Hillary Clinton’s substantial post-Convention bump in the polls was not a surprise to those who attended the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. Having created a well-scripted Hollywood production, the Democrats seized the Ronald Reagan theme of “Morning In America” and, in a Jiu Jitsu move, took advantage of the Republicans’ “Nighttime In America” theme, trumpeted best by their presidential nominee, which posited the country was in decline. The contrast in themes was stark yet both have the potential to appeal to millions of people.
On the plus side, the Economy has been in positive territory for several years, approximately 15 million new jobs have been created, the Unemployment Rate continues to sink towards technical Full Employment levels, inflation remains extraordinarily low, the Stock Market has skyrocketed since 2008 (making many people wealthy and improving the status of pension funds for millions of Americans), Obamacare has extended coverage to millions of Americans and improved the coverage most citizens already had, the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has been minimized, a nuclear deal with Iran has delayed that nation’s progress towards joining the nuclear club, and technology continues to give us extraordinary access to news, data, and each other.
On the minus side, the nation’s positive economic growth remains anemic, most jobs are in the low-paying service sector, 47 million Americans are in poverty, over 20 million still do not have medical care, wages remain stagnant, to date our nation-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed at a cost estimated to be in excess of $2½ trillion, our annual federal deficits continue to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars as are our annual trade deficits, our National Debt exceeds $20 trillion, Social Security and Medicare trust funds cannot sustain their obligations, and the country’s infrastructure is in gross disrepair — to the tune of $4 trillion.
My personal experience at the Convention was exhausting. My Convention week actually started by going in the wrong direction — a trip to Los Angeles on Sunday for a memorial service. That night I flew back to Denver arriving at 10:30 pm, met my team, checked in my luggage, and caught an 11:30 pm flight to the East Coast. We got to our hotel by 8:00 am and went straight to the Philadelphia Convention Center for a full day of activities there and later at the Wells Fargo Arena.
The weather was oppressive — with temperatures and humidity both approach triple digits every day — but we were indoors so it wasn’t a big deal. The DNC kept most attendees and even the Media in the dark by not publishing a specific schedule. Rather we would receive the order of speakers but sometimes when they were on stage could range one or two hours. These were minor inconveniences in what otherwise was a well-run operation (led, in part, by Colorado’s own political operative extraordinaire Mike Stratton, who could be seen every day managing the Convention floor with aplomb).
Not only was the Convention day long but, because everyone stayed to the end of each night’s program (often near midnight), it took up to half an hour to get out of the Wells Fargo Arena and get onto an uncrowded roadway. That meant arriving at parties sometime between 11:00 pm and 1:00 am so I was getting to sleep between 3:30 am and 5:00 am every day. That’s usually the time when I wake up! The parties were loud, raucous, and fun but, given their time, most of us didn’t last more than an hour or two.
Despite the lack of sleep, our team — Jana Martin (Producer), Madisen Phipps (Assistant Producer), Mark Olson (Technical Director & Camera Operator), and Chuck Fiorella (Assistant Technical Director, Audio Technician, and Camera Operator) — got a lot done.
My on-air guests were interviewed for segments ranging from 2 minutes to 20 minutes, with most guests joining me for 6 or 7 minutes. We are producing 8 half-hour programs for broadcast and all will be online 24/7 at www.HarberTV.com/DNC.
Those who joined me included Talk Show host Jerry Springer, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, Utah U.S. Senate Democratic Nominee Misty Snow, Visionary trailblazer U.S. Ambassador and Harvard Professor Swanee Hunt, Newsman Dan Rather, National Sheriffs Association Representative Sheriff Susan Benton, Former DNC Chairman Don Fowler, “Grey’s Anatomy” actor (“Dr. Ben Warren”) Jason George, U.S. Ambassador and former Arms Negotiator Christopher Hill, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, ABC Political Reporter Byron Pitts, former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, Women’s Equal Pay icon Lily Ledbetter, Congressman Jared Polis, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, Colorado House Majority Leader and DNC Convention Speaker Crisanta Duran, former and first woman Lt. Governor (Maryland) Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Congressman and soon to be Michigan Governor Dan Kildee, Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis, former Congressman and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture & Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Dan Glickman, Political Writer & former NEWSWEEK Editor Jonathan Alter, U.S. Senator & Assistant Senate Minority Leader Dick Durbin, Former Congressman & Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, DNC Muslim Delegate Mike Saifie, and former Congressman & NAACP Head Kweisi Mfume.
I also was able to speak off-camera with many other people — some for several minutes and some for just seconds. A partial list includes comedian and talk show host Chelsea Handler, new DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile, Governor John Hickenlooper, First Lady Robin Pringle Hickenlooper (who had an amazing pair of pink shoes which lit up the entire Arena), interview icon Charlie Rose, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, actor and director Rob Reiner, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, ABC Anchor David Muir, U.S. Senator Bob Casey, former Congressman former Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director Leon Panetta, talk show host Katie Couric, former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Reverend Jesse Jackson, FOX News Anchor Brit Hume, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, PBS Anchor Gwen Ifill, New York Times columnist David Brooks, former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, U.S. Senator Al Franken, FOX News Anchor Chris Wallace, PBS Anchor Judy Woodruff, Reverend Al Sharpton, actress Lena Dunham, CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, former Denver Mayor and DNC Chairman Wellington Webb, TV Host Geraldo Rivera, former Colorado legislator Wilma Webb, PBS commentator Mark Shields, and basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar, among others.
I was on the floor just 30 yards away from the podium for several hours every day so I had a great position for the major speeches by Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Tim Kaine, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama, among others, but the live performance by Lenny Kravitz was phenomenal. Katy Perry also blew out the arena on the day I gave “my” spot to my Producer, Jana Martin. Earlier that day, I was able to get Jana and Madisen in behind the podium to see Katy do her sound check while singing two songs. They are huge fans and loved it. A good time was had by all but, as always, it was wonderful to get back home to Colorado! Now on to our special election series!