Anderson is in Denver along with the best political team in television covering the Democratic Presidential Debate... Join the conversation! I can't promise Anderson will join in, but let's hear what you think so far.
Take a look at whats happening on the convention floor. LINK TO THE BLOG CAMERA
AC360° Editorial Producer
The CNN Grill is up and running, and rumor has it that this is the place to be after the speeches! Already, Gayle King, Oprah Winfrey's best friend and editor-at-large for O, has been spotted in the Grill as well as frequent 360 guest, TIME’s Mark Halperin. I need to ask him later how his burger was.
CNN has taken over this Denver restaurant normally called "Brooklyn's," flown in star chef Michael Romano, of Union Square Café in New York, to cook up a special menu, and turned it into the coolest restaurant, hang-out and studio. Not only can we grab some food with Washington’s biggest power players (Rep. Barney Frank told me earlier that he was stopping by tonight), but I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim Daly from ABC’s Private Practice stopped by later today to grab some dinner and a CNN Brew, which is specially made this week for us by Breckenridge Brewery.
For those of us who won’t be able to be inside the Pepsi Center for the speeches, we will be able to watch it all on the numerous TVs while chowing down on Romano's yummy specialties. I already have a favorite, the barbeque potato chips. Reports to come later on Anderson’s faves. 🙂
The Grill is also home to CNN’s main operations, and if you have watched some of our coverage today, you have seen the inside during some of the guest interviews and reporter’s live shots. Most of us are upstairs pecking away at our computers as we try to report stories, but we are really excited to see what tonight brings. It should be interesting to see the crowd’s reactions to the speeches tonight. I’ll be sure to send in a report later on and let you know who stopped by.
That’s all from Grill….
CNN White House Correspondent
Presidential candidates usually keep a low-profile during the other guy's convention, but not John McCain. He's trying here in his home state to stay relevant to what's happening in Denver at the Democratic National Convention.
The strategy behind McCain skipping the usual R&R is pretty clear: The latest CNN/Opinion Research poll shows this race is much closer frankly than either side expected to be in a sour year for Republicans, so Team McCain wants to keep the heat on Barack Obama.
"If you had told me two months ago that we'd be dead even heading into the Democratic National Convention, I would have told you were crazy," one McCain adviser told me.
So McCain advisers say their goal is to do all they can to hold Obama's convention "bounce" in the polls down to a minimum, so he could head into St. Paul next week with some real momentum. They think the best way to do that is to drive a deeper wedge between Obama and Hillary Clinton.
A few observations as the convention is about to convene:
This is Barack Obama's convention. It will have his stamp on it, including ushering the Clintons off center-stage and into supporting roles-however reluctantly.
It is also a Democratic Party convention, with threads of history and some immutable principles since the 1960s-especially regarding civil rights, women's rights, and a certain perspective on economic issues. The Clintons are (whatever their shortcomings) a big part of that story, especially the successful parts: Bill Clinton is the only Democrat to be
elected twice to the presidency since FDR.
The Clintons-like Ted Kennedy, who will be powerfully present tonight-do not want to see the presidency turned over to John McCain or four more years of Republican policies: remember, they have spent their adult lives fighting against the Republican Right....even to the extent of Hillary Clinton labeling it "the vast right-wing conspiracy."
We journalists, especially on television in the past few days, have placed far too much emphasis on recent polls, a notable example being trying to divine the effect of Joe Biden's addition to the ticket within hours of his being named. This is silly.
The presidency will be won in the electoral college, something very different than national polls about the popular vote. Polls can be good snapshots, useful tools-but, as Mark Penn and Hillary Clinton learned, they can be far off-course.
Barack Obama confounded almost every poll to defeat Hillary Clinton-and concentrated on superior organization, the consistency of his message (sometimes perhaps vague in terms of what he would specifically do as president), and remarkable discipline. Most Republican professionals I have talked to believe he has a large organizational advantage in the states he must win to become president.
After two days of working in the relatively empty pepsi center, it's a bit of a shock to suddenly see the place swarming with people.
The lines thru security are long, but once you're inside the excitement is palpable, if a bit unfocused. It has something of the feeling of the first day of school, a lot of nervous energy and people unsure where they are supposed to be.
Right now I'm in a room off a back hallway, waiting to go on the air. I checked out our set a minute ago and James Carville was getting mobbed – people asking him for photographs. Donna Brazile walked by in a yellow vest. "You look like a traffic cop," I told her. "They just made me a floor whip, and sent me to give the florida delegation their seats." For anyone who followed the drama over seating michigan and florida delegates, the irony is obvious.
It's still unclear if Senator Kennedy will speak tonite, but he is certainly on the minds and in the hearts of many here. Michelle Obama is speaking of course and her words will be closely followed by friend and foe alike.
Conventions are scripted, rehearsed, and polished, but that does not mean they are unimportant. These may not be the conventions of old, where backroom deals and floor fights were common, but they do serve a purpose. Certainly for democrats, some of whom have yet to accept the primary results, and who are now facing a dead heat, this is a chance to demonstrate unity, introduce their candidate, and draw distinctions between themselves and the republicans. I've got to go to the platform now, the crowds are getting thicker, and the clock is ticking.
In the wee hours last night (it was a long one here at the CNN Grill) photographer Emmanuel Tambakakis and I saw the police setting up more fences and more tents and metal detectors for admitting people into the convention center area. We'd spent the last two days reporting with Joe Johns on the security set up here in Denver, on how people were waiting up to an hour and a half to clear security, and how a pretty small and quiet protest had actually caused the whole security entrance to be closed down for a while yesterday, causing a decent amount of chaos for people needing to get in and out of the convention center. So we took note that the authorities were recognizing the problems with their set up and trying to fix it. None of us wants to spend hours standing in line when there's news we need to get to.
