updated 7/28/2004 10:00:02 PM ET 2004-07-29T02:00:02

Tea Party is compiled by MSNBC Politics Editor Mike Stuckey from reports by MSNBC, NBC and wire service reporters.

TUESDAY, July 27

Swooning for McKenzie
So last night at NBC's workspace inside the Fleet Center, we saw 9-year-old Noah McCullough take on our own Campbell Brown in a game of political trivia (and Brown won). Tonight, we saw some more entertainment — MSNBC's Chris Jansing taping an interview with Benjamin McKenzie, the actor who plays Ryan on "The OC." (Yes, we've now already referenced "The OC" about 10 times in this column.) What was especially entertaining were the dozen of so young female, and even male, NBC interns and staff who went absolutely ga-ga while McKenzie was being interviewed. We overheard one intern — whose identity we're going to keep anonymous — say, "I've seen former governors. I've seen former senators. And they didn't do it for me. That did it for me right there." --Mark Murray and Becky Diamond

Dig those divas
Have you seen those buttons that say "Democratic Divas on the move"? Well we have, and we'd like to introduce you to one of the women responsible for it: Susan Buffett, a Nebraska delegate who — by the way — has a pretty famous dad, the billionaire Warren Buffett. "I've gotten more comments on [the Divas pin] than I have about anything else," Buffett told us at the Divas' "High Tea" today. But she says that Sara Achelpohl should get all the credit for the event. "She is the queen of the Divas," Buffet said. Honest question, though: If Susan Buffett is a Democrat, why was her father an adviser to Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger? "First of all, my dad is a Democrat, there's no question about that," Buffet said. "He thinks Arnold is strong enough and smart enough to get things done in California that need to get done." What's been the best party at the convention so far? Well, Buffet thought the Clinton party on Sunday night was great, especially the food. Has she seen any celebrities? With a gleam in her eye, she smiles, "Ask me tomorrow." Sounds like she has some fun plans tonight.--Andrew Ott

Bumbershoot bummer II
The saga of the umbrella rule at Fleet continues. A few days back, the mag and bag stations were accumulating hundreds of umbrellas confiscated from the rain-soaked media. By yesterday, the rule had been lifted — though the umbrellas were not returned. Then today, word from the security folks that there is a partial rollback ... small, folding umbrellas will be allowed, but "pointy" umbrellas will not be allowed. We were not aware that "pointy" is a category in umbrella design, but the security guard insisted that is the guidance.--Mark Lukasiewicz

A triumph of insults
Guess who we ran into on our way out of the Fleet Center yesterday? The crude, rude, yet incredibly funny Triumph the Insult Comic Dog from the Conan O'Brien show. We overheard him interviewing Randall Terry of the pro-life group Operation Rescue. Triumph focused on gay marriage. "If homosexuals don't marry each other," he asked Terry, "who are they gonna marry? They can't all marry Liza Minelli!" ... More: "Are you saying that if we allow men to marry each other that the next step is men marrying dogs? Because if that's what you're saying, then count me in." With Triumph yelling "Gay Rights Now! Gay Rights Now!" we headed off to our next engagement — glad that Triumph didn't chose the moment to mock us instead.--Elizabeth Blumenthal

Old Left, New Left
As former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean addressed an overflow crowd of screaming supporters outside a Cambridge hotel, a pane of glass separated him from a quieter icon of the American left. Standing on a terrace overlooking the Charles River, Dean whipped up a crowd that came to hear him, Michael Moore and others who attended a session organized by the Campaign for America's Future. Quietly eating a salad in the adjacent nouvelle Italian restaurant was George McGovern, the former South Dakota senator who challenged Richard Nixon in 1972.--Dean Wright

