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2008 Democratic National Convention

2008 Democratic National Convention
2008 Presidential Election
Obama and Biden
Date(s) August 25–28, 2008
City Denver, Colorado
Venue Pepsi Center (August 25 – August 27)
Invesco Field at Mile High (August 28)
Chair Nancy Pelosi of California
Keynote speaker Mark Warner
Notable speakers Michelle Obama
Edward Kennedy
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Bill Clinton
John Kerry
Al Gore
Dick Durbin
Presidential nominee Barack Obama of Illinois
Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden of Delaware
Other candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York
Total delegates 4,419
Votes needed for nomination 2,210
Results (President) Obama (IL): 3,188.5 (72.15%)
Clinton (NY): 1,010.5 (22.87%)
Abstaining: 1 (0.00%)
Not Voting: 219 (4.96%)
Results (Vice President) Biden (DE): 100% (Acclamation)

The United States 2008 Democratic National Convention was a quadrennial presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party where it adopted its national platform and officially nominated its candidates for President and Vice President. The convention was held in Denver, Colorado, from August 25 to August 28, 2008, at Pepsi Center. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, gave his acceptance speech on August 28 at Invesco Field in what the party called an "Open Convention".[1][2] Denver last hosted the Democratic National Convention in 1908. Obama became the party's first African-American nominee for President. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, was nominated for Vice President.

Obama officially received the nomination for President on August 27, when his former opponent, U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, interrupted the official roll call to move that Obama be selected by acclamation.[3] U.S. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware accepted the nomination for Vice President on the same night. Obama accepted his nomination the following night in a speech at INVESCO Field before a record-setting crowd of 84,000 people in attendance.[2]


  • Leadership 1
  • Schedule 2
  • Early party division 3
  • Rules 4
  • Results of delegate voting 5
    • President 5.1
    • Vice President 5.2
  • Venue 6
    • Site selection 6.1
    • Preparations 6.2
    • Labor issues 6.3
    • Security measures 6.4
  • Principal speakers 7
    • Monday, August 25 7.1
    • Tuesday, August 26 7.2
    • Wednesday, August 27 7.3
    • Thursday, August 28 7.4
  • Controversies 8
    • Seating of delegates from Florida and Michigan 8.1
    • Use of municipal fuel by convention planners 8.2
    • Lawsuit by protesters 8.3
    • Demonstration zone 8.4
    • Suspected assassination plot 8.5
    • Arrest of an ABC News reporter 8.6
    • Abortion protest sign 8.7
    • Website 8.8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Permanent Chair Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference at the Colorado Convention Center the day before the start of the convention, flanked by the three co-chairs.

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.[5]


Choosing to hold the convention the day after the Beijing Olympic Games concluded, the Democratic Party convened in Denver in the last week of August, a week before the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. The decision was made, according to the party, to "maximize momentum for our Democratic ticket in the final months of the Presidential election".[6] Customarily, the party of the incumbent President holds its convention after the opposing party has held their meeting.

The Democratic National Committee presented themes for each day of the convention. The August 25 theme was "One Nation". The August 26 theme was "Renewing America's Promise" while its August 27 theme was "Securing America's Future". The August 28 theme highlights Obama's campaign motto, "Change We Can Believe In". Featured speakers crafted their messages to the theme of the day.

Early party division

With close delegate counts for Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, there was early speculation of the first brokered convention in decades. Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean sought to avoid such a circumstance.[7]

In addition to the possibility of a brokered convention, a dispute over seating delegates from Florida and Michigan led some to compare the year's convention with the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which ended in a divided party and unhappiness over the outcome.[8] This speculation ended when Obama was projected the Democratic candidate for president on June 3, 2008,[9] and Clinton officially announced later that week that she was suspending her campaign and was fully endorsing Obama.[10]


On February 2, 2007, the Democratic Party published "Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention,"[11] the rules governing the convention. There was 3,409.5 pledged delegates, those committed to vote for a particular candidate, selected by primary voters and caucus participants. There was about 823.5 unpledged delegates, those free to vote for any candidate, colloquially known as superdelegates, for a total of about 4,233 delegates, requiring 2,117 votes to constitute a majority of the convention.[11] The superdelegates consisted of DNC members, Democratic Congress members and Governors, and other prominent Democrats.[12]

The pledged delegates were allocated among the states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico according to two main criteria: 1) proportion of votes each state gave the candidate in the last three Presidential elections; and 2) percentage of votes each state has in the Electoral College. Fixed numbers of delegates were allocated for American Samoa, Guam, the United States Virgin Islands, and Democrats Abroad. Under the party's Delegate Selection Rules for the 2008 Democratic National Convention,[13] delegates were awarded through proportional representation with a minimum threshold of 15% of votes in a state or congressional district to receive delegates. The delegate population must reflect the state's ethnic distribution; and at least 50% of the delegates must be women.

