Mass. Delegates Confident, Focused, Energized By Convention

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Massachusetts delegates MarDee Xifaras, of Marion, and Joe Caiazzo, of Stoneham, at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (Tiffany Campbell/WBUR)
Massachusetts delegates MarDee Xifaras, of Marion, and Joe Caiazzo, of Stoneham, at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. (Tiffany Campbell/WBUR)

One is 67 years old and on Medicare, and for her, this was convention No. 9. The other is 25, at his first convention, and still on his parents’ health care plan.

As the Democratic National Convention closed, we spoke with two Massachusetts delegates — Joe Caiazzo, of Stoneham, and MarDee Xifaras, of Marion — about whether this week motivated them enough to hit the road and knock on doors for President Obama.

"The message and the choice is clearly sharpened," Xifaras said. "Also, we've been given the tools to respond affirmatively, absolutely to that question: 'Are you better off?' "

"They have been crystal clear as to how the president has helped seniors, veterans, students, families across the country and the need to re-elect him to go and finish what we've already started," Caiazzo agreed.

Xifaras took stock of her eighth convention, and said she sees one major difference this time.

"What's hugely different that I just relish and love is when you look out at our convention, you see young people, you see people of different races, different faiths. It's amazing," she said. "You would not see that 40 years ago, even at a Democratic convention; that's been a sea change."

She added: "What's interesting, you don't really see it at the Republican convention still."

Caiazzo first got involved in then-Sen. Obama's 2008 campaign, where the youth vote played a major role in his election. Caizzo thinks that youth vote will play a major role again.

More importantly, they said that even though Massachusetts is almost guaranteed to go for Obama, they felt that Democrats will still be pumped up to vote for Elizabeth Warren in the U.S. Senate race and other Democrats in contested House races.

Xifaras said that's because people understand the "need" to re-elect Obama and make sure Senate stays Democratic-controlled in order for the president to get legislation through in a second term.

"There will be energy, I think, that we'll have for the president — a good healthy vote for the president — because there is that linkage," Xifaras said. "He needs a good solid vote so we have some coattails for Elizabeth Warren."

"The fact that the Senate race is so tight definitely lights a fire under the activists on both sides of the aisle," Caiazzo added. "And Massachusetts being a heavily Democratic state has Democrats out there pounding the pavement every single day."

Though everything looks rosy for Democrats inside the convention bubble, Xifaras and Caiazzo said the real race — on the ground in Massachusetts, with ordinary voters — is now just beginning.

"Normal people who are putting away the towels and the beach chairs and focusing on school supplies and getting the kids ready for school and that kind of stuff, they begin to focus right about now ... and that's the fun period," Xifaras said. She's excited to get out on the streets in the battleground state of New Hampshire.

Both said Obama will win, and Warren — as Xifaras put it — will benefit from that. The other benefit for Warrn, they both agreed, is that the U.S. Senate race will become more substantive.

"I think as people come back from the summer and they really focus, it becomes crystal clear that she is the best candidate for the position," Caiazzo said. "Once it becomes a discussion about the issues, there's no way that she should not be successful."

This program aired on September 7, 2012.


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