Learning to love Kerry
After watching the Clintons speak last night, we headed to the Washington State delegation party sponsored by Microsoft. As it turned out, we beat all the delegates there. The party started at 10 pm, but by midnight there were only about 15 people there, in a glass-walled reception room that could fit hundreds. "I come from a long line of blue-blooded Democrats," one elderly guest told us as she sipped cranberry juice. "I'm ready to go home. I want to go to bed." By 12:30 am, though, the buses had finally arrived and the party swelled to over 150 people. Still, we couldn't find any VIP delegates. ... One other interesting tidbit from that Microsoft party: We spoke with the wife of one Washington delegate, who said she did a lot of work for the Dean campaign in Seattle. According to her, it seems some still-ardent Dean folks in Seattle are hosting "Practice Voting for Kerry" parties — obviously because they're still in love with Dean. "They say, 'Okay, now sit near the ballot. Okay, now pick up the ballot. Okay, now practice filling it out,'" she said.--Andrew Ott

A hot scene
We tried to stake out filmmaker Michael Moore at his gathering with the Congressional Black Caucus yesterday, but the real story there seemed to be what was going on outside the room. Approximately 50 to 60 members of the press — reporters, camera crews, and mike-men —were told to "wait patiently" to get inside. Those with invitations (the press did not have paper invites, only oral ones) were allowed in before Moore arrived. The security then closed the doors, telling us that they weren't going to let any press in at all. When the press was told this, a few at the front started shoving and attempting to pull the door open. But the security there ordered them to get back away and get out. Moore, however, avoided all of the pushing and swinging elbows as he was rushed into a side door to get into the room.--Nancy C. DiBiaggio


The daughter factor
Last night's young Democrats party honoring Terry McAuliffe was the best-looking crowd we've seen so far at the convention — and certainly the most accessible when it comes to VIPs. We caught up with Luke from the "The OC" (real name is Chris Carmack), David from Seattle's "Real World," and C.T. from "Real World Paris," and we asked them all this important question: Who would you rather have in the "Real World" house with you — one of the Bush daughters or one of the Kerry ones? Luke went with Jenna Bush (who we think could fit in with the "OC" cast); David chose the Bush twins; and C.T. declined to answer, saying  "I'm an independent." ... Also at the party, the young Dem ladies were desperately seeking for the elusive Ben Affleck. Said one savvy observer, "Every party in town says Ben is coming after midnight, but I don't know anyone who's actually seen him."--Elizabeth Blumenthal

Whither Daschle?
We also stopped by the hoity-toity party the nice folks at the New Republic, Roll Call, and the Economist were throwing — with considerable help from the Distilled Spirits Council, which we assume was primarily responsible for keeping everyone's glasses full. There were no sightings of "OC" or "Real World" characters, but we did see CNN's Wolf Blitzer and political expert Stu Rothenberg. The noticeable absence was Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle, who after all was supposed to be honored at this party. Why wasn't he there? Well, we called his spokesman, who said he thinks Daschle was running behind schedule, but the spokesman told us he'd get back with us. (He hasn't yet.)--Mark Murray

In the glow of the stars
Hoping to catch sight of Bennifer — err,  sorry, Ben Affleck — we thought if we stood in one place in the halls of the FleetCenter long enough, we'd be able to jump, err, say hi to him.  Alas, no Benny but we did spot plenty of other celebrities: Leaving the FleetCenter after Clinton's speech were the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Teresa Heinz Kerry, arm-in-arm, deep in conversation. ... Glenn Close being ever so gracious (and much more beautiful in person) snapping photos with fans far after festivities had ended. ... We all called him the "bad guy from Ghost" but a Google search this morning proves his name is Tony Goldwyn. ... Jeanene Garafolo with a headset doing a radio talk show in an empty FleetCenter hallway. ... Also sighted, "Just Shoot Me's" Wendy Malik, "Spin City's" Richard Kind, Jon Stewart, Alexandra Kerry (without an entourage), and Rob Reiner.--Huma Zaidi

