Sunday, August 31, 2008

RNC in St. Paul Prep Day Two (Sun. Aug. 31)

SECURITY, SECURITY, SECURITY! Today was the start of the major security check points. It felt as if we got through one checkpoint we only had another one to get through. The Excel Energy Center was all fenced off to people without credentials and it is so hard to find parking near the center.
Many changes to the convention started today as well. Due to hurricane Gustav President Bush and Vice President Cheney will not be speaking at the convention. I am looking forward to seeing how everything plays out this week with two major events happening to the United States (the convention and hurricane Gustav).
I do have to say the best part of this job is seeing famous/important people. Steffani and I started our day at the hotel where CBS is staying and as I was standing in the lobby Katie Couric walked in. I was just so disappointed I did not have my camera with me at the time.


RNC in St. Paul Prep Day Two (Sun. Aug. 31)

As it gets closer to the convention everything is getting more stressful. Today I ran around a lot more and had much more trouble getting places. The security at the convention center is very high. There are fences around the entire area with only a few check points to get in. After you finally get in security makes you show your credentials at almost every doorway.

The tech guys have been working very hard to get radio row and talk show row up and running. All of the affiliate stations came today and tried to set their own equipment up, but not without simple problems.

The big news today is how Hurricane Gustav is affecting the convention. Tomorrow, Monday, all of the speakers have been cancelled and the convention will only happen for a few hours in the afternoon. Basically, they are just holding the things that are absolutely necessary to keep the convention going. Most of the stations were broadcasting this news live. The picture shows CNN during their live shot from the Xcel Energy Center.

I am excited for the convention to finally begin. I am curious as to what will all still go on due to the hurricane. I’m sure it depends on the storms severity.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

RNC in St. Paul Prep Day One (Sat. Aug. 30)

Today was a great day, once we finally got started. One thing I’ve learned is that I truly am a runner…running to do or get whatever the boss, Craig, wants. But we got to see some very cool behind the scenes things.

The big picture: when you walk into the main floor where the convention will be held you see red, red, and more red with some white and blue thrown in. The seats on the floor where the delegates will sit are lower than the floor. Then the stage is plexiglass that reflects the backdrop screen. There are clear stairs that lead up to the stage. The stairs have lights in them that change colors. Everyone is running around putting things together so it will be ready when the main event begins on Monday. There are thousands of balloons on the ceiling waiting to be dropped.

I bet it is going to be a cool sight when they finally drop Thursday night for McCain!

So far my favorite part has been meeting people. We met many people that work for CBS, convention volunteers, and the secret service.


RNC in St. Paul Prep Day One (Sat. Aug. 30)

Today was our first day with CBS Radio. Our main runner duties today included moving boxes and putting up CBS posters. We talked to the engineers a lot today and they said they will have to put in a late night tonight because they have to make sure everything is up and running by Monday. Talking to these engineers made me feel for the media people at the Republican National Convention because they had such a fast turnaround to make from the Democratic Convention in Denver.
The atmosphere at the “pre-convention” is crazy. The Secret Service started to get tight this afternoon. Steffani and I had to make sure all of our things were out of CBS’s newsroom by 3:30 this afternoon so the Secret Service could make a sweep through it with drug dogs at 4:00.
The ground floor where all the speakers and delegates will be is so professional yet pretty. There is a huge backdrop made of hundreds of TV’s, and the stage reflects the backdrop as video is being played. I can tell there have been many hours in preparing for this week. I am very anxious to see all of this hard work put to use on Monday.


Friday, August 29, 2008

RNC in St. Paul Travel Day (Fri. Aug. 29)

Today Steffani Tollefson and I started our trip to the Republican National Convention. After getting lost for an hour trying to find our hotel we are finally able to relax and focus on the week ahead.
We have been looking forward to this opportunity all summer to work as runners for CBS Network Radio and for it to finally be here is very unreal. During this presidential election I have felt very lucky to be an Iowan, more so an Iowa reporter. This Republican Convention is just a stepping stone to what I did in Iowa. I was on the ground floor at the republican caucuses reporting election results to my home town radio station in Marshalltown, Iowa (KFJB 1230). Steffani and I have also done extensive research on the election process and on the candidates last fall in Dr. Jeff Stein’s Political Reporting class.
I would also like to say it feels great to be a woman today. Before we left for the Twin Cities John McCain selected his running mate and it was a woman, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. I am not saying I will vote for her just because she is a woman, but I do think this is going to be a historic, yet very interesting election.

