DENVER — The decision by Barack Obama to relocate the Democratic National Convention into Invesco Field so he can deliver his acceptance speech before 80,000 people has resulted in massive confusion and long lines that have delegates steamed.
Just after 3 p.m. this afternoon (about five hours before Barack Obama took the stage), I boarded what I was told was a media bus that would take us to the designated media entrance at Invesco, but it turns out in addition to media, there were delegates to the convention on the bus. After about a ten minute drive, we ended up about a quarter mile away from the stadium, where a long line of thousands of people snaked around the sidewalks and pathways leading to the entrances.
“Do you want to get out here and walk to the end of the line or do you want to be dropped off at the end of the line?” a police officer who road with us on the bus asked.
That resulted in confusion, because both the media and delegates were informed that they would be allowed to enter separately. The people waiting in line had “community passes” given to Obama fans and members of the general public.
Several miffed delegates asked the officer if there were separate entrances. But he said he had no idea, that he was told there was only one line, and that we would have to wait with the tens of thousands of other people in the boiling heat. Then he let us off the bus and said, “Good luck.”
Along with about a half dozen frustrated delegates, I decided to just keep walking toward Invesco, hoping to find the right entrance — or at least somebody who knew something.
“This is totally disorganized,” one Connecticut delegate fumed. “They wanted to fill a stadium, now a lot of people are going to say it’s not worth it.”
Another delegate snapped.”They basically took a convention, and decided to throw an extra 60,000 people into it.”
After about a five minute walk, we came to an intersection, and approached a cop car. One of the women asked an officer if he new anything about other entrances. But he and his partner just shook their heads. “I’m sorry, the information flow here is more of a trickle.”
So we kept charging along, but eventually got to a place where we couldn’t walk any further without running into a fence and another massive line. Trying to walk past it, we were harassed by angry people who had been waiting for hours. “Hey buddy, there’s a line here!” one man barked at me.
What made the man from Connecticut particularly angry was that they told everybody to arrive early. “I bet if we waited until the last minute, we would have gotten in, no problem.”
So, I started to make some phone calls, starting with a superdelegate I know who is an elected Democratic politician. I asked him what the deal was. “I have no idea,” he told me. “They just said to get there early.”
Then I called the press office, which said there was, in fact, a press entrance, and they said I should just walk through the line, and tell a police officer. So I started to walk, before a guy in a green neon vest with “EVENT STAFF” printed on it stopped me and started yelling.
“If a police officer comes, he’s going to escort you to the back of the line,” he barked.
But I ploughed ahead, getting about 10 paces before I encountered a police officer. I explained my situation.
“There’s no media entrance,” he said. “I can’t let you through this line. I’m under strict orders from the Secret Service.”
After waiting about another 20 minutes, I finally came across a police officer who knew about the media entrance and who pointed me in the right direction — where I got to wait in another line, though a shorter one.