Democratic National Convention in Charlotte: Caucus Meetings and a Benefit Under the Big Tent

Monday started early with credential call at 6:00 a.m. Delegates must retrieve separate sets of credentials each day so security can get accurate counts and IDs for that day. Any credentials that are not claimed by a certain time are then distributed to the waiting list of non-delegate folks who are hoping to get into the Convention site on any given day. That’s why the credential call comes early.

After that the Louisiana delegation enjoyed a really delicious breakfast buffet — in the big air-conditioned tent behind the hotel — catered by Lucien, a New Orleans native who was displaced by Katrina, came up to Charlotte and opened a Cajun restaurant here. This morning he served up eggs and grits, real bacon and turkey bacon, blackened tilapia, chicken salad (?), orange juice, and coffee and chicory. C’est bon!

Alfre Woodard (True Blood; Memphis Beat) was the featured speaker over breakfast and she was great. A tiny little woman with a whompin’ big message for Dems about standing fast and challenging every GOP lie that comes up. She acknowledge we’d be working really hard in this endeavor, but that the alternative would lead to failure and that was inconceivable. Ms. Woodard admired my Louisiana Dem button so I gave it to her. Here she is showing it off.

The shuttle buses are running well, but slowly, which is really OK because I find a great deal of the action takes place en route. This morning Sen. Gerald Neal, 33rd District, Kentucky (Louisville), climbed on and sat next to me in the first seats. After a number of the Oregon delegation got on when the driver stopped at their hotel, Sen. Neal stood up and announced he was taking over the bus, and that he intended to storm the convention center with us. For the rest of the longish bus ride, a bunch of Louisiana ladies (Slidell and St. Tammany) competed with each other in offering up special regional recipes, handing slips of paper over to the senator with their contact information so he could email them and ask for the recipes.

As I write this I’m waiting for the next set of sessions to begin at noon. I missed the first session because of bus delays, which is OK because I’m quite enjoying myself, watching the stream of folks in front of me. (I’m in the food court, which is always a strategic positioning, in my experience.) There are all kinds of folks here, wearing all sorts of attire, and operating on all levels of ambulation. And there seems to be nary a tight-ass in the bunch! This is great fun!

This just in: Had a charming conversation with a volunteer who told me the names of the five most important people from her home state of Georgia. They are 1) Martin Luther King, 2) Jimmy Carter, 3) Ray Charles, 4) Alma Thomas, and 5) Bridget McCurry, who is the volunteer!

Bridget’s job was to ensure that conventioneers followed the directions for disposing of refuse. Who knew that there was actually a right way to handle trash? The Charlotte Convention Center even provided a little tutorial.

 

 

Here are two more interesting things I saw at the convention site: One is the sign for Public Engagement, which I think is a laudable concept.

The other is the patriotic lady and her Welcome Home outfit. Presumably, she was talking about the troops?

 

Today I missed most of the first session because of bus delays, but caught the Youth Caucus and that was very interesting. Turns out that this “enthusiasm gap” that the GOP has identified among young adults is just more hooey. With more than 650 delegates under the age of 34, the 2012 Convention has attracted more young people than any other Democratic Convention in history. More interesting to me is the fact that almost 250 of them are students!

On the way out, walking to the bus stop, the largest truck sign I’d ever seen rolled past. Wish we could have some of these for our local Dem campaigns.

 

The only problems I’ve experienced or observed since arriving in Charlotte has been with the shuttle buses. They just can’t seem to get the buses serving the University Section, which is where our hotel is and the furthest away from the convention center, coordinated. We were very late to the opening reception on Sunday evening, and havoc broke out today when more than two hours passed — in the blazing sun and heat — without nary a #8 bus. Adding to the frustration was the fact that we kept seeing the other numbered buses rolling by multiple times. We finally got back to the hotel without any of the older folks passing out, but I was worried for a bit, there.

After all that time in the sun, I needed a nap so I took one. The first band warming up for the Hurricane Isaac Benefit in the big tent out back woke me up. The tent is right below my window, so I could listen to the opening announcements while I got ready to go downstairs. Sweet!

 

The party was a blast, even for me and I’m not much of a shindig kinda girl. The first band played jazz and was OK, but the second was all soul and R&B. Pretty soon the tent was rockin.’ The food was great and lots of folks from other state delegations came to play. I don’t know how much money we actually raised, but we got lots of company.

There was green salad, potato salad, chicken & shrimp gumbo, crawfish ettouffee, crab balls, teriyaki chicken fingers, wings, catfish al fredo, seafood pasta, chicken salad, and more. And a great big cake with the Louisiana Dems logo on it.

 

Here’s a picture of my plate.

 

The band leader, Dante Lewis, played saxophone and liked to come down onto the floor and line dance with the delegates while he played. He also came down and danced/played with a “lady in black.”

 

Patricia Haynes Smith and John Bel Edwards, two Louisiana legislators, got into the action, too, as you can see here.

 

One of the most fun things about the party was the snowball stand set up at the far end of the tent. The concession was run by two fellas — one was the Democratic mayor of a small town in Pennsylvania and the other was his good friend who’d moved down to Charlotte a few years ago. They had lots of flavors; I had birthday cake with creme.

And here are some of my friends who were at the Hurricane Isaac Benefit with me:

John & Mary Kincaid, Monroe, LA

 

 

 

Carol Leblanc, Raceland, LA (left) and Claire Ledet, St. Tammany Parish, LA (right)

 

Suzette Riddle, Abbeville; Michelle Brister, Baton Rouge; and Karen Carter Peterson, LA Democratic Party Chair

 

Well, it’s late and credential call is just a few hours away, so I will close for now. More tomorrow night as the Democratic Convention 2012 goes into full swing with Michelle Obama’s presentation and more. Nighty-night, Y’all!

 

One thought on “Democratic National Convention in Charlotte: Caucus Meetings and a Benefit Under the Big Tent

  1. Thanks for the updtate Sal. Hope the buses get their wheels in gear and quit messin’ aroung w y’all!! Looking forward to Michelle’s speech, loved Tammy Duckworth!

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