Long road to Boston
If you're just watching the convention on TV, you might think that the delegates here are folks who wear crazy hats, cheer incessantly, and nearly faint every time Bill Clinton speaks. But some of delegates have wonderful stories to tell, and one of those delegates is Dritan Zela of Arizona. As a college student in communist Albania, Zela helped organize a student movement there in 1990 to demand multi-party elections. His action and the resulting strikes eventually helped to bring about these elections, which were held in 1991. Unsatisfied with the legitimacy of the elections, however, Zela again helped to organize a hunger strike to demand new elections. In 1992, new elections were held and a new party was elected. ... Although he had achieved so much in his home country, Zela immigrated to the United States in 1993 and became a U.S. citizen in 1999. His first foray into American politics in 2003 was inspired by Wesley Clark. "Clark helped to save us from genocide," Zela said. Although he co-founded the Draft Clark campaign in Arizona, Zela says he's now firmly in the Kerry camp.--John Canady

MONDAY, JULY 26

  1. Other political news of note
    1. Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

      House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

    2. Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
    3. Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
    4. Obama faces Syria standstill
    5. Fluke files to run in California

Afflectation
We caught up with Ken Riley, president of South Carolina's longshoremen's union. He boasted that South Carolina could provide an upset victory for Kerry — with Kerry's 2003 official announcement for president in the state, and also with the competitive Senate race between Democrat Inez Tenenbaum and Republican Jim DeMint. (We'd disagree a tad with Riley on Kerry taking South Carolina, but that Senate race is going to be a fantastic contest.) In addition, Riley was tickled by Ben Affleck's visit to the state's morning caucus meeting. "Of course you couldn't get even close to the front because the ladies," he said." --Andrew Ott

Noah's lark
Nine-year-old prodigy Noah McCullough apparently has been traveling around the convention —for the "Tonight Show — to stump some of Washington's top politicos and journalists on political trivia. Deep inside the bowels of the Fleet Center, we saw little Noah go one on one with NBC's own Campbell Brown. First question: Who was the 26th U.S. president? In what seemed like a nano-second, Noah buzzed in and shouted, "Theodore Roosevelt!" Right answer. Noah and Brown went on for a few more questions until the finale: a race to list all 43 U.S. presidents. Brown went through hers with lightning speed, and so did Noah — except for one thing: He forgot to say Ronald Reagan. When this omission was revealed, Brown jumped into the air, "I won, I won." The vanquished Noah had an unhappy look on his face, but he still reached into his ziplock bag and handed Brown one of his business cards. Noah also handed us one of those cards, too. It reads: "Noah McCullough, Republican, Future President." (Our question: If he's a Republican, how did he miss Reagan?)--Mark Murray

Batter up
It's probably because we're political junkies, but we jumped at the opportunity to speak with Kentucky's Ben Chandler, the rising Democratic star who lost the state's 2003 gubernatorial race last year but won this year's special congressional election — which made Democrats very, very happy. Here at the convention, he says he's already been rocking to the music of the Neville Brothers at the Bluedog Coalition party at the Roxy. But his favorite party was at Fenway last night, where he watched John Kerry toss out the first pitch. "It almost made it to home plate," he told me. --Andrew Ott

Bye-bye, bumbershoot bummer
Sunday convention-goers battled rainy weather and long lines to get inside the eight-foot security fences surrounding Fleet Center, only to find out that under the first post-9/11 convention regulations umbrellas were not permitted. Barrels of confiscated umbrellas lined the paths leading to the magnetometers. Today word came that heavy rainfall is expected Tuesday night through the rest of the convention week. But conventioneers will be happy to hear NBC news has just learned the security at the Democratic National Convention does have a heart after all.  The umbrella restriction has been rescinded. --Pat Anastasi

