Friday, August 29, 2008

A Rather Big Night for Obama, Richardson and America's Democrats. We have expert analysis from a former CBS News Anchorman!

Barack Obama arrived on stage at 8:12pm. He addressed the crowd for 44 minutes. We understand nearly 600 New Mexicans made the trip through long security lines to watch his historic address which began with four simple words: I Accept The Nomination.

Governor Warns America Will Pay For John McCain's Flip Flops.

Taos County Democratic Chairman Thomas "Chuby" Tafoya says he thinks Governor Bill Richardson "hit the nail on the head" with his Keeping America Secure speech just after 6pm.

Chuby also tells us he thinks Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish is ready to be governor and he'll support her because she's been great for Northern, New Mexico

Meanwhile, former CBS News Anchor Dan Rather, who's been covering political conventions since 1956 and who's been in and out of the New Mexico Delegation's headquarter hotel all week, gave us his take on the this weeks party in Denver and his take on Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco Field on Thursday night. He tells us he's impressed on how inclusive the Denver convention has been, and predicted this is going to be a close presidential election. He even noted the impact Native Americans are having in the democratic process.

Closing Notes:

Is it just me, or do you agree, that former Vice President Al Gore bored the crowd to death? Perhaps the applause at the end of his speech was simply a "thank you" for ending the address and relief the talke was finally over.

The Dems definitely needed to do a better job planning for Invesco Field traffic.
After exiting the arena, no one knew how to get to the right shuttle buses, and the cops had not been briefed or were just not helpful. If you were in a wheel chair I don't know how you could have survived the crush of people exiting the event.

I decided to hoof it back to the car because I was scheduled to provide analysis for Kate Delaney's nationally broadcast show, America Tonight (which airs locally on 1050 KTBL), and needed to get to the car's phone charger because my phone was completely dead--just like my feet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Developing News > Richardson Bumped from Podium...but:

For folks that limit their viewing of national political conventions then Thursday is usually their night to tune in to watch the parties nominees deliver their acceptance speeches. Later, they may watch a debate or two before casting their vote.

Now, hundreds of New Mexicans who got tickets to go to Invesco Field too see Obama speak will be getting a little bonus.

Originally, Governor Richardson was scheduled to deliver his speech on foreign affairs on Wednesday. Now we've learned that Richardson was dropped from the prime time programming tonight because other speakers, including former President Bill Clinton ran over.

The Governor's Spokesman Pahl Shipley tells us the Governor has now been asked to speak on the final night of the convention at Invesco Field in front of 75,000 people and a national TV audience.

Our take is the Obama camp wants Richardson at Invesco because of his close connection to Colorado and because they think the election may be won or lost in the state.

Arguably it will be the biggest political night of Richardson's life. If he nails the speech he'll be the top contender to become Secretary of State, a job he's often said he wants.

Jennifer Engebretsen with the DNCC Press Office issued the following statement:

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s speaking role during Thursday night’s Convention program at INVESCO Field at Mile High:

"His speech has been moved from this evening to a featured speaking slot tomorrow at Mile High giving even more Democrats and supporters an opportunity to hear from Governor Bill Richardson, Because of such an enthusiastic audience response, the long-running schedule led the Democratic Convention to ask the governor if he would speak tomorrow and he graciously agreed. He will be speaking to 75,000 people and a nationally televised audience,"

Photo and Editing MG Bralley

Denish Says Voters Should Approve Constitutional Ammendent

Before last night's historic nomination Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, who's a Super Delegate in Denver, took time to give us "the word" on how she feels about possibly being elevated to governor in six months.

If Barack Obama moves into 1600 Pennsylvania in January and invites Governor Bill Richardson to be a part of his administration then Denish will automatically become Governor of New Mexico.

A constitutional amendment will be on the ballot for voters to consider this fall. It finally address a process that has been overlooked for years, who gets to appoint her successor in the Lt. Governor's Office. Currently the constitution is silent on the matter. Denish believes the amendment should be passed because even if Richardson stays there should be a seamless succession process identified.

Photo: MG Bralley

History is Made in Denver: Obama Dem Nominee

New Mexico got a little extra notice in the Call of the States tonight in the Denver.

Democratic Party of New Mexico Executive Director Josh Geise told me that when the delegation arrived on the floor this afternoon one of the party's floor whips let them know they would yield the floor to Illinois who then yielded to Hillary Clinton's home state of New York.

