The Republican National Convention was my first national convention, so its my only reference point to describe the Democratic National Convention. The first thing that stands out to me is the fact that Obama is everywhere. Barely a surface goes unmolested by an O, his picture or his name. This is in stark contrast to the Republican Convention, where the gift shop contained lots of elephant and GOP sweaters, visors and jewelry. Sure, there were Mitt Romney items, just as there are Democratic Party items here, but the ratio of 70 percent GOP to 30 percent Romney is entirely flipped at Obamafest 2012. People can say that the shine has worn off Obama, but for folks here, he's still the savior who can keep Thurston Howell III and his VP, the love child of Ayn Rand and Eddie Munster, out of the White House.
Speaking of Paul Ryan, lots of RNC merchandize also featured Paul Ryan and "double R" designs for "Romney-Ryan" (though one convention center staffer said it meant "Ritchie Rich"). Here at the DNC, I've only seen one poster that even references Joe Biden. There are rumors that he's positioning himself for a 2016 run. If so, his slogan should be, "Obama's friend." It looks like his best hope for winning, plus he can use the leftover schwag.
Second, I have already read complaints by writers about the security here at the DNC, and I can only assume that they were not in Tampa where we had to navigate the sea of security to get to the the island prison of Republicatraz. While the Thursday event where the President is speaking is being treated with utmost care, security for day-to-day events is far more relaxed. This morning, I only had three security checkpoints (not nine) and the perimeter is smaller, making it easier for transportation to get close to the events. Of course, this may allow for some shenanigans, but so far it has been a refreshing change.
Another note is that delegates I have talked to in Charlotte have high hopes for learning more about Obama's plans for the future at this convention. They need to feel energized to go to their home states and stump for Obama, and that requires a clear idea of what the next four years will entail. "What am I supposed to tell my neighbors to convince them to vote for Obama?," asked one delegate. "Not Mitt Romney" is an insufficient platform and even die-hard Dems know it.
And finally, a health and safety warning: if you plan to participate in a DNC drinking game over the next several days, please do not require people to imbibe upon hearing the terms "failed policies," "Bush," and "Osama bin Laden." Doing so will lead to alcohol poisoning and is just plain cruel.