Thursday, August 28, 2008

Moving in on McBush, McCheney, McSame

The convention shifted into a more forceful event on Wednesday with Hillary giving over her delegates in the late afternoon, Bill Clinton's Big Speech, followed by John Kerry, who I thought really did an pretty damn good job in eviscerating McCain and his nasty attacks, and Joe Biden, who took on John McCain with a lot of vigor.

The excitement on the floor was unstoppable when the roll call was read, state by state, and then when it came to New York, Hillary Clinton handed her delegates to Obama. I saw Clinton delegates crying, but in tears of joy, roaring for Obama. This kind of event -- call it therapy or catharsis or whatever -- needed to happen.

When Obama was then officially made the nominee, there were more tears all across the hall, as history was made with the first African-American nominee of a major party. The healing process happened both ways: The Clintons went far toward regaining respect from a lot of the Obama supporters and others who believed they'd inflamed racial tensions with their tactics during the primaries. Bill Clinton put to rest all the doubts about his support of Obama, getting fully behind his candidacy in a masterful speech, and in the process he reminded Democrats why the all have loved him, even if many weren't happy with him in recent months. You have to hand it to the Clintons for creating anticipation and also knowing how to create more value for themselves: By putting out signals of doubt about Obama (subtly or not) they upped the value of everything they did last night and the night before, and thus maintained a position of power. Bill Clinton especially will be someone important on the campaign trail and to an Obama presidency.

I was not in the arena whenJohn Kerry spoke. I was at the CNN Grill (more on that later) and everyone took their eyes off the television screens when Kerry came up, going back to their Blackberries and Iphones. But that was about John Kerry's reputation as a dullard more than it was about the speech. I watched it again later, and he actually took some powerful swipes at McCain and did well all around. He zeroed in McCain's attacks on Obama's patriotism, and skewered McCain for the tactics, obviously remembering back to his own swift-boating. I think this was the best speech John Kerry has ever given (at least that I've seen or paid attention to).

Joe Biden had a lot to live up to in his speech, particularly following Bill Clinton, but I think for the most part he did the job expected of the VP running mate. It could have had a bit more style and sparkle, and we know Joe Biden can do that. Nonetheless, he hit hard on McCain -- with bullet points that people walk away with, like that fact that McCain voted with Bush 95% of the time -- and that was necessary. We also needed to hear more about him, and he (and his son Beau, the Delaware attorney general, who introduced him) did the that well too, offering up more of his personal story. People loved the stories about his dad, and his mom, who was in the arena. Obama's appearance after Biden's speech was a really great move -- taken from the '92 Clinton playbook, when Bill did the same thing -- and it was an emotional moment for him and Biden. I think the campaign did this, however, because there's been some lame criticism from Republicans of the move to the stadium for Obama's speech -- claiming it shows he is more a rock star than a leader -- and he wanted to reassure people that it was about giving access to a lot of supporters who worked for his campaign.

I went down on the floor as well as up to the Sirius skybox last night, and as I mentioned did some interviews that we'll play on the show today. Overall, I'd rate Wednesday as pretty high, and I think it played that way on TV too no matter what the pundits may or may not be saying. We now move into Invesco Field, and the Obama acceptance speech tonight. We'll be doing the show live from Invesco today in a skybox, during our usual time 2-6 EST (12-4 MST). And then I'll be doing live special coverage of Obama's speech on OutQ starting at 8 EST, as the convention is taking place. I'll do commentary as the various speakers come out, leading up to Obama's speech which should be at about 10 EST, and then we'll do some wrap up and take your calls as well, so listen in and call, as we'd like to get your thoughts.