Results of delegate voting

Democratic National Committee Secretary Alice Travis Germond opens the roll call of the states during the third day of the convention.

Along with presumptive presidential nominee Barack Obama, former opponent Hillary Clinton's name was also placed in nomination for president.[14] The Los Angeles Times noted that this has occurred before: Jerry Brown's name was entered into the roll call after losing to Bill Clinton in 1992; Jesse Jackson and Gary Hart also had their names added after losing to Walter F. Mondale in 1984.[15] In 1980, Senator Ted Kennedy's name was entered into the roll call after losing to Jimmy Carter.[16] In addition, Clinton became only the fourth woman to have her name placed in nomination for president at a major party convention. (U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine was placed in nomination at the 1964 Republican National Convention, and U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm of New York was placed in nomination at the 1972 Democratic National Convention.[14] In 1976, antiabortionist Ellen McCormack had her name placed in nomination along with Mo Udall, Jimmy Carter and Jerry Brown.)[17]

Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack H. Obama


Democratic National Convention presidential vote, 2008[18]
Candidate Votes Percentage
Barack Obama 3,188.5 72.15%
Hillary Rodham Clinton 1,010.5 22.87%
Abstentions 1.0 0.00%
Delegates who did not vote[A] 219.0 4.96%
Totals 4,419.0 100.00%

Part way through the roll call (the New Mexico delegation first yielded to the Illinois delegation, who then yielded to the New York delegation), Senator Clinton of New York moved to suspend the rules of the roll call and nominate Obama by acclamation. This was done and the verbal roll call vote was halted. Earlier the same day, Clinton had released her delegates, allowing them to vote for Obama.[19] Along with the verbal roll call, a paper ballot was taken. The results were 3,188.5 for Obama and 1,010.5 for Clinton. There are an additional 219 votes that were not cast.[20]

Vice President

Joe Biden was nominated by acclamation.


The 2008 Democratic National Convention was held in Denver's Pepsi Center.

Site selection

In late November 2005, 35 locations were invited by the DNC to bid for the right to host the 2008 convention: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Miami-Dade County, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, St. Louis, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.[21]

Eleven cities originally accepted the invitation to bid for the convention in January 2006: Anaheim, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis–St. Paul, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Phoenix, and San Antonio.[22] A formal request for proposal was mailed to participating cities on February 27 and the deadline for cities to respond was May 19, 2006.

Only three cities submitted final proposals to host the convention: Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and New York. New Orleans had submitted an initial bid, but on July 12, the city dropped out. The cities were visited by a 10-member Technical Advisory Committee in June 2006. On September 27, the Republicans announced they would have their 2008 convention in St. Paul, removing it from consideration and leaving only Denver and New York as potential hosts. Despite hard lobbying by New York party boosters, then-Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg dealt the campaign a major blow when he announced the city lacked the financial means to support a convention.[23] Denver was chosen as the host on January 11, 2007, as Democrats looked to make gains in the "Purple West" states of Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.


The work to prepare Pepsi Center for the Democratic National Convention was expected to cost $15 million. In addition, a 220,000-square-foot (20,000 m2) temporary building to be used by the media was built near Pepsi Center.[24]

Convention organizers, including the Democratic National Convention Committee and the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee, expected 50,000 attendees, out of which 5,000 were delegates and 15,000 media personnel.[25] However, they anticipated 75,000 people coming to watch Obama accept the nomination on Thursday.[1]

Labor issues

The head of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local No. 7, Jim Taylor, refused to sign a no-strike agreement for the convention. Pepsi Center normally uses nonunion labor, but used Taylor's union during the convention, and Taylor wants Pepsi Center to use his union for all events.[26]

Security measures

As with past political conventions since 2000, the Democratic National Convention was designated a National Special Security Event (NSSE) by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).


