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13 posts categorized "Democratic National Convention"

December 17, 2010

Polls Gives Obama 71-Point Lead Over Sanders in Hypothetical 2012 Match-Up

Sanders-header Bad news for folks on board the "Bernie for President" bandwagon.

A poll of New Hampshire Democrats and independents released today by Magellan Strategies shows Barack Obama shellacking Filibernie by 79 to 8 in a theoretical "primary" election. Sanders has said he's not interested in running for president but that hasn't stopped more than 500 fans from signing a petition asking him to do it anyway.

Continue reading "Polls Gives Obama 71-Point Lead Over Sanders in Hypothetical 2012 Match-Up" »

August 29, 2008

Dem. Convention: Burlington Dems Rally, Mostly, for Obama

Ed. Note: Here's a report from a local bash at Democratic Party HQ in Burlington.

Last night around 10:15, Democratic Party Headquarters in downtown Burlington was rockin' with bottles of Magic Hat beer, balloons, Democratic Guv-hopeful Gaye Symington, large, neon posters reminding us of her candidacy, twentysomethings sprawled on the floor, camerafolk jamming the doorway. Outside, Ralph Nader supporters patrolled the sidewalks, and an activist handed out a flyer critical of Senator Barack Obama's war-related voting record.

For the next hour or so during Obama's landmark speech, the crowd upstairs clapped loudly for the following things, among others: Obama's odes to his notion of equal rights for same-sex couples, his humorous, and also his not-so-humorous, attacks on John McCain's record, his criticisms of status-quo-politics-as-usual, his assurance that he would indeed be a competent commander-in-chief if elected — and then some, thank you very much — as well as an image of a large, thin, blue sign on the floor of Denver Stadium that read, "VERMONT."

The response from the Burlington crowd was less warm for the following things, among others: Obama's support of nuclear power and "clean" coal, as well as his assurance that "we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights." The response to such statements, in fact, was less a rousing cheer than a polite golf clap.

After the event, the dissenters were no longer standing outside. Instead, Gaye Symington stood in the doorway of Dem party headquarters extolling the virtues of Obama's speech to a small group of supporters who were lingering nearby.

August 28, 2008

Dem. Convention: Bernie Bashes Big Media on DemCon Coverage

Bernie Parts of Bernie Sanders' message to the VT delegation to the Democratic Convention would strike many Vermonters as familiar fare from the longtime Independent socialist. Bernie bashed big media, deplored Republican tax breaks for the super-rich and called for a grassroots mobilization to change the direction of the United States.

But Sanders' stance today also differs from the radical perspective with which he's long been associated. Bernie noted that this is the first Democratic convention he has attended. He strongly supports Barack Obama and makes clear there are virtually zero degrees of political separation between himself and the Democrats' presidential candidate.

The pathbreaking politician who once attacked the Democratic Party as indistinguishable in crucial ways from the Republican Party has muted that message. Bernie has come to Denver to back Obama wholeheartedly, not to fault the Dems as insufficiently progressive.

At a breakfast session Thursday, Sanders blasted the corporate media for alternately ignoring and trivializing the presidential campaign.

Noting that the non-cable TV networks are devoting only one prime-time hour to the Democratic Convention, Sanders said NBC, ABC et al apparently decided that's the most they can set aside "in between the game shows, the reality shows and the commercials" in order to inform viewers of what he described as "the most important election in our lifetime."

Bernie also criticized the big media's "horse-race" approach to election coverage, saying the misplaced emphasis on personality keeps becoming more pronounced. Sanders said it is unlikely that reporters for mainstream outlets will ask John McCain about "the collapse of the middle class and the growing gap between the rich and everyone else in this country." Instead, he added, the media "will be talking about what McCain has to do to win over brown-eyed people in Oklahoma."

The choice facing voters in November could not be more stark, Sanders continued, noting that he will "running around the country" campaigning on behalf of Obama.

As an example of the distinctions between the Republican and Democratic candidates, Sanders pointed to Obama's and McCain's respective responses to legislation he is sponsoring in Congress to double funding for the federal heating assistance program for low-income Americans. Obama voted for the bill, while McCain, on the other hand, did nothing to halt a Republican filibuster that prevented the legislation — which had received a 50-35 vote for passage — from winning Senate approval.

