Sunday, August 24, 2008

CONVENTION NOTEBOOK SUNDAY

OBAMABOBBLES

DENVER — The Crowne Plaza hotel was a hotbed of New Mexico Democrat activity Sunday afternoon. Downstairs state Rep. Ernest Chavez, D-Albuquerque, a delegate was checking in. In the lobby bar you could spot Tom Udall’s campaign manager Amanda Cooper and political strategist Caroline Buerkle. Getting off the elevator were several members of Gov. Bill Richardson’s state police security detail, in plain clothes looking as if they were about to enjoy some time off. Party activist Bryon Paez was running around in a USMC T-shirt.
REP. ERNEST CHAVEZ
The Crowne Plaza is the official headquarters of the New Mexico delegation. The state party has an office up on the Sixth Floor. State Auditor Hector Balderas was there munching on grapes and pistachio nuts. Former state Attorney General Patricia Madrid and her husband Mike Messina was checking in. Madrid, who was a member of the DNC’s Platform Committee, showed a reporter a copy of Sunday’s Denver Post, which ran a photo of her and a short blurb highlighting her role as a “Behind the scenes” Democrat. Madrid is scheduled to speak at the convention when the platform is introduced 5 p.m. Monday.

Get your souvenirs: The Crowne Plaza is just a couple of blocks from Denver’s 16th Street Mall, which was crammed with convention goers, a few stray war protesters and an occasional street musician playing for the crowd.

And the place is crawling with reporters too. While doing some writing in the lobby of the Sheraton, I ran into Nathan Dinsdale, who used to work at The Santa Fe Reporter. On 16th Street I bumped into a former New Mexican colleague, Daniel Chacon, who now covers city hall for the Rocky Mountain News.

People filled sidewalk cafes and checked out the innumerable tables selling Obama buttons, T-shirt, bumper stickers and bobbleheads. Several storefront souvenir shops had large window displays of these items as well.
Josh Richmond
The Obama souvenir business stretched beyond the downtown area. At a convenience store parking lot on Speer Street west of I-25, a young man from Arizona named Josh Richmond was operating an Obama T-shirt stand under a tarp. He said he’d been working there since last Monday and business was good.

In addition to all the Obama items there were a few Hillary Clinton buttons. But Richmond, an Obama supporter, said he had sold very many of those.

There was some color sites in downtown Denver not as festive or pleasant as the T-shirt stands. Three large trucks could be seen in the area with huge photos of bloody fetuses. One had the printed message, “Abortion is Obama Nation.” Conventions bring out everyone.

Straight out of American Samoa: While writing this piece in a 16th Street Starbucks, I met a real live superdelegate. She was looking for directions to the Denver Convention Center.
Teri Hunkin is vice chair of the Democratic Party in American Samoa. Her brother-in-law is Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, American Samoa’s longtime representative in Congress. As a territory, American Samoa has a non-voting representative in the House. Citizens there can’t vote in the presidential election either. Both Teri Hunkin and her brother-in-law are “huge Obama supporters.”

American Samoa has 13 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, though only four showed up, Teri Hunkin said. She said most were not able to attend because of the expense of travel. But some delegates pledged to Hillary Clinton chose not to go. Clinton won the American Samoan caucus by about a 60-40 margin.

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