Sunday, April 23, 2006

Denver throws a party in New Orleans

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Mike Littwin at the Rocky Mountain News writes up Denver's reception promoting its bid to host the 2008 Democratic Convention:

Denver did everything right. There was a great band. There was free food. There was free drink. There was a lot of free food. And a lot of free drink.

There were giant photos displayed right out of a Colorado travel brochure. Imagine a concert at Red Rocks, Mayor John Hickenlooper told a cheering crowd, which seemed quite enthusiastic. Of course, it might have been the champagne. It might have been the goodies bag. It might have been the door prize: two free United Airlines tickets, which presumably could be used to fly two people to a Denver convention.

Most people I talked to here have said Denver was a serious contender. Most put the city in the top three, although it was difficult to pin anyone down as to who the other two might be. Maybe Anaheim. Maybe Vegas.

Clearly, though, it's the right time for Denver, which also made a pitch in 2000. "That was a total stretch," said Chris Gates, who was here to make the Denver pitch. "We were telling people how convenient hotel rooms were in Wyoming."


And the convention could be looking for someplace with FasTracks and a big airport and a newly remodeled convention center and the Pepsi Center and diversity and potential and, well, nobody has to sell you. You already live in Colorado. And you know you can hold a convention these days and no one has to stay in Wyoming.

I talked to two Democratic committeemen from Massachusetts who said they were just talking about Denver's chances. Everyone, said David O'Brien, "is high on Denver."

He added, "I don't think anyone is putting on a push as strong as Denver is. It has to be one of the front-runners." Or as Norma Flores, of El Paso, Texas, put it, "What could be wrong with Denver? It has so much going for it."


If New Orleans could be ready by 2008 for a major convention, and if New Orleans doesn't re-elect Mayor Ray Nagin, who brings up major competence issues of his own, Democrats might not be able to resist New Orleans.


If it comes down to a choice between Denver and New Orleans, it would be a choice between competing messages: how to get to the future or how to debate the past.

It isn't just what kind of party you want to be. It's also what kind of party you want to throw.

I think Littwin gets to a core truth about a New Orleans convention. A convention in New Orleans would bring focus to the past, and I think the Democrats need to focus on the future in 2008.