| Greetings from Charlotte! I am coming to you live from the DNC convention, where Burnt Orange Report will be covering all things Democratic over the next few days. Fellow staffers Karl-Thomas Musselman and Joe Deshotel are also here too, so BOR is well represented in the Queen city.
Excitement is high among the Texans and non-Texans alike today in advance of Mayor Julian Castro's big keynote speech. His personal narrative, an only-in-America story that demonstrates how Democratic policies can provide opportunity for all, will be a key element of his message tonight. Our coverage of the speech and the events on the floor of the convention will start around 6:00 pm Texas time.
In the meantime, here's some of what has been going on at the DNC today.
Women's Caucus: The ladies were up and at 'em early this morning to hear from an impressive, all-star roster of female Democrats. I stopped by just in time to hear Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar rattle off the progress female Democrats have made in the upper chamber: we now have women chairing the Intelligence, Environmental, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture Committees in the Senate. However, Klobuchar made clear the stakes in this election: Republicans want to take women -- and women's basic reproductive rights -- back 50 years. She urged those in attendance to reach out to other women when they return home, find that common ground, talk to independent and Republican women, and spread the word.
The highlight of the morning was Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, who gave a rousing speech, naming off the proud female Democratic and progressive standard bearers from Bella Abzug to Barbara Jordan. Brazile had the boisterous crowd on its feet repeatedly as she made clear that Mitt Romney and the Republican Party offer nothing for women.
Ashley Judd spoke briefly about the importance of access to birth control and the good work of Planned Parenthood, before handing off to proud daughter of Texas, Cecile Richards, who spoke passionately about everything President Obama has done to provide access for women -- all women -- to basic and reproductive healthcare. "Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition!" Richards triumphantly told the cheering crowd. She emphasized that if her mother was still around, she'd be telling women to get to work and make sure we elect Democrats up and down the ballot.
Blogger Briefing: I stopped by a mid-day blogger briefing with the Obama campaign, where staffer Brent Colburn had great things to say about Mayor Julian Castro's speech tonight. "We're very excited to have the mayor here," said Colburn. "His story really speaks to the opportunity that is inherent to the United States."
The Obama staff also emphasized the importance of the convention as an organizing tool. North Carolinians who wanted to attend Thursday's speech by the President could earn their way in by doing three three-hour volunteer shifts at a local OFA office. This model was used in Colorado in 2008 and produced many repeat volunteers through Election Day. The campaign will also be registering voters (woo!) at the arena on Thursday, making sure all of the President's supporters are ready to go for November. Additionally, over 4000 house parties are planned across the country for Thursday's speech.
Castro Fever! As I type this, MSNBC is featuring a preview of Mayor Julian Castro's speech tonight. Excitement is high, and folks across the country recognize Castro (and his brother Joaquin, soon to be a member of Congress) as rising stars. Everywhere I've gone today, from the Women's Caucus to the Blogger Briefing, from a pit-stop at the PPL to the Texas delegation shuttle bus (Ok that last one is a gimme), people have been buzzing about Castro. It's great to see someone from Texas gaining national attention for not embarrassing the state for once.
Not even the 3:00 a.m. fire drill in our hotel can quell the excitement the Texan delegation feels at seeing one of our own take center stage tonight. It's hard not to draw parallels to the 2004 speech from my former State Senator, Barack Obama, and tonight's speech from Mayor Castro. While Castro may not ascend to the White House in a mere four years -- I'd love it if he stayed in Texas, ran for governor, and fixed our broken state first -- this is an exciting and tremendous opportunity for the Mayor of San Antonio. We'll certainly be rooting him on.