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.
"How long have we been standing here?" Margaret Warner asked her colleagues Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff in line. "Only five minutes," Ifill said.
"It feels like 20 minutes," Warner said. "We're late for a rehearsal."
Woodruff said that despite the security challenges, she was happy to be covering this year's convention.
It is a circus, but it's an important circus," said Woodruff, a PBS senior correspondent for "The News Hour With Jim Lehrer."
"To me there's something extraordinary about the American people having this opportunity once every four years to hear from one party for a week and then the other party," she said.
Each night of the four-day affair offers a theme -- One Nation, Renewing America's Promise, Securing America's Future and Change You Can Believe In -- each including a range of speakers from Democratic politics past and present, helping to shape the party platform and charge to November.
But what impression will the Democrats leave?
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, has attended every political convention since 1976 and questions how much the dog-and-pony show matters to the American voter.
However, he said the Democrats' focus on the economy could go a long way in wooing working-class voters, who are key to winning November's battleground states.
"All the other issues and all the other symbols, they just pale in comparison. If people are unhappy enough about the economy they will change even if they are worried about the change," he said.
Last night at an interfaith service to kick off the convention, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, spoke about "our scared responsibility to our neighbor" -- the first official event Sunday of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
"This highlights the importance that all faiths have in a Democratic society, and that religion has a role to play in many different ways," he told ABCNews.com.
(ABC News' Jake Tapper and Rick Klein contributed to this report)