April 24, 2008

Denver Convention Flop In The Cards For The Democrats?

Could be:
Banking on the whims of the superdelegates -- who aren't required to stick with the candidate they say they'll endorse -- could leave the party scrambling for a Plan B very late in the game. Clinton's campaign has predicted a summer-long battle to convince superdelegates to back her, which would drag the process out longer than previously imagined by most. So organizers in Denver are busy preparing backup plans for a nightmare scenario in which two potential nominees need to be accommodated -- with everything from the best hotel suites to the choicest Pepsi Center skyboxes split between the Obama and Clinton camps.

Informally, both campaigns are being kept in the loop as decisions get made about some convention details that will remain constant either way. No matter who wins, for example, expect to hear a lot about Democratic strength in the West, with governors like Arizona's Janet Napolitano and New Mexico's Bill Richardson taking prominent roles, regardless of the fact that both are backing Obama.

"We fully expect to have a nominee before anyone arrives in Denver," said convention spokeswoman Natalie Wyeth. "With that said, we would not be doing our jobs when you're planning an event of this scope and size if we did not plan for or build in added flexibility."

Ideally, planners want to be able to hand over a "turn-key" convention scheme to whoever winds up as the nominee. The idea is that everything but the content of the convention script will be developed in advance -- and then the nominee's staff would fit their own broad themes around that framework. Each night will already be divvied up into time slots for speeches, before the winner's aides need to figure out who will say what.

But that may all seem a little too easy. Modern conventions are carefully stage-managed affairs, with nothing left to chance; it is the prime opportunity for nominees to make a case to American voters who are tuning in to politics for the first sustained length of time. For example, in 2004, working nearly around the clock in a room in the Fleet Center basement, a team of speechwriters hired by the Kerry campaign vetted the text of everything anyone said from the podium at the Boston convention.

If the winner isn't clear ahead of time this year, Dean and the DNC would take over that critical management role -- meaning whoever wins won't have much input into the overall theme of the convention that nominates them.
"Nightmare scenario." Heh.

I thought all this partisan bickering was good for democracy?

Back in March, we detailed what could happen if Hillary gets the nomination over Obama--Democrat voters "duty bound" to destroy the party.

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