Sunday, August 31, 2008

Blogger Closed For Holiday Weekend

Thursday at Mile High Stadium was amazing. By the time I got back to my hotel it was after 2 AM and I had to pack and leave on the shuttle at 6 AM so the one picture below was all I had time to post. I arrived home in Cape Elizabeth at midnight Friday, and left with my family the following morning for North Haven.

I am now in the North Haven Community Center after biking around the island with Tom while the kids hung out around the dock. The excitement from the convention is felt everywhere. I wore my Obama shirt yesterday on the way out to the island and received many comments - all very positive.

I have numerous great photos and notes for posts from the convention that I will put up upon my return!


Friday, August 29, 2008

Joe Biden

I had the honor of speaking and shaking hands with Joe Biden's beautiful 91 year-old mother Jean on my flight home. She was traveling with Beau and the grand kids.

In addition, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was sitting in front of me on the plane and I chuckled when a man who obviously did not know him asked if Nutter could pull down his luggage when the plane stopped and send it up the aisle. Mayor Nutter gave me his card that interestingly has the Athenian Oath printed on the back.

E Pluribus Unum

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rep. Chris Babbidge Blogs On

The torchbearer for the party is, in my opinion, not as crucial as the progressive change that a Democratic President would bring to the country, impacting the future of our families and future generations. But we are very fortunate that we had great candidates this year, and Sen. Obama has the character, ability, wisdom, and judgment to lead us where, together, we need to go. Issues including healthcare, energy, the economy, and America's role in the world demand urgent attention and a bold change of direction. Regarding the latter, I think President Clinton said it well with the words, it's the power of our example and not the example of our power that is important.


A Few Words From Phil

So I've had a full range of experience watching the speeches. The first night (as an alternate) I was in the nosebleed seats and couldn't leave the seat for fear it would be snatched up. The second night, a very kind delegate gave me his floor pass so I could be on the floor for Hillary's speech--and it was phenomenal! Last night, on the way to the the convention hall I was passing a bar as Maine was announced for the roll call. So I dashed in to watch John Knutsen report for Maine. I bumped into some great folks from Virginia, Massachusetts and Colorado and I ended up staying there to watch the evenings events. It is probably the only time I'll ever have a chance to sit at a bar, watch great political speeches, and have the whole bar join in cheering!


Beaming Tom Allen

State House Candidate Buffy Morrissette from Poland, Maine emailed me at the convention asking where I was during the roll call. When I got back to her and asked if she had seen Tom Allen's excellent speech, she emailed that she and her family had already watched it three times. Tom Allen was sitting behind me so I handed him my blackberry and showed him Buffy's message.

How was the Roll Call?

I understand there was a roll call vote. Sorry I missed it.

Yesterday's breakfast meeting was where we signed the official ballot indicating our support for either Obama or Clinton as the nominee. It was quite a difficult decision for some - in fact one Obama delegate who I have become close to was struggling to the point of tears because her heart told her Clinton was the right choice, but she felt an obligation to those who elected her. She asked me to find out if the ballots would be confidential (they are not).

I voted for Hillary Clinton.

Clinton delegates met with the Senator that afternoon around 1:30 in the Colorado Convention Center (not the Pepsi Center). Hillary is wonderful up close and personal. She "released" us and said we should do whatever we felt was the right thing to do. She recognized a pledged delegate's dilemma and said we would be honoring her by voting for Obama and honoring her if we voted for her. She told us she had cast her ballot for Obama and convincingly made the case why its so incredibly important to elect a Democrat to the White House.

Meanwhile the convention gods decided to move up the time for the roll call without telling the rank and file.

By the time I got back to my room, changed, packed for the convention, got on the shuttle bus, was frisked and scanned and searched - the roll call was over!

How was it?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Conversation with Democratic National Committeeman Sam Spencer

Maine's Democratic National Committeeman Sam Spencer is doing some great video reporting of the convention.

Here's a link to Sam's interview with me:

The BBC picked-up an interview Sam did with four of my legislative colleagues that I wanted you to see as well:


Wake up America!

I got to the convention earlier on Tuesday and was glad not to have missed Dennis Kucinich speak. The guy is just fun to watch, and I was up close. It is exciting to walk down to the convention floor and stand next to Wolf Blitzer and watch political heavy weights do their thing. I recommend trying to see Kucinich's "Wake up America!" speech.

