by Ted Manna
American Reporter Correspondent
August 23, 2003
IN THE SWEET GLOW OF ANTICIPATION, TOP DEMOCRATS CONVENE IN DENVER
DENVER, Colo., Aug. 22, 2007 -- With rallying cries like "the road to the White House runs through the West" and "bring home a Democratic president," the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) kicked off the countdown to their party's 2008 convention in Denver today.
Speaking at the spacious, 19,099-seat Pepsi Center, the site of the August 25-28, 2008, event, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and Democratic National CCommittee Chairman Howard Dean cheered on party faithful and promised to listen to the people of America.
"We want to change the way campaigns are done," said Dean, as hundreds of local and national Democrats applauded. "How about listening to what the people want for America?" he said. "It's about time to end the Republican culture of corruption in Washington. We have done more in six months than the Republicans have done in six years."
While Republicans were naturally absent, Republican-bashing was rampant. Ritter noted that seven formerly Republican states now have Democratic governors. "Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arizona. Ten years ago these states had Republican governors. Now they have Democrats," Deran said.
Republican notables, including U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), State Sen. Tom Wiens (R-45)), and the Colorado Republican Party Headquarters did not return calls to their offices.
Dean claimed that every Republican running for president thinks "we should stay the course in Iraq, while every Democratic candidate thinks we should pull out of the war. It's a clear choice. Republicans think it's more important to spend billions in Iraq than to insure our children have health coverage or access to low cost loans for higher education."
Making sure that everyone understands that the Dems don't mean to "tax and spend," Dean said one of the aims of the convention will be to spread the word: "No more spending for government programs unless we know where the money is coming from. Bill Clinton knew how to run this country. The key to a strong economy is a balanced budget," he said.
While the city of Denver basks in the glow of hosting the convention, claiming that millions will be generated, a very large contingent of the Colorado population may not know or care what goes on in the city. Susan Schiebert, of Littleton, Colo., a suberb west and south of Denver, thought most people in rural Colorado will not care.
"Will the farmers and the people outside Denver care? I don't think so. I think this is awesome. We're pumped. I hope they figure out how to reach those people." She attended the event with her 5-year-old son Benjamin, she said, to expose him first-hand to the actual working of government, she asked.
John Stoffel, a co-coordinator of the Democratic campaign organization, agreed. "I don't think the people in the rural areas will care about the convention or what happens today. Who knows how much they will care as the actual convention gets closer?" the military retiree said.
"I think we are going to have a wonderful convention here," said Democratic U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, (D-CO), speaking to the media after the rally. "We are going to put a focus on not only the whole possibility of energy and renewable energy, but also on rural America. I think this is a great place to have [the convention], right here in the center of the West; right here where we can celebrate the future of America. I'm very excited.
In order to get rural Colorado involved, the DNC will reach out to poliical and business leaders through a series of community forums in Denver and throughout the Rocky Mountain West in the months leading up to the 2008 Convention. "Convention Conversations: A Traveling Forum Sponsored By The DNCC" will provide local residents an opportunity for direct communication with top convention organizers, according to a press release handed to the media.
"This will be the greatest convention in the history of conventions" boasted Hickenlooper, noting that 2008 will be Denver's sesquicentennial. "Our community has come a long way since we last held a political convention in 1908. Over the past hundred years, we've boomed and we've busted and we've always bounced back. We have shown again and again that if your reach has exceeded your grasp you will be able to take advantage of your initiatives here like nowhere else on earth, and we are going to demonstrate that in the way we do this convention.
Asked by The American Reporter whether he thought the convention would be just a formality or will open with the ultimate nominee still unknown, Dean hedged.
"One of two things is going to happen," he said. "Either someone will sweep the first three or four caucuses, in which case we will know the nominee by February or March, or there will be no frontrunner and then we will pick the nominee here in Denver."
All the featured speakers stressed that the Democratic Party platform would be both pro-business and pro-green. Dean, a doctor, hoped that universal health care would be a plank in the platformm ge told The American Reporter. "Every other industrial democracy in the world has health care," he said. "We should, too. All we have to do is expand what we already have."
Just like the clouds that obscured the Rocky Mountains on a hot day in Denver, there is a persistent cloud over the convention regarding labor and union workers. Ritter addressed it this way.
"We're in a position where we can have a relationship with labor during the convention," he said. "We're viewing it more and more as a partnership. This whole view of looking at it as management versus labor is not how we're looking at it in Colorado."
Although local labor leaders have threatened to picket the convetion if some concessions are not made, "I think the labor leaders of the AFL-CIO are looking at it as a partnership as well," he added.
Walt Bechert, a member of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and a 1995 Democrat of the Year, disagreed.
"I don't think the issues will be resolved," he said. "Kronke [Stan Kronke, owner of the Pepsi Center] is still part of the Wal-Mart enterprize and they are very anti-union. I don't see them changing their colors between now and then. They're not going to let our workers in to organize.
"We have no big surprises or secrets; no Machiavellian plans to disrupt things," Bechert said. "I would welcome it if things did change."
Bechert guessed that 400 to 500 delegates to the convention would be AFSCME members. "Labor is very strong and we are looking at all the candidates," he said. "I want to see who is supporting working families; who is answering our questions, before I name names or endorse candidates."
The jury may still be out on whether the Democrats can make a difference. Issues important to ordinary people - the poor, the middle class, minoritiesb - like job outsourcing, immigration, taxes, social security and low-cost higher education to help American children can compete in the world marketplace will be raised.
'We have Democratic governors because we are willing to tackle big problems," said Ritter, "and to work on big problems in a pragmatic way, that answers to where the people of our state and our region struggle. It intersects with struggle through pragmatism. That's what we're trying to do. We're working on health care reforms. We're working on education reforms. We're creating jobs. We're creating careers. We're looking at our energy future. We're thinking about the future of this state and this region. Our children, our grandchildren - not tomorrow or next year but 10 years, 20 years and 50 years out.
"That's the vision of the leaders of this party," he said. "We are not afraid to tackle big problems."