DENVER – After a seemingly painless entry through security and into the Pepsi Center perimeter, we finally made it into our bird’s-eye view press section. The arena started to fill with delegates as we sat down and waited for Howard Dean’s call to order.
And what a transfiguration the floor of the Pepsi Center has taken to host the DNC.
Our designated press seats are high, almost behind the podium – directly behind the 70s sounding-funk band. The arena wasn’t yet full, I knew that was going to happen closer to 7 p.m. when the big names of Jesse Jackson, Jr., Caroline Kennedy and finally Michelle Obama take the podium.
I decided to test my press credentials and made my way down onto the floor. The show, believe me, is much better on the floor. Wilma Silver, a delegate from Pompano Beach, Fla., and clad in a silky-pink-flowery ensemble couldn’t contain her enthusiasm when I approached her for an interview.
“I am from the great state of Florida and we are very, very much for Obama,” she said, distracted by the mini beach balls flying over the Florida delegation. We know he can change this country.”
Going into this, I hadn’t yet got my mind around Joe Biden being selected to run as Barack’s Vice President. I figured she knew.
“And Biden?” I said.
“I was absolutely crazy about Hillary until I talked to my son,” Silver said as the beach party Florida-style continued. “He is so thrilled that Biden was selected and so am I. Biden is a true statesman and can stand up to any Republican that takes him on. They really can change.”
Without any further questions, not wanting to keep her from the party, I moved on for a better perspective of this change everyone is talking about. Besides the Florida delegation, Colorado seemed to be the next popular place to be both for the media and dancing.
I was able to get a hold of Stan Matsunaka, the former Democratic member of the Colorado State Senate, serving until 2003. I asked him what Obama’s “change” campaign was all about.
“This is really a ground-breaking campaign,” Matsunaka, a Loveland resident, said. “When Barack Obama is nominated on Thursday, he will be the first African-American to do so. It’s really ground-breaking and I am excited.
Matsunaka is a Japanese-American native of Colorado. He grew up on rural eastern Colorado near Fort Morgan and is, like me, proud to be a CSU ram.
“Barack brings a lot of new people to the campaign, really energetic folks,” he continued. “I was president of the Colorado Senate and I have never seen this kind of a campaign … ever.”
Matsunaka is no stranger to the political world as he lost to Republican Marilyn Musgrave for the 4th District of Colorado in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 and 2004. Clearly, he is ready for change.
I took another quick lap around the floor before my hour floor pass time expired. As I passed the CNN broadcast platform, I almost couldn’t hold back a loud “Go Vols” to James Carville who I know to be a serious fan of LSU football and of SEC football in general. Clearly he was concentrating on his task at hand and didn’t need any guff from a Tennessee fan.
On past the CBS platform and the glamorous Katie Couric, who was also reporting in the big lights. Finally, I ran into Steve VanVoorhees, a Virginia delegate who said he is having a great time in Denver. I asked him what the viewpoint is coming from Virginia as many of the Western States, including Colorado, have been a focal point of this election. VanVoorhees said he is looking at the big picture.
“You know, Barack got 80 percent of the voters in Virginia,” he said. “For me, I want a change in the political system. I want new policies, that’s really the biggie for me. Our standing in the world has changed and we have lost a lot of credibility in the past leadership. We need to get that respect that we used to have.”
“Can Barack do that?” I asked.