Bernie said he does respect McCain's service to the United States. "I'm not here to demagogue John McCain," he told the delegation. "He's a nice guy." But the policies that McCain favors would be "disastrous" for Vermonters and for most Americans, Sanders declared.

Even so, electing Obama "will not be a slam dunk," Sanders warned. Obama's spending advantage will not ensure victory, he predicted. "I know from my own experience that TV and radio ads are not where it's at. There has to be a real grassroots campaign of knocking on millions of doors."

Dem. Convention: VT Coverage Round-Up

Sick of the Democratic convention yet? Kevin Kelley isn't the only Vermont blogger in Denver this week — not by a long shot. Here are a few links to other Vermonters covering the festivities on the web:

  • Green Mountain Daily: This Dem group blog gets the prize for most posts, I think. They've also garnered the most media coverage. Here they are being interviewed by a reporter from Portfolio magazine. This is a pretty fun video, btw. The reporter asks GMD blogger Christian Avard: "Do you think you'll ever eat the mainstream medai?" His response? "I think we are eating the mainstream media." True? You decide. They do have a ton of material from the convention on their site. You go, GMD.
  • Former Governor Madeleine Kunin is blogging at the Huffington Post.
  • The Deal in Denver: Seven Daysie award-winner Philip Baruth is blogging at this Burlington Free Press site. Check it out — Baruth with comments! He doesn't allow 'em on Vermont Daily Briefing.
  • GMD contributor JD Ryan has some videos up at his blog, Five Before Chaos.
  • He's also posting videos to Exit Voices, the VCAM-sponsored elections blog that Seven Days collaborated with last March.
  • Here's another one, the blog of the Orange County Democrats.

August 27, 2008

Dem. Convention: Welch Responds to Antiwar Candidate's Challenge

Welch_standard_headshot Vermont Congressman Peter Welch said in an interview in Denver on Wednesday that he is being challenged by a Progressive candidate mainly because he has not managed, singlehandedly, to end the war in Iraq.

Welch noted sardonically that he has also not halted global warming, even though — as in the case of Iraq — he has voted repeatedly for actions that would move the US in a positive direction on the issue.

"I've voted against the war on every single opportunity in Congress," Welch said following a breakfast meeting with the Vermont delegation to the Democratic Convention. "I'm one of those members of Congress who believes we have to use the power of the purse to bring the troops home. That's why I've repeatedly voted to cut funding for the war."

Former Army Specialist Thomas James Hermann, a veteran of the Iraq war from Barre, is running against Welch in the November election as a Progressive. Hermann says Welch has not been forceful enough in opposing the war.

Welch said Hermann has been encouraged to run by a faction of the Vermont antiwar movement that includes Burlington attorney James Leas, a leader in the drive for the VT Legislature to pass a resolution favoring impeachment of President George W. Bush.

I asked Welch if he supported Barack Obama's position of transferring some US troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Welch said his aim is to bring American troops home from Iraq and that the United States cannot afford to insert an "army of occupation" into every country where Al Qaeda is believed to pose a threat.

He acknowledged, however, that the threat of terrorism against the US is "real." Welch suggested he would await a review of the Afghanistan situation by an Obama administration before deciding on the right course of action there.

Opposition to the Iraq war is being kept off center-stage at the Pepsi Center where Democrats have gathered to nominate Obama. Most speakers mention the war in their remarks to the convention, but it is receiving much less emphasis than the economy, health care and energy.

When convention speakers do call for a pullout from Iraq, they almost invariably say that Obama would end the war RESPONSIBLY. That adverb has been scripted into every Democrat big-shot's speeches here, including the talk that Michelle Obama gave on Weds morn at a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The formulation reminds me a lot of Richard Nixon's 1968 mantra about the Vietnam war. Nixon said on every occasion that he wanted to achieve "peace with honor" in Vietnam. The "honor" part became an excuse for staying in Vietnam five more years and continuing to destroy that country even as the war was being lost. I wonder if the "responsibly" trope could ultimately prove to be a rhetorical cover for the same refusal to end a war that should never have been started.

