'Unity was in the air'

EDITORS NOTE: Democratic National Convention delegate Paulie Brading of Medford offers her impressions of the convention, which ended Thursday in Denver. Republican National Convention delegate Donna Cain of Rogue River will write from that convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul on Sept. 1-4.

O regon delegation members' voices were hoarse Thursday morning at our breakfast at 7 a.m.

Sen. Hillary Clinton released her delegates early in the day Wednesday. We watched U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Merkley stride to the podium on the convention floor in the afternoon. He turned to look at the Oregon delegates and waved before delivering his remarks. Our delegation let House Speaker Merkley know we were watching his back. He saw our pom-poms and "This is Merkley Country" signs, and he heard the hoots and hollers. Merkley's back must have smarted from the hearty slaps he received after rejoining the Oregon delegation following his energetic speech.

Merkley's campaign office in Medford at 40 S. Central Ave. should be flooded with volunteers now that summer is quickly coming to an end. Ian Foster, a South Medford High School graduate, has returned to his hometown to help run Merkley's Jackson County campaign.

Wednesday's roll-call vote, clearly orchestrated, allowed the New York delegation to put Sen. Barack Obama over the top in the number of delegate votes needed to declare him the Democratic nominee for president. Early on, the Arkansas delegation signaled that unity was in the air when its delegates voted unanimously for Obama. I found myself wishing the Stevie Wonder song "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" had been played. Sen. Joe Biden's speech accepting the party's nomination for vice president was a truly emotional barn burner.

Delegates "get to" pay their way to the convention and pay their own expenses. One enterprising Oregon delegate I talked with managed to find enough friends and family to assist her with her expenses. I have watched delegates buy hundreds of T-shirts, buttons and other memorabilia. Since I packed four shirts and a couple of pairs of pants in a very small carry-on bag, I won't be lugging much campaign swag home.

The hottest Obama buttons are designed and made by a young single mother of two children from Bend. A generous Oregon delegate from Bend paid for the artist's peddler's license. The button maker drove herself to Denver and set up shop on a street corner downtown. Everyone asks us where we purchased the elegant Obama pins. You can check out the pins yourself atViaDelia.com and support a struggling artist.

I have to confess, walking in 90-degree heat downtown finally got to me, so I paid for a rickshaw ride. The young driver who peddled me to the convention center offered me a choice of paying for the ride or giving him a generous tip, some forced choice, heh!

By the time you read this column in the paper, we will have heard Obama's acceptance speech. Americans will have had the opportunity to see our candidate for themselves on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

Thursday I looked at the famous birthday celebration picture of John McCain being presented with a cake on his 69th birthday from President Bush while New Orleans lay underwater. Biden's line in Wednesday night's speech, "The choice in this election is clear, these times require more than a good soldier, they require a wise leader, a leader who can deliver change," sums up why many Americans will not vote for more of McSame.

Back in Medford today, and I can hardly wait.

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