Tea with Tennessee
Your friendly Boston Tea Party correspondents visited with the Tennessee delegation at its breakfast this morning, and they were mighty nice — and very entertaining. We thought were about to report on a Dick-Cheney-like moment when delegation whip Bob Tuke started off his speech by yelling, "I'm sick and tired of that SOB!" Our virgin ears were relieved when he later explained that he meant "son of a Bush." Whew. ... The crowd showed the most enthusiasm of the morning when Tuke mentioned John Edwards and how he was "just like the people of Tennessee. He came up out of the mills!  He is one of ours!" ... We also met 21-year-old Michael Negron, winner of the DNC/MTV "Choose or Lose" essay contest, who will be speaking tonight at the convention. Michael promised that despite going Republican last election, the Dems can swing Tennessee this year if the campaign can get the student vote at University of Tennessee, University of Memphis, and "even Vanderbilt." The name "Vanderbilt" got an oddly huge laugh. (Must not be many Commodore grads in the delegation.)--Elizabeth Blumenthal 


A tights situation
Anyone trying to find the secret headquarters of the GOP's Boston operation couldn't have missed it this morning. The DNC sent "Enron Ed" — a man dressed in a red, shiny top and black tights and a cape with a big "E" emblazoned on the back to the GOP's first press conference this morning.  "Ed", who was standing at the front door as reporters entered for this morning's press conference didn't have much to say or do, but got some company when he was joined by the satirical "Millionaires for Bush" group who stood outside in the ball gowns and suits, puffing on fake cigars. ... The DNC sent another visitor to the briefing -- their spokesperson, Tony Welch, who tried to get into the briefing but was quickly blocked at the door by the RNC's press secretary Christine Iverson who told Welch he couldn't come in. "Are you going to let me into your convention?" Iverson asked. "Why don't you go hang out with Enron Ed?"  Welch agreed to leave but said "thanks for the opportunity." We are happy to report though that "Enron Ed" was wearing shorts over his black tights. Whew!--Huma Zaidi

In our sights
A sleek black sedan that displayed the name card "James Rassman." Well, by now you should know who Jim Rassman is — the guy whose life Kerry saved in Vietnam; he's also speaking on Thursday at the convention. It's good to know that he's traveling in style here at the convention. ... Other sightings: Michael Moore, Ron Reagan, Al Sharpton, 20-something Ohio congressional candidate Capri Cafaro, and a big sign outside the Wang Center for the Performing Arts that said, "A Salute to Rep. Richard Gephardt. Many Thanks." (A party for Gephardt was going on inside there). --Mark Murray 

Video: 'Convention Notebook' Hmmm ... Maybe this
explains Florida
Yesterday, we also hung out with those folks from the notorious battleground state of Florida (and they were still gnashing their teeth from the 2000 recount). We met the delegation's second youngest member, 19-year-old Jill Greco. And on the other end of the spectrum, we met the oldest member, 90-year-old Edward "Red" Lackey. In 1928, Lackey told us, he drove through the mountains of North Carolina in a Model T Ford, bringing Democrats to the polls to vote for Al Smith against Herbert Hoover. Lackey wore a straw hat with a wooden donkey taped on top. "This donkey is potty-trained," he said. And when he pulled the donkey's ear, a small roll of paper dropped out from under its tail. --Andrew Ott

Some actual businezzzzzzz
If you think your Boston Tea Party correspondents are having a bit too much fun, we want to point out that we attended yesterday's National Democratic Institute's briefing on foreign policy, where we saw Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and former Secretary of State Madeleine lbright. Albright said that a Kerry Administration would tell the truth (unlike a Bush Administration), while Biden said that we should tell Saudi Arabia that they have become of one America's problems. OK, now back to parties and the other fun stuff. --John Canady

Now it's really getting hairy
Security at the press entrance to the convention has meant long lines as journalists pass through metal detectors. Most take this in good spirit, but officials may have gone too far when they told a television reporter she couldn't take her hairspray inside. "How can we do television without hairspray," she complained. Her appeal fell on deaf ears. --Dean Wright