Then I bumped in to Morning Joe Scarborough from MSNBC. I was surprised to overhear this conservative former GOP congressman from Florida predict an Obama victory in November. When we spoke he told me the same thing. I'm still deciding if this is good information or not.

Lilly Ledbetter's speech struck a personal chord with me. She is the woman whose gender discrimination case against Goodyear Tire was struck down by Justice Alito in a shocking and ominous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Her case and the Fair Pay Act is Exhibit A in support of our fight for the presidency and Tom Allen's seat. Legislation to overturn the Ledbetter decision was passed in the US House, but failed in the senate, thanks in good part to McCain failing to support it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Breakfast of Champions

I loved having breakfast with Howard Dean, Tom Allen, Mike Michaud, and Gov. Baldacci this morning.

Howard Dean remarked that we are not on defense in this election year, and last night's convention showed the nation that the Obamas are a first family we can be comfortable with and very proud of.

Tom Allen told us Diana has finished all her chemotherapy treatment and is fine in that regard, but has a fever and will not be joining us at the convention (I'm sure she is reading my blog, though). Diana is, according to Tom, an "absolute rock".

Governor Baldacci urged us to enjoy the convention and appreciate its historical significance. He talked about passing the torch to the new generation of Americans in the context of being with his son Jack at Rock the Vote. He remembered his parents being delegates for Kennedy, and slapping Kennedy's cadillac when he campaigned in Maine.

With passion, Governor Baldacci also said that never before have we had partisan foreign policy, and it has to change. Before W, we always united as a country at the shore's edge, and we must do so again.

Post Convention Monday

We headed straight to the Rocky Mountain Salute to Democratic Governors at Elitch Gardens following the convention. Another spectacular event that featured carnival fare, BBQ and drinks in a spotless theme park. I shook hands with Governor Richards, who looks really good with a scruffy beard and we spotted Governor Paterson of New York. The highlight was taking a ferris wheel ride and seeing the Mile High City from above.

The walk back to the Buell Theatre for Rock the Vote ( was interesting. I was told I could not take a photo of my fellow delegates being frisked on the way out of the "secure zone" and got a little cranky, but it didn't last long. I caught a couple of very loud songs of Fall Out Boy,and called it a night.

Am I Psycho?

Even as a full-fledged VIP Floor Delegate, it took over an hour to get to the convention at the the Pepsi Center from our hotel, located just 14 blocks away. Security is a big component of the convention, seconded by star-gazing and then texting.

Once in my seat, I was impressed with the beauty of the execution and choreography of the event. The center glows in hues of blue (my favorite color) and the air is cool and the sound crisp. It was surprisingly elegant and polished.

I first "heard" from my good friend Kate Knox, who was in the Teamsters sky box, so I "asked" her to wave and she did and we all waved back. Sounds fun, right?

Then Rep. Gary Connors texted me and said "Just saw you on cspan following ted's speech...Looking good!" Janet Mills texted me and asked where we were sitting.

Seeing and hearing Michelle Obama was incredibly moving. When she spoke about her family and the work done by Dr. King and Hillary Clinton, among many others, who helped her achieve the American Dream I was deeply touched. I also realized she needed to tell her story to counter the media-hype and hate that was being churned out in sound bites by cable news chumps and saw her anew as my sister. When her lips trembled just a little, I shed a tear. Meanwhile a couple of my fellow delegates who shall remain unnamed were balling their eyes out.

Then I got a text from Maine that said "Dont b one of the delegates who starts crying during the speeches!"

So I asked (sniff sniff) "Why?"

And it said "because they look a little psycho on tv!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Favorite Loser

I just met Matt DeBergalis, the founder of ActBlue, at the DLCC Majority Celebration Luncheon at the fantastic Denver Downtown Aquarium. Hannah, Jon, Phil and I went over and saw some fancy fish, cute river otters, big sharks and my favorite - tigers.

DeBergalis told me he started ActBlue after losing a race for city council in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Cape Elizabeth Early Birds

The Maine delegation includes two other Cape Elizabeth residents: Jeff Doucette, a 24 year-old USM student here with the College Democrats of America, and Karen Harris, a member of the DNC Credentials Committee. I have the pleasure of having breakfast with them and other Maine delegates every day at 7 AM.

Recognize anyone else?