What do you think?

Dem. Convention: VT Delegates to Cast United Roll Call Vote

Vermont's Clinton and Obama delegates have reached agreement on how they will vote when the state's turn comes toward the end of this evening's roll-call vote at the Democratic Convention. A statement of unity, drafted last night with the help of former Governor Madeleine Kunin, recognizes the historic achievement of Hillary Clinton's campaign as a prelude to a unanimous Vermont delegate vote for Barack Obama.

"My own view is that the angry Hillary woman has been hyped," Kunin told a breakfast meeting of the VT delegation on Weds. "We want to present our own delegation in a totally different vein. I feel very comfortable casting my vote for Obama."

Vermont may once again serve as a model for other states, Kunin added. She said she hopes the entire convention, including all Hillary supporters, acts on a tag line from Sen Clinton's speech last night:

"No way, no how, no McCain!"

The statement to be read out later today on the convention floor begins:

"The great Green Mountain State of Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry's, honors the historic accomplishment of Hillary Rodham Clinton and her support in this election from 18 million voters."

It continues:

"Obama and Clinton delegates are united in saluting her candidacy that paved the way for other women. We salute and honor all those who worked tirelessly on her behalf."

And it concludes:

"We are proud to cast our votes for the next president of the United States, Barack Obama."

Congressman Peter Welch also spoke at the breakfast today. I asked him afterward what he thought of the challenge to his re-election by an Iraq veteran running with Progressive support. More on that in a little while.

Dem. Convention: From the Press Center

Let_ralph_debate_2 Ed. note: Seven Days writer Kevin J. Kelley will be blogging this week from the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

And now for some convention color from last night:

I'm blogging this evening from a huge press filing center in an obscure corner of the Pepsi Center. There are maybe 100 reporters hunched over laptops and chattering into cellphones as I write. The place actually looks to be a sometimes-basketball court — there are hoops with fiberglass backboards at both ends of this space.

I got onto the convention floor earlier this eve for the first time. It isn't easy — unless you're a mainstream media Big Foot — to obtain one of the green floor passes whose distribution point is treated by the Democratic National Committee as top-secret info. It's chaotic on the floor in a merry sort of way — lots of noise, colors, constant movement in every direction by delegates, pols, press and whoever else has managed to get to the center of the action.

The Recreate 68 protest coalition hasn't produced much in the way of crowds or excitement so far. The demonstrators can't get within a quarter-mile of the Pepsi Center so they march through downtown Denver on a regular basis. A typical demo includes only about 200 participants. Meanwhile, the Denver cops ride around in full riot regalia on the running boards of SUVs or they tromp through the streets atop horses that are also wearing shield-type goggles. It's a totally disproportionate show of force and clearly an attempt to intimidate dissidents from exercising their all-American right to free speech.

A bunch of 20-something McCainiacs showed up this afternoon at a park where rock bands were serenading an assortment of Obama supporters and others who are well to the left of the Dem prez candidate. I expected a confrontation — at least a shouting match — but nothing developed in the 20 mins. I was there. Denver is an infectiously mellow city, even in its moment at the center of the political universe.

The photo shows an inflatable Liberty Bell displayed in a Denver park. It calls for Ralph Nader to be included in the presidential debates with Barack Obama and John McCain.

Dem. Convention: Down Home with Leahy in Denver

Ed. note: Seven Days writer Kevin J. Kelley will be blogging this week from the Democratic National Convention in Denver.Dnc_014

The floor of the Democratic Convention was maybe one-quarter full when Sen Patrick Leahy gave a 10-min speech on Tuesday at 4 p.m., long before prime time. The three rows occupied by the Vermont delegation were filled, however. Howard Dean was among the listeners, as was Congressman Peter Welch.

Vermont's senior senator (that's him on the right with wife Marcelle) was cheered enthusiastically as he spoke — not about the civil liberties abuses of the Bush years, the theme with which he is most closely identified — but on the topic of Rural America.

Here's the senator's opening lines:

"I'm Patrick Leahy. I live on a dirt road in a town of 1800 in Vermont. I know rural America."