It's unclear why New Mexico was chosen. Several politicos suggested a combination of reasons, and no one could confirm if the Governor's office was behind the move. His spokespeople did not return our calls as they may have been preparing him for his podium appearance later tonight.

The reasons offered for yielding the floor included the fact that New Mexico is in play, as a battleground state this fall, to the governor, to making sure Obama was nominated early to accommodate the national prime time audience watching on the East Coast. Another idea floated by pundits included the fact that New York is next alphabetically in the list of states. Other's speculated the DNC wanted to give Illinois the opportunity to recognize the New York Senator's call for unity and her move to release her delegates earlier in the morning.

Standing next to the New York Flag on the Pepsi Center floor Clinton told the crowd, "In faith in our party and our country let's declare together in one voice, right here and right now that Barack Obama is our candidate and will be the next President of the United States."

Clinton then moved to suspend the conventions rule and asked the secretary to select Obama by acclimation. The crowd then went wild with cheers of "Yes We Can."

Take a moment to listen to the historic moment.

Before yielding the floor, New Mexico Democratic Party Chair Brian Colon addressed the crowd in both Spanish and English. The Chairman did great job of keeping the state's secret. It would soon yield to Illnois who then yielded to New York and Hillary Clinton.

After yielding, we learned the state's roll call vote tally was 35-3 for Barack Obama. Delegates were allowed to vote at the hotel in the morning, and a source told me that a few of Clinton's pledge delegates changed their vote, on the floor, after being released by Clinton.

Colon Photo: MG Bralley

New Mexico Delegates Prepare for Roll Call Vote.

The Call of the States is underway at the Democratic Convention, but there are still a few upset delegates in Denver.

Pledged delegates for Hillary Clinton say they'll honor their roll as PLEDGED delegates. But, this morning the New York Senator released her delegates to vote for Obama.

Yesterday, Nila Lange, Richard Cooley, and Teresa Holland said no way. They came to this convention to cast their vote for Hillary they intend to do just that. They said they want their votes to count for her because they were elected by New Mexican supporters to vote for the first serious female candidate in American history.

The Roll call is scheduled for 4pm inside the Pepsi Center . It's doubtful the vote will be unanimous for Barack Obama despite Clinton releasing them.

Here are three quick sound bites we played on the radio. Cooley's upset and recommended the Super Delegate process needs to be changed. Actually his words are a little stronger than that.

Take a listen here:

After the roll call U.S. Senate candidate Tom Udall takes center stage and will read this 232 word speech.

In the Senate 60 is the new 50.

Earlier today, Tom Udall was introduced by the other NY Senator Charles Schummer at a U.S. Senate Candidate press conference. Schummer says it's time for a new generation of Democratic Leadership. Schumer says Udall is a thinker who will be welcomed in the Senate.

Schumer also said that the Democratics feel like they're in good position in 11 Senate races, including New Mexico. Schumer says he feels like the Dems are a little ahead in three states, and even in three. He seemed pleased when he estimated they were only down by 9 pts in Oklahom and 7pts in the Georgia Race.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Getting a Fix in Denver?

During a breakfast speech on Tuesday, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, who’s an At-Large Delegate at the Democratic Convention in Denver, asked members of the Colorado State delegation if anyone in the crowd could help him fix a speeding ticket that his entourage’s driver Shawn Burns received On Monday while driving into town from the Denver International Airport.

It is unclear how fast Burns was driving at the time, but weather conditions were clear and sunny.

“I was just joking with the crowd, and said hey we got a ticket on the way in” said Chavez who then asked the crowd, “Who’s going to fix that thing.”

The mayor insists he wasn’t asking for any special favors.

A media representative in the crowd said he saw members of the delegation chuckling at the joke. Former NM Communications Director Matt Farrauto, who now works Colorado, says he couldn't hear the Mayor's joke, but saw some delegates laugh at it.

“The way I do it when people ask me to fix their tickets is I say I’ll pay for it, and that’s it.” Chavez told us.

The mayor did not say who he had paid tickets for in the past, nor would he say how many.

Just before getting caught in the speed trap, Burns was joking that there is always a lot of ticketing along Federico Pena Boulevard which is named after Denver’s first Hispanic Mayor.