Traffic problems? What traffic problems?
The anticipation was high. The hassles were few. That about sums up the morning commute in Boston on the first day of altered travel routes and restrictions for the Democratic National Convention. Some routes, including Interstate 93 southbound, saw the predicted traffic snarls. But commuters on other highways were surprised at a relatively stress-free ride. One bus rider says despite dire predictions this morning was “brilliant.” The real test will come with the evening commute, when officials plan to close I-93 and several other major roadways and force motorists onto secondary routes. --Associated Press

Jumping in to the 'Jump Off'
Last night, we made it our main mission to sneak into the exclusive "Jump Off" party at the club Avalon. We arrived at the fashionably late hour of 11 pm. At first, our chances of getting in looked grim: The line stretched halfway down the block, and we saw already-disgusted invitees who had waited three hours without getting in the door. But we patient people were not without entertainment. Two brave (or stupid) souls dared to parade past this line of young Democrats, chanting "Four more years!  Four more years!" The line shouted back, "Four more months!  Four more months!"  In addition, we saw FOX News zeroing in on one hip and trendy girl to quiz her on Kerry, hoping to trip her up with such probing questions as "What's John Kerry's wife's name?" Suddenly, the line disappeared, and we were in like Flynn within five minutes. (Clearly, fashionably late is the way to go.) Once inside, we heard the fantastic music from the Executioners, and we saw a bit more dancing than we saw last night at the media party. But where were the VIPs? The few people we did see who descended from the VIP balcony didn't seem particularly familiar to us. But earlier in the evening, we heard that Al Sharpton, Natalie Portman, and Jerry Springer addressed the crowd. Smart money says that there was a second VVIP room elsewhere in the building. As we were leaving the club at 2 a.m., a bartender told us the party was going to go on until 4 a.m., well past the scheduled closing time. Party on, dudes!--Elizabeth Blumenthal


SUNDAY, JULY 25

Video: Hillary Clinton interview

In our sights
Spotted at delegate parties: D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton cracking up a group of delegates at the DC and Delaware's delegate party at the Children's Museum.  We saw D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams exiting the party. Iowa's Gov. Tom Vilsack chatting up some friends outside Iowa and Missouri's delegate party at the New England Aquarium.  Vilsack greeted some delegates but as far as we could tell, he didn't go inside the party and didn't hang much with wife, Christie.  --Huma Zaidi

Don't mess with Al Sharpton
OK, we've already learned one thing so far in Boston: The LaRouchies are out in full force. We still remember when heckling supporters of Lyndon LaRouche shouted down the Democratic presidential candidates at a 2003 debate, and Al Sharpton heroically stepped in and dressed them down for their rude behavior. Well, the past seems to be repeating itself: Sharpton was speaking at last night's College Democrat event when, halfway through his speech, one LaRouchie began to shout, "Do you really believe what you're saying?" ... Sharpton replied, "Don't mess with me, son. I am the king of all hecklers." ... Another LaRouchie spoke at today's Democratic press briefing, but this guy was rather polite. He inquired why their hotel rooms were canceled in Boston, and why the Democratic Party isn't calling for Dick Cheney to resign (for one reason or another). DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, who was speaking at the presser, replied, "I think Dick Cheney canceled your hotel rooms." Yes, folks, he's really that powerful. --Elizabeth Blumenthal and Mark Murray

Welcome to the real world
Tonight's biggest event is the Jumpoff party at Avalon, where Jon Stewart, Natalie Portman, the Clintons, and others are supposed to boogey down. We heard from someone participating in the Washington Center internship program that Democratic GAIN — a progressive grass-roots group — had set aside a block of tickets for tonight's party for Washington Center kids. So earlier today, the director of the Washington Center picked up these tickets — um, except this person wasn't exactly the director. In fact, he had nothing to do whatsoever with the program. So now all those hard-working kids are going to have to stand outside the velvet rope tonight and beg to get in like the rest of us. ... Indeed, we'll be there, wearing our finest, although rumor has it that the Avalon won't actually hold the number of people who've been given tickets, so even some ticket-holders are expected to be turned away. --Elizabeth Blumenthal

