Unconventional

It's the first truly open presidential election -- no president or vice president in the mix -- in about 80 years.

So there was bound to be more interest than usual in the major party conventions coming up in about a month.

But with a tight presidential race, following a nearly yearlong, hard-fought primary, reporters and TV networks are much more energized than in years past, when they would heave a collective sigh around convention time.

"In 1996," says former ABC newsman Ted Koppel, "I walked out of the Republican convention in San Diego, pointing out that it was really nothing much more than a picture show and there wasn't any news happening. I don't think anyone can make that observation about this year.

"This has been one of the most remarkable political years we've ever seen. And even though we know who the candidates are going to be, I still think there will be news coming out of both the Democratic and Republican conventions."

Much of the excitement, it must be said, is due to Barack Obama.

His celebrity appeal, and the historic nature of his candidacy, have caught the world's attention. Many months before his recent speech in front of a throng of 200,000 in Berlin, back when the Democratic nomination seemed to belong to Hillary Clinton, a film crew from Italy prowled the crowd at the Democratic debate in Orangeburg, S.C., to find out what people thought -- about Barack Obama.

The Obama mania gets awfully silly at times. The Chicago Tribune reported that an attendee at the recent UNITY '08 minority journalists confab in Chicago shrieked "He touched me!" How utterly unprofessional.

But there is no disputing that Obama has created more excitement for the conventions than we've seen in awhile. In fact, his acceptance speech will take place Aug. 28 in 76,000-seat Invesco Stadium in Denver.

John McCain and the Republicans will have their work cut out for them in trying to compete with Obama's sizzle at their own convention Sept. 1-4 in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

For a change, it should be interesting.

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Mon, 01/23/2017 - 22:04

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