Tuesday at the Convention

By Tracy Russo

Day 2 dawned bright and early. Much brighter and much earlier than anyone would have liked given the late hours of the night that this event seems to demand one keep.

I spent the AM with the College Democrats of America speaking on a panel about the way New Media has altered the campaign process and about the ways in which students can use these tools to organize on their campuses. Other panelists included Julie Germany, director of the George Washington’s Institute of Politics Democracy and the Internet, Rob Anderson the editor of Campus Progress and Danny Shay the Media Editor for the Huffington Post.

After the paneling was complete I trekked over to the Hampton Inn and Suites where bloggers must pick up their credentials each day. It’s kind of a pain, but it’s what they say we must do. Credential in hand I headed down to The Big Tent to check out what was happening there. The venue is constantly buzzing with bloggers and pols hard at work. Then there is the Alliance Center, the building next door to the big tent where even more panels and events are happening. By far the most impressive space in the Alliance is the Huffington Post Oasis. Arianna’s team converted a suite of offices into nutrition and rejuvenation central – you can pick up organic food snarks, down a tasty nutrious smoothie, practice yoga or sign up to get a massage.

I’ve grabbed a smoothie cup a few times, but have not had time for any of the other goodies. This convention seems to constantly demand you be in three and four places at once and it feels like you have to keep moving!

I departed The Big Tent for the Pepsi Center early. Yesterday’s security situation was much improved because of the early arrival and I flew threw the check point. This is great – it means less waiting in lines. The downside is your stuck within the perimeter of the Pepsi Center.

This is where the CNN Grill comes in. The fine folks at CNN rented out an entire restaurant, brought in their own caterers and hired the nicest wait staff I have ever encountered to tend to the needs of their guests. With a handy CNN Grill pass you can partake of free food, beverages, wifi and fun for as long as your heart desires. It’s steps away from the entrance to the Pepsi Center and my new favorite place ( as The Big Tent is outside the perimeter, of course).

Behind the scenes…

I made a few trips back and forth into the Convention Center yesterday to get the lay of the land. It was impossible to do that on Monday because of the long security wait. But yesterday I uncovered the bloggers lounge, which is quite a distance away, but serviceable and staffed by excellent volunteers. I found the convention’s online staff secret work space where a few of my former colleagues were hard at work making sure all the convention goodies make their way online in a timely manner. I also spent some time in the Sky Boxes where the VIPs spend their nights noshing on yummy food and watching the program unfold.

A mostly empty Pepsi Center before things get started…

I didn’t have a floor pass today – so my pictures aren’t nearly as fun as they were yesterday, but I did manage to score some time on the podium while speechifying was happening. The podium pass will get you up onto the podium. If you check out the convention set-up from home, it’s small area to the right and left of the lectern. Only the swankiest of media outlets have permanent set-ups there (I spotted Candy Crowley and Ann Curie) while everyone else cycles in and out to get a few shots on a rotating basis.

I made my way up to the highest level of the podium, where the video crews where hanging out and found myself face to face with swanky media outlet – YouTube.com. Steve Groove and his crew have a sweet perch directly above the action where they are interviewing speakers and guests after they step off the stage. While I was up there Governor Strickland was making his remarks below.

I abandoned the podium for a seat with the press alongside the podium. It offered a somewhat obstructed few of the actual podium so you can see the speakers. This is where I was during Senator Clinton’s address to the convention. Security closed off the arena well before she began to speak because the Pepsi Center was busting at the seams. The crowd gave Senator Clinton an incredible welcome, waving white signs with the Senator’s signature “Hillary” script printed in blue.

Her remarks to the convention were perfect – genuine and frank about why our party has to come together for the future of our nation, with a strong nod to the historic campaign she waged as the first woman to put so many cracks in the highest of glass ceilings. Looking around I noticed it wasn’t just me tearing up at her words – but a good number of delegates too.

I left the Pepsi Center and headed back to the CNN Grill to relax before trying to navigate the Pepsi Center exit. Sitting with Julie Germany, John Aravosis and the Americablog crew we watched the crowd stream by carrying with them mementos of the night in the form of placards and pins.

Aravosis at the CNN Grill

The CNN Grill post-speech was hoppin’. Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend where quietly enjoying drinks with friends (Stuart is in town promoting the Battle of Seattle” about the WTO Protests). Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer came in after coming off air for the night. Charles Barkley was there too. Any my favorite celebrity sighting of the day was seeing Danny Strong (Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor extraordinaire and writer of HBO’s film Recount).

Plans were made to check out the MySpace/SAG party featuring Nelly. Tickets were a hot item and a friend slipped some my way so we cabbed out to the location. Inside was a typical club set-up – dark with black lights and long bars. Nelly’s band was setting up. The main floor was crowded with people milling about waiting for things to begin. The second floor overlooked the first and was VIP territory.

Nelly performs at the MySpace/SAG party.

We stayed for a few Nelly songs before realizing how difficult it was going to be to find a cab. I finally commandeered one that was arriving to drop people off and had to fight off hordes of other party goers who were looking to leave. We had a party of 5 (my good friend plus 3 friends from the Ohio delegation) and we ended up letting another two stranded travelers hop in with us as well. Turns out once introductions were made everyone seemed to already know each other. Small world.

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One Response to “Tuesday at the Convention”

  1. Enjoyed the photos and the background gossip. Any more coming? 

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