And his close:

"When Barack Obama is president, we can once again look with hope to a prosperous new day for our rural communities, from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Green Mountains of Vermont."

Howard_dean_tim_briglin_peter_welch In between, Leahy deplored the impact of high energy prices on rural areas, accused John McCain of being as cozily in bed with Big Oil as has been George Bush, warned of rising crime in the countryside, called for high-speed Internet access throughout the Heartland, and assured his listeners that Obama's policies are superior to McCain's in every way that's relevant to rural America.

August 26, 2008

Dem. Convention: Vermont is America

Dnc_026 Ed. note: Seven Days writer Kevin J. Kelley will be blogging this week from the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Think what you will of the Democratic Party's competence and consistency, there's no denying its commitment to — and achievement of — racial diversity. About 45 percent of the delegates in Denver are African-, Latino-, or Asian-American, while those same groups represent about 30 percent of the overall US population.

Inside the convention hall, a genuinely rainbow-style celebration is occurring, with a fine funk orchestra providing the soundtrack. Of course the Dems are nominating a bi-racial candidate for president. And they're also highlighting the party's mosaic in the line-up of convention speakers, from the obscure to the superstarry. Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. gave one of the most rousing speeches on last night's program, which Michelle Obama headlined and which also included her half-Indonesian sister-in-law.

Vermont's delegation isn't nearly as multiracial as, say, California's. But VT Dems have sent a contingent to Denver that's far from monochromatic, as was evident at a breakfast gathering on Monday at the Magnolia Hotel, where the state's 27 delegates and alternates are staying, along with assorted spouses and kids.

Kevin Christie, an Obama delegate, is an African-American from White River Junction who's running for a seat in the Vermont House. Having moved from Connecticut in the early 70s, Christie's come to see Vt as "still not having achieved equity throughout the state." But he adds that Vermont's problems "aren't overpowering to the point where they can't be changed." Christie finds Vermont "open-minded enough to say 'what can we do to change?'"

Former Governor Madeleine Kunin, who's here secondarily to promote her book on women and American politics, (she's also blogging for the Huffington Post) points with pride to the gender equity that not only the VT delegation, but all delegations, have established in accordance with party rules.

Daria Mondesire, an African-American from Derby Line, says it's important to understand that the candidate she's supporting, Barack Obama, isn't himself African-American. "He's of mixed race," Mondesire points out. "Like my daughter."

Mondesire, a writer and clinical social worker, moved from Boston's Dorchester section more years ago than she wishes to specify in order to attend Bennington College. "I've had a mixed experience in Vermont," she says. "But it's been generally positive and I can say Vermont's been good to me."

The state's Dems haven't done enough to ensure geographic diversity, Mondesire complains. She says the delegation here consists mostly of Chittenden and Washington county residents, with few members from rural parts of the state. "People from small towns in Vermont don't have much chance," she says. "They don't have the political muscle." Noting that she's the first-ever Democratic delegate from Orleans County, Mondesire says she'll work to improve representation for rural Vermonters.

Dnc_008 VT's delegates do span the generations. Kunin, 75, is joined in Denver by Taylor Bates, 18 (see photo). He graduated in June from Champlain Valley Union HS and is headed to Tufts next month.

Taylor's known here not only for his teen-ness but for having ensured that VT was one of the first three states to qualify as having a "green delegation." Out of his own pocket (he's hoping to fundraise later) Taylor made a $7.50 investment in alt energy for each of the 27 delegation members in order to offset the emissions associated with their travel to and from Denver.

Taylor says he appreciates efforts to include previously under-represented groups at the Denver convention, but he suggests that the Obama campaign "is about ending the politics of identity." Taylor isn't interested in being "a token young person here" and wants to focus on ideas rather than on skin shades or gender. He also wants to learn skills in Denver in order to "become a better Democrat, a better organizer."

Peter Welch and Bernie Sanders are scheduled to address the VT delegation in the next couple of days. I'll be there when they do and I'll tell you what they said.

August 25, 2008

Dem. Convention: Rednecks for Obama

Dnc_004 Ed. note: Seven Days writer Kevin J. Kelley will be blogging this week from the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Here's another photo from Kevin.

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