Little Chance of 'Smoke-Filled Room' in Denver Recently, Democratic politicians have been talking about the possibility that the party's presidential nominee will be chosen in a "smoke-filled room." The phrase comes up in relation to superdelegates and the party's convention in Denver this summer. But is there a smoke-filled room to be had in Denver?
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Little Chance of 'Smoke-Filled Room' in Denver

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Little Chance of 'Smoke-Filled Room' in Denver

Little Chance of 'Smoke-Filled Room' in Denver

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

We have the talk of superdelegates possibly choosing the Democratic nominee at the convention. We've noticed the resurgence of a historical anachronism.

BLOCK: I'm not a big believer in smoke- filled rooms.

BLOCK: I don't think we want to go back to those wheeling dealing, smoke-filled back room days.

BLOCK: The specter of the dreaded smoke-filled room raised there by Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Bill Nelson. Also, by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has said superdelegates were never intended to allow the return of the smoke-filled room.

The smoke-filled room is defined by language guru William Safire in his new political dictionary as a place of political intrigue and chicanery, where candidates are selected by party bosses in cigar-chewing sessions.

So, we wondered just how far would Democratic bosses have to go at the Denver convention if they wanted to chew on cigars and puff smoke as they orchestrated some chicanery.

Denver has had a smoking ban since 2006. The Pepsi Center, where the convention will be held, is smoke-free. To comply, the bosses would have to smoke on an outside patio, not in a room. Cigar bars are exempt from the ban, and there are two of them about a mile away from the Pepsi Center, so that's an option.

Private limos are also exempt. You could have a smoke-filled limo, though it would be a tight squeeze. Or, the bosses could create a smoke-filled sidewalk so long as they're 15 feet away from an entrance.

By the way, the term smoke-filled room dates back at least to 1920, when the Republican convention deadlocked in Chicago. A small group of powerful senators gathered at the Blackstone Hotel - no doubt with cigars. And the dark horse candidate, Ohio Senator Warren Harding, emerged as the Republican presidential nominee.

The Associated Press reported that Harding was chosen in a smoke-filled room. And the phrase stuck. We'll save the discussion of the term dark horse for another day.

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