Democrats plan town hall meetings during convention |

Democrats plan town hall meetings during convention

Steven K. Paulson
Associated Press
Vail CO, Colorado

DENVER ” Democrats plan to hold a series of town hall meetings during their Denver convention, with elected leaders, policy experts and others responding on television to voter questions on the economy, politics, security and other topics.

Party officials outlined the plan for “America’s Town Hall” on Monday and also announced the nightly themes of the Aug. 25-28 gathering in Denver, stressing unity, security and change.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, co-chair of the convention, promised an “exciting and innovative convention, one like we’ve never seen before in America.”

“There’s no question that Americans are desperately looking for change and new ways to conduct business in this country. They want a new direction, they want to know that their government has not forgotten them and their lives. We felt that the Democratic convention was a great way to kick off the momentum for change,” Sebelius said.

She said people in eight cities will be asked their views on nightly themes for the convention built around keynote speeches and convention speakers will respond live to issues and questions from participants.

The cities are Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Detroit; Philadelphia; Raleigh, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; and Tampa.

The theme for the Aug. 25 opening night will be “One Nation,” with a speech by Michelle Obama. The Aug. 26 theme is “Renewing America’s Promise” with a speech by Sen. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama’s chief rival for the presidential nomination.

On Aug. 27, the theme is “Securing America’s Future” with an acceptance speech by Obama’s still-unannounced vice presidential candidate.

The theme for Aug. 28, the night Obama formally accepts the nomination at the Denver Broncos’ football stadium, is “Change You Can Believe In.”

Marcia Hale, who helped plan conventions for Democrats Michael Dukakis and Al Gore, said political conventions need to change to keep a television audience and take advantage of new media like the Internet. She said recent conventions have been more like coronations than spontaneous political events.

“Anything you can do to change and modernize the convention is positive. One of the biggest challenges is putting up something television will cover and people will want to watch,” she told The Associated Press.

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said the party wants to get mainstream Americans involved in the convention.

“As Barack Obama has said, this is not our convention, this is America’s convention,” he said. “We want Americans to be at the center of this convention, and America’s Town Hall will allow us to do just that.”

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