Day #3 of the Democratic National Convention started off with a series of rousing breakfast speeches.
We heard from U.S. Senator Mark Warner, U.S. Congressman Gerry Connolly, former first lady Anne Holton, and President Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy Anne DeParle. Warner focused upon his “reflexive bipartisanship” and his frustration in being able to forge any compromises in Congress, especially on financial issues.
After breakfast, did some work and after learning my lesson the day before, I got down to the Convention floor at 1:30 p.m. to make sure I reserved a seat for myself. When we arrived there were several actors milling around including Wayne Knight who played Newman on Seinfeld. We found out that he spent time acting in Williamsburg and Roanoke before he hit it big. Patricia Arquette visited our area along with Megan Fox from the Transformers. Will.I.Am is a constant presence.
Given Virginia’s placement on the floor, nearly every major news personality has passed through our delegation at one point or another. It is really exciting to be front and center.
After about three hours, the floor session started. Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas from Virginia Beach led the Pledge of Allegiance and Branford Marsalis played the National Anthem.
The speeches for the day were inspiring. We heard from several Virginians including Austin Ligon, the CEO of CarMax and Alexandria native Bill Butcher who owns Port City Brewing, who discussed government support for businesses, and a retired Vietnam veteran from Great Falls who talked about the Democratic Party’s support of veterans' programs.
Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards’ daughter Cecile Richards spoke about the importance of government support for Planned Parenthood. Sandra Fluke spoke out about her experience speaking out about access to birth control and limiting government involvement in women’s healthcare decisions.
U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren spoke out about the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, leveling the playing field for all Americans, and a playing field that is currently tilted against those of modest means being able to succeed.
The highlight of the night was the speech from former President Bill Clinton. He issued a forceful dissection of recent criticisms of President Obama’s policies, record, and Governor Romney’s proposals.
He started off expressing concern about much of the hatred directed at President Obama from his opponents. He said that although he grew up in a segregated South that required federal troops to force integration, he had never been taught to hate his ideological opponents the way they seemed to hate President Obama. He went on to talk about how he got things done by working with Republicans throughout his entire life, but that today’s Congress seems bent only on obstruction, blockading and doing whatever is necessary to prevent President Obama’s re-election.
He noted that over the last 50 years, job growth under Democratic Presidents was double what it was under Republican Presidents (24 million vs. 42 million).
He carefully picked apart the opponents' claims on Medicare, Medicaid and the notion that his welfare-to-work programs had been weakened. He said he took the welfare (known today as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF) personally. He pointed out that several Republican Governors had requested more flexibility to innovate in administering work requirements, and that the new rules required states to prove that rules changes would result in at least a 20 percent increase in recipients working. He said the idea that President Obama weakened welfare-to-work rules was simply a lie.
He laid out the programs the President had enacted that laid the groundwork for long-term growth. Student loan reform limits payments to the borrower’s income, medical inflation post-health insurance reform is the lowest it’s been in 50 years, oil imports are at a 20 year-low with car efficiency set to double in the next 20 years, the auto industry has been saved, and we are on our way to a sustained economic recovery.
He argued that the Republican’s argument in this campaign basically amounts to the statement “We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in.”
At the conclusion, we clustered around the Virginia pole as our Democratic Party Chairman Brian Moran led our delegation as we unanimously cast its 135 votes for President Obama. We were able to get back to our hotel by about 2:30 a.m. – just in time to get back up for our 7:15 a.m. breakfast. It has been an exhausting week and we are all looking forward to an exciting conclusion Thursday night.