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Quiet convention hall, noisy protests

The two or three (or what sometimes seems like 100) security fences and checkpoints surrounding the Xcel Energy Center tend to buffer convention-goers from contact with the hundreds of protesters in the streets of the Twin Cities.

On Monday, though, members of the Alabama delegation got an unwelcome surprise through the window of their shuttle bus.

About 300 people were arrested during demonstrations in St. Paul on Monday.

Arkansas delegates passed a few nonviolent protesters on the way to the convention site.

Inside the hall, the atmosphere was almost somber as delegates convened for official business only. Aside from a convention floor loaded with delegates, hardly anyone else was in the building. Seats reserved for press were mostly empty and the upper tier of the building looked vacant.

It was almost as if, aside from delegates, others were enjoying an extended weekend.

Oh. Wait. They were. Monday was Labor Day.

Perhaps activity in the hall will pick up and violence outside the hall will die down on the convention’s second day.

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Delegates praise Michelle Obama

Arkansas delegates were still raving about Monday night’s Michelle Obama’s speech as the delegation gathered this morning.

Arkansans said Barack Obama’s wife effectively portrayed herself as a parent and wife who relates to hard-working American families.

“Michelle definitely eased my mind,” said delegate Thurman Metcalf of Rogers. “She made me feel like she was one of us, a normal person, by her showing the love of her parents and the love for her kids and her husband. It would have been like us sitting in her room talking to her like a family member. I love her.”

Metcalf and others who are pledged to support Hillary Clinton said speeches like Michelle Obama’s help solidify their support for her husband. A refrain among the state’s Clinton delegates has been that they want to learn as much about Obama as possible this week.

“(Michelle Obama’s) life story is like my friends and my neighbors,” said state Rep. Kathy Webb of Little Rock.

A Barack Obama supporter from the outset, Pulaski County Clerk Pat O’Brien said Monday night’s marquee speech was right on target.

“I think Michelle Obama hit a home run last night and all she did was talk about who she is,” O’Brien said.

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Rocky Mountain High On Obama

Arkansas delegates for Hillary Clinton outnumber those for Obama more than 4 to 1 here in the Mile High City, where the Democrats kick off their national convention today.
But it seems even the state’s Clinton fans are on an Obama high as the convention opens.
Reps. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, and Marion Berry, D-Gillett, had been lukewarm in their past endorsements of the presumptive nominee, but the pair put on a hard Obama sales pitch to Natural State delegates at a breakfast Monday morning.
After that, in a conference call with reporters back in Arkansas, Clinton delegates from the 1st Congressional District said they would “enthusiastically” support the Illinois senator.
They were equally effusive in praise for Joe Biden, Obama’s vice presidential choice.
“I have no qualms about supporting this ticket at all, it’s a great ticket,” said Gary Phillips of Blytheville.
Former State Treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher, who served alongside then-Gov. Bill Clinton, also took a big gulp of the Obama Kool-Aid.
Fisher has been to every Democratic convention since 1976, she said.
“Our party is about unification,” she said. “We’re all under one tent. We’re going to leave this convention indivisible for Sen. Obama. It’s time we put this primary behind us.”
We’ll see as the week progresses whether the delegates who represent the rest of the 18 million Hillary Clinton voters feel the same way.

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