It makes me wonder if it’s a very subtle jab at Romney’s attempt to be the heir to Ronald Reagan, who as an actor, did much to extend myths about the American cowboy. Even if it’s not intended as such, it’s great. Hickenlooper has been underrated as a speaker but I’m not sure I’ll make that mistake again. He’s not overly folksy but calming in a way that few politicians are and after the summer that Colorado has had, calming may be just what is needed right now.
Reaction to remarks from Sister Simone Campbell from Network:
You know for all the talk from the GOP about the Democrats ‘getting rid of God’, quite a few of the speakers have mentioned faith. Strickland quoted the Bible on day one and Sister Simone Campbell, one of the Nuns on the Bus is in a prime speaking spot on day two. Sister Simone is phenomenal as a speaker. Right off the bat she fires up the audience and shores up her position by saying “I am my sister’s keeper. I am my brother’s keeper” well-known to the delegates and home viewers as one of the most resonating lines of Obama’s 2004 DNC speech. The audience on her side, Sister Simone then sets about making the moral case against the Ryan budget. What could be more powerful than a nun repeatedly saying “it’s just wrong” on national television? Why did no one think to give her a ruler? (Yes, I went to Catholic school.)
Her best line might have been her defense of the Affordable Care Act which she says will stop people from dying unnecessarily due to lack of care. “This is part of my pro-life stance and the right thing to do.” Zing. The Vatican may not be pleased.
We transition into the Small Business block.
Reaction to remarks from Gov. Jack Markell:
Making the business case for Obama. Decent job with content, poor delivery.
Reaction to remarks from Karen Mills:
Little known fact: before Obama, the head of the Small Business Administration was not a cabinet position.
Reaction to video/remarks from Bill Butcher:
At this time of night, Butcher should probably have NOT led with the fact that he did not bring free beer. I know I need it. Another well-chosen “average American” on the podium. Butcher does a nice job, with well-placed shout-outs to the Recovery Act and to small local banks. (As an aside, I’m of the mindset that it’s probably not a bad thing that Obama’s acceptance speech got moved from the Bank of America Stadium back to the Time Warner Arena, given that bank’s less than stellar reputation.)
Reaction to remarks from Kamala Harris:
It’s always interesting to me to see the various ways politicians try to tell their personal stories through discussions about key issues. For Harris, the Attorney General of California who helped broker a $25 Billion dollar settlement with five major banks over the housing crises, she links her story to the home ownership dream. More precisely, her mother’s purchase of a new home when Harris was a child and the pride the family felt. Read: “I am an average American like you who takes pridae in owning a home.” Along the way, she tries to ding Romney, citing an interview he gave with a Las Vegas newspaper in which he said that the housing market should “run its course and hit the bottom.”
Did he say that? Yup, but in fairness to Romney, that’s not all he said. Even so, the Romney housing plan is light on details.
Reaction to DREAM Act video and remarks from Benita Veliz:
Veliz is the first undocumented person to speak a national political convention. This is important and it is being noticed by Latinos. Many of the Spanish-language news sites I searched prior to this evening’s speeches mentioned Veliz’s speech tonight, not Clinton’s, as the moment to watch. For those who don’t know, Veliz’s presence at the convention is made possible by the fact that by executive order, Veliz and millions of other undocumented young people, are no longer “illegal.” Obama signed the order after the DREAM Act stalled in Congress.
Reaction to remarks from Cristina Saralegui:
Cristina is apparently the Latina “Oprah”. If pulling Oprah into politics was an achievement in 2008, this is easily as important, perhaps even more so because of the battle for Latino voters. Her speech is a fluid blend of English and Spanish. She’s not the first convention speaker to do that this year, but she’s doing it very well. “The promise of America is in danger,” she warns. ” Governor Romney calls young people like [Benita] ‘illegal aliens.’ President Obama calls them ‘dreamers.’ That is the difference in this election.” What is notable here is that Christina does not simply ask “su gente” to vote. She asks them to organize, register other voters, and spread the word about the difference between Obama and Romney. Powerful appeal.
And we’re transitioning into a block about the auto industry.
Reaction to auto industry video:
There have been a several good videos tonight but this one is the best. This is the one directed squarely at middle America.
Reaction to remarks from Karen Eusanio, GM autoworker:
More “average American” voters nailing their moments on the stage. Key quote: “Because he put himself in our shoes, he put us back on our feet.” Which reminds me, have you read our guest blog post on empathy? You should.
Reaction to remarks from Bob King:
Starts off with are Margaret Chase quote. Nice. He’s the wonkiest, most professorial union leader I’ve ever seen and though his delivery is labored (ha!), his points are very good. “Obama met the test of moral character” he says of the auto industry rescue. “It was not universally popular but it was absolutely right.”
Nice reminder about Labor Day. “Generations of workers fought for the right to organize and collectively bargain. Look at Wisconsin…that’s why unions matter.” That mention of Wisconsin is not an accident. It pulled Ryan into the conversation without needing to mention this name.