Video: Democrats descend on Boston Calling all cars
Speaking of stealing, would whoever read today's earlier item about our car's sub-woofers, and then proceeded to take them, kindly return them immediately? (Seriously, this correspondent's stereo system got stolen today.) --Elizabeth Blumenthal

Connecticut chutzpah
By now, we've gotten used to the long lines to pass through security to get to the media area here at the convention. It's a royal pain in the you-know-what, but we understand why it's being done: to make sure the event is safe and secure. What we don't understand is why some less-than-VIP folks -- like Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro -- get to cut through the line, especially on the slow Sunday before the convention. ... While we waited 30 minutes to get through security, we noticed DeLauro and her small entourage walk right up to the gate and scoot into the convention compound. Some brave media soul shouted at them, "Get in line!" DeLauro and her posse ignored and walked on through. --Mark Murray


Schmoozing the media
Here's your exclusive report from last night's fab media party here at the convention. First things first: It featured four open bars, four food areas (which included roast beef, steamed clams, roasted vidalia onions, and chocolate mousse), and festive little tents where everyone could congregate. And get this: The party also had an operating Ferris wheel inside the building, with guests lining up for rides. Talk about trying to spin the press. ... Conveniently, the celebrities in attendance — Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, Kerry daughters Alex and Vanessa, Kerry brother Cameron, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano — stayed upstairs in the VIP Room. But we did notice Jesse Jackson Sr., surrounded by his huge entourage, join the hoi polloi downstairs. ... Providing the entertainment was 71-year-old Little Richard. We now know he's 71, because he mentioned it about 10 times. And to be honest, he looks incredibly good for 71, due in part to a lot of pancake make-up and eyeliner. About halfway through his act, he noticed the video cameras that were focused on him, he then stopped the show until they were turned off, and once they were, he launched into a five-minute soliloquy about how people had stolen his music from him his whole life (all 71 years of it, we suppose) and he's had enough. ... Finally, folks in the media are suckers for free stuff, and we were greeted with goody bags stuffed with random items. A box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. A passion-pink Venus razor for the ladies. But the winner of the title for the most random item was an N.A.D.A. Official Used Car Guide. Our car, it seems, is worth $4,475 — possibly slightly more, thanks to the sound system with the extra bass sub-woofers. We noticed that some ungrateful guests complained that the goody bag was "not very Boston and not very 21st Century."  But this female correspondent was pretty pleased with the pink razor.--Elizabeth Blumenthal

Taking one for the Guv
We also checked out Bill Richardson's "Lobster Boil" Saturday night, which was hosted by the New Mexico company Las Campanas Corp. All the talk at that event was about how New Mexico Democratic volunteer David Smoak got smacked in the face by a home-run ball hit on Friday by Red Sox slugger Kevin Millar. We heard that Smoak initially had the imprint of the ball's stitching on his forehead. We also heard that Smoak was sitting in Bill Richardson's seat; the governor apparently gave up the seat due to his hectic schedule. "He took one for the governor," one attendee said. ... Richardson said a few words at the lobster boil: "Our state is on fire! It is the battleground state in the West." "The convention will be sending a positive message and no Bush bashing." ... Unfortunately, we didn't hear him say "Better David Smoak than me." --Nancy C. DiBaggio

Taming Tim
Democratic superstar Barack Obama, who's giving the convention's keynote address, has had it easy so far in his bid for Illinois' U.S. Senate seat, especially since the Republicans can't seem to find a candidate to oppose him after GOP nominee Jack Ryan dropped out when divorce records revealed an alleged sex scandal. But Sunday, it seems, Obama finally met his match: NBC's Tim Russert. We caught up with Obama after he appeared on this morning's edition of "Meet the Press." So just how tough was Russert? "He pulled up a couple of quotes of mine that I had no memory of," he said. (One of the quotes was a statement to the Atlantic Monthly that John Kerry lacked "oomph." Ouch.) But Obama was pretty pleased with his first appearance on the show. "I think for a rookie, I was OK."--Mark Murray SATURDAY, JULY 24

