TONY COX, host:
This is News and Notes. I'm Tony Cox.
Now on to our special convention bloggers' roundtable. Bloggers are out there in force at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Today being day three, we'll find out how our bloggers are faring. Plus, Hillary Clinton rallies the Democratic Party faithful for Barack Obama. Did it work? With us citizen journalist and public policy consultant Faye Anderson. She blogs at Anderson at Large, and for NPR's election blog Sunday Soapbox. Self-described vigilante pundit Baratunde Thurston. He is a blogger for several sites, including the Huffington Post. He also writes for Jack and Jill Politics under the pseudonym Jack Turner. And we hope to be joined shortly by Princella Smith, who was the national spokesperson for American Solutions, which is a non-partisan organization founded by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Well everybody, how are you?
Ms. FAYE ANDERSON (Blogger, Anderson at Large, Sunday Soap Box): Fine, thank you. How are you doing?
Mr. BARATUNDE THURSTON (Blogger, Huffington Post, Jack and Jill Politics): Very well. Tired.
COX: I can imagine. Everyone is talking about Hillary. We are going to continue to do that. Last night, of course, the former presidential candidate and New York senator rallied the troops at the Democratic Convention.
Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): You haven't worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.
(Soundbite of applause)
Senator CLINTON: No way. No how. No McCain.
(Soundbite of applause)
COX: Now, before this speech, polls showed that at least a third of her supporters, many of them women, did not plan on voting for Barack Obama. So, after the speech, let me come to you first, Faye, has anything changed?
Ms. ANDERSON: We'll see. Time will tell. I think Hillary - she did everything that she was - that she could do in terms of uniting the party. It remains to be seen whether her supporters will follow suit.
COX: What do you think, Baratunde? If that speech didn't move the supporters over to Barack, maybe no speech can do it.
Mr. THURSTON: You know, I think - I agree with Faye that time will tell. I also think that throughout the process since June 5th when the official primary season ended, many of her supporters, not all but some, have been looking for an opportunity to express that support. So, they've started rallies and organizations to trying to impact the role call. And having her speak here was a part of that. I think with each passing day it becomes clearer that the most supportive thing that they can do for her is to do - to vote for Barack Obama. And I think more of them will come around. I'm not been sensing a lot of that anger out here that you read about in the press. I have a narrow view of my own perspective here. But I think more will move around. I think she put it as clearly as she could. I was very impressed with her message.
COX: I'm going to ask you about the roll call in just a moment. But before we do that, after seeing her last night some of her delegates, as we all know, were more convinced than not less that she is really very presidential, and we know that Obama chose Joe Biden as his VP, and he is going to speak tonight. But it does raise the question, does it not Faye, whether or not Hillary could have guaranteed victory for the Democrats had she been on the ticket?
Ms. ANDERSON: Well, I don't think anyone can guarantee victory for any candidate. But let me just respond to something that was said about not seeing any anger. I have been following women delegates here, and I have to tell you that the energy is really with the women delegates. I've gone to both the African-American caucus and the women's caucus, and the women are really fired up. Before yesterday's speech Hillary actually addressed a group of women, Women Count, and those women they were angry. And what the Obama camp has really underestimated is the passion that her supporters felt for her historic run. Women are as passionate about Hillary's candidacy as African-Americans are about Obama's. And that has been underestimated. And I think therein lies their resistance to Obama.
Mr. THURSTON: But I also would...
COX: Go on. No, go on.
Mr. THURSTON: I want to throw in, I think what she said last night and what the most that she could do is say that is that some point the people who call themselves Democrats have to start acting like Democrats as well. Which means voting for the Democratic nominee. And while I do understand and respect that connection that they had to her historic run, we also have an historic election coming up that we need to focus on.
COX: Let's get another perspective. I understand that we are now being joined by Princella Smith who blogs at American Solutions, and is a guest blogger for our News and Views blog. Hello. Princella? Princella?
Ms. PRINCELLA SMITH (Blogger, American Solutions): Yes, hi. It's actually Princella.
COX: Princella. I'm sorry I got that wrong.
Ms. SMITH: It's OK.
COX: You know what? Let's get your take, particularly since you are a Republican who was at the convention. I don't know if you were there last night during her speech. What's your reaction to what she said? And your reaction to the reaction to what she said?
Ms. SMITH: In reference to Mrs. Clinton, right?
COX: Yes. Yes.
Ms. SMITH: You know, I was not on the floor last night, but I did watch the entire speech. I feel that - I feel that we were able to experience a masterful display from a Clintonesque perspective, and what I mean is the Clinton family has got to be in modern times one of the most political calculating families that we've ever had. Masterfully brilliant, and what I mean is she knew she couldn't get up there and talk about Barack Obama's experience, or his ability to be commander in chief, or anything about that. But what she did was she turned this fight into the Democrats versus the Republicans, and she said look, OK, I'm not your therapist. I know some of you are upset that I lost, but check it out, it doesn't make sense if you are a Democrat to go from me to John McCain. If you're a Democrat and it was about the issues and not about me, then you need to vote for Obama and not McCain. It was brilliant.
