August 25th, 2008
10:24 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 8/25/08

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

Filed under: Live Blog
August 25th, 2008
07:40 PM ET

The CNN Grill: The place to see and be seen

Kay Jones
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….

August 25th, 2008
07:28 PM ET

McCain's having a little fun

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/25/art.mccain.yankee2.jpg caption=" Sen. John McCain and Puerto Rican reggaeton star Daddy Yankee waves as they board the Straight Talk Air campaign charter airplane in Phoenix, Ariz., Monday."]

Ed Henry
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.

Filed under: Ed Henry • John McCain • Raw Politics
August 25th, 2008
07:21 PM ET

The convention's a big story unfolding

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/25/art.dnc.pepsicenter.jpg caption="Inside Denver's Pepsi Center, host to the 2008 Democratic National Convention."]Carl Bernstein
AC360° Contributor

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.


August 25th, 2008
07:03 PM ET

The convention's first day feel

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/25/art.dnctolife.jpg caption="The Democratic National Convention comes to life on it's opening day in Denver, Co."]

Anderson Cooper

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.

Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Behind The Scenes • T1
August 25th, 2008
06:38 PM ET

Navigating the DNC security obstacle course

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/25/art.dnc.security.jpg caption="Policemen prepare to guard the front entrance to the Pepsi Center, site of this week's Democratic National Convention, before a protest march Sunday, in Denver."]Justine Redman
CNN Producer

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.


Filed under: Democratic National Convention • Joe Johns • T1
August 25th, 2008
06:37 PM ET

Joe Biden's biggest problem?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/25/art.obamabiden.jpg] 

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:

Lisa Caputo
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.”

August 25th, 2008
06:17 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Opening Night

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/08/25/dnc.main/art.endorsed.afp.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Edward Kennedy will appear tonight at the Democratic National Convention."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

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:


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
August 25th, 2008
06:08 PM ET

Opening of Historic Convention

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/25/art.dncconvention.jpg]
David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

As the Democrats open their convention in Denver, these quick thoughts:

  • HISTORIC: Whether or not they win the White House, this Democratic convention represents an historic breakthrough. Remember that this is a party whose roots rest deep in the soil of slavery and Jim Crow. Only with the coming of John Kennedy to the White House and then, especially, the passage of the Civil Rights laws of 1964 and 1965 under Lyndon Johnson did Democrats win the allegiance of black Americans. And now they become the first party ever to nominate a black America. Win or lose in November, this represents a huge advance for the party – and the country.
  • THROUGH A LENS DARKLY – In the past 24 hours, most of the media has spoken continuously about all of Barack Obama’s problems. And certainly he has them: the on-rush of John McCain, the disgruntlement of many Clintonites and the closing of the polls suggests that indeed, the Republicans could pull off an upset this fall. But caution is in order here: the underlying landscape still favors the Democrats this fall. Ask yourself: If you were given a chance to play Obama’s hand as opposed to McCain’s hand, which one would you choose? Isn’t the answer pretty obvious?
  • THE OBAMA-CLINTON TENSION: Polls of Democratic voters as well as delegates show that a significant number may bolt for McCain this fall. Bruised feelings remain on both sides. And of course the media is going to report heavily on these tensions: that’s what we in journalism usually do – focus on conflict. But again, some caution is in order: Hillary Clinton, after all, has been going all out in the past few days to put fires out and bring unity. That’s going to help. And don’t be surprised if these GOP ads trying to use Hillary’s campaign comments to drive a wedge among Democrats soon backfire. It’s one thing for you to have a squabble with a family member, but when a rival steps in and tries to exploit it, that drives the family members into each other’s arms. Could happen here.
  • MICHELLE’S ROLE: Her speech Monday night is her second debut for some Americans and perhaps her first for many others who are just starting to focus in on the race (yes, there are millions like that – after all, only about half in a poll this weekend said they knew who Joe Biden is). The test for Michelle is whether viewers walk away tonight feeling not only more warmly about her and the Obama family but if they also feel that they would be proud to have the Obama family in the White House.
  • THE ROLE OF OTHER SPEAKERS: Starting tonight, the role of other speakers is to change the narrative of this election. In recent weeks, the Republicans have been making it more and more a referendum on Obama – a referendum they clearly think they can win (and they may just be right). Of course, this convention must help to strengthen perceptions of Obama and his policies. But the larger challenge is to flip the national conversation so that the election becomes a referendum on Republican rule. That is traditionally what happens at the end of an eight year reign by one party – and that is traditionally why the out party then wins. Making this about Republican rule will not only help Obama but help the rest of the Democrats running around the country – and remember, Denver is not just about Obama but the fate of all Democrats.
  • THE ROLE OF OBAMA: Let’s save that one for another day – a day soon coming.
August 25th, 2008
05:52 PM ET

Madonna takes a not so 'sweet' jab at McCain

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/25/art.madonna.stickyandsweet.jpg caption="Madonna performs on stage at the premier of her 'Sticky and Sweet' world tour at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in Wales, Saturday."]Ed Hornick
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.


Filed under: John McCain • Madonna
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