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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Class - right from scene

Sun Special Correspondent

DENVER - I was able to link up through the online Blackboard system with 29 of my students in journalism issues class, that I ordinarily would have been teaching in person on Wednesday nights at CMU. We text-chatted about the media coverage of the convention. I reminded them of their assignments for next Wednesday night. One of them figured out how to use the audio feature and started talking to the class. I asked him to stop. The college students are just so far ahead of me from a technological perspective. (But I like to believe I can still out-think them!)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, speaks with Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., as he holds his grandson Hunter at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

On the bus after the convention session Wednesday night, the driver asked me if it was really true that Barack Obama came out on the stage to join Joe Biden after the latter’s speech. Some passengers were doubting the driver. I said it was true. A few minutes later I called up the picture of Obama and Biden together via on my Blackberry. The bus driver passed it around to the doubters with enthusiasm. I guess I am closer to state of the art technology ability on that front.


Delegates carry placards and pole signs onto the bus and keep them as souvenirs. A fresh set is issued the next night.


I boarded a cab to take me back to the Pepsi Center from a restaurant in downtown Denver, but the driver could only get three blocks before he encountered barricades. Cost me $5. Should have walked.


Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s husband, Dan Mulhern, was master of ceremonies for the Thursday morning Michigan delegation breakfast. He said the Democrats must have “message discipline” in order to win in November. Speakers included Gov. Phil Bredensen of Tennessee, Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, U.S. Rep John Dingell and his wife, Debbie Dingell.
The congressmen told the crowd not to send him to Washington by himself and added, “Things that bring us together are far more than things that divide us.”
Mrs. Dingell echoed Mulhern, “We must stop letting other people (Republicans) define us (Democrats).”


Granholm headlined Thursday’s press briefing. She said President Bush would not help manufacturing and would not enforce trade agreements (that have hurt Michigan) and that John McCain would be “more of the same.”


State chairman Mark Brewer answered a question directed at Granholm about the effect of the controversy over the possible removal of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
He said the matter, which Granholm could resolve by removing the mayor as early as next week, would not be a factor. Other political observers are no so confident because if substantial numbers of Detroit’s largely black population become unhappy and stay home Nov. 4, it would affect Obama’s chances of carrying Michigan.


Six of my students emailed questions for Granholm. I gave them to her aide and asked for responses. Tiffany Brown, her communications assistant, promised answers.


A former student of mine at CMU from a decade ago, Jason Ellenburg, is making it very big in politics. He is managing the re-election campaign of Sen. Carl Levin. We got reacquainted Thursday morning.


The driver, a middle-aged African-American man, who shuttles me between the Omni, where I am staying, and the Renaissance, where the Michigan delegation meetings are held, told me he grew up in the “projects” eight blocks from Invesco Field at Mile High, the scene of Thursday night’s acceptance speech by Obama. He said he was hoping to attend the historic speech of the first African-American ever to be nominated to run for president by a major party. You could tell he was proud.

(John C. Hartman is a Central Michigan University journalism professor who is blogging about the Democratic National Convention for the Morning Sun.)


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