Make sure you keep checking our blog all week for pictures, video, more blogging.
-Nikki Newbrough

RNC in St. Paul Travel Day (Fri. Aug. 29)

Hey this is Steffani. Nikki and I will be serving as runners at the Republican National Convention for CBS Network Radio. I am really excited to finally get things going after much anticipation this summer and our travel adventures today.

Being from MN I sort of know this area, so I figured driving to MN and finding our hotel would be no problem. We drove around for at least an hour and a half trying to find this hotel. We stopped for directions twice, before calling my Mom for the hotel phone number so we could figure out where it was…literally hiding behind a few bushes.

I think we’re going to have to call it an early night because we have to be at the Xcel Energy Center early tomorrow and need to allow time for the Twin Cities lovely rush hour traffic.

Be sure to keep reading our blog for updates on the RNC and some behind the scenes footage.

-Steffani Tollefson

DNC in Denver Day Four (Thu. Aug. 28)

Patriotism, Hope and Power can only begin to describe the feelings that could be felt throughout the 80,000+ spectators that filled the seats of Invesco Field to hear Barack Obama accept the nomination as the 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidate. As crowds upon crowds lined the streets leading to Invesco Field one could feel the energy and historic happenings that were about to occur before our very eyes.

As we arrived at Invesco Field, one could not help but be filled with pride and patriotism as Shawn Johnson gave the Pledge of Allegiance. Various speeches and performances shortly followed including Bill Richardson, Stevie Wonder, Al Gore, Sheryl Crow and many other talented professionals. The excitement increasingly grew as the audience anticipated Obama's speech. Immediately before Obama took stage the crowd was brought to silence as a video played depicting Obama's childhood, his hardships and his rise to become the Democratic Presidential Nominee.

Many laughs were had and tears fought as Obama captured the emotions of all those in the audience. No matter ones view on his voting record or the promises that he makes as President, one has to admire him for his courage and his optimism that he inspires in all those around him. He has the power to influence everyone in hope for a better tomorrow. A belief that someone truly cares about them and that their leader will work hard for them everyday they are in office. Obama exclaimed that he is not where he is today because of anything he did but he is where he is because of the American people.

Barack Obama is a model for inspiration and for an individual's ability to change themselves, their situation and the communities in which they reside. No matter what the outcome of this election, Barack Obama will forever be an idol for the average American wanting and hoping for a change. He has motivated people across the United States to be better, to do better, and to continue to hope for more. America is truly better and more inspired now because of the efforts, the travels, and the speeches of Barack Obama.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

DNC in Denver Day Three (Wed. Aug. 27)

The Convention continues on and many locals and spectators hope the chaos and commotion will begin to seize. As I talked with a Denver resident I began to find out the inconviences that are placed upon them as they try to survive the week. Businesses are closing their shops allowing employees the opportunity to avoid the crowds, Families have planned their vacations around the DNC so they can avoid the crowds all together, Schools have arranged their class schedules to avoid as many conflicts as possible and the list goes on. As annoyed as some Coloradans might be, many still feel the need to observe the ongoings of this historic event so that they too have a story to tell.

With all of the hard working and money that was spent to attact the DNC to the Mile High City, much of the publicity that the city and the organization of this event is getting is ctiricism and negativity. Images of corruption can be seen throughout the streets and throughout the media. In almost every area of the city, police are on guard waiting for the next fight to break out, drug to be dealt or any other illegal act that is occuring throughout this week. Police arrive in squat cars, ride throughout the city on horseback, foot or bike. Many police post themselves on street corners with video cameras and camers so they will have proof of any illegal activity that is occuring on the streets of Denver. No one is able to escape the view of another arrest or suspicious activity.

