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Obama To Accept Nomination At Mile High Stadium

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Obama To Accept Nomination At Mile High Stadium

Election 2008

Obama To Accept Nomination At Mile High Stadium

Obama To Accept Nomination At Mile High Stadium

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92301409/92301382" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has announced he will accept his party's nomination in Denver's Invesco Field at Mile High. The rest of the convention will be held at the Pepsi Center, a much smaller venue.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

It's a quite familiar picture in American politics. At the climax of the four- day convention, the candidate steps up to the podium, accepts the nomination and on cue, balloons or confetti rain down from the ceiling. Well, when Barack Obama gives his acceptance speech next month, there will be no ceiling, just open sky at the INVESCO Field at Mile High.

The DNC confirmed today that Obama plans to bring the last night of the convention, quote, "out to the people," by moving his speech from Denver's Pepsi Center to the stadium where the Broncos play. With a seating capacity of 76,000, INVESCO can accommodate more than three times as many people as the Pepsi Center.

For more on this move and other convention news, I'm joined by NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hello, Mara.

MARA LIASSON: Hello, Michele.

NORRIS: So why is Barack Obama doing this?

LIASSON: Because he can. He has demonstrated a unique ability to draw these tremendous crowds - he got 75,000 people at a rally in Portland, and this is a way for him to really show his strength. He wants to open up the convention; as the party has said, this kind of goes with his ethos of inclusivity. He is in a state - Colorado - that he very much wants to win in the fall. And he wants to get as many people involved in his campaign as possible.

And it's going to be incredible television, incredible images, and the Democrats hope it'll increase the bump that all candidates get out of their nomination.

NORRIS: Now, you mentioned the images. Obama will deliver his acceptance speech on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech, so I'm guessing there's going to be all kinds of symbolism that night.

LIASSON: Absolutely. A big, historic event, and there'll be a lot of historic references.

NORRIS: Now, there've been a lot of reports about the DNC and its troubles with planning and raising money for the convention. Is this because the primary season seemed to extend forever, or is it because Clinton supporters and Obama supporters aren't getting along with each other?

LIASSON: Actually, I think it's a different kind of friction. Everybody's been focusing on the tension in the party between the Obama camp and the Clinton camp. In fact, the tension around the convention is between Howard Dean and everyone else in the party. The complaints about Dean's governance of the Democratic National Committee have been going on for a very long time. And it is true that fundraising for Denver has lagged behind. I think they're about $10 million short of their goal.

T: red, green, yellow, blue and purple. And every plate has to be 50 percent fruits and vegetables and no fried foods...

NORRIS: No fried foods?

LIASSON: No fried foods.

NORRIS: Oh, my goodness, at a convention.

LIASSON: So basically this can be parodied, of course, as the worst kind of Democratic micromanaging or social engineering. But the fact is that - I think some of the tension between Howard Dean and the rest of the party are overblown.

First of all, Obama's moving to take over control of the party, as all nominees do. I think that he runs a pretty tightly disciplined, organized ship. I think a lot of his problems will be solved. But more important, I think, is that there is a direct line between Howard Dean and Barack Obama. Howard Dean planted the political seed - using the Internet, very grassroots, outside of the Beltway - that Barack Obama really turned into a very flourishing garden.

NORRIS: And his 50-state strategy.

LIASSON: And his 50-state strategy. You know, a lot Democrats complained about Howard Dean's 50-state strategy - why spend money on two staff members in Guam or Mississippi? Well, along comes Barack Obama, and he is going to spend money in a lot of states that Howard Dean laid down roots in.

NORRIS: Now, have they worked out a role for Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill Clinton?

LIASSON: I don't think that they're finished with negotiating the actual role for Hillary Clinton but rest assured, it will be a big one. There will be a Hillary Clinton night. She will be celebrated at the convention. I think her husband will also have a big role. The only thing that remains to be worked out is will her supporters, her delegates, insist on putting her name in nomination, or will she release them all so they can support Obama. That hasn't been worked out yet.

NORRIS: An important symbolic gesture there.

LIASSON: Yeah.

NORRIS: Mara, thanks so much.

LIASSON: Thank you, Michele.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Mara Liasson.

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Obama Will Go Outdoors To Accept Nomination

In a move designed to take advantage of Barack Obama's huge popularity, the Democratic National Committee announced Monday that Obama would accept his party's presidential nomination at the football stadium used by the Denver Broncos.

The four-day convention, scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 25, otherwise will take place at Denver's Pepsi Center. The change in locales is based largely on seating capacity. While Invesco Field at Mile High seats 76,000 people, Denver's Pepsi Center only holds up to 21,000 people.

Party officials say that having Obama's acceptance speech at a much larger venue will help boost fundraising. His speech will coincide with the 45th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963.

Obama has attracted large crowds in the past. In May, he drew 75,000 people to a riverside park in Portland, Ore., just before that state's primary.

This will be the first time in nearly half a century that a presidential candidate will give his acceptance speech at a different location from the convention site. In 1960, Democrats held their convention at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. But Sen. John F. Kennedy gave his acceptance speech in front of some 80,000 at the nearby Los Angeles Coliseum, an outdoor setting.

The practice of presidential candidates accepting their parties' nomination in person only goes back to 1932, when Gov. Franklin Roosevelt of New York flew from Albany to Chicago to do so. Four years later, Roosevelt accepted the Democratic nomination at an outdoor event at the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field before a crowd estimated at 100,000.

Conventions And Their Cities

Regarding the events in Denver, convention spokesperson Jenny Backus is quoted as saying that "lots of conventions have had no connection to their host cities, but this one is really going to take advantage of being in a state that's going to be an important general election battleground. And what better way to kick off the fall campaign and get thousands of supporters and grass roots organizers all in one place to get fired up."

But history shows that parties don't necessarily carry the states in which the conventions have been held. In fact, in the 10 presidential elections going back to 1964, each party failed five times to win the state of its convention city.

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