United States Presidential Election, 2008 - Conventions

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For an analysis of how the conventions impacted the elections, see United States Presidential Election, 2008

Democratic National Convention


The 2008 Democratic National Convention was held in Denver, Colorado, from August 25 to August 27 at Pepsi Center. There, Senator Obama and his running mate were selected to be the party nominee's. Barack Obama accepted the party's nomination in front of a crowd of more than 75,000 in a free, open event held at INVESCO Field at Mile High, in a platform resemblant to a Greek temple. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the Permanent Chair of the Convention.

The convention had a rocky start as friction between supporters of Obama and the Clintons was not resolved. Instead of Obama getting a bump in the polls, his support actually declined. The Democrats also seemed to be at odds on finding a unifying strategy for how hard to attack John McCain and how to present it. As Democratic pundit James Carville said in an interview on CNN, "If this party has a message, it's done a <heck> of a job hiding it tonight, I promise you that."[1]

A bleak convention was turned around by the Clintons. Infighting between Obama and Hillary continued through the day of her speech, but a comprise was reached, and, beyond expectations, she gave a rousing speech for Obama - possibly as an angry response to McCain's latest ad that showed her 'supporting' him. Bill Clinton the next night also praised Obama, something that he failed to effectively do in 2000 for Al Gore when he centered on his accomplishments and gave little more than lip service to Gore with statements amounting to 'and Al Gore was there too'. The convention, possibly remembering that, gave him the topic he was to speak on instead of choosing his own. Clinton was angered, but it worked. He came through. By the time Obama spoke on the last night, the theme that was missing at first was clear, and Obama mixed a message of attacking McCain with the need for change and even outlining some expensive programs that would appeal to the target populace who has been lukewarm to him. From a political point of view, the convention did what it was supposed to.


Denver officials had constructed a secret jail to house those that would misbehave in the Mile High City when the Democrats attend their convention. The makeshift holding center, dubbed "Gitmo on the Platte" by activists, contained barbed wire fencing and signs warning of stun gun use. The Steele Street warehouse was designed to process 60 arrestees per hour.[2]

Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America, spoke at a prayer service at the convention. Hidden from the public because nobody debated it at the time, the group has ties to funding Hamas terrorists and the facts were well known July 2008. Mattson's group says it does not condone terrorism. The Holy Land Foundation and five of its former leaders were convicted of funneling millions of dollars to Hamas for which the ISNA funded and supported.[3]

Cnet reported that in the week of the convention, an unusual phenomenon occurred on Craigslist's Denver Web site. Ads soliciting casual sex spiked 80% that week, as tens of thousands of people had arrived for the Democratic convention. Those convention days showed the week-over-week jump in sex ads. Monday increased 77 percent over the average of earlier in the month; Tuesday increased 69 percent; Wednesday's increase was 74 percent. The online solicitations featured such lurid titles as "Does the DNC make you hot?" and content far worse than that.[4] No analogous phenomenon was reported during the Republican convention.


DNC protest sign.jpg

American Right to Life Action, an anti-abortion group, claims to have displayed the largest ever protest sign in history, 530 feet tall and 666 feet wide. The sign says "Destroys uNborn Children" [sic], with the words appearing one atop each other to also form the acronym "DNC." [5] According to a release from the group, "thousands of DNC delegates and journalists can look out their hotel windows to the west to see the sign." "The tiniest boys and girls should be loved and protected, but as nominating Barack Obama emphasizes, the DNC even supports killing kids in the womb old enough to know their mother's voice, sleep and dream, suck their thumbs, and play with their toes." The Guinness Book of World Records assigned American Right To Life an official world record attempt number: 228132.

Convention Schedule

Monday 8/25 (Theme: One Nation):

Tuesday 8/26 (Theme: Renewing America's Promise):

Wednesday 8/27 (Theme: Securing America's Future):

Thursday 8/28 (Theme: Change You Can Believe In):

Republican National Convention


The 2008 Republican National Convention was held in Saint Paul, Minnesota from September 1 (Labor Day) until September 4. The presumptive nominee was Senator McCain. The location has political significance in that Minnesota will likely be a close state during the general election, as will it's neighboring states Wisconsin and Iowa.

The convention schedule had to be altered due to the upcoming landfall of Hurricane Gustav. The first day almost entirely focused on raising money for Hurricane relief. This led to a shortened three day convention instead of four and there was some shuffling of who was speaking on which day to accommodate the suddenly shortened time span. In a surprise, George W. Bush was only delivered an eight minute speech by satellite. In another surprise Sarah Palin's speech was watched by as many people as saw Obama give his acceptance speech on the closing night of the Democratic convention, as over 40 million people tuned in.[6] She was considered the highlight of the convention, even surpassing John McCain's speech the next day, and was noted for doing an exceptional job. Recognizing the strong asset that they have in her, the Republicans made reference to her many times on the last day of the convention. McCain, not known for being comfortable reading prepared speeches in a convention hall, delivered a solid speech. While Obama continued to enjoy a lead in the polls, it changed quickly thereafter to a slight McCain-Palin edge. The Republican convention more than canceled out a very powerful Democratic convention.

Convention Schedule

Note: Due to the hurricane and the effort to use their public forum to raise funds for it, the first night of the Republican convention was not shown. Adjustments were made throughout to accommodate that loss.

Monday 9/1 (Theme: Service):

  • RNC Chairman Mike Duncan

Tuesday 9/2 (Theme: Reform):

  • Rosario Marin, California Secretary of the State
  • Chris Collins
  • Carolyn Dunn
  • Phil Hayes
  • Lisa Keegan
  • Ruth Novodor
  • Dr. Elena Rios
  • Shirley Sadler
  • Joe Watkins

Wednesday 9/3 (Theme: Prosperity):

  • Republican Party’s Vice Presidential Nominee
  • Mayor Mick Cornett, R-Oklahoma City
  • Carly Fiorina, Victory ‘08 Chairman for the RNC, former Chairman and CEO of Hewlett Packard Co.
  • Meg Whitman, National Co-Chair for McCain 2008 and former President and CEO of eBay
  • Renee Amoore*
  • Anne Beiler*
  • Jessica Colon*
  • Christy Swanson*
  • Raul “Danny” Vargas*

Thursday 9/4 (Theme: Peace):

  • Michael Williams, Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission
  • David Flau
  • Christopher Fussner
  • Lt. General Carol Mutter, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
  • Charlie Smith