February 21, 2007

My report on today's festivities

Well, I guess so far I'm the only local blogger reporting on the Presidential Forum Watch Party over at the Nevada Appeal. Kirk Caraway was there too, so we'll wait and see what he posts. I was there in "official" capacity (read: working) and today was the culmination of a lot of work on the part of a lot of people. When we found out the tickets to the actual forum were controlled by AFSCME and that issues with regards to campaign finance dictated how they were going to disperse tickets (to their members and local dignitaries - defined as elected officials and central committee executive boards only) the Democratic Party wanted to put something together for our folks. Hence the Watch Party.

Frankly, I think we got the better deal. We got to watch the forum and also have six out of eight candidates stop by, speak, shake our hands, and get up close and personal with a lot of Democrats. This is the sort of thing I'd hoped that our early caucus status would create. It was great! My goal today was that our activists would have a good time (everything I heard today indicated that they did). And on a personal note I wanted to get all the candidates to autograph my Dean's List (as in Governor Dean) poster that I won in a raffle at last month's Douglas County dinner.

Jill Derby did a marvelous job as our emcee. Senator Reid greeted us at about 11am, Governor Richardson arrived just about then, spoke to the group and did a LOT of schmoozing before heading over to the Community Center. Shook his hand and got him to sign my poster. One down, ?? to go (even as the forum began we had only a handful of candidate commitments to appear - things were in flux due to the forum, the media, etc).

Walking back into the volunteers' break room I almost knocked over Congressman Dennis Kucinich. He was just finishing up signing my poster. Shook his hand. He spoke to the crowd and my thought that for such a small guy he has quite a presence. (and no, he did not do that "no strings" thing with us). Elizabeth, his wife, is beautiful and gracious. After schmoozing a bit with the group he headed over to the community center. (Two down)

The forum was fed to us on eight plasma teevees, and we heard from Senator Dodd and Senator Clinton.

Then Chris Dodd arrived and spoke to us. After speaking he headed into the audience and spent quite a bit of time talking to them and the press. Shook his hand and introduced myself as one of Governor Dean's 50 State Strategy people. And he signed my poster (three down). He got out just before...

...Hillary Clinton arrived. Shook her hand. She spoke to the group, and worked the rope line, signing people's Nevada Appeal special editions and other items. Just before she left, one of her staffers got her to sign my poster (four!). I've read elsewhere that the local press and some bloggers felt that she avoided them. That might have been because she was actually spending time with Democrats - visiting over at the legislature, taking a trip through Comma Coffee (one of our attendees told us she had been over there meeting people and shaking hands), meeting with Democratic women, speaking at the forum. And then she came over to visit with us before heading off to Las Vegas for a 5pm speaking engagement. (Photo: Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal)

Back to the televised forum. I was running around checking with volunteers and keeping an eye open for problems, talking to attendees, etc.

We were getting down to the end of the forum and still no Vilsack or Biden. Frantic cell phone calls to their campaigns and text messages to and fro. Jill, ever the trooper, encouraged the crowd to stick around after Mike Gravel finished speaking because we had more candidates heading our way.

Governor Vilsack appeared and spoke to the group. He was much more low key than the previous candidates, but the audience was paying close attention. These people are our serious base Democrats and they are taking their responsibilities to choose their best candidate seriously. When he was leaving Jill introduced me and Brian Hutchinson to him, and I got him to sign my poster. (five for five!)

Finally...Joe Biden arrived through the front door. Shook his hand and he asked me who I was. Very nice smile he has, and he looks you in the eye. Senator Biden spoke to the group mainly about labor and middle class issues. Really spent a lot of time with the crowd, then he signed my poster (six!) and took a group picture with our volunteers.

If you are keeping track, we got six of the eight candidates to our little soiree. I think there were several that were disappointed that John Edwards didn't stop by.

So...what do I think? I think we have a fantastic field of candidates. And more than that, we have a great group of Democrats in northern Nevada. And our volunteers? They ROCK.

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