COX: You thought that was brilliant?
Ms. SMITH: Because she never once complemented Barack Obama.
COX: Not personally.
Ms. SMITH: It was brilliant. That speech would go down in history. It will go down in the books.
COX: Well, to follow that point, there was something that she said, we played the clip of it at the beginning. No way. Now how. No McCain. Does that sound like the kind of political cliche that could last throughout the campaign you think? Faye?
Ms. SMITH: I'm sorry. I mean, repeat the question. I'm sorry.
COX: I'm asking whether or not - we played the clip earlier in the - at the beginning of the segment where she said last night about McCain. She said no way, no how, no McCain. And my question is can that stick as a campaign slogan. Do you think? And I'm directing that to Faye.
Ms. SMITH: I'll tell you what. It could stick if you're in the Obama camp. I'm going to say you probably couldn't ask for much more from Senator Clinton considering the bitter battle that they both had. I think it could stick. I don't know if it will stick. I know that the McCain camp and I know the Republicans are going to be ready to say, OK, that was nice and beautiful and everybody played on everybody's emotions, but where is the beef? Where is the substance? You say no McCain, but why no McCain?
COX: Well let me ask you, Faye and Baratunde, what do you think about that slogan. Is it going to stick?
Ms. ANDERSON: Well yeah. It will stick. It's a good political line along with her line about the Twin Cities being an appropriate locale given that you can't tell Bush and McCain apart. But let me say this. I think that there is maybe more to her speech than meets the eye. Well, actually did meet the eye. That perhaps there were some dog whistles. Some coded language. I was struck by the orange. You know, Hillary is known for three colors, black, pink and yellow. But yet she turned up last night in orange. That's also the color of Women Connect - Women Count rather, the group with which she met with before the speech. Also in her speech she talked about Harriet Tubman and keeping on. That could be a signal to her supporters to keep on, keep up the good fight because for them the sexism and gender bias in the political process, which is now incorporated in the Democratic platform, those are issues that matter to her supporters, to a lot of her supporters.
COX: Well, I'll tell you what. We've talked a lot about Hillary's speech last night, and that's what we wanted to do, but tonight is the night of another two speeches that are also important. The vice presidential running mate Joe Biden takes the podium, but it's the speech of former President Bill Clinton that is the most anticipated event of the evening. So, Baratunde, given what Hillary said last night and how the convention floor reacted to her, do you think that will have any bearing on what Bill is likely to say and do tonight?
Mr. THURSTON: I think that the best thing Bill Clinton could do is just repeat Hillary Clinton's speech. She did that well, and he has had a very tortured and troubled relationship with a lot of Democratic voters, especially African-Americans, but not only. I think that he can do the most by just not doing any worse.
COX: Let me follow that up with you with this. The mano-a-mano relationship between Bill and Barack Obama has been an ongoing storyline of the campaign since the early days of the primary battle between Barack and Hillary. Can one night's speech really change any of that?
Mr. THURSTON: Well, I think we learned four years ago that one night's speech can change the course of history, and it kind of launched Barack Obama's political career. And I think it can go some way toward healing that rift if Mr. Clinton, former President Clinton, is able to step up. All the reports that we're hearing is that, oh, he wants to be apologized to personally, and sort of serviced in some way, and visited by Barack Obama, and coddled. There's no time for that. If you listen to what Hillary said, if you understand the purpose of all these Democrats gathering, this is an epic battle and we all need to be on the same side and move forward on that agenda. So, I hope that he will address those points and put to rest all the speculation that he's somehow waiting for some kind of handout.
COX: If you're just tuning in, let me just tell the audience who we are, what we're doing, and I'll get right back to you. This is NPR's News & Notes. I'm Tony Cox sitting in for Farai, who is at the convention. With me on today's Bloggers Roundtable are Faye Anderson, who blogs at Anderson at Large, and for NPR's election blog Sunday Soapbox, Baratunde Thurston, whom you've just heard, a blogger for the Huffington Post. He also writes for Jack and Jill Politics under the pseudonym Jack Turner. And Princella Smith joined us late but joined us nonetheless, blogs at American Solutions and is a guest blogger for our News and Views blog.
Princella, I want to direct this part to you because you are Republican and a blogger, and you were - actually, you are going to be at both conventions. Of the speeches that you have heard so far at the Democratic Convention, and anticipating the speeches of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama on Thursday night, which if any gives the Republicans pause or concern?
Ms. SMITH: Well, I'll tell you, I haven't really heard any great speeches at the DNC, and I'm not just hating on them. I think you've got to give it to Senator Clinton if you're looking at giving a grade. I think Senator Clinton got the best one, and obviously having had the experience of spoken enough times on the national stage, she had it. I was talking to my father this morning and I said, look, that address was inaugural almost. It sounded as if she was getting an inaugural - getting inducted, as if she had already won, and that was the speech that she was trying to give to attempt at unifying America.
