Blogging the DNC, Day Two
by Jonathan Singer, Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 04:39:56 AM EST
Joe Biden has the honor of speaking first among the presidential candidates today, and that's where we'll begin. To start, Biden asks for forgiveness for his, um, inopportune comments earlier in the week. Biden speaks on a dour note, stressing his experience and speaking directly on foreign policy matters. Statements on Iraq (i.e. "Mr. President, emboldening the terrorists is the one mission you have accomplished...") bring the strongest applauses from the audience, which is quite noticeably sparser than yesterday. This campaign and the Democratic Party for the last 200 years has been fighting for working people. The speech clocked in at about 11 minutes -- not indicative of the long-windedness many often (rightly) describe the Senator as having. In all, it wasn't a great speech and probably did not end the debate over his comments, but it wasn't terribly received either.
Today's second candidate, Bill Richardson, takes the stage with the song "Lean on Me" blasting from the speakers. Richardson is funny, amiable and seems to have the crowd in his hands. Richardson's call for all of the Democratic candidates to agree to only run positive campaigns in the primary and that the DNC adopt a resolution recommending this draws strong applause. Speaks of his long record as New Mexico's Governor, drawing stronger applause on his talk of standing up for workers -- including those in unions, particularly those in unions. Standing ovation for working for equality for sexual orientation, Apollo Program to decrease dependence on foreign oil. Though he went noticeably over the soft seven-minute time limit, he kept the audience with him -- not just because he had suppoerters strategically located throughout the hall but also because he gave a very good speech. It's not be enough, in and of itself, to get him into the top tier of candidates, but it may just have gotten him on that path.
Candidate three for today is Mike Gravel. Notes the support of Granny D, the New Hampshire democracy activist, talks almost professorially about moving from a representative democracy to a direct one. On Iraq states that any Senator who voted for the war is not qualified for the presidency, the response to which was rather muted among those in the hall. Says that he's qualified because he stood up and opposed the Vietnam War while serving as Senator from Alaska. Strongest applause comes when castigating the large military expenditures that came without sufficient funds for protecting American soldiers in Iraq. The speech was long -- very long -- but it at least provided the Senator what I'd imagine he was looking for: an opporunity to speak about his national initiative plan.
The final candidate speaker of the day is Tom Vilsack, who has garnered at least some good will among those in attendence by offering free popcorn. Begins by highlighting his background as being adopted, noting how it makes him an outsider in more than one way. Says that he is tired of the promotion of fear, that the government needs to also spread goodness. Vilsack's first big applause line comes with the call to overturn the No Child Left Behind Act, the first candidate to do so (if I remember correctly). Vilsack also becomes the first candidate to note that he's going over the time limit, though does so comically in jest. Decent applause also comes when Vilsack notes that Iowa was one of only two states to decrease its number of uninsured last year, as well as his call to bring troops home now. Not a bad speech, and in fact what he had to say was fairly good. But his delivery wasn't terribly energetic and he didn't really connect with the crowd, which he probably needed to do in order to break out this weekend.