Virginia's delegation gathered early Monday for an organizational breakfast as giddy first-time delegates and seasoned veterans alike eagerly waited for their first night on the convention floor.
Veterans of conventions, including Kerry J. Donley, the state party chairman, tried to help get people to the proper places with the least amount of hassle. When one delegate asked him whether she could leave the convention hall and return the same night, Donley assured her that she could.
"The only thing you worry about is if the hall fills up and the fire marshal closes it down," Donley warned.
Virginia's group also got a break from the normal speeches from Fred Willard, an actor whose credits include the movie "Anchorman" and the upcoming "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle." This week, he's a delegate to the convention from the "Tonight Show."
"Virginia is a commonwealth," he said, "which is appropriate. If there's one thing that John Edwards and John Kerry have in common, it is wealth."
Willard declared that "Virginia is for lovers" and then invited some of the women to his room at the Super 8 motel. And later he offered his support for gay marriage and an insult to the West Virginia delegation, which he said believes "that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and his first cousin."
The Willard bit will air on the "Tonight Show" tomorrow night.
D.C. Voting Rights Cry
District delegates started their day with a rousing good-morning speech by one-time presidential candidate Howard Dean, who urged Democrats not to take any state for granted.
"We need to be in every state," said Dean, who won the District and Vermont in his bid for the nomination.
But the focus for the District's delegates Monday was their ongoing push for D.C. voting rights.
With pop music playing in the background, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and members of the delegation assembled at the city's children's museum and tore up bags of tea, tossing the leaves into the river.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) brought cheers as he accused the Bush administration of pushing for a democratically elected government in Iraq while "the work of democracy has a ways to go right here at home."
Democratic Party National Committee member Barbara Lett Simmons said that after so many years of struggle, people might finally be listening to the cry.
"I have been working for statehood since 1973, and maybe now there is a new understanding of how unjust this is for D.C. residents," she said.
Or maybe not. When one Boston construction worker was asked, "What do you think about D.C. statehood?" he looked at band playing and said, "I don't."
Sandy Broderick, a Boston postal worker, listened to the speeches about the District. "I had no idea about this. I wish them luck," she said.
One Witty Woman
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski addressed the convention -- and the nation -- last night, but it is the Maryland delegation that is getting to hear some of her best one-liners.
When the senator greeted the Maryland delegates at a reception Sunday night, the feisty Mikulski held little back. "Over 200 years ago, we got rid of one King George. Now it's time to get rid of another one."
At a Maryland Democratic Party breakfast Monday, Mikulski again stole the show with her humor and partisan rhetoric.
"There is something going around, the South Beach diet," Mikulski said. "Lots of fiber and fruit. We'll. I'm on the South Baltimore diet -- fried and greasy."
Later, she aimed at Bush. "He can't find Bin Laden. He can't find weapons of mass destruction. He can't find jobs. Maybe it is time we find a new president."
Staff writer Hamil R. Harris contributed to this report.