Report from California's Democratic Convention With more primary delegates than any other state, California drew the top Democratic presidential contenders to the party's annual state convention this past weekend. One delegate shares her perspective.
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Report from California's Democratic Convention

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Report from California's Democratic Convention

Report from California's Democratic Convention

Report from California's Democratic Convention

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With more primary delegates than any other state, California drew the top Democratic presidential contenders to the party's annual state convention this past weekend. One delegate shares her perspective.


This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand.


And I'm Alex Chadwick. California dreamers over the weekend included all the top Democratic presidential candidates. They were in San Diego for the state's annual Democratic convention. California, of course, has more primary delegates than any other states.

BRAND: And California, like several other states, has moved its primary up, way up, from June to February of next year. Our senior producer Steve Proffitt spent the weekend following a single delegate. She listened to seven candidates make speeches, but she's only really serious about two. And about that pair, she came in decidedly undecided.

CHADWICK: Steve Proffitt, take it away to San Diego and that delegate.

STEVE PROFFITT: Her name is Lily Bray(ph), and she stood out from the crowd of almost 2,000 delegates. She was wearing a bright print dress and two campaign buttons.

I'm a little confused because you have on a Hillary and an Obama button.

Ms. LILY BRAY (Delegate, San Diego Democratic Convention): I'm undecided. I just want a Democrat to get into the office. You know, I'm kind of leaning for putting my support for Mrs. Clinton button. I'm undecided, in a way.

PROFFITT: Lily is single and 62. She's a retired government worker. She lives in Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles, and this is her first experience at a party convention.

Ms. BRAY: I'm a new delegate and I'm loving it.

PROFFITT: Tell me about the process of being selected as a delegate. How does that work?

Ms. BRAY: Well - join the Democrat club. I joined the Democratic club, and I came to all the meetings. I was the type that asked a lot of questions, and I'm in it because I'm a Democrat. And they noticed this, they said, you know, this girl is really a Democrat. So when they said, hey, would you like to be delegate? I said, hey, yeah. Why not? I'm kind of leaning toward Hillary.


Ms. BRAY: Kind of, you know. But then again, I may switch right on over. I have no idea.

PROFFITT: Well, what could Barack Obama say today that would make you say this is my man or, inversely, he's not my man?

Ms. BRAY: Well, I like the hope. You know, she's so strong. And she's for this nation. That's for sure. And she has, I think, an edge on him in a way. I want a Democrat into the office. I don't care if it's Obama or Clinton. I really don't, but we need to get back to some normalcy. You know, things are just happening with all this corruption, and this, that and the other; I'm sick of it. I'm sick of it.

PROFFITT: I'm going to guess that the war is probably one of your issues.

Ms. BRAY: Oh, you know it is.

PROFFITT: But what else? What else is really important to you now?

Ms. BRAY: Just freedom. Just freedom. You know, just a little bit of freedom here, and we need to chill out for a minute. We need to get out of Iraq for sure.

PROFFITT: But when you say just freedom, let's chill out a little bit, what do you really mean?

Ms. BRAY: Well, you should be able to make choices. We need a better health care situation here. I don't understand what happened with health care, that it has gone out. All of a sudden, who can afford it? How can you have a strong nation if everybody's ill and sick? I don't know what to say, but I'm kind of sick of these Republicans right now. If they're for everyone, they should act like it. At least the Democrats are for normal folks like me. I think I'm normal. Okay?

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): Are you ready for universal health care that guarantees quality, affordable health care? Are you ready once again for jobs that pay the bills for hardworking families?

PROFFITT: Senator Hillary Clinton stirred the faithful with an address that touched on many of Lily's issues.

Sen. CLINTON: Somebody said to me that he wished we could just sort of rewind the 21st century, just eliminate the Bush-Cheney administration with all of their misstatements and misjudgments and mistakes.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

Sen. CLINTON: People are ready for leaders who understand that it is our votes that put them in power, it is our tax dollars that pay the bills, it is our country they are running. And we are tired of them believing that they can have a government of the few and by the few and for the few. Those days have got to end.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

Ms. BRAY: Okay. I like it.

