Convention Countdown: Democrats Prepare for Denver

Music star Kanye West is expected to appear at an invitation-only One Campaign and Recording Industry of America Association on the Wednesday night of the convention.

And Ashley Judd is scheduled to appear at a "Sex, Politics and Cocktails late Night Dance Party" hosted by Planned Parenthood Monday night.

Big Money Backing From Unions, Multinational Corporations

With the eyes of the political world on Denver, unions, lobbyists and multinational corporations are paying big money to play a role at the convention.

Giant multinational companies are preparing to give Democratic delegates swag bags filled with AT&T ringtone cards, Kraft donkey-shaped macaroni and cheese, hand sanitizer by a lobbyist firm, and stress balls by Peabody Coal.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the American Federation of Teachers have each given $500,000 for the convention in Denver.

There is no limit on how much any individual, union, or company can give to a political convention -- a wide campaign finance loophole in the eyes of political watchdog groups.

"These sponsorships are just an extension of a larger lobbying strategy that will continue long after the conventions in Washington when these companies or organizations seek access and influence with policymakers," Massie Ritsch of the Center for Responsive Politics told

Parties and Issues Too: Delegates Debate Platform

Despite the glitz and glamour, the Democratic convention won't be all swag bags and celebrity sightings. The over 5,000 Democratic delegates must also approve a new party platform.

Delegates are poised to approve changes to the party's language on abortion.

The platform pledges to oppose "any and all" efforts to undermine a woman's right to an abortion, while also voicing support for measures intended to reduce unintended pregnancies and thereby reduce the "need" for abortion.

Casey's father was refused a speaking slot at the 1992 convention. The Casey family perceives the 1992 denial as stemming from the former governor's opposition to abortion rights.

Political analysts argue Casey's 2008 speaking role is a symbolic move to attract opponents of abortion rights to the Democratic Party during a year when so-called "values voters" may be disenchanted with the Republicans.

Another controversial issue will be debated when delegates consider repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the military policy which mandates dismissal if a service member is found to be gay or lesbian.

It also states the party's opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which blocks federal benefits from flowing to same-sex couples in state-recognized unions and declares that a state is not obliged to recognize a same-sex marriage recognized by another state.

Both policies were enacted under former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

War, Economy Top Democratic Agenda

Anti-war advocates are also seizing on new language in the party platform to highlight Obama's commitment to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

The platform states that Democrats "expect" to complete redeployment "within 16 months," instead of "will complete redeployment" -- reflecting the timeframe that Obama has long proposed but not the pledge once featured on his Web site.

Anti-war advocates are planning protests around the convention hall.

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