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5 things we learned at the DNC

  • The big winner? Arkansas. The big loser? Um, Arkansas
  • The Foo Fighters > Taylor Hicks. Sorry 'Idol' fans
  • Social issues a big deal with Democrats, Obama
5 things we learned at the DNC

1. You can learn a lot from a convention credential

Everyone here in Charlotte for the DNC received a credential to get into the arena or past the many security checks. And the artwork on those credentials made clear one big Democratic priority: that you know their party embraces diversity.

More than a dozen multi-colored silhouettes form the main image, beneath the official DNC logo of an Obama silhouette surrounded by a small crowd apparently engaged in some sort of a "big tent" group hug.

Diversity was a big deal here; it was on the lips of many delegates and on display throughout the crowded arena. It was even the implied message at the core of the DNC’s “Americans Coming Together” slogan, which in itself was a not-at-all-subtle dig at a Republican Party they’ve often criticized for lacking inclusiveness.

“You see everyone from every way of life here,” a college-aged delegate told us. “Every type of American is here.” Just the way the credential-designer pictured it.

2. Arkansas had half of a great convention

Homeboy Bill Clinton went all Bill Clinton on the DNC. An easily digestible, precision evisceration of Mitt Romney’s platform and GOP policies was regarded as one of the Arkansas native’s finest speeches by a range of critics.

Clinton punctuated his pointed policy attacks with Obama campaign-friendly one-liners that lit up the crowd and may soon end up as a bumper sticker on an energy-efficient vehicle near you.

The Arkansas delegation cheered Bubba the whole way -– but you probably didn’t notice. How could you have? They had the worst seats in the entire convention of any state delegation.

At the very opposite end of the arena from the stage, the Natural State crew needed binoculars and a megaphone to see or be heard. Even Guam and Delegates Abroad (yes, they're a thing) had better seats. But, you know, they still had Clinton going for them. Which is nice.

Hanging in the nosebleed seats with the good folks from Arkansas.

3. Grilled chicken with a side of Jessica Alba

The CNN Grill was the DNC's place to be. And we’re not just saying that because we shared a triple-wide trailer with our CNN colleagues all week.

Where else could you get a free pint of lager and a bacon cheeseburger while dining next to the likes of Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson and basically every political heavyweight to walk through Charlotte?

Besides being a diner, it was also a place to do business –- a political meet and greet if you will. On our first night at the Grill, we ran into former Gen. Wesley Clark and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. We lifted our heads up from the delicious grub just long enough to notice. Our next time through, we were seated at a table next to Rep. Dennis Kucinich. It was like Charlotte's more political answer to The Ivy for a week.

In addition to the names above, the Foo Fighters, Eva Longoria, Mary J. Blige, Ashley Judd and Scarlett Johannson all had prominent roles at the DNC.

4. All future conventions will be held in the Midwest. Or domes.

Or wherever hurricanes and fierce summer storm systems tend not to travel.

Note to political parties: It’s a bad idea to hold your convention outdoors or in a coastal city during hurricane season. Both Democrats and Republicans found that out over these past two weeks: The RNC hacked a day off its schedule because of Hurricane Isaac and the DNC saw more rain than Costa Rica in October.

The weather forced organizers to move President Obama’s outdoor speech at 74,000-seat Bank of America stadium back to the smaller and (here's the key) indoor Time Warner Center Arena. Still left with dark clouds lingering over their heads were the tens of thousands of volunteers, delegates and citizens who had tickets to the planned stadium event.

5. The president and these people are on the same wavelength

The man standing in line to buy his Obama 2012 t-shirt didn’t hesitate when we asked him which topics he wanted the president to address in his Thursday night speech.

Women’s issues, gay rights, and minimum wage were the answers he quickly produced. And he wasn’t alone in rallying behind some of the key social issues which have defined the modern Democratic Party.

Many other delegates and DNC attendees we spoke with cited women’s rights in particular as a key issue for them, along with the president’s health care reform and economic recovery efforts aimed at boosting the middle class.

And as it turns out, the president did a very good job at taking the temperature of his party. He didn't shy away from these divisive topics in his Thursday night speech, instead choosing to address them head on.

"We don't think the government can solve all of our problems, but we don't think the government is the source of all of our problems," he said. "Any more than our welfare recipients or corporations or unions or immigrants or gays or any other group we're told to blame for our troubles. Because America, we understand that this democracy is ours."

It's a line certain to ensure the man who purchased that Obama tee won't be suffering any buyer's remorse.

Jonathan Anker is covering the DNC from Charlotte. Follow him on Twitter @JonFromHLN

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