Reaction to remarks from Randy Johnson, Cindy Hewitt, and David Foster, Former Employees at companies controlled by Romney’s Bain Capital:
Very emotional speeches from all three, and all three follow the same cadence down to the “we know businesses sometimes fail but…” Trying to fact check these is tricky. There are differing reports as to how much money Bain made off of these endeavors. Interesting that the last story from the steelworker takes a direct shot at Romney over his end date as Bain’s CEO, itself a subject of considerable debate.
Pairing these two segments together is not accidental at all. The message the Democrats want to present: Obama saved jobs, Romney destroyed them and made money doing so.
Reaction to remarks from Chris Van Hollen:
Another theme of the night emerging: “let’s all fact check Ryan!” It’s Van Hollen’s turn and he looks like he’s enjoying it. On the debt: “Paul Ryan voted for ALL of it” and “Congressman Ryan, America is literally in your debt.”
Disputes the GOP claim that the President does not have a plan for reduce the deficit: “He does! It’s on the Internet!” It is. As is the jobs plan. And he adds that the Bush tax cuts “lifted the yachts while the other boats ran aground.” Props to Van Hollen for being brief and quotable when I needed a caffeine break.
Reaction to remarks from Sandra Fluke:
The moment that many in women’s rights activism have been waiting for. Fluke’s victory lap over he-who-shall-not be-named. Calls Romney-Ryan future for women’s health an “offensive relic.” It’s notable that Fluke is the first speaker of the night to bring up the Violence Against Women Act, though not by name. Which makes me more disappointed in Pelosi’s speech.
Fluke calls out Romney for not denouncing…you-know-who and implies that this is a severe character defect. Obama by contrast, thinks of his “daughters, not his delegates.” It should be noted that the timing of Fluke’s speech is one of the key deviations from tonight’s schedule. She was shifted into the network television coverage from an earlier slot. The fight for women’s votes is important. Prime time important.
Reaction to remarks from Jim Sinegal
Poor guy to have to follow Sandra. I apologize, but I did not hear much of what he said beyond his discussion of his company’s superior wages and benefits for its workers. It was good stuff but I think his speech and delivery suffered because of the timing shift. He should have been in the block with the auto industry and Bain employees. The crowd was not patient with him either. They were ready for Warren and Clinton.
Reaction to remarks by Elizabeth Warren:
Nice welcome from the crowd. Thanks to Emily’s List and the Democratic National Committee’s mailings, the delegates know who Warren is and the importance of her race. This is Teddy Kennedy’s seat after all, to Dems, it is blasphemy to have anyone but a Dem in it.
Even without the bio, I challenge anyone to not have guessed that Warren had been a teacher. Her delivery gives her away and that’s not a knock. She is smart to focus on the “corporations are not people” thing and to directly challenge Romney on that point. Interesting that speech addresses Romney and not her opponent, Scott Brown. That seems deliberate as well. She ends on two key points: one a Biblical reference and one a tribute to Ted Kennedy. What was I saying about blasphemy? Yeah. Overall, her national debut is a success. She’s measured and professorial but passionate. Can that translate to a win over a pro-choice male candidate? We will see.
It’s time for the big gun. Tonight’s headliner.
Reaction to remarks by President Bill Clinton:
Between the video and the song, I’m 16 again, watching my first DNC in 1992. He’s…extremely Bill Clinton. Did he just flirt with the First Lady? Did I just express surprise at that?
He pays compliments to his wife and the State Department because if he didn’t there would be Hell to pay in the media. Even more compliments to the President. Nicely done.
He’s all charm to start, then Professor Bill comes out. Watch out. Goes after the GOP for getting rid of their top moderates. Though he does not mention Senator Dick Lugar by name, that’s who he’s alluding to. This is vintage Bill Clinton circa 1992, 1993. Never thought I’d see this again.
Holy crap, he’s not stopping. Taxes, Medicare, Welfare. Took that one personally, he says. Twitter says he went off the prepared remarks five minutes ago. This is AD-LIBBED!!!??
Now he’s after Ryan! It takes Brass!
My co-admin just posted “Arithmetic!” on Facebook and then presumably, passed out. (Just kidding.)
Journalists on Twitter are losing their minds at how much of this is not in their prepared texts.
Crowd is chanting “four more years” but it’s not clear on for whom? Obama or Bill?
My husband is sitting next to me in stunned silence. Only Bill Clinton would adlib a wonky, nearly hour-long takedown of the opposing party’s entire platform on live television. With a smile. Everyone remember why the GOP hated Bill? Because he could do that.
He’s done. The crowd may have let him go on longer. Bow and hug to Obama. Like Paul Ryan’s speech last week, that one’s going to be a bear to fact check but it was unlike anything I’ve seen or heard done at a political convention.
Years ago, when Bill Clinton left office, my mom was still upset over what had happened in the last half of his presidency and I don’t blame her. There will always be a question of just how much Clinton could have accomplished if he had more control over his baser leanings. Still, I told her that I thought history would be kind to Bill Clinton. Kinder than it would be to other recent presidents. I stand by that. Was tonight’s epic speech about Obama vs. Romney or about Bill Clinton’s legacy? We won’t know for sure until November but my knowledge of Clinton tells me that it was probably a bit of both.
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