Governor Chet Culver was among the first to speak from the stage at Tuesday’s Democratic National Convention in Denver, briefly reminiscing about Barack Obama’s victory in the Iowa Caucuses and accusing John McCain of being in the backpocket of big oil.
A few hours after Culver gave his four-and-a-half minute speech, New York Senator Hillary Clinton took the convention stage, a poignant moment for some of her supporters.
Many delegates still intend to vote for Clinton tonight when the roll call of the states is conducted. Former Clinton backer Angel Gonzalez of Iowa City won’t be among them. He believes Michelle Obama closed the deal with her speech on Monday night.
"I looked around the stadium and I didn’t see any division. I saw people who were excited to be a part of this historical convention. I saw people who were screaming, crying," Gonzalez says. "It was, I think, the cathartic moment that Hillary has described was necessary to put this to bed."
Gonzalez, a native of Puerto Rico, voted for Clinton on Caucus Night, but grew disillusioned later that month. "Especially after comments in South Carolina by Bill Clinton, and other factorsled me to believe that it wasn’t a good thing," Gonzalez says. "So I then decided to run as an Obama delegate."
Sarah Swisher, a union organizer, first endorsed John Edwards, then switched her support to Hillary Clinton. Swisher, though, is among the former Clinton backers who’ve made the move to Obama. "I kept waiting to kind of get this sort of Obama infection that people get, especially in Iowa City where I’m from, and I think I’ve got it and I think I got it, actually, a couple of months ago.
There are a few Iowa Democrats, though, who haven’t gotten Obama fever. Helen Miller of Fort Dodge, a state legislator who’s an Obama supporter, says the time has come for the the ill will to cease. "To sit after what we’ve gone through for the last eight years and talk about how we can’t be supportive because we dodn’t get the girl that we want — that sounds like high school to me," Miller says, "and we need to get over it and get moving."
Senator Tom Harkin offers even more cryptic advice. "She ran a good campaign. It was a tough campaign, but there is only one nominee and that’s Barack Obama," Harkin says. "…Now’s time to put away the Hillary buttons and put on the Obama buttons."
But former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack isn’t ready just yet. "It’s my job to be here as a delegate. I’m here as a Hillary delegate. I’ll leave as an Obama supporter, but I’m here a Hillary delegate and part of my affiliation with her is because I think that’s really important," Vilsack says. "I think it’s important for women to be elected to office and for women to help other women."
Katherine Marcano, a flood victim from Cedar Rapids, spoke briefly last night at the convention, making her case for electing Obama in November, as she told the crowd said she is done waiting for action on a variety of issues. Marcano met with Obama when he visited Cedar Rapids at the end of July, recounting her flight out of the flood zone and her stay in a Kirkwood College dorm while her apartment was flooded and uninhabitable.
Read her remarks and the text of the speech Governor Culver delivered over at the blog. Click on the audio link below to listen to Culver’s speech at the convention.