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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Democratic Convention Recap: Friday, August 29, 2008

Ann-Marie Luciano Bio

I headed towards the Convention Center in the afternoon to see if I could buy any more Obama memorabilia. There were tons of white tents and street vendors selling every imaginable type of object with Obama's name or image on it. What was incredible was that a lot of the merchandise was made by local artists. I met a street vendor who put together a beautiful calendar that starts in November 2008 (after all, isn't that when a new time really begins for this country?) that displays a different image of Obama and different quotes from his past speeches. I had to buy one of course. There were a myriad of different types of t-shirts with Obama's face on them, the most popular of which is his face with different shades of red, white and blue. It is so incredible to me that his image has become such a symbol of hope and such a fashionable and popular trend for so many diverse people.

Walking around 16th Street Mall, it was evident that many Obama supporters were still in Denver enjoying the city. Needing a quick bite to eat to hold me over until dinner, I stopped at a local deli and enjoyed a cup of corn chowder on an outside table. I ended up striking up a conversation with the couple across from my table in the same way all conversations seem to begin this week "Are you here for the convention"? They were both in Denver from Iowa to participate in the convention. We talked about how Iowans were the reason why Obama was here. They explained to me that they felt so proud to be Iowans and to have made the first vote of confidence for Obama, which propelled him through the primaries to victory.

Living in Iowa, they both had the opportunity to personally meet Obama, Edwards, Clinton and many of the other candidates and to give each candidate a hard look before making their vote. They told me that Iowans take their responsibility and role in the primary process very seriously, making sure to be fully informed on all of the issues before making a decision. I learned about how a local artist gave each of the Iowa delegates a picture of a homeless man reading a newspaper that said "Barack Obama Elected First African-American President." We got choked up talking about it.

As I walked through the city and talked to different people throughout the day, I also encountered locals and some travelers who were in Denver for other reasons and on the fence about their support for Obama. In having conversations with them to see what their concerns were, it was amazing to realize that this is exactly how the election is won – one voter at a time. It isn't the convention or the speeches or the signs or t-shirts that usually cause someone to decide to vote for a candidate. Instead, it is in the day-to-day conversations with strangers and friends that most people begin to learn of a candidate's positions and begin to make judgments based on the information they learn and the trust they have for those who convey it to them. This is what made Friday night so special.

While in line at Comedy Works, Inc, I met a couple from an hour outside Denver that was visiting the city for the night. The gentleman told me that he works for a Denver energy company that is working to provide solar energy to businesses and residents in Colorado. He told me that the government funding his company had received had dried up and they were having a difficult time getting any politicians in Colorado to respond to their requests for additional funding. I got his email address and told him I'd send him the information for the Obama Colorado contract person who I'm sure would be interesting in learning about the situation and what the Obama campaign could do to bring attention to their needs.

Later at night I went with Chris and Amber to a local bar to celebrate our last night in Denver. Sitting outside enjoying our drinks, we met a resident of New Orleans. He talked about his experience in Hurricane Katrina and how the government's failure affected him and his friends. When I asked him whether he supported Barack Obama, he said he wasn't sure. We asked him what his concerns were and he replied that he didn't feel comfortable that Obama wouldn't put his hand on his heart when saying the Pledge of Allegiance. My heart sank when I heard this: I couldn't believe that people still believed this false lie. We then explained to him how this was a lie being told by the far right and he was refreshingly receptive to learning a different view on the matter. We talked for awhile that night about a lot of different topics. These are the conversations are happening all over this country in the wake of the momentum from the convention.

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