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Election 2008: Democratic National Convention CEO

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Leah D. Daughtry
Democratic National Convention President and CEO
Tuesday, July 29, 2008; 12:00 PM

Democratic National Convention CEO Leah D. Daughtry was online Tuesday, July 29 to discuss preparations and plans for the Aug. 25-28 convention, and questions you might have about Denver.

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A transcript follows.

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Leah D. Daughtry: Good Morning. I'm Leah Daughtry, CEO of the Democratic Convention. I'm looking forward to answering your questions. Let's get started

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Seattle: Thanks for having this chat. I'm getting excited about the convention.

How many tickets will be given to the Acceptance Speech at Invesco Field at Mile High? And if I want to fly out and see it in person, how would I get one?

Leah D. Daughtry: I'm glad you're excited ... we're excited too about this wonderful opportunity to open our convention to thousands more participants. We expect to announce our "community credential" plan in the next several days, and I encourage you to visit our Web site and sign up to get updates on when, where, and how tickets will be available.

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Franconia, Va.: Is the convention later this year than in years past? Does it always come after the Summer Olympics, or is it usually before them?

Another question about timing -- were the dates chosen to coincide with the I Have a Dream speech anniversary, or was that simply a bonus once the time was picked?

Leah D. Daughtry: There is no rule to the scheduling of the conventions -- other than an informal understanding that the party that holds the White House holds its convention last.

We actually chose our dates back in 2005 when we were preparing to solicit bids from cities to host the convention. And the fact that they align with Dr. King's historic speech is just a happy coincidence.

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New Orleans: Do you and your RNC convention counterpart Maria Cino ever meet and compare notes, and possibly discuss particular issues, or do the two of you keep totally apart?

Leah D. Daughtry: I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet Maria Cino, the CEO of the Republican Convention. And we've actually kept in touch fairly regularly this past year. She is a wonderful woman and a consummate professional.

Of course, our friendship extends to friendly wagers ... for example, when the Minnesota Wild and the Colorado Avalanche were in the NHL playoffs, we had a little bet ... fortunately the Avalanche won, and we received a whole mess of Minnesota walleye fish, which we donated to the Denver Rescue Mission.

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Fairfax, Va.: Has the issue of the Florida and Michigan delegates been settled?

Leah D. Daughtry: Yes. The DNC's Rules and Bylaws committee met to resolve the issue on May 31. The delegations from Florida and Michigan will both be present and seated at the Denver Convention.

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Seattle: How extensive will the Web-casting be? I know TV networks will only cover 1 hour a night but there are off-events that I would find interesting.

Leah D. Daughtry: For the first time ever, we'll be providing live web-streaming, gavel-to-gavel coverage in hi-def. Just log on to our Web site, www.demconvention.com.

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Dunn Loring, Va.: Has the DNC planning committee paid the taxes on the gas its members purchased from the city of Denver's untaxed gas pumps?

Leah D. Daughtry: The City of Denver and the Denver Host Committee informed us of the gas tax issue last week, and they have assured us that they will be paying all applicable taxes, as they should.

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Harrisburg, Pa.: How much contingency planning do you do? For instance, should a nominee suddenly announce "and I decline your nomination," would you be ready to spring into action and know what to do next?

Leah D. Daughtry: Well, we wouldn't be doing our jobs if we weren't somewhat prepared for any eventuality. Fortunately, the Democratic Party's rules provide a solid framework to guide us in the event that the scenario you describe should happen.

If you'd like to know more about the rules that govern the Party's operations, including the convention, go our Web site, www.demconvention.com and pull down "The Call to the Convention."

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Anonymous: Will there be any surprises at the convention ? Who will be the keynote speaker ?

Leah D. Daughtry: There'll be lots of surprises!

We are in the process of working through the program detail with our nominee's team and expect to make some announcements in that regard in the next couple of weeks.

Fun fact: in 2004, Sen. Obama was announced as a keynote speaker just 10 days before the convention!

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Dunn Loring, Va.: Has the Obama campaign begun coordinating with the DNC committee yet, after not informing it of his plans to accept the nomination at the stadium?

Leah D. Daughtry: We work in close coordination with the Obama team, and have ever since the Senator became the presumptive nominee.

Regarding our decision to move to Invesco on Thursday night, this was a decision that the DNCC and the Obama campaign made jointly after many, many meetings and discussions. We were only able to even suggest and consider such a move because of the wonderful headstart and ongoing progress we'd made in our planning. Without that, such a move wouldn't have been possible.

We are very excited about the Thursday night programming and the opportunity it gives us to include thousands more people in the convention experience.

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Los Angeles: I wanted to commend you on all the work that has been superb thus far. In your years with the DNC, what makes this convention so special?

Leah D. Daughtry: This convention culminates four years of a new direction for our party.

When Howard Dean became chair of the Democratic Party, he initiated the 50-state strategy which has helped our party grow and expand in every single state in our union. The energy generated by the 50-state strategy laid the foundation for the enormous enthusiam we saw in the presidential primary season, and that I expect we'll continue to see all through the general election.

I'm excited about all the new folks that have joined the process as well as us "old-timers" who've gotten a new burst of energy because of our new direction.

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Annapolis, Md.: Michael J. Fox had a pretty significant impact on the 2006 elections speaking about stem cell research. Will he be speaking at the convention?

Leah D. Daughtry: Michael J. Fox really is quite inspirational, isn't he?

We're working through the program as we "type" and I expect we'll have some announcements to make in the next couple of weeks.

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Leah D. Daughtry: Thanks so much for your questions. I hope you'll stay connected and stay involved through Election Day and beyond. For more information on our convention plans, please visit our Web site: www.demconvention.com.

Have a great day!

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