INVESCO dispatches: Opening acts

The Yonder Mountain String Band, always a favorite in Nederland, took the stage about 30 minutes ago to a quarter-full stadium. It’s a bit of chaos down there at INVESCO but at least they’ve got good music to groove to.

More insider info inside…

3:45 p.m.: Random sightings
Michelle Obama caused a bit of stir (in a celebrity kinda way) during her exit from the stadium after being mobbed by reporters for interviews on the field.

A Chicago television station is wandering around asking people what’s the “economic question of the day?” Huh. Look around, bub. It’s pretty self-evident, no?

David O. Williams

——–

4:09 p.m. Making a pitch for immigration reform
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois said please join me in supporting Barack Obama because he is the change we need and John McCain means more of the same failed policies, the same broken promises and the same empty promises to the immigrant community. We represent hope and freedom and opportunity.

Barack Obama will fight for comprehensive immigration reform.

David O. Williams

——–

4:20 p.m. Rallying the troops
Ray Rivera, state chair of the Obama campaign (who’s participated in Colorado Independent live blogs here and here) just spoke at INVESCO Field, saying “Before joining the campaign, I was a union organizer in New Mexico, but here in Colorado I have seen a power of the grassroots on this campaign.”

Rivera told the audience about the opportunity to call their friends from phones in the corridor of the stadium and urge them to tune in tonight. If an audience-goer calls twelve friends, that person may be able to win a seat on the floor. ” We know this election won’t be won without a lot of hard work,” he said.

Naomi Zeveloff

———-

4:21 p.m.: More troop rallying
Marine John Kunniholm, who lost a home in Iraq, spoke to the crowd during a voter registration presentation. He said John McCain proposes to double down with money and troops he can’t afford.

David O. Williams

——–

4:26 p.m.: That’s a whole lotta people

Scene outside INVESCO Field at 4:26 p.m. (Photo/Jeff Bridges)

Scene outside INVESCO Field at 4:26 p.m. (Photo/Jeff Bridges)

4:30 p.m. Gov. Ritter is up to bat and sounding uncharacteristically gravel-y
Ritter asks are you ready to turn the page on the McCain-Bush energy policy that opposes investment in renewable energy? We see the opportunities to build a new energy economy with natural gas, wind and solar.

David O. Williams

——–

4:35 p.m.: More Ritter
Gov. Bill Ritter spoke to a half full Mile High Stadium moments ago. with a hoarse voice, obviously weak from a four days of hob knobing with the nations movers and shakers in the Dem party, Ritter talked about the West, the election, and his monikered phrase of a “new energy economy”

“What we are doing in the American West is precisely what Barack Obama wants (to do),” Ritter said.

Then he touched on Colorado specifically.

“Colorado’s new energy economy based on natural gas, wind, and solar,” he said. “we are seeing thousands of new jobs.”

The entire Colorado delegation to the United States Congress follow Ritter.

Jason Kosena
———

4:37 p.m. Ed Perlmutter continues the energy theme
Following up on Ritter’s remarks, Perlmutter underscores how Obama would bring alternative energy and jobs to the U.S. Spoofing the GOP drilling mantra, Perlmutter, who has the National Renewable Energy Lab in his district, calls for “Wind here. Wind now.”

It sounds kinda weird though. Nice effort though.

J.C. O’Connell
——–

4:40 p.m. Who fed John Salazar a Red Bull?
I can’t hear what he’s saying but my he’s fired up.

Wendy Norris

——–

4:42 p.m.: Salazar evokes his ag roots
The West Slope potato farmer says: That though Barack Obama has been criticized for being too cosmopolitan that he understands rural communities and the complexities of the farm bill. “As a life-long farmer, I stand here today and look at the silo of hope.”

Naomi Zeveloff

——-

4:46 p.m.: Diana DeGette evokes the 60s
She honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by recalling his words: “Justice will rush down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” and then pulls it back home with “We haven’t seen much justice out of Washington under George W. Bush.”

Next, she hits on the war: “Stop talking about ending the war in Iraq and just do it.”

Wendy Norris
——–

5:17 p.m.: It’s a Beautiful Day
U-2 song is the soundtrack for C-SPAN’s live feed from INVESCO.

Wendy Norris
——–

5:37 p.m.: The Big Tent is the big empty
Nobody is here but us chickens. I’m here at the blogger haven with WeatherDem of SquareState.net, Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga of DailyKos and a couple other hardy souls.

We’re swigging Mountain Dew like blog champs.

Wendy Norris
——–


5:45 p.m.: And we have a winner…

David Kurtz, covering the DNC for Talking Points Memo, posts from Mile High under the headline “Worst Line of the Convention”:

Rep. John Salazar (D-CO): “I’ve been a farmer all my life and when I look out on this crowd I see a silo of hope.”