I got to say, out of everyone that's coming up, you probably expect the big show from Barack. I think Bill Clinton tonight is probably going to be the one that tries to take the show. He knows his reputation is at stake. He feels that it's been damaged somewhat by the Obama campaign. And I think you can expect him to come out and talk about how great he was for eight years, and how - that he was in office and all of a sudden, you know, we've got President Bush. And I expect him to just go down the line and rip on President Bush. That is something that Barack Obama has not learned how to do. That is why he put Joe Biden on the ticket. That's why they're both speaking on the same night.
Those are going to do the attacks for him. Barack's going to come out Thursday night, it's going to be a big show, it's going to be a rock star appearance. I mean, you should see the setup. It's quite fascinating. And that's what's going to happen. Unfortunately...
COX: How do you guys feel about...?
Ms. SMITH: That's not really a plus for Obama, because he himself has to learn how to go on attack if he's going to beat - convince the American people.
COX: Let me jump in to ask this question. How do you all feel about being - well, you won't be there Princella, but the other two, how do you feel about being outside for Obama's presentation on Thursday night? and how are the delegates feeling and talking about it?
Ms. ANDERSON: About being out - you mean simply being outside?
COX: Yeah, being outside in the stadium as the venue for this...
Ms. ANDERSON: Oh, the stadium.
Ms. ANDERSON: So not so much being outside. Well you know, actually, it sort of feeds into the Republican meme that Obama is a rock star. So, I don't think it will have the same impact that it might have had before the trip to Berlin.
Mr. THURSTON: And I think, I mean, I'm personally fired up for the moment. I - what Republicans react to should have no bearing on what Democrats do. Because Republicans will find something to react to where there is nothing. So, had he had this in the normal setting, they'd say, oh what? He doesn't have the confidence to address a larger crowd? Why is he not letting more people in? So, he opens up to have tens of thousands of more involved, and all of a sudden this would feed the Republican meme of his celebrity status. They're going to create something out of nothing, so Obama should do what Obama should do.
Ms. ANDERSON: But that is not his concern.
Ms. SMITH: It interesting that you say...
Ms. ANDERSON: It's not what Republicans think. It's what undecided voters think. And those mass rallies are not persuasive for undecided voters. If anything, it gives them pause.
COX: Let me end the conversation on this, because I'd like - we've been talking about the candidates. I want to talk about the three of you individually and personally, and how you have enjoyed, if you have, your participation at the convention so far? We're midway through. Faye, what about you?
Ms. ANDERSON: Let me start because this is my fourth or fifth convention. My first national convention was in '84, San Francisco, the Democrats.
COX: Now, you've got to keep it brief, though, we only have enough time to get all three answers.
Ms. ANDERSON: OK. I'm working, I'm working, so I'm not having any fun.
Mr. THURSON: This is Baratunde, I'm having a great time. I've been doing a lot of live video. People can check it out at jackandjillpolitics.com and finding some of those stories that wouldn't make it to the news from delegates, to alternative media outlets, to local Denver residents who are just excited to have the convention in town.
COX: Faye, you're going to get the last word. Talk if you will briefly about security. There's protests, there's parties, how all of that...
Ms. ANDERSON: I assume you mean Princella.
COX: Did I say Princella?
Ms. ANDERSON: No, you said Faye. That's OK.
COX: No, I did mean to say Faye. Faye, that's who I'm asking the question of. In terms of...
Ms. ANDERSON: Well, OK. That's the difference. I should give it a plug. Please go visit AOL Black Voices. I'm actually here covering the convention for AOL Black Voices. The difference between the convention - my first one in '84 and today is the difference between night and day. The security really takes away some of the excitement of a convention, to be able to move around freely, to flit from hotel to hotel. Now, as a credentialed journalist I don't have a problem. But for guests and those who want to be part of this historic event, they can't even get into a lot of places simply because of the security.
COX: So next week, what do we have to look forward to? Really quickly, Princella.
Ms. SMITH: Next week, you've got a great lineup of speakers. You're going to see the real story of John McCain being told. That's something that the campaign has struggled with a bit is talking about how great of an American hero he is, and he is going to have to introduce himself to the American people. I think he will. I think you will definitely see substantive things as far as a comprehensive plan on energy, a comprehensive plan on immigration, a comprehensive plan on national security. So, that's what people have to look forward to next week.
COX: So, we will end the conversation there. I want to thank all of you for being with me. We have been talking with Baratunde Thurston, he blogs at the Huffington Post and Jack and Jill Politics, and citizen journalist and public policy consultant Faye Anderson, who blogs at Anderson at Large and NPR's election blog Sunday Soapbox. Both were at our special NPR studio in Denver. Princella Smith, national spokesperson for American Solutions, a non-partisan organization funded by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. She blogs at American Solutions and is a guest blogger for our show.
Now you can read her daily dispatches from the political conventions at our blog, nprnewsandviews.org. And she was at the Audio Ruckus Studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The conversation doesn't stop there, though. Our online series Speak Your Mind gives you the chance to sound off on the issues that you care about. Go to nprnewsandviews.org and click on Speak Your Mind.
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