“Sure enough they stopped us,” said Chavez . He also told "The Word" he planned to give Pena, a former Clinton Administration Transportation and Energy Secretary, “a little ribbing” during a planned meeting Tuesday morning.

Chavez will also be at the GOP Convention in Minneapolis, representing the National Conference of Mayors, next week advocating for more public safety and infrastructure funding. Chavez said, “issues facing America’s cities are not sexy, but important.”

Photo: MG Bralley

Does Hillary Still Get Butterflys in Her Stomache?

The runner up in the Democratic Presidential Sweepstakes will take the main stage in Denver tonight, and most of the women in NM’s delegation can’t wait.

NY Senator Hillary Clinton will get her prime time shot around 9pm MT.

Terri Holland is looking forward to Hillary Clinton’s speech. Clinton has maintained a relatively low profile since dropping out of the race. In the process, she has created a vacuum that has been filled by rumor, resentment, residual backbiting among her aides and uncertainty about how committed she is, in her heart of hearts, to Barack Obama.

The podium in Denver will be a crowded place on the second night of the Democratic convention, with more than 50 members of Congress and governors piling in to get their moments in the spotlight.

New Mexico Democrat Terri Holland says she honors the former first lady for her service to women.

State's Youngest Delegate

He's only 20 years old, but Sean Stimmell has a front row seat to history. The NM Tech Sophomore was elected as an alternate delegate to the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver.

He's been featured both in local newspapers and in a Time Magazine article, The Dems' Really Young Guns.

Sean Stimmel, 19, a delegate from Los Alamos, N.M., will miss the first three days of his sophomore year at New Mexico Tech to blog from Denver for friends and donors. A year ago, Stimmel never read political news, but after a neighbor pushed him to volunteer for Obama, he is flirting with a political career of his own someday. Like Stimmel, Gilbert-Pederson says reaching other young voters will be key to an Obama victory. And when the convention and campaign are over? "On to adult life, I guess," he says.

He told us he got involved in Barack Obama's campaigning while surfing the internet.

He'll miss the first week of school, but says his mission when he gets back to campus will be making sure students are registered to vote and have filed applications for absentee ballots so their vote will be counted in November.

He told us he's meeting lot of young adults and hoping to go to a Fray concert while he's in Denver. He must be young, and I must be getting way to old. Has anyone else heard of Fray?

State Treasurer Shares Values with Obama!

The Democrats are preparing to make history in Denver. Democrats opened their presidential nominating convention Monday with testimonials to Barack Obama as a husband, a father, a brother and, above all, a leader able to transcend the nation's long divide across racial and gender lines.

Monday’s show was a parade of the past and future, with Sr. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy vouching for Obama and Michelle Obama telling the crowd her husband symbolizes “America's potential and its promise.”

The big question here is not whether or not Barack Obama is ready to be president, but whether or not the Clinton’s are ready for Barack Obama ?

NM Treasurer James Lewis says he’s supporting Obama because of his the Illinois Senator's willingness and to think outside the box. He believes Obama has the leadership abilities to move the country forward.

Photo: MG Bralley

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tonight's schedule and a chance meeting with a guy named Geraldo.

In Denver, I'm working alongside journalists from around the globe. This morning started at 5am as we finalized our scripts and interview segments for 770KKOB. After breakfast I checked in with Fox Radio News. We're going to follow some of the young delegates around town this evening and file a feature report for Fox later tomorrow.

It's amazing to be at my first national convention. I guess I'm a little star struck and my new radio colleagues from Greeley, Colorado told me they thought it could be a little intimidating. I'm not. I'm usually just stuck in security lines with lots of electronic gear.

Geraldo from Cuba - Body Double?

So far, I've passed George Stephanopoulous on the street, Gov. Janet Napolitano in the staircase, and saw that guy Geraldo who looks just like Obama. Originally from Cuba Geraldo's hoping for a big Barack Obama win in November for obvious reasons. He'll make a fortune on touring the country. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the same access to secret service, or like me, no credentials to join the campaign on the main podium. Wow. Was that Dan Rather that just walked by....

At 7:10pm I'll be back on 770KKOB talking with Scott Stiegler about tight security here on the first night of the Convention. President Jimmy Carter just took the stage. It doesn't seem like Roselyn nor Mr. Carter have aged a day. A wave and a quick exit. No speech tonight from him.