Preceded by
Boston, Massachusetts
Democratic National Conventions Succeeded by
Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Official Convention Website – temporarily deceased
  • Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee (official)
  • – video, primary results and Denver info
  • 2008 Democratic Platform
  • 360 Degree Fullscreen VR Panorama from the Democratic Convention
  • Complete text, audio, video of Barack Obama's Democratic Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech
  • Complete text, audio, video of Hillary Clinton's Democratic National Convention Speech

External links

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  17. ^ Shall We Gather at the Hudson River?
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  23. ^ Politics Home Page : Roll Call
  24. ^ Dems will redo Pepsi center for national convention
  25. ^
  26. ^ Union head rankled by losing bid
  27. ^ Denver police force doubled for convention
  28. ^ DNC Final Tally: DPD Makes 152 Arrests
  29. ^ a b c d e
  30. ^ Pelosi, Michelle Obama to kick off Dem Convention
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Asian Dispatchers from the 2008 DNC". AsianWeek. Retrieved on August 29, 2008.
  33. ^ Kennedy Tribute directed and produced by Mark Herzog and Chris Cowen will air first night of Democratic National Convention
  34. ^ Carter chooses filming Katrina video instead of live DNC speech
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ Associated Press. "Remarks delivered by Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday." August 26, 2008, 9:12 pm EDT. Archived on Retrieved 2001-01-11, 12:37 am EDT. C-SPAN video archive available here.
  38. ^
  39. ^ Obama makes surprise appearance
  40. ^ Record 38 Million Watched Obama Speech on 10 Networks
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  48. ^ DNC Gives Florida, Michigan Delegates Full Voting Rights
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  54. ^ Judge Puts Democratic Convention Lawsuit on 'Fast-Track'
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  63. ^ October 17, 2008Denver Post,Howard Pankratz, "ABC Producer Spared DNC Charges,"
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See also

Microsoft was chosen[67][68] as the web content provider for the convention web site, along with Vertigo Software as the developer.[69] The video application developed was based on Microsoft's Silverlight platform and provided high-definition video streams. The choice of technology that required proprietary software from a company with a history of antitrust problems was criticized for both the exclusion of competing platforms[70][71] by way of Silverlight's proprietary video codec and for requiring visitors to install the software when visiting the site.[72] Although Moonlight is a cross-platform alternative that attempts to be compatible with Silverlight, as of the time of the convention it did not support features found in version 2[73] which were required. In contrast, the web site for the 2008 Republican National Convention used Adobe Flash streams provided through Ustream.Tv[74] and YouTube which are viewable with several applications including the free software cross-platform clone Gnash.


On August 26, 2008, a group of pro-life activists from American Right to Life Action constructed a sign on Table Mountain outside Denver, overlooking the convention.[64][65] The sign, made of 2400 sheets, read "Destroys / uNborn / Children" in three rows; it was lined up so that "DNC" appeared vertically in a different color. (This was also an attempt to win the Guinness World Record for largest protest sign. The record has not yet been verified; the sign was allegedly 530-foot (160 m) tall and 666-foot (203 m) wide.)[66] Later that day, the protesters were asked by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department to remove the sign. No citations were issued, though the group did violate two open space regulations of not applying for a special activity permit and going into a restricted and closed area that is considered sensitive to wildlife.[65]

Abortion protest sign on Table Mountain

Abortion protest sign

A reporter from ABC News was arrested as he was photographing a meeting of Democratic senators and VIP donors. The reporter, Asa Eslocker, was arrested by the Denver police and charged with trespassing, interference, and failure to follow a lawful order.[62] The charges were dismissed by the Denver city attorney.[63]

Arrest of an ABC News reporter

On August 24, three men were arrested in the Denver, Colorado area on drugs and weapons charges.[59] Following the arrests of Shawn Robert Adolf, Tharin Robert Gartrell and Nathan Johnson, a possible plot to assassinate Senator Obama surfaced.[60] Authorities later said they had determined the trio posed no credible danger to Obama; U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said, "We're absolutely confident that the meth heads were not a true threat to the candidate, the Democratic National Convention or the people of Colorado."[61]

Suspected assassination plot

The official demonstration zone was unused on Monday afternoon, as the convention opened. The 47,000-square-foot (4,400 m2) fenced area was 700 feet (210 m) from Pepsi Center and delegates could pass from 8 to 200 feet (61 m) from it.[58]

