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Third Day’s a Charm

August 27, 2008

And the end approaches to another hectic day at JSA and the DNC.  I awoke this morning after approximately 3 hours of sleep only to realize that I had overslept and had to rush to get to the bus before it left without me.  Instead of the delegates breakfast we went straight to the Cable Center of Denver for a speakers program.  Included on the list of speakers were Bob Graham, the former Governor of Florida and veteran of various Vice Presidential and Presidential races, as well as George McGovern, the Democratic Presidential Nominee in the 1972 election won by Richard Nixon.

Graham was pretty funny and very likable at one point telling us a story about filming an “MTV” (his word for music video) with Jimmy Buffett.  He was pretty candid about questions asked of him, but also seemed to be very intent on informing us about civics academic programs and their potential benefits to the future of America.  All around though he was fun, entertaining and informative while also being very interesting to listen to.

McGovern, the other very notable speaker on the list seemed rushed, as he confessed that his schedule had filled up more quickly than he had expected.  He talked mostly about his life and how he started out in South Dakota as one of the only elected Democrats in a mostly Republican state.  From there he went on to talk about his Presidential bid and some of the ways it has affected future elections, such as the extensive length of modern presidential elections.  He started his campaign much earlier than was generally accepted at the time and others have followed suit.

It should be noted that all of the speakers were not reading speeches so much as giving short unscripted talks and then answering our questions about their lives and experiences.

After the Speaker’s Program we went into downtown Denver and walked around for a while.  While there, we went to the set of Chris Matthew’s Hardball, which was really cool to watch.

What really struck me about Denver is the sheer amount of protesters, as well as the extensive police presence.  It seemed like every block there was a group of heavily body-armored police officers with dogs and automatic rifles scanning the crowd for any sign of a civil disturbance.  To match the police presence, there are literally hundreds of thousands of protesters demonstrating on issues ranging from outlandish – our government’s involvement in the planning of 9/11 – to the serious – pro-Life protesters arguing with pro-Choice protesters – to the downright funny, with one group of people marching to bring back Crystal Pepsi.

While in Denver, I continued my quest to secure credentials to the Convention, which are exceptionally hard to come by.  By the end of the day, I had become so desperate that I began cold-calling the Democratic headquarters of different states to see if they had any extras.  Finally however, through a family connection, I got credentials for Thursday night at Invesco Field and possibly to see Bill Clinton and Joe Biden tomorrow, which is awesome.

Anyway this post is getting to be a little long, but I still want to talk about what actually went on at the convention so I think I am going to open it up to you guys.  What did you think of the keynote speech?  I think Warner brought up some issues that hadn’t been raised previously in this election, but he didn’t elicit the excitement I was hoping for.

What did you guys think of the Governor of Montana – Brian Schweizter?  I loved his energy and the ease with which he spoke, he seemed like a nice, regular, normal guy who just happened to be speaking in front of a few million people on live television.

What did you think of Hillary?  Did you think she made enough of an effort to through her support to Obama?  Did she talk too much about her campaign?  Did it seemed forced, did you think her heart was really in it?

And finally, the clincher, were Bill Clintons tears real, or were they just a ploy for sympathy?
I am looking forward to your responses!

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Second Day At the DNC

August 26, 2008

Well after approximately 3 hours of sleep, I awoke this morning at 4:30 AM. After stumbling around getting ready, I got down to the lobby of the hotel where a feast of egg and cheese sandwiches awaited us and then piled onto buses organized by state. The buses departed at a little after 5:30 AM headed for Denver. My bus, which consisted primarily of New Jerseyans, but also included one person from Hawaii, another from Indiana, and another from Guam, dropped us off at the Inverness Hotel where we were to meet the delegation from New Jersey for breakfast.

As delegates began trickling in to the breakfast we nervously stood outside the doors of the dining room hoping that one or two might introduce themselves to us. Contrary to my expectations, many of the delegates were extremely friendly, and seemed genuinely interested in talking to us and finding out more about why we were there. Included among the many delegates we met: Governor Jon Corzine, and my Congressman Rush Holt. It’s really cool to see so many people that you have seen only on TV in real life. To me, it adds a whole new dimension to them, both literally and figuratively.

After the delegates breakfast we went to the Cable Center to listen to a few speakers, and then arrived at the Colorado Conference Center to watch the convention. Now, I know you may be thinking “shouldn’t you be at the Pepsi Center to watch it live?” The answer to that question is… well yeeeah. However, for reasons which I will elaborate on further in another post credentials for the Pepsi Center are scarce, and are not supplied by JSA to us, as we are instead expected to beg them off of kind-hearted delegates.

More later, another early start tomorrow.

Dan Shipper is a junior at Princeton Day School in Princeton, NJ. He’s part of a delegation of high school students with JSA – the Junior State of America – who are attending the Democratic National Convention this week. Check back often for Dan’s on-the-ground accounts of the DNC.

First Day in Colorado

August 25, 2008

I woke up this morning much the same way as I did yesterday morning: to the sound of my phone, very, very early in the morning. Yesterday morning came the news of Obama’s vice-presidential pick in a predawn text message. This morning my cell phone alarm woke me up for an early trip to Newark airport. After an interesting flight full of excited Democrats headed for the Convention decked out in complete Obama regalia, I arrived in Denver Airport.

The airport is huge – there’s a separate train just to get from my terminal to baggage claim – but it’s also new, clean and well designed. Besides the obvious flood of Obama supporters crowding every walkway and jetway, there were policemen and dogs everywhere due to the elevated threat level. Every few minutes a recording would come over the loudspeaker and announce the elevated threat level. I swear, every time an election comes around, be it congressional or presidential, the threat levels go all over the place. (I wonder why.)

In baggage claim I met with the rest of my JSA group and we took a 40 minute shuttle to Boulder, Colorado where our hotel is. The hotel is nice and is full of JSA people, but I can’t wait until tomorrow when the action starts!

Dan Shipper is a junior at Princeton Day School in Princeton, NJ. He’s part of a delegation of high school students with JSA – the Junior State of America – who are attending the Democratic National Convention this week. Check back often for Dan’s on-the-ground accounts of the DNC.