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Conventions and campaigns move so fast I tend to remember them only as snapshots, moments burned in.
For example, it was hard to find anyone this week who did not have an opinion on what Obama had done moving forward in order to avoid mistakes. The comments recalled a 1988 snapshot of one of Michael Dukakis' first campaign stops after his convention. It was at UMass-Amherst I wondered aloud why we were there at a time when what Dukakis needed was to become a household name nationally I knew his campaign was in trouble when it had no answer.
When I heard discussion this week over whether the national spotlight would change Obama, I recalled a bus trip immediately after a Bill Clinton convention. The candidate was delivering the same speech over and over, stop after stop to the same sort of well-dressed button down audiences.
Until we got to Ohio. There the press corps disembarked to find the stage was a huge stack of hay bales and the crisply pressed button down shirts were replaced by flannel. The candidate delivered the exact the same speech .but instead of again using his precise language suddenly there was this southern drawl and a twang punctuating every sentence. In my network report that day I played back to back versions of the tape and called Clinton something of a chameleon. The campaign was not amused and my seat on the bus was shifted next to the toilet.
What are the snapshots from this convention? Well, rather than being odd moments they are moving moments.
The first is Senator Edward Kennedy ill from cancer wowing the convention on opening night by appearing in person and vowing to fight on.
The second was last night, the final night. It was emotional and it was electric.
It was the pair of 20 something young white women leaning into each other weeping the wheel chair bound black man wiping the mist from his eyes. It was the crowd of maybe 80 thousand people standing and stomping their feet to the point at which the huge concrete Denver Broncos football stadium vibrated when Obama took the stage.
It was as if in the words of the astonished police officer standing me it was a Super Bowl for one person.
It made others in our group wonder if John McCain and the GOP made a mistake by staging their convention last.
Obama surely faces a tough campaign ahead but it terms of pure spectacle, last night will be tough to top by McCain. Or, maybe any other Presidential candidate in the near future.
In Denver, this is Bob Oakes.
This program aired on August 29, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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