Democratic convention watch: Join the conversation tonightBy Kathy Kiely Sep 05 2012 1:33 p.m.
The Sunlight Foundation is at the Democratic convention, literally and virtually, and you can join us online Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Our colleagues in Charlotte, Liz Bartolomeo and Keenan Steiner, are following the (oops - did we see corporate? And super PAC? yes we did!) money at all the parties. They can't possibly make all 400+ that we've got in our Party Time database. But they are doing their best. See something we don't know about? Let us know!
And we are exposing the Democrats to Sunlight at night via Sunlight Live. This platform enables our team to provide real time analysis and informative data (punctuated by the occasional snarky aside -- hey we are human too!) along with a video stream of convention activities. You can join in. Let's talk with each other as the politicians talk at us. Isn't that what democracy is all about?
We're taking advantage of the conventions to continue beta-testing Sunlight Live, a powerful new tool that our team has developed with the generous support of the Knight Foundation. It also won a $10.000 vote of confidence thanks to the crowd that helped source the 2010 grand prize in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovation in Journalism. As with all Sunlight projects, this is open sourced. We are planning to make the finished project available later this fall. That means other news organizations and any citizen group can adopt it for their own use. Organize a discussion around a candidate debate. Or your favorite team's high school football game. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. We can't wait to see where users take this. Check out what we've done with the tool so far. We hope you'll join us on the rest of the shakedown cruise, starting at 7 p.m. tonight. Or jump into the mix on Twitter, as you can see, at left, some of our friends did last night.
Tonight's list of speakers gives us plenty of fodder for conversation. Let's start with the closer: former President Bill Clinton, whom President Barack Obama has tapped to be his convention keynoter. Things between those two have changed a lot from four years ago when they were involved in a celebrated -- shall we call it a hissing match? You've got to hand it to the current president for knowing when to let bygones be bygone however: His once-impeached predecessor is now at the height of his popularity. And it can't hurt to remind voters that the last president to achieve a budget surplus was a Democrat.
Other speakers of note this evening include:
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., a fiery immigrant rights advocate who has not always agreed with his fellow Chicagoan's policies on the subject.
- AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who has stuck his neck out to help Obama with the blue-collar white male vote, but who is not at all pleased with the Democrats' choice of venue for their convention.
- Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., his party's top-ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee and co-author of the still-under-implementation Dodd-Frank Act, which Congress passed in response to the near meltdown of the financial system in 2008-09. Frank is retiring at the end of his term; Massachusetts is holding primaries Thursday to determine the Republican and Democratic nominees who will vie in November to replace him. One of the candidates, Joseph Kennedy III, spoke to the convention Tuesday. Frank, the first openly gay member of Congress, recently wed his long time companion, Jim Ready -- nuptials that the president, after much public angsting, has finally decided are okay by him.
- Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, whose mother once delivered one of the most devastating convention put-downs ever in a 1988 speech to the Democrats. How much do you want to bet she'll bring up Missouri Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin's infamous gaffe?
Obama is heading to Charlotte this afternoon, so don't be surprised to see him at the convention tonight, after the delegates make his nomination official. The formal roll call is set to take place in the 10 p.m. (ET) hour, right after Clinton's speech. But Obama's big moment takes place on Thursday, when he delivers his acceptance speech. The president had hoped to reprise an innovaton he pioneered at the Democratic convention in Denver, four years ago, by moving the party to the larger Carolina Panthers Stadium, where he could have had a live audience of 65,000. But the threat of thunderstorms scotched that. Republicans (who also head to contend with weather problems last week) quickly suggested Democrats' inability to fill seats was the real reason for the change of venue.
Also on tomorrow's agenda: The ever unpredictable Vice President Joe Biden, and former Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who became an early tea party victim when Marco Rubio upended Crist's quest for a Senate seat. Rubio spoke at last week's Republican convention.
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