Mile High Live Blogging: An Organized Army Assembles in Denver
By Al Giordano
The gavel will go down in a few minutes (and the first hour - community organizing time! - will be at least the second best hour).
DKos has today's convention schedule:
3:00 p.m. Mountain Time (5 p.m. ET):
Live Performances (before gavel) Yonder Mountain String Band Performance Jeff Austin, Adam Aijala, Ben Kaufmann, Dave Johnston
Voter Registration Presentation
Remarks The Honorable Luis Gutierrez Member of the US House of Representatives, Illinois
David Plouffe Obama Campaign Manager
Ray Rivera Obama State Director, Colorado
At 5 p.m. things start to heat up with Howard Dean, US Rep. John Lewis and the children of Martin Luther King, Jr., New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, performers Will.I.am and Sheryl Crow, and then another appearance from Ray Rivera of the Colorado Obama campaign (today, Ray has the best job in the world: community organizer for an entire nation).
At 6 p.m. come US Rep. Jan Shakowsky of Illinois (well positioned to run for Obama's Senate seat if he becomes president, and a rare hero in Congress), US Rep. Mark Udall of Colorado, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, performer Stevie Wonder, and Al Gore.
Here's a sneak preview of Shakowsky's remarks:
The outcome of this historic election is within our reach and in our hands. In 2000, we came just 537 votes short of preventing the national nightmare of the Bush years. 537 more knocks on the door or 537 more registered voters could have changed the outcome. Just a handful of volunteers could have changed the course of history.
Tonight, each one of us must pledge to take responsibility to register every last voter, knock on every last door, call every list twice, recruit everyone we know. Each of us needs to believe that we could be the person who decides the outcome of this election and the future for our children.
Tomorrow we'll fan out across this country, an army of everyday Americans who will accomplish something most extraordinary. Together we will rekindle the American dream and elect Barack Obama President of the United States of America.
The 7 p.m. hour will feature a lot of real people, Iraq war vets, and I'm guessing the surprise star will be Susan Eisenhower. Here's a sneak preview of some lines from her speech:
I stand before you tonight not as a Republican or a Democrat, but as an American.
The Eisenhowers came to this great country in the 18th century, settling first amid the hills of Pennsylvania and later on the plains of Kansas. Like many of your ancestors, they built our nation and served it in times of national crisis and war.
I grew up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where my parents and grandparents, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, chose to live after Ike's retirement as supreme commander, Europe, during World War II and as President of the United States. It was also where Abraham Lincoln gave his historic address. On the killing fields of Pickett's charge, our country came of age and assured for all time that our nation would survive as one.
Yet, today the divisions in our country are deep and wide. Our cohesiveness as a nation is strained...
I believe that Barack Obama has the energy and the temperament to lead this country. He knows that we can either advance on the distant hills of hope or retreat to the garrisons of fear. As our standard bearer, he can mobilize a demoralized America and inspire all of us to show up for duty. Discipline will be required, as will compromise, flexibility and quiet strength.
Barack Obama has already articulated a powerful vision for our nation's future and our standing in the world.
The task before our next president will be overwhelming. But no undertaking will be more critical than bringing about a sense of national unity and purpose...
8 p.m. (10 ET) will be the big hour, starting with a video presentation and finishing with Obama.
Tell us if you're at one of the 10,000+ house parties organized by the Obama campaign across the country tonight watching, or from where else you're viewing, who you're with, and what you're thinking and feeling.
And this just in:
Tom Brokaw on NBC at 2:33 p.m.: "Tens of thousands are coming from all over the region to this speech who will leave as fully trained Field Hands for the Obama campaign!"
Update 3:13 p.m. It's taking about an hour for each attendee to get through the security checkpoints and into the stadium, and thus the program hasn't started yet.
Meanwhile, we've mentioned Senator Joe Biden's less than stellar record as a drug war hawk. But I ran into my old friend Ethan Nadelmann, here in Denver, the other night and told me about a rather surprising (and positive) recent repentance - and corresponding legislation filed - by Biden regarding drug law sentencing disparities, which he has released a statement about through the Drug Policy Alliance today.
3:49 p.m. Okay, here's what might be the intro into the community organizing part. Lead-off batter, now speaking, is US Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois). If David Plouffe comes out next, you'll know the show is on for real.
3:53 p.m. Plouffe: "As a former community organizer Barack Obama knows that change can only come from the bottom up... A large number of people are here from the battleground state of Colorado... You have done so much so far... registered hundreds of thousands of new voters... now we have to continue to grow it... We're asking all of you here at Mile High and around the country to dedicate a few hours this weekend to... a massive voter registration drive the likes of which this country has never seen... There are only 68 days left... There is no time to lose... We have to register every potential voter... convince people to vote early or by mail... This election is in your hands, not mine, not anyone on the campaign staff, not Barack Obama and not the Democratic Party's... you will be the reason. Let's go win."
Ray Rivera, Obama's Colorado director up next: "Right here, tonight, you can sign up for a weekend of action... There are volunteer sign ups in this stadium in sections 1, 3 and 5... and volunteer phone banks... If you make 12 calls you can win a seat right here on the floor of Mile High stadium tonight... and you can register to vote here on levels 1, 3 and 5..."
Shakowsky's up next. (See excerpts from her remarks, above.)
4:04 p.m.: Pelosi gavels the convention into session.
5 p.m.: John Lewis is on stage, remembering his work with Martin Luther King, "because we still have a dream... I can tell you that the road to victory will not be easy... some of us were even killed for trying to register to vote... but with the election of Barack Obama... we are making a down payment on the fulfillment of that dream."
5:12 p.m.: Martin Luther King III:
While waiting to come to the podium, I could not help thinking how proud my father would be: proud of Barack Obama, proud of the party that nominated him and proud of the America that will elect him.
On this day, exactly 45 years ago, my father stood on the National Mall in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln and proclaimed, "I have a dream! ... That one day, this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed."
We're all children of the dream, and he is in all our hearts and minds. But not only that, he is in the hopes and dreams, the competence and courage, the rightness and readiness of Barack Obama.
But my father would be quick to remind us that realizing his dream is not Barack Obama's job alone. America needs more than a great president to realize my father's dream. What America needs is a great America.