But, Michelle Obama is getting ready to be the headline speaker tonight. Yesterday, Debra Haaland, a Native American Delegate from Albuquerque, was invited to greet Ms. Obama at the airport.

Here's today's complete schedule for a day devoted to the theme "One Nation."

Wertheim Wants Biden to Campaign in Northern, NM.

A veteran New Mexico Democrat, and former Party Chairman, John Wertheim thinks VP Pick Joe Biden will appeal to working class New Mexicans, despite Republican John McCain's narrow lead in recent polls reported on the New Mexico Independent.

On Sunday, Wertheim who's a standing member on the DNC Credentialing Committee, told me he's pleased the party decided to seat all the delegates from Michigan and Florida.

We talked outside of Morton's just before dinner. I asked Wertheim if he thought Denver might jinx the parties chances this fall because the last time the party held their convention in the Mile High City, their nominee, William Jennings Bryan lost to William Taft.

Wertheim reminded me that Bryan's speech, "The Cross of Gold" mesmerized the masses and promoted the middle class in America. Read the transcript of Bryan's acceptance speech here.

Wertheim says, "What we see here is a real chance for the Democratic Party, through Barack Obama and Senator Biden, to make a change for the better on the economy, on health care, and all the issues that matter to New Mexicans.

Photo Credit: MG Bralley

Platform Co-Chair Tells Convention American Dream at Risk

Former New Mexico Attorney and Platform Co-Chair General Patricia Madrid just delivered her comments on the DNC platform process from the main podium. She told the audience New Mexico is a battleground State that Obama will win.

She told the crowd the platform included more than 1600 hearings and that 30,000 Democrat Americans had expressed their concerns and their hopes while developing the 2008 Platform.

"Each succeeding generation should have the opportunity, through hard work and service, to enjoy a brighter future than the last."

Brian Colon Says Party Has 33 County Strategy

I spent part of Sunday in Denver getting settled into the convention setting. It promises to be hectic and even chaotic at times, but I knew I was going to have a great week when I pulled in front of the Sheraton hotel and found a metered parking spot open directly across from the Valet station. The sign clearly stated parking time limits and fees were excluded on Sunday. I grabbed the spot and then easily walked through the process of picking up my "all-access" media credential.

After finishing and filing a few interviews for the morning report on 770KKOB, including one with the state's youngest delegate Sean Stimmell from Los Alamos, I hit the party scene and hotel lobby gathering spots.

I spent time visiting with some of the state's top Dems, including Lt. Governor Diane Denish, who was joined by House Speaker Ben Lujan and Patricia Madrid. They all said Biden was a good pick, but they seemed nervous heading into the fall election.

Later, while smoking a few cigars at the Brown Palace, and enjoying a nice glass of 20-year old scotch, I ran into Brian Colon. He's the chairman of the state's Democratic Party. He's attending his third national convention

Colon told me he's proud of the diversity of the 2008 delegation. He says the party's confident they party is unified, and geared up to win offices in all 33 NM Counties.

Photo Credit: MG Bralley

Madrid Addresses Convention Tonight.

Though much of the convention here in Denver comes down to theater, Patricia Madrid hopes that doesn't obscure the policy platform. She speaks at Pepsi Center tonight just after 4pm.

I ran into her at the Crown Plaza just after her media training. She tells me the DNC is providing four tele-prompters and her speech on the platform will run about seven minutes

"I get very annoyed when people like Ralph Nader say there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats," said Madrid. Back in January, Howard Dean nominated three co-chairs — Madrid, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Judith McHale, the former president and chief executive of Discovery Communications — to the 187-member platform committee.

The process was opened up to the public in unprecedented ways, Madrid said, noting that more than 1,600 groups from around the country conducted discussions or hearings on the Democratic agenda. The mass of ideas were culled together by the drafting committee, which divvied up issues and whittled them down. Then Madrid and her two co-chairs presided over a one-day hearing of the committee in Cleveland, and final tweaks were made in Pittsburgh early this month.

Madrid, the former attorney general for New Mexico, came close to unseating Republican Rep. Heather Wilson last election. She lost by a razor-thin margin and has since been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate for 2010, when Gov. Bill Richardson's final term will be up. Now that her convention work is complete, she says she will dedicate herself to campaigning for Obama in New Mexico, a battleground state.

Photo Credit: MG Bralley