August 27th, 2008 | Uncategorized

LIVE: Bill takes the stage

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By Thomas Kaplan

DENVER, 6:15 p.m. — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton LAW ’73 will speak here in about an hour, and, as with last night, all the attention is on his speech. We’ll be in the Pepsi Center to bring it live to you.

7:26 p.m. | “America must always be a place called hope,” Bill says. He’s done! I made it! The guy next to me is very excited. “Write in your blog: He hit it! He hit it! He hit it!” he said. A few people leave the section now that Clinton is off the podium, and I take one of their seats. Good thing, too; the fire marshal comes to inspect no more than 30 seconds later.

7:24 p.m. | The fire marshal is still in the adjacent section, struggling to remove a few stragglers. Keep stalling, stragglers! Bill is almost done!

7:23 p.m. | Clinton now compares himself to Obama. Remember, Bill says, that I was once called too young, too inexperienced. “Sound familiar?” Bill asks. “It didn’t work in 1992 because we were on the right side of history. And it will not work in 2008.” Nifty line. The guy sitting next to me approves. “Throw it back at him, Bill,” he exclaims. “Throw it back at him.”

7:22 p.m. | Yep, one section away. It’s almost over.

7:20 p.m. | Uh oh. I see the fire marshal coming out of each tunnel to see if the aisles are clear in the section above. They’re about two sections away at this point.

7:13 p.m. | “Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States,” Clinton promises. I guess the wounds to the Clinton ego have healed over.

7:07 p.m. | Clinton strikes the same tone as his wife did last night. “I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November,” he said.

7:05 p.m. | “I’m here first to support Barack Obama,” Clinton says. Huge ovation. “That’s it,” a man next to me exclaims. “That’s all you have to say.”

7:01 p.m. | We’re in, although sitting in a stairwell. Bit of a fire hazard, but we’ll cross our fingers that the thousands of American flags passed out in the crowd are not flammable.

6:48 p.m. | The bowl of the Pepsi Center has filled up, and thousands of people are roaming the corridors, mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. I feel pity for the ushers who are stationed outside each entrance, desperately trying to keep people out of sections that are already full. It’s like: No, sir, I’m sorry you’ve traveled 2,800 miles just to hear this six-minute speech, but you’ll have to be content watching it on a television next to the frozen-lemonade stand.” Perhaps the most undesirable job in the world.