DNC Backstage Pass: On The Ground In Denver : Tell Me More TMM Host Michel Martin blogs from the Democratic National Convention in Denver, where she says tensions abound within the party.
NPR logo DNC Backstage Pass: On The Ground In Denver

DNC Backstage Pass: On The Ground In Denver

Michel Martin sets up shop at KUVO Public Radio in Denver. Teshima Walker, NPR hide caption

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Teshima Walker, NPR

My head is spinning. I haven't seen so many old friends since ... the last convention. I haven't seen so many people who want to talk politics ... since the last convention.

Traffic: awful.
Volunteers: awesome.
Opportunities to waste money on paraphernalia: endless.

Edward Lederman stands outside Denver's Pepsi Center with his product in plain view. Teshima Walker, NPR hide caption

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Teshima Walker, NPR

Still, I'm starting to remember what Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean was talking about when he was on the show a couple weeks ago. I asked him why conventions -- so expensive, so time consuming, so boring in some ways, so fraught with possibilities for mess -- still matter?

Dean said it's a time when all the people who care about the same things get together. I'm starting to see what he meant.

Michel Martin talks with Richard Hill, a delegate from Idaho, on the main floor of the Pepsi Center, the host site of the convention. Teshima Walker, NPR hide caption

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Teshima Walker, NPR

(I'm still going to ask the same question next week when the Republicans get together in St. Paul. We'll see what they have to say.)

But for now, is this still a place where people who really do all care about the same things get together?

We ask because we started our day yesterday pre-taping today's roundtable Beauty Shop discussion about the state of the Clinton-Obama divide. And tonight, we hear from Sen. Hillary Clinton and a number of women senators. Today also happens to be the anniversary of the day in 1920 when the 19th Amendment passed giving women the right to vote.

... But I don't care what anybody says, the underlying tension within the party still exists.

Are people here trying to trip each other as they take their seats? No.

Is everybody grooving to the same house band each night? Sure, they are.

But you don't need to probe very hard to find people who are ready to air their complaints about the side of the other candidate.

Here's what I'm hearing:

Hillary supporters: 18 million votes deserve respect ... tired of hearing "get over it." She aired legitimate weaknesses in Obama's profile ... it's a convention, not a coronation. Issues are supposed to be aired and debated, not papered over and ignored

Barack supporters: "Get over it." If the situation were reversed, he'd never behave "that way." And, it's really not about women, it's about one woman. It's not about whether Obama is being specific enough or reaching out enough, it's about the egos of the entrenched who thought they had it in the bag and are annoyed to find that some upstarts ate their lunch.

And that's just from Day One. ... What about by Day Four?

Is this still a referendum on the Clinton-Obama dynamic, or, as one convention goer asked me, will this event eventually become a referendum on the last eight years?

And speaking of women, powerful and dynamic, and occasionally polarizing, women ... what about Michelle Obama's speech last night?

Is it a speech she had to give? And how well did she give it?

If you were in her shoes, is there something you would have wanted to say.

I have thoughts, but I'd rather hear yours.

Fashion question: you have to be a special person to wear some of these outfits I'm seeing. My personal favorite -- it HAD to be custom made -- some kind of, like, red, white and blue fabric with repeating donkey pattern, fashioned into this kind of two piece dress ensemble. It was actually FLY. Or was I just mesmerized?

... And note to self: who thought wearing three-inch heels to walk a mile from the NPR workspace to the convention center, and then around the convention center for hours was a good idea?

You'd think I was a rookie ...