Democrats Kick Off Convention Madness

He told reporters he is still working on his own speech for Thursday, and that it will sharply criticize his Republican opponent ,John McCain, something Democratic strategists say John Kerry should have done to President Bush during his acceptance speech four years ago.

"I am still tooling around with my speech a little bit," Obama said. "Hopefully, it'll make clear the choice that the American people are going to face in November."

Green Democrats and Party Bloggers

Those in attendance range from the expected lot of Democratic heavyweights (and reporters who cover them) to the hangers-on only a modern day political convention could producing.

"Obama button!" yelled Kevin Terry, 31, of Columbus, Ohio, to Democratic delegates as they walked by the Colorado Convention Center.

Also peddling Obama pins was John Cabrera, 50 of Columbus, Ohio, wearing a USA flag cowboy hat.

"I've been in town a couple days, and you can just feel the excitement building, and I'm excited to be here," he said. "I'm basically here trying make money, pay the alimony, have fun."

This year Democrats have credentialed 120 bloggers -- more than four times as many as the 2004 convention in Boston accredited.

Bloggers will have their pick this year of several lounges devoted to helping them get video, blogs and photos on the Web, including one sponsored by Google with free massages and smoothies.

There is also a YouTube uploading station for videos inside the Big Tent where liberals, including Markos Moulitsas, are scheduled to speak.

"Immediately after viewing a performance or presentation, bloggers can put it out immediately to the world on YouTube," said Aaron Nelson of the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, one of the groups sponsoring the Big Tent program.

There's a push for a "green" focus: Democratic delegates are being encouraged to pedal around town instead of driving.

The Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee, Humana Inc., and Boulder-based Bikes Belong are providing 1,000 bikes for use by residents, visitors and delegates during the Democratic convention.

"We've provided a thousand bikes here in Denver, and we will again in the Twin Cities, that people can take out and ride for free during the convention and return them to any of the seven stations in Denver and in the Twin Cities," said Mitch Lubitz, Humana spokesman. Major carmakers are also lending hybrid and alternative fuel cars for delegates and members of the press.

Security Tight

A large anti-war protest disrupted access to the convention site for about 40 minutes Sunday afternoon with a crowd of about 1,000 protesters gathering in front of the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Anti-war protesters -- carrying signs reading "Send Them Home," "No War on Iran" and "Do-Nothing Democrats" marched in front of the convention site amid police in full riot gear.

"We're here to send a message to the American public and political candidates and party activists that we need to change course in this country. We'd like to see U.S. troops and military contractors all brought home from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Kevin Cross, 46, of Fort Collins, Colo.

Secret Service and local police locked down the security perimeter about noon, shutting down the only access point for media and most staff to get into or out of the site.

That left three PBS senior correspondents trying to get in for a television rehearsal standing outside the gate in the hot sun checking their watches.

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