Demonstration zone

Demonstration zone

[57] In an amended complaint, the ACLU and interested advocacy groups have filed suit against the Secret Service and the city and county of Denver, questioning the constitutionality of the restrictions. The lawsuit failed and the ACLU did not appeal.[56] In a June 12 release, a parade route and Demonstration Zone were announced. The Demonstration Zone will be in Parking Lot A of Pepsi Center. Some groups, including two groups opposing abortion chose to delay filing suit after it was announced that their applications for permits are being processed.[55][54] The

Lawsuit by protesters

From March through July, convention planners were provided subsidized and untaxed fuel from municipal government gas pumps at a price less than retail fuel available to ordinary citizens, reportedly without a signed contract. After the practice became public at a meeting with city council members, only convention planners' buses were allowed to refuel at city facilities.[49][50][51][52][53]

Use of municipal fuel by convention planners

The Florida and Michigan legislatures moved forward their primaries to January 2008,[43] in contravention of party rules and were stripped of their delegates.[44] The Clinton campaign with others initially opposed their seating, stating they acknowledged that the delegates from neither Michigan nor Florida would count. However, after winning the Florida and Michigan primaries, Senator Clinton spoke in favor of seating the states' delegates (despite Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, and John Edwards having removed their names from the Michigan primary ballot).[45] DNC Chair Howard Dean asked Florida and Michigan to submit a new plan for a process to choose the delegates, such as holding primaries again, or let the matter be referred to the Credentials Committee.[46] In May 2008, the rules committee agreed to let their delegates have half a vote each. In August 2008, Senator Barack Obama, the party's presumptive nominee, asked the credentials committee to let the two states have full voting rights at the convention.[47] The credentials committee met on August 24, the day before the convention began, and voted to restore full voting rights to Florida and Michigan.[48]

Seating of delegates from Florida and Michigan


In his speech, Obama said, "Our government should work for us, not against us. It should ensure opportunity, not for just those with the most money and influence, but for every American who is willing to work. That's the promise of America, the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise and fall as one nation, the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper. That's the promise we need to keep, that's the change we need right now."[41] The speech was well received, one news source calling it "The wrap-up to the party convention blended old-fashioned speechmaking, Hollywood-quality stagecraft and innovative, Internet age politics."[42]

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks prior to Obama's Address

The convention moved to Invesco Field at Mile High, with a DNCC record crowd of more than 84,000 people in attendance. Speakers included former Vice President Al Gore, Governor of Virginia Tim Kaine, Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, and the evening culminated in Barack Obama's acceptance speech.[2] More than 38 million people across 10 U.S. cable and broadcast TV networks tuned in to watch.[40]

84,000 people filled in Invesco Field for Barack Obama's acceptance speech.

Thursday, August 28

After Joe Biden spoke, his first address as Vice Presidential Nominee, Barack Obama made a surprise appearance praising the convention.[39]

Clearly, the job of the next president is to rebuild the American dream and to restore American leadership in the world.
And here's what I have to say about that. Everything I learned in my eight years as president, and in the work I have done since in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job.
Now, he has a remarkable ability to inspire people, to raise our hopes and rally us to high purpose. He has the intelligence and curiosity every successful president needs. His policies on the economy, on taxes, on health care, on energy are far superior to the Republican alternatives.
He has shown – he has shown a clear grasp of foreign policy and national security challenges and a firm commitment to rebuild our badly strained military. His family heritage and his life experiences have given him a unique capacity to lead our increasingly diverse nation in an ever more interdependent world.
The long, hard primary tested and strengthened him. And in his first presidential decision, the selection of a running mate, he hit it out of the park.
With Joe Biden's experience and wisdom, supporting Barack Obama's proven understanding, instincts, and insight, America will have the national security leadership we need.
In his remarks, Clinton assessed Obama's readiness to be president: [29]).IN (Evan Bayh), and Sen. MA (John Kerry, 2004 presidential candidate Sen. Bill ClintonOther speakers included former president
You know, you can learn a lot about a man campaigning with him, debating him, seeing how he reacts under pressure. You learn about the strength of his mind. But even more importantly, you learn about the quality of his heart.
I watched how Barack touched people, how he inspired them. And I realized he had tapped into the oldest belief in America: We don't have to accept the situation we cannot bear; we have the power to change it.
And change it – and changing it is exactly what Barack Obama will do. That's what he'll do for this country.
You know, John McCain is my friend. And I know you hear that phrase used all the time in politics. I mean it. John McCain is my friend. We've traveled the world together. It's a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the personal courage and heroism demonstrated by John still amazes me.
But I profoundly – I profoundly disagree with the direction John wants to take this country, from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Amtrak to veterans. John thinks that, during the Bush years, quote, "We've made great economic progress." I think it's been abysmal. And in the Senate, John has voted with President Bush 95 percent. And that is very hard to believe.[38]
Joe Biden, in his speech, contrasted the two presidential candidates:

