Delegates share experiences, reactions from convention

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 | 11:49 p.m. CDT

Three Missourian reporters met with Missouri delegates at the Democratic National Convention to talk with them about their experiences and hear their reactions to candidates' speeches.

DENVER - Former Missouri Gov. Bob Holden urged Missouri's delegates who were pledged to Sen. Hillary Clinton to vote for Sen. Barack Obama instead.

In a brief meeting at the end of the Missouri delegation's breakfast, the Clinton delegates heard Holden, a delegate himself, praise Clinton but emphasize the importance of party unity.

"She also showed more class, more vision than any of us could ever do by how she handled this process and how she ended it last night," Holden said. "We cannot walk out of this convention with anybody saying anything about us not being unified in November."

Holden's remarks echoed those of state Rep. Rachel Storch, who served as Clinton's campaign director in Missouri.

"I had goosebumps last night. That was a legacy speech," she said of Clinton's remarks at the Democratic National Convention.

But now, Storch said, it is important for Democrats to unify.

"It's really about going forward together," she said. "The stakes are just too high not to function together."

Cindy Nugent, an at-large delegate pledged to Clinton, expressed her support for Obama.

"I'm from that rural area where we all have to come together," she said. "After sitting here listening, I'm going to cast my vote for Barack Obama."

- Catherine McComb

Delegate stays busy

Missouri delegate Bill Monroe of Fulton has had the time of his life.

Between issues caucuses, a film festival and myriad exhibitions, Monroe only had time for one or two things before heading to the Pepsi Convention Center for the night's podium sessions. He got there early to ease past the airport-tight security and avoid the crowds.

"Missouri is really well-represented here," Monroe said Wednesday morning.

"I'm having a heck of a time."

Monroe cast his vote for Obama in Wednesday morning's roll call. Afterward, he hopped on a bus to participate in the convention's first-ever community service day. Missouri delegates had the opportunity to sign up for a graffiti removal project in downtown Denver.

Monroe hopes to bring the energy and optimism of the convention home with him. Some Boone County residents don't realize there are other Democrats in the area, he said.

"Missouri really is a purple state," he said. "I can't wait to get back to Fulton and start knocking on doors."

- Jackie Borchardt

Columbia delegate casts her vote

In the dim light of her hotel room, signs supporting Obama scattered everywhere, Columbia delegate Robin LaBrunerie rushed to change clothes in preparation for cleaning graffiti off the streets of Denver.

She pulled a different pair of jeans out of her suitcase while recounting her favorite moment of the convention: when she cast her vote for Obama to be the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party Wednesday morning.

That moment was a small one that happened in a little room of the hotel partitioned off by beige temporary walls. It was a moment without ceremony and without ritual. But, for LaBrunerie, it was what she came here to do.

"I woke up, and I knew today was the day we were voting," LaBrunerie said. "We said the pledge, like we do every morning, but today I felt and heard every word of it."

Here, LaBrunerie paused. The emotion in her voice became visible in her face as her eyes sparkled with tears of happiness.

"It was the culmination of so much, both personally for me, and for our country," she said.

Obama is the first politician for which LaBrunerie has campaigned. In January, she told the Missourian she had never felt strongly enough about a specific candidate to knock on strangers' doors and call voters at home.

She said she's not done campaigning, either. When she returns from Denver, LaBrunerie said she will continue to work on the campaign "with everything I've got."

But this is the last convention she plans to attend. She'd like someone else to have a chance to experience what she has seen.

"So many people want to come," she said. "I wouldn't want to take a place from someone else."

- Rachel Heaton



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