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Democratic Convention Day 1: Part Two

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Democratic Convention Day 1: Part Two

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Leaving the Colorado Convention Center to walk to the shuttle taking folks to the Pepsi Center where the press filing centers are and where the evening’s events would take place, I was passed by a rickshaw driver. His casual attire contrasts nicely with the helmeted guys and gals in the background.

Denver seems not unlike Gori, Georgia, with heavily armed and uniformed officers from every branch of law enforcement on every corner in the vicinity of the convention center. The shuttle buses—each with a sheriff’s deputy on board to check your credential—take you to the Pepsi Center via an amusement park, where the perimeter is guarded by uniformed Secret Service.

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Several helicopters are overhead at all times, and there are sharpshooters stationed on the roof of the Pepsi Center. SWAT teams like the one in the first picture patrol the grounds as well.

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Heaven—or Hell—only knows what this is, but it looks like it could withstand an all-out assault by a raging army of angry citizens demanding that their party listen to them.

Once you leave the bus, you have to go through a screening pavilion that is staffed by the Transport Safety Authority, the same people who herd you about at airports. At least you don’t have to remove your shoes. I don’t know what set off the alarm on the metal detector that you walk through, or if anything even did set off the alarm, but I got wanded.

And once inside, I wandered… into the nearest media pavilion, which just happens to house my favorite news program, PBS’s Newshour With Jim Lehrer—news groupie heaven! The seats in the filing centers are hard as, and the ones in the Pepsi Center itself are narrow as. Not that I’ve tried those out yet. My assigned place in the scheme of things is up on the third level almost directly to the left of the podium when you’re looking at it on TV. Which gives me a good view of the bums on stage, but to see the faces I have to watch the big screen TVs up in the rafters.

Two things Denver is famous for—going green and lacking oxygen because it’s a mile up a mountainside—have been taken to heart by companies big and small.

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General Motors has three car models on display that use less fuel than their regular models. The famous Volt—which GM is betting will be a game-changer for the auto industry—was not among them. Probably because it’s still under wraps at the factory.

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A company that is providing oxygen stations on the streets of Denver during the convention has scattered ground-level advertising throughout the Pepsi grounds. I got the chance to stare at this one for quite a while as I waited in a slow-moving line at the hotdog stand next to the media tent—the only vittles available in the vicinity. On the left is a Congressional staffer foot, and on the right is a Secret Service leg.

I decided not to wait around for the evening’s proceedings, reasoning that at least I’d be comfy on the sofa and would probably see more on the telly than in the hall, so I took an afternoon shuttle back out of the Pepsi Gulag. The shuttles run a circular route, and at one hotel stop, a conference call of expensive suits boarded—mens and ladies—with credentials around their necks saying “Finance Guest”. Busy pondering what that meant, I missed my opportunity to get a front-on photo of the next group of people getting on headed for the Pepsi Center.

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This fuzzy image is of the back of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., with his son William and daughter Kyra to his right, wearing their “Honored Guest” credentials. Kennedy is famous for his environmentalism, which is perhaps why he’s taking the bus. Or maybe there was nothing else on offer. He’s in a deep conversation with another of the Kennedy clan.

PS: I’m posting little snippets of video captured with a phone camera up on YouTube at but the quality isn’t very good.



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