Two hours later, at 4:30 in the morning, I was back with Joe, in a hurry, needing to get to our satellite truck to file our story to New York. This time, I admit, I was cursing the upgraded security under my breath. Actually some of it might have been more over than under... We'd walked the long walk from the parking lot to the security entrance, with all our heavy bags. Everything was going fine until we got a few yards away from the gate and were told we couldn't get through that way anymore, and we'd have to backtrack what seemed like about a mile. That was when I thrust all my bags on Joe Johns and started running, worried about getting to the truck in time for the satellite window we had booked. I'm no runner, but I made it... less than pleased about my early morning sprint.
Editor's Note: Now that Sen. Barack Obama has chosen his vice presidential nominee, some republicans are saying that Sen. Joe Biden's biggest problem is that he's not Hillary Clinton. Today on American Morning, Former Hillary Clinton Press Secretary, Lisa Caputo weighed in on the issue. Here are her observations:
Former Hillary Clinton Press Secretary
On Rudy Giuliani’s reaction to Joe Biden getting the pick from Barack Obama:
“I think the republican party is grasping at straws. Clearly, I find it fascinating that Rudy Giuliani is out there lauding Hillary Clinton, his political nemesis… They have a history. I'm sure this has a lot to do with Joe Biden's great one-liner in the debates in the primaries where he said that Rudy Giuliani was known for three words, one of which is 9/11, I and 9/11, which is to say that Giuliani didn't have a lot of depth and a lot of substance. So I think they're scrambling because Biden is such a solid pick for the democratic party.”
On polls showing Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain tied, even after selection of Joe Biden:
“I expect a bounce coming out of the Democratic Convention for Senator Obama. He must not only define himself but he must define himself in relation to Senator McCain. So he's got to do two things, he's got to define McCain and define himself and show America what the differences are between the two of them.”
On the reaction to the Democratic Presidential ticket:
“I think in the end democrats will unite around Barack Obama as the leader of the democratic party going into this election. Democrats want to get rid of the McCain-Bush era and I think it's fair to say that going into this convention you're going to see the democratic party highlight the strengths of the ticket. What Joe Biden brings to this ticket? What Barack Obama brings to this ticket? In change, Biden bringing the experience, an appeal to women voters as a sponsor of, an author of the Violence Against Women Act. Very pro-Israel, Joe Biden, which will help with Jewish voters… If you look in today's "New York Times" however you'll see that there is a poll out saying more than half of the delegates, the Clinton delegates, are for Obama. And I think in the end you will see absolutely Hillary Clinton do the right thing. On Wednesday she is convening her delegates. She is going to talk to them and ask them to throw all of their support against Barack Obama. So I think that democrats will absolutely unite. It's Barack Obama's convention and it's Barack Obama's day.”
On John McCain’s new ad with former Hillary supporters saying 'I can’t go with Obama':
“I think he has nowhere else to go except to try and grasp at a straw here and take the tact of why didn't he pick Hillary Clinton? The fact of the matter is Biden was a very strong pick and even as Ed has said, you know very strong resume, and he is going to appeal to swing voters. He's a Catholic. He's from a working class background, reared in Scranton, Pennsylvania near my hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. And so I think Biden was absolutely a strong pick and I think the McCain campaign is scrambling to figure out, gee, now what do they do because Obama picked such a credible number two.”
It's the opening night of the Democratic National Convention. You could say this is like an opening night on Broadway. The stage (Denver's Pepsi Center) is set. The "stars" (the politicians) are ready to shine. And, the audience (the delegates) are ready to clap and cheer. We'd love to know: what do you want to see out of this 4-day political extravaganza? Got any expectations?
Tonight, the big buzz is over Senator Ted Kennedy. He's making a surprise appearance in Denver on this the first night of the convention. The Massachusetts senator will watch a video in his honor, and may speak to the delegates if he feels up to it. This will be only the second time he has been seen in public since brain surgery in June.
The night also belongs to Michelle Obama, as she delivers her biggest speech ever in prime-time. She's expected to focus on family and values. Barack Obama will be watching from Kansas City and will address the crowd via satellite after his wife's speech.
Democrats start this convention with Barack Obama in a dead heat with John McCain. The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows the race tied at 47 percent each. It's the first poll since the Obama picked Joe Biden as his running mate. "This looks like a step backward for Obama, who had a 51 to 44 percent advantage last month," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. Do you agree?
With the tight race as a backdrop, the DNC has a lineup of heavy hitters who will take the stage tonight to praise Obama and likely tear into John McCain. Here's tonight's list of speakers:
David Gergen | Bio
CNN Senior Political Analyst
As the Democrats open their convention in Denver, these quick thoughts:
CNN Political Producer
Madonna, no stranger to controversy, took a sour jab at Sen. John McCain as she kicked off her "Sticky and Sweet" tour Saturday night.
During a concert in Cardiff, Wales, images of the Arizona senator were shown alongside Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe, destruction and global warming on a screen above the singer.
Later, images of Beatles legend John Lennon, fomer vice president Al Gore, Mahatma Ghandi and Sen. Barack Obama were projected onto the screen, according to the Associated Press.
"The comparisons are outrageous, unacceptable and crudely divisive all at the same time. It clearly shows that when it comes to supporting Barack Obama, his fellow worldwide celebrities refuse to consider any smear or attack off limits," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.