PROFFITT: What do you think?

Ms. BRAY: I think she's got me. She said the right things, and hopefully she stands by it, you know?

PROFFITT: But when you hear Obama a little later, you might have a tough choice.

Ms. BRAY: Well, he's going to have to really say a whole lot more than what she's saying. And I may be (unintelligible) I would certainly like that. Okay, and I've heard him speak. What she's done just right now, I'm with her. I'm with her. I don't think he can top it.

PROFFITT: All right. Well, keep an open mind, Lily.

Ms. BRAY: But I'm keeping an open mind. I'm trying. I'm trying.

PROFFITT: All right.

Ms. BRAY: But he's going to have to really, really come up a notch.

PROFFITT: Okay. I'm going to come back and talk to you in a while, and you…

Ms. BRAY: Well, you're going to find out which button is on me.

PROFFITT: Right. We're going to find out whether it's Hillary or Obama.

Ms. BRAY: Mm-hmm.

PROFFITT: So stay tuned.

Ms. BRAY: Stay tuned. Okay.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Man: Go get 'em, baby. Go get 'em.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois): Thank you, California.

(Soundbite of cheering)

PROFFITT: When Barack Obama came onto the stage, Lily was on her feet, smiling and part of the roaring crowd.

Sen. OBAMA: If you want health care for every American and a world-class education for all our children - if you want energy independence and an end to this war in Iraq - if you believe America is still that last best hope on earth, then it's time to turn the page. It's time to turn the page for hope. It's time to turn the page for justice. It's time to turn the page and write the great next chapter in the American story. Let's begin the work. Let's do this together, California. Let's turn that page. Let's do it right now. Thank you.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

(Soundbite of song, "Think")

Ms. ARETHA FRANKLIN (Singer): (Singing) …think about what trying to do to me.

PROFFITT: Lily, you've taken off your Hillary button.

Ms. BRAY: Mm-hmm. Yes, I have. I'm sorry. Yes, I have.

PROFFITT: That was a very powerful speech, I think, by anyone's notion.

Ms. BRAY: He brought it down to where it was supposed to be: the American people. Just brought it down, and he turned the page for me.

PROFFITT: Now, you told me that you had seen him before…

Ms. BRAY: Oh, God. I didn't - he brought it up. He's got more specific, he wasn't rambling around and going on. The health care - he did it right. He did it right.

PROFFITT: So what now? What are you going to do now?

Ms. BRAY: Hey, I'm waiting for February 5th. I'm waiting for February the 5th.

PROFFITT: And we're going to see a Barack Obama sign in your front yard?

Ms. BRAY: Yes. I'm sorry. Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BRAY: This is - I have had such a good time here. My first time, I'm called the newbie because I'm a new delegate, and I'll be here. I'll be right here. I love this. I should have been doing this 30 years ago.

PROFFITT: Lily, thank you so much and really, good luck to you.

Ms. BRAY: Oh, it was my pleasure. I don't know - how did you pick me?

PROFFITT: I think it was the dress.

Ms. BRAY: Oh, it was my dress?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BRAY: I was wearing a dress for…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BRAY: Okay, look, I'm just saying - I'm just saying I just loved talking with you. It has been a pleasure.

(Soundbite of song, "Think")

Ms. FRANKLIN: (Singing) Let your mind go, let yourself be free. Oh, freedom.

PROFFITT: First-time delegate Lily Bray at this weekend's California Democratic Party Convention. Steve Proffitt, NPR News.

(Soundbite of song, "Think")

Ms. FRANKLIN: (Singing) Freedom. Oh, Freedom, freedom. Oh, freedom.

CHADWICK: Can't believe Steve did not send us a picture of Lily in her dress. Anyway, later this week on Thursday, the Republicans will make their pilgrimage to California for a debate at the Reagan Library, and you can listen for coverage Friday on DAY TO DAY.

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