DENVER – It was going to be a day of formalities on the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Denver with the formal roll call of each state delegation to cast their votes to nominate a Democratic candidate to run for President of the United States.
The evening before, Hillary Clinton did her best to end the division among Democrats with her boisterous and impressive speech. The question remained, as the delegates filled the floor Wednesday afternoon inside the Pepsi Center, Was she able to unify the party and persuade all of her dedicated supporters to move over into the Barack Obama camp? The upcoming roll call of the delegations would certainly reveal it had, in fact, worked.
My day at the Pepsi Center began when I entered the venue just behind Karl Rove. I looked, was that really him? I didn’t think his type would be allowed inside. As I pondered that a mid-aged woman ran up behind me.
“What’s that asshole doing here, he can’t go in there. He’s not allowed,” she said as he slipped through the door in front of me. “Stop him.”
By the time she had said that, Rove was through the gates and already headed into some dark corner of the convention. I pass through to the escalator. Rove’s entrance had put a scare into those who were hubbubing near the entrance. “Jesus, did I just see who I think I saw?” One man exclaimed. Nobody could believe it. The ghost of Karl Rove had made it in.
Roll call on the floor had just started. I knew the most exciting and dramatic stuff was to come later in the evening when Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Joe Biden were to take the stage but I wanted to see the delegations in action.
It was 4 p.m. and the buzz was definitely on the floor and with the delegates. Roll call was the reason these delegates had traveled across the country and some (American Samoa and Guam) around the world. Each state was certainly excited to be involved in the process with a chance to be put up onto the big screen.
With excitement, Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar announced the Colorado delegation’s support for Obama, who received 55 delegates to Clinton’s 15. For the most part each state represented a margin similar to Colorado’s. Some states, where delegates were100 percent in favor of Obama, received the highest applause and cheer from everyone in the crowd.
This process, although seemingly pointless and very formal, was the best I been able witness to since arriving in Denver. There were some very proud people there that day. Delegates were so, so proud of the people they were representing as Democrats, even if they remained in the Hillary camp when voting.
I was caught up in the excitement as the process moved alphabetically through the states and territories. I made my way to the rear portion of the floor near the speech teleprompter. My head was on a swivel trying to keep up with the action as speeches from state representatives moved around the room. Somehow I had crossed into a secure area where people with floor passes, no matter who the were, weren’t allowed in. The presence of the Secret Service became more and more a reality at that point. I had heard that Hillary might make it onto the floor for New York’s portion of the roll call to release her supporting delegates to favor Obama.
I stood in the aisle with anticipation. If she is going to be coming out of that tunnel, I thought, I will be in the forefront, ready to take some paparazzi-style photos. More S.S. officers moved onto the floor. I heard the tall one in front of me say “two minutes, OK two minutes.” They are an impressive bunch. They were certainly in control.
New Mexico just finished up and I could see a pack of officers move onto the floor for even more security. And, then, there she was out onto the floor in her pants suit, coming to unify the party by halting the roll call to nominate Obama by acclimation to a roar of cheers and tears.
“Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jesus,” said a delegate from Georgia after Clinton’s from-the-floor motion was passed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to suspend the convention rules and nominate Barack Obama the Democratic candidate for president. “And thank you Hillary. I love you Hillary. Oh my God. This is so great. What a way to do it. Thank you Jesus.”
The delegates on the floor, the city of Denver, the Democratic Party had just voted the first African-American to become a major nominee. What I had just witnessed was indescribable. It was a feeling of jubilation, of relief. The Hillary/Barack drama had been building throughout the convention. It came to a climax when Hillary marched onto that floor in the most dramatic and triumphant fashion and made her motion. She did the right thing.
For me, the Democrat division was over. I looked around to see if I could find any irate Hillary supporting delegates whose vote had just been taken away by her motion but all I could find was celebration and thankfulness. With that, Mrs. Clinton walked off the floor and out of the presidential spotlight … for now. I walked away with a new political addiction … and stern warning for keeping my floor pass way past my allotted hour time limit. It was certainly the most dramatic and exciting part of the convention I had seen.