Ernest Luning
——–

5:46 p.m.: Musical interlude
Sheryl Crow is playing “A Change Would Do You Good” for the INVESCO crowd.

Wendy Norris
——-

5:48 p.m. Ch-ch-changes
Sheryl Crow rocked the Obama crowd at Invesco Field with her hit “A Change Will Do You Good” — changing the “you” to “us” for a party trying hard to gather undecided votes in Colorado and across the country.

Audience members swayed and danced while the rocker, clad in tight white pants and sleeveless vest, moved into a song she said was inspired by the Dalai Lama. The refrain “If we could only get out of our heads and into our hearts” floated across the field and up the stands as many joined in the singing.

Those already on the field were the lucky ones; late arrivals numbering in the thousands waited in security lines up to a mile long to get into the stadium. At least they had some music to divert their attention from the wait for a bathroom break and a seat. And the weather, notoriously fickle here in late afternoon, smiled on the gathered Dems.

Backed by her band of eight, she finished with a medley of hits that were familiar to the crowd: “Jump In, Let’s Go,” “I Can See Clearly Now,” and “Every Day Is a Winding Road.”

Certainly for Obama and millions of his supporters, a winding road lies ahead.

Debbie Marsh
——–

5:50 p.m.: Bring snacks!
When Denver hosted the DNC in 1908, visitors worries that the fledgling city might run out of food. That didn’t happen then, but it might today.

According to a concession stand worker at INVESCO Field, the stadium is quickly running of of food — which is nothing special for the big night just bland, overpriced stadium grub. And definitely not organic as convention organizers promised.

Word at Mile High (the pre-INVESCO name still affectionately used by locals) also has it that some vendors are only accepting cash because credit card machines are broken.

But an empty tummy is the least of the audience’s concerns. Tubes of sun screen are just about sold out. Yipes!

Naomi Zeveloff
——–

6:03 p.m.: Udall’s showing his Western roots
Taking a cue from Montana governor Brian Schweitzer, Rep. Mark Udall dons a bolo tie and welcomes the crowd to Col-loh-rad-oh.

Wendy Norris
———

6:04 p.m.: He’s got his Wranglers too
Rep. Mark Udall strutted on stage wearing blue jeans, a perfect complement to his pro-West message. “It’s fitting that the change we need in Washington starts here in the Rocky Mountain West. It was hope that first carried early Americans here, not knowing what lay ahead but knowing that the must go forward, just as we must go forward,” said Udall.

Udall is in a hotly contested race against ex-Rep. Bob Schaffer. Even so, Udall said “in the spirit of the West we have to stick together as one nation, putting our partisan differences behind us and putting the best interests of America first.”

Naomi Zeveloff
———

6:05 p.m.: This is our time
Udall wraps up his speech echoing the Dems message of change. “This is our time. This is our moment to change.”

J.C. O’Connell
———
6:08 p.m.: Security is tight
Overheard two cops pointing out sniper teams on the tops of two press boxes and on top of the end zone jumbotron by the enormous bronco.

One couple told me that it took them two and half hours to get into INVESCO.

David O. Williams
——–

6:21 p.m.: Ambassador, cabinet member, governor and comedian
New Mexico governor Bill Richardson got bumped from the Pepsi Center speaker line-up last night but it doesn’t appear to have affected his comic timing.

“Is anybody going to miss Dick Cheney? Hell no.”

The crowd goes wild.

David O. Williams
———

6:27 p.m.: Wooing the Latino vote
Richardson says to the crowd in Spanish that President Obama will pay attention to Mexico and Latin America.

More big cheers.

David O. Williams
——–

6:38 p.m.: It’s inspirational in there
Vice presidential short-lister Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine gave a gracious plug to Joe Biden as the second on the Dems ticket. Then, he went into attack dog mode: “Our children are left behind by an administration that cares more about sound bytes than sound schools.”

Earlier this week Kaine was also a guest on The Daily Show (see our coverage here)

David O. Williams
——–

6:43 p.m.: Dialing for field passes
Discarding plans to have all 75,000 spectators make campaign calls, perhaps fearing nearby cell towers could actually melt from that much traffic, organizers at Mile High have instead set up calling rooms tied to a lottery. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times says:

In the halls of Invesco Field at Mile High here, volunteers are making calls, lured with the promise that if they complete a dozen, their name would be entered in a lottery to win a seat on the field to hear Obama’s speech.

Matt at DemConWatch notes organizers have also started a contest to see which state’s delegation can send the most text messages.

Ernest Luning

The Colorado Independent is well-represented at INVESCO Field. On the ground: Cara DeGette, Jason Kosena, J.C. O’Connell, Bob Spencer, Naomi Zeveloff and Dave Williams. At the Big Tent: Wendy Norris and Erin Rosa. Ernest Luning is blogging from an undisclosed location.

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Wendy Norris

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