Guns (and Democrats) Everywhere in Denver

Representatives Jon Hinck, Linda Valentino and I left Saco, Maine at 6 AM and arrived in Denver 1 PM their time via Manchester and Chicago. The Maine delegation is staying at the Hilton Garden – a fabulous location – located across the street from the Colorado Convention Center.

We got somewhat gussied up and met in the lobby of our hotel to get tickets for the first big event – a Welcome Party hosted by the Friends of New Orleans. Picture thousands of people in a huge ball room with tons of food, open bar and loud Cajun music. In other words, it was a blast.

Next stop was a celebration of the civil rights movement at the beautiful Buell Theatre. Senator Bartlett and I had fun hanging around the VIP room and chatting it up with Danny Glover, who confided in me he didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing. I assured him making himself available for photo ops was probably in the job description.

The night ended (for me, anyway) with a walk over to the Young Democrats Party. Theoretically old-timers like me should have been shut out, but in true D spirit, I was welcome.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The House Next Door

I picked up my t-shirt, a Denver magazine and a travel voucher at a reception for the delegates at the Blaine House. It was remarkable how when confronted face-to-face with the members of our group, everyone behaved.

While sharing goat cheese, smoked fish and fruit, even the most ardent among us were willing to put down our arms for Obama and Clinton and temporarily satisfy the human need to eat and be social. The truce was definitely fostered by our gracious hosts and their dogs. Governor Baldacci, in a tangerine golf shirt, was very relaxed and easy-going, as always. Maine’s First Lady was sporting some mules and a blue oxford and cheerfully lugged into the room additional chairs to make us comfortable. The Gov impressed upon us the importance of our mission in a low-key manner and thankfully was very brief in his remarks. Both he and Mrs. Baldacci offered practical advice about the upcoming adventure. The two family mutts were hanging around underfoot. Summer breezes were blowing the curtains. It felt like I was at my aunt’s house for a summer party.

We were given information about imbedded reporters traveling with us, and cautioned to be mindful of our role as representatives of the great State of Maine. Lurking in every elevator and every restroom in Denver could be a reporter looking for a scandal.

Around 6 PM I left and the evening was gorgeous. I walked next door through the state house lawn to my car.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How will Maine go?

You might think that preparing for the convention is all about picking which great party to attend, or what to pack. According to the media I can look forward to dancing to the beat of the Black Eyed Peas around my soon-to-be good friends Quentin Tarantino, Susan Sarandon, Warren Beatty, Annette Benning, Scarlett Johansson, Forrest Whitaker and Spike Lee, among others.


My blackberry buzzes every couple of minutes reminding me that the Obama and Clinton camps here in Maine are still slogging it out. Some Clinton delegates remain deeply disturbed by the treatment of her during the primary and are in their own words “adversarial” toward Obama. That the word “Obama” appears 235 times in the Democrat’s platform is deeply upsetting.

Then there are those who are weary of the Clinton camp. “Please, please, please consider creating your own forum for pursuing the Haranguing for Hillary campaign,” says one such exasperated Obama delegate.

The good news: We agreed on a shirt design. I can only hope that once we are all in uniform, sporting our donkey-with-a-moose-head graphic we will be reminded of our common cause. I worry, however, that our shirt slogan “As Maine goes, so goes the nation!” might be foreboding.

What do you think?

Monday, August 18, 2008

What's a pledged delegate to do?

What’s a pledged delegate to do?

You’ve probably heard by now that Hillary Clinton’s name will appear on the nomination ballot at that Democratic National Convention next week. As the only Maine public leader elected official (PLEO) delegate to the convention for Senator Hillary Clinton, I will have the historic opportunity to vote for the first-ever woman to appear on the nomination ballot for the United States Presidency.

Great! Problem is, Clinton herself doesn’t want her name on the ballot and is voting for Obama.

Technically Clinton did not withdraw as a nominee, but rather suspended her campaign, and we all know she received more delegates and more votes than any other defeated candidate in history, so sure, put her name on the ballot. This will not be the first time a defeated primary candidate’s name is placed in nomination—there was Jerry Brown in 1992, and in 1984 Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson’s names also appeared on the ballot.

This time it seems different. Charges of race-baiting and sexism were hurled back and forth between the camps during the campaign, and some are critical of the DNC for abdicating leadership on these hurtful issues. Where was Howard Dean, anyway, during the primary? Isn’t it Obama’s job now to unify the party?

What’s a pledged delegate to do? What do you think about my “opportunity”?