Through the convention I witnessed several arrests including the selling of cocaine, protesting and assults. The DNC has attracted many outsiders to the city who are looking to stir some commotion. Police are doing what they can to keep the city at ease but with such an increase in crowds it can be very hard to control. As I walked the streets near the Convention Hall, the images and feelings that surround you are unlike any city I have been in. As they convention goes on, it appears as if now only two types of people remain. The impatient one who increasingly becomes filled with anger and hatred because their goals of this week have not yet been met and their voice has not yet been heard. While the irritiable one is eager to leave the city as they have already had the experiences and opportunities that they expected to have.

Tomorrow will be the last day of the Convention with the finale being Barack Obama's acceptance speech. The time crunch is being felt with relief, eagerness and for some panic. The city of Denver has increased its population seemling over night and will clear out just the same. Everyone is geared up the final day with whatever that day might bring.

Here are some photos taken during the protests, and the city police reaction (see earlier DNC in Denver posts for details).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DNC in Denver Day Two (Tue. Aug. 26)

One might ask why someone might be willing to give of their time and money to be a delegate at the National Convention. This was a question that I began to focus on the more I learned of the delegate requirements including time, money, and the efforts that have to go in to campaigning to receive the honorable spot. In order to be a qualified National Convention Delegate, one must move up the ranks from precinct to district to state and then on to become a National Delegate. An election occurs at each of these steps which can require much time networking, campaigning and communicating why you are not only qualified but also deserving to serve as the voice within the area you are representing.

Once elected on the state level, delegates begin confirming hotel arrangements within their states assigned hotel, planning transportation, rsvping to dinners and rallies and scheduling days events while at the National Conventions. The preparation takes time but that is only the very beginning. As I talked with an Iowa delegate this morning, I began to get a better understanding of the various objectives the delegates have while attending the conventions. Some delegates use this as a way to serve their country, political party or their communities while others may use this opportunity for more selfish reasons by networking for possible future campaigning and fundraising.

Delegates are able to use this opportunity in a variety of ways. One could observe many deals being made, campaign money being raised and hands being shaken. For some this week is just another day at work while others view this week as an amazing vacation that was spent taking pictures and talking with celebrities that they would not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet. An Iowa delegate who is also a Political Science Professor at the University of Iowa said he is surprised at how little is accomplished at these conventions as he has so far been experiencing many motivational speeches and a lot of "fluff".

Overall, I believe that delegates walk away from this week with many different experiences and opinions as to the accomplishments and the future of their party. The experiences a delegate take away with depend on the state inwhich they represent, the amount of particpation they are involved with and the objectives and goals they had for the week. The diversity within the delegation is a key as to why the National Conventions can be interesting.

DNC in Denver Day One (Mon. Aug. 25)

Protestors, Delegates, Reporters, Politicians, and other political activists and observers began arriving on Sunday, August 24th. Each trying to find their own niche within the Convention and how they might be a part of history. With an online schedule of the weeks events, we (FINS) too tried to find where we might fit into this political realm. We decided to get a feel for the weeks events by heading downtown to observe rallies and protests while checking out the various booths being displayed on the Capitol Lawn.

As we walked the streets of Denver, one could feel the difference in objectives, backgrounds and knowledge that were displayed throughout a variety of means. Words cannot describe the passion and energy that was present from Union Station down the 16th Street Mall right up to the Colorado State Capitol. Everyone had something to say and a deep passion that had attracted them to this city.

The various interests groups and protestors brought a sense of hope and democracy that their efforts were making a difference in the upcoming presidential elections. Politicians worked endlessly networking with their parties influential leaders. Delegates can be seen wearing their badges with pride as they seem to glow with satisfaction of doing their part to represent their state at the National Convention. Spectators and Reporters scramble to catch the breaking news story whether that is the famous actress being seen eating on an outdoor patio on the 16th Street Mall or the Anti-War protestors causing a scene on a street corner as they debate those passing by.

The commotion is clear that Americans are passionate and eager to move past the current presidency and make the next chapter of the American story a historic one. This week, Denver is filled with political excitement much like that of New Hampshire and Iowa during the first in the nation primary and caucus. The atmosphere in many ways is quite different as Democrats fight to become united and to rally together as a party to win in November.