Mark Curtis's blog

Biden Accepts VP Nomination

Denver Mark in Booth.JPG

(Denver, Colorado)

I have really enjoyed this week in Denver, covering the Democratic National Convention. I love my job, because it often offers me a front row seat to history. This year has been full of those unforgettable moments.

I was struck watching Sen. Joe Biden and his family last night, and was again amazed by the personal story of one of our politicians. The accident that killed Biden’s first wife and daughter, and severely injured his two sons, is gut wrenching. It happened just days after he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972. Biden nearly decided to not accept his seat in Congress. As his son Beau recalled last night, Biden mused “Delaware can get another Senator. My kids can’t get another father.”

But other Senators prevailed and Biden took the oath of office at his son’s hospital beside. Fast forward 36 years, Biden is remarried and his boys are grown, with kids of their own. Beau is Delaware Attorney General and will soon deploy to Iraq as a member of the National Guard.

As with John McCain’s gut wrenching POW story and Barack Obama’s broken family upbringing, voters are often moved by the deeply personal stories of their candidates. Almost every family has to deal with hardship and tragedy from time to time, and it humbles us. When it happens to our political leaders, it makes them more human to us and can give us a sense of shared empathy. The Senator quoted his mom, who was in the audience last night. After the accident she told him, “Joey, God sends no cross you cannot bear.”

Of course Biden’s rise to national prominence is much more than the journey following personal despair. He now has 36 years in the U.S. Senate and has served as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees. He is an elder statesman of his party; and provides good balance for the young and still “green” Obama.

On the latest international crisis, Biden said, “We will hold Russia accountable for its actions, and we will help the people of Georgia rebuild.” Biden can say that because of his depth of experience. A similar line coming from Obama might not engender nearly the same level of confidence. Thus, Biden is the Vice-presidential nominee. The audience seemed pleased.

“Well I think he did a terrific job,” said Gloria Canegata, a delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands, “I expect to see him as the next Vice-president of the United States.”

And when Barack Obama surprised everyone by joining Biden on stage, supporters were thrilled. “That’s a nice looking ticket, isn’t it?” said Gail Northcutt, a precinct organizer from Detroit. “I’m just so excited about this ticket. I can’t wait to get back home and get to work,” she added.
Biden was quick to note that he and John McCain are close, personal friends and he deeply respects McCain’s military service and bravery. But, Biden noted, they differ widely on many issues of the day, and he tried to link the Republican nominee’s policies to those of President Bush.

“That’s not change,” Biden said of McCain’s issue stances, “That’s more of the same.”

Keep tuning in for more blogs and videos throughout the day, as we gear up for the Obama acceptance speech tonight from Mile High Stadium. Tell your friends about

Denver Nomination by Acclamation

Denver Judge Jones.JPG

(Denver, Colorado)

You never know who you are going to meet in this business. A case in point, on Wednesday night I was getting reaction to the fact that Sen. Barack Obama had just been nominated by acclamation to be the Democratic Party nominee for President.

As I was randomly going from person to person in the arena hallway, I approached an older black gentleman, whom I had pegged for a senior citizen. Figuring he’d seen a lot of history in his life, I asked him for his reaction to the choice of sealing the nomination by acclamation, instead of by the traditional roll call vote. “I think this is a way for this nation to come to grips with its history, and save our souls,” he said.

Now I found that comment interesting, so I asked him what he meant. “I was there in 1963 (for the ‘March on Washington’),” he said, “This sort of rounds out the circle.”

When I asked him his name, he said Nathaniel Jones of Cincinnati, Ohio. He then told me he was a retired federal judge, having been appointed by President Jimmy Carter, serving on the bench for twenty-five years.

So, I was curious. When he marched in Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and thousands of others that hot August day, did he ever imagine a multi-racial candidate would be his party’s nominee for President? “I never thought it would happen given what the polls were in 1963,” Judge Jones said.

He hopes the party can unify behind Obama, and leave the bruising primary battle with Sen. Hillary Clinton behind. “I think too much media attention is focused on the disgruntled,” said Jones, “There are winners and losers.”

Judge Jones previously served as general counsel to the NAACP, a position once held by the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

The move to nomination by acclamation came about half way through the traditional roll call. New Jersey passed the torch to Illinois, and then Chicago Mayor Richard Daley passed to New York. At that moment from the shadows came Sen., Hillary Clinton, who took her state’s microphone, and asked the crowd to nominate Sen. Obama with “one voice, right here, right now, he is our candidate and he will be our President.” The conventional hall roared with approval.

So in the end, the compromise worked. Clinton received the credit for her historic campaign by a partial roll call vote, and Obama got the show of unity he desired to try to show party unity.

“I liked it,” said Gloria Garnett, “I think it will bind us all together as a whole.” Garnett is a precinct captain and an election judge in Dallas, Texas. She was behind Obama all the way, but is reaching out to her former rivals. “I have already contacted my Clinton voters, and they are on board,” Garnett said. “We are all Democrats and that’s what counts.

Delegate Robert Camacho of Walnut Creek, California saw it much the same way. Camacho, who is Latino, gay and was recently married, originally backed Clinton. He was truly touched by her motion on the floor today, to vote by acclamation, knowing how hard it must have been.

“First and foremost, I admire Senator Clinton,” Camacho said, “She’s a human being. Just seeing her get behind the party. We know we lost. She’s showing us how to unite.”

Later, former President Bill Clinton addressed the convention to wild cheering. He had the funniest line of the night about his wife Hillary’s historic and razor thin primary campaign against Sen. Obama, saying it generated “so much heat, it increased global warming!”

On a more serious and conciliatory note, the former President said, “I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November.”

I will have many more blogs from Denver. Check back often at I will also be on KTVU’s “Mornings on Two” at 7:45 Thursday morning.

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