Postcard From Outside The DNC

Each night, delegates from the Democratic National Convention encounter a raucous scene outside the arena. Street vendors peddling Obama buttons and Hillary Clinton T-shirts, evangelists and anti-abortion protesters are all part of the chaos.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

Each night, when Democratic delegates leave the arena, the cacophony does not stop. Street vendors, protesters and preachers all vie for their attention.

NPR's Robert Smith sent us this audio postcard from the main gate of the Pepsi Center in Denver.

ROBERT SMITH: When the convention end each night, the real patriotic show begins.

Unidentified Man #1: You can't go wrong with Obama button.

Unidentified Woman: Buy now Hillary shirt, good business shirt (unintelligible).

Unidentified Man #2: All right. Cold water.

Unidentified Man #3: (Singing) (unintelligible) million...

Unidentified Man #4: On this day of celebration, a very important...

Unidentified Man #5: You want t-shirts?

Man #4: This (unintelligible), put your hope in him.

SMITH: Every delegate had to wind through this maze of free speech and free enterprise. You can see preachers with blow-horns and anti-abortion signs. The Obama smile beams back from thousands of (unintelligible) and knickknacks. Nick Johnson(ph) is trying to hawk his CD of political songs.

NICK JOHNSON: We have about 3,000 people that are just streaming out of the Pepsi Center and being bombarded by tons of American crap.

DNC: Campaign buttons, DNC flags.

WARNER: (Unintelligible) that.

Unidentified man #6: Not enough people to yell, I'm losing my voice.

SMITH: Is this a little hard to sell things when you get people with loud speakers and preachers behind you?

KEVIN CHERRY: Yeah. They kill the business. People just don't want to stop then, they just keep going by.

SMITH: The man murdering Kevin Cherry's business is street evangelist Dean Warner(ph).

DEAN WARNER: Some day, votes are going to meet a God, the holy God...

SMITH: Is it hard to do your preaching when everyone is selling all these t-shirts and stuff around you?

WARNER: You know, you'll get used to it after you've been out here in the streets for while, you know, you're getting used to the confusion and everything like that.

SMITH: I worry you might have given some of these guys a headache when you blow your horn out here all night.

WARNER: Well, I don't know.

SMITH: But you know, Cherry, the button seller, did learn a little trick from the preacher.

CHERRY: You know, we're all going to hell, buy button. Get them laughing. And then they stop, sometimes.

SMITH: The customers may stop but the chaos never ends. Everyone, Democrats included, have something to sell in Denver.

Robert Smith, NPR News.

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