You've got some friends
When you're down and troubled and need some loving care ... well, let's actually say when you're a Democratic delegate and bored and need a little entertainment, you can call on Carole King. The writer of James Taylor's No. 1 hit from 1971 is just one of 10 big names who will keep the toes a'tappin' at Fleet Center in the coming days. The others:  Patti LaBelle, Gerald Levert, BeBe Winans, Wyclef Jean, Brian McKnight, John Mellencamp, the Black Eyed Peas, Willie Nelson, and Mavis Staples. --Associated Press

Just add red lights
Security officers won’t be the only professionals coming to Boston in unprecedented numbers for the Democratic National Convention. Practitioners of the world’s oldest profession are seeking reinforcements to help service some of the 35,000 visitors — plus untold numbers of police reinforcements — expected in the coming week. “Every convention brings in more people, and women fly in from all over the country to work it,” said Robyn Few, a prostitute on probation who runs the Sex Workers Outreach Project, an advocacy group. “There will be girls from California and from the South in Boston this week,” she said. “I hope a lot of women make a lot of money and make a lot of men really happy.” For weeks, escort services have plastered advertisements in magazines and on the Internet asking women to work the convention. Even local strip clubs are putting out the word that more women are needed. “We are looking for more girls right now,” said Frank Caswell, who runs the Foxy Lady club outside Boston. ”Obviously, hospitality and beauty are expected and the girls must bring something that is enticing to see.” Local agencies said they charge anywhere from $200 an hour for a little company in a delegate’s hotel room; rates at national agencies can be five times that much. --Reuters

The screening room
Video: Convention preview This week’s convention gives Democrats a chance to present the party’s image to America, and they’re using more than 100 high-tech screens to do so. The plasma and LCD flat-panel television screens allow producers to project countless images to delegates on the convention floor and television viewers at home. The screens, on loan from Panasonic, normally sell for between $4,500 and $8,000. Most of the screens will be placed strategically throughout the Fleet Center to allow delegates and other viewers the chance to listen to speakers without being on the convention floor. On the stage, a bank of a dozen 42-inch flat screens will provide a backdrop for each of the two podiums on the stage at the FleetCenter. Two banks of five 50-inch screens on each side will serve as individualized sets for some speakers. “There will be films, live shots, all kinds of eye candy,” stage manager Gary Hood said, as a graphic of a waving American flag played on the screens behind him. When the DNC ends, the screens will be sent to the Republican National Convention in New York. After that convention, company employees can buy the screens at a discount. --Associated Press

Poor potty planning
Media members, already perturbed by long security lines, may find themselves waiting in line for something nearly as important. As the majority of the print reporters arrived Saturday at the FleetCenter for the Democratic National Convention, tongues clucked when they saw the restroom facilities that they will be using for the next week. Twenty portable restrooms, like those used on construction sites, are lined up in front of the media pavilion to service nearly 1,200 members of the print media who will be working around the clock. That’s about 60 serious coffee-drinkers per toilet. “That’s absurd,” said Jim Drinkard, a political reporter for USA Today, when he heard of the ratio of toilets per media member. “This is not the type of planning you’d expect out of someone trying to be a good host.” Drinkard, who is also the chairman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents, said he was told by the DNCC, the committee in charge of planning the convention, that the lack of toilets was a move aimed at cutting costs. Calls to the DNCC press office were not immediately returned. Drinkard also said the quality of the toilets was insufficient. “We were led to believe there would be trailer units,” Drinkard said, referring to the restrooms used at the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. Drinkard said that the trailers could get pretty unpleasant after a week of heavy use. “But they are much better than Porta-Johns,” he said. --Associated Press

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