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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 www.MarkCurtisMedia.com. I will also be on KTVU’s “Mornings on Two” at 7:45 Thursday morning.

Reaction Mixed to Hillary Clinton's Unity Speech

Denver Molly Brennan.JPG

(Denver, Colorado)

Molly Brennan of Berkeley was thrilled. She was in the Pepsi Center Tuesday Night when Sen. Hillary Clinton addressed the Democratic National Convention. Molly is president of the Cal Berkeley Democrats, and is studying political science at the University of California.

Being inside the convention hall is about the best education in that field she can get these days. The trick was trying to unify the Democratic Party, after the bruising primary fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The New York senator flat out fully endorsed her Illinois counterpart in the speech.

“I think she made sure to say his (Obama’s) name fifteen times, probably more than that,” said Brennan. Her point was well taken. There have been doubts about the sincerity of the Obama endorsement from both Bill and Hillary Clinton. Stating, and restating the endorsement by Sen. Clinton was an effort to drive home the point.

“I hope her supporters were convinced by that,” said Brennan. We may find out the real answer in November. Almost everyone I spoke with last night, who was in the Clinton camp, is now “on board” the Obama train, though some went reluctantly.

After the rally, one woman who asked not to be identified, told me gruffly, “I’ll give him my vote, but I won’t give him any of my money!”

Karen Rubin is a photographer I met on the train home after the rally. She’s here from New York, and was a big Clinton supporter. “I am resentful,” Rubin said, “I believe the election was stolen from her. I was in tears listening to her because to be frank, she’s the better candidate.”

Despite her disappointment, Rubin will vote for Obama and is upset with fellow Democrats who either plan to stay home or vote for John McCain. But she is concerned Obama can’t beat McCain. “I worry voters will choose experience over youth,” Rubin said.

There were lots of displays of unity Tuesday night. Geneva Jones came from Washington, DC. She originally backed Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), but switched to Obama. Still, she liked Clinton’s unity speech. “It was wonderful, but I expected it,” said Jones.

Her good friend Vera Hall of Baltimore was with her. Hall backed Obama from the beginning, but liked Clinton, too. “I think Democrats were blessed to have two great choices,” Hall said.

For her part, Senator Clinton was fully aware of the dilemma faced by many delegates in this historic race. “And whether you voted for me, or you voted for Barak, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose,” Clinton said, “Barack Obama is my candidate, and he must be our president.” The crowd roared its approval.

The message was not lost on Mahvash Taqi, a 28 year old of Indian decent who now lives in Washington, DC. Taqi can’t vote because she is not yet a citizen, though her application is in the pipeline. “I am supporting Obama,” Taqi said, “And I came here to celebrate the unity.”

We’ll know in November if the unity theme stuck. In the meantime, keep checking back every couple of hours for new updates on www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

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