In that speech Beau talked about how his father would tuck him and his siblings into bed each night after returning home, how he refused invitations to cocktail parties in DC because he did not want to miss his granddaughter (Beau's daughter) Natalie's birthday. He remembered the accident that killed his mother and sister and how his father took the Senate oath at his and his brother's bedside even though he was going step down originally, saying, "Delaware can get another Senator but my boys can't get another father." Several years later his father remarried "their Mom Jill" and their family was rebuilt. In the end Beau, whose Delaware National Guard unit where he is Captain was to be deployed to Iraq, said that while his father was always there for him, his duties that fall would prevent him from being there for his Dad. Thus he asked his family and everyone else to be there in November for his father and to be there for Barack Obama and make this country better again.

The theme for the day was "Securing America's Future". It featured a speech by Joe Biden, the Vice Presidential candidate.[29] Before his speech he was introduced by his oldest son Beau Biden, Delaware's Attorney General.

Obama and Biden appear together for the first time after accepting their party's nominations.
Biden delivers his nomination acceptance speech on the third night.

Wednesday, August 27

[37] Ohio Representative

That's a story worth rewriting all across America. With the right leadership, we can once again achieve a standard of living that is improved – and not diminished – in each generation. We can once again make America a beacon for science and technology and discovery. Ladies and gentlemen, we know how to do it. The American people are ready. And Barack Obama and Joe Biden will get it done.[36]
[29] delivered the keynote address which included references to new job creation:Mark WarnerFormer Virginia Governor
Convention floor during Mark Warner's speech
Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich addresses the Convention audience on August 26, 2008

The theme for the day was "Renewing America's Promise."[29] Senator Barbara Mikulski was one of several elected women Democrats selected to speak that evening. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was the headline prime-time speaker. In her speech, with former President Bill Clinton watching, Hillary declared, "We are on the same team."[35]

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during the second night of the Convention
Senator Barbara Mikulski speaks during the second day of the Convention

Tuesday, August 26

Also, Maya Soetoro-Ng spoke briefly on growing up with her older brother Barack Obama, and brought an AAPI presence to the stage for the first time.[32] The Work to Come: A Tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy, directed and produced by Mark Herzog and Chris Cowen in association with Ken Burns, was introduced by Kennedy's niece, Caroline Kennedy.[33] Consistent with the theme of the evening, Former Republican congressman Jim Leach gave his public endorsement of Barack Obama. His speech was introduced by Senator Tom Harkin, a fellow Iowan. Senator Kennedy was not expected to attend the convention due to his illness, but nevertheless made a surprise appearance and speech in the evening. A video about former President Jimmy Carter's humanitarian work was also shown, followed by a brief appearance by the president himself.[34]

Ted Kennedy speaks during the first night of the Convention
See, that's why Barack's running: to end the war in Iraq responsibly...
... to build an economy that lifts every family, to make sure health care is available for every American, and to make sure that every single child in this nation has a world-class education all the way from preschool to college. That's what Barack Obama will do as president of the United States of America.
He'll achieve these goals the same way he always has, by bringing us together and reminding us how much we share and how alike we really are. You see, Barack doesn't care where you're from, or what your background is, or what party, if any, you belong to. See, that's just not how he sees the world. He knows that thread that connects us – our belief in America's promise, our commitment to our children's future – he knows that that thread is strong enough to hold us together as one nation even when we disagree.[31]
In her speech, she explained how her husband embraced the "One Nation" idea: [30].Craig Robinson She was introduced by her brother, [29] as the "headline prime-time speaker."Michelle ObamaThe theme for the day was "One Nation," with

Monday, August 25

Michelle Obama speaking as the Convention's opening night's headliner

Principal speakers


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