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News & Features
Election 1996
Postcard from Chicago
A daily report from the Democratic Convention
by MPR News Editor Bob Collins

AUGUST 26, 1996
| Guided Tour | One Hand Clapping | Copper Ts | Deja Vu |
| Loyalty Has its Rewards | Happy to be Here | Security Check | Look, Up in the Sky |

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Guided Tour
THE MINNESOTA DELEGATION was treated to a unique welcoming celebration from Chicago Sunday night. Each state participated in a party thrown in one of the city's neighborhoods. Minnesotans were shuttled in five buses with police escort to the Austin Northwest neighborhood, one of the roughest in the city, but one that has started a rebirth with economic redevelopment programs spearheaded by Democrats. The police presence was heavy as the delegates stepped from their buses at the Columbus Park refectory to be greeted by a drum and bugle corps. Although one volunteer suggested delegates not stray off the block -- and none did -- the delegation appeared thrilled to have the attention. Back to the hotel, police cars with sirens wailing stopped traffic at each intersection to allow the delegate buses a speedy trip.

One Hand Clapping
SATURDAY NIGHT at the delegates/media party on Old Navy Pier, television camera crews and their stars searched for news. One TV crew saw a street performer doing his street-performing "thing" and used a long boom microphone to capture every sound of the performance. It was a mime.

Copper Ts
AFTER OUR BUS TRIP back to the delegation hotel (the Days Inn Lake Shore Drive), I told an escorting police officer his department was in competition with the San Diego police.

"You were in San Diego?" the young officer asked.

"Yes, I was," I said. "And they were real nice. It's pretty close so far between you and them."

He said, "Wait 'til Friday."

There's a method to this. Just between you and me, I'm working on softening up a couple of police officers so I can get ahold of one of those banned T-shirts they've passed around among themselves. They say, "We kicked your father's ass in 1968, wait 'til you see what we do to you." The police here are under orders not to wear the renegade T-shirts. If you want one, check with the Minneapolis police. They've got some, too! If the Chicago cops want a favorable comparison with San Diego, I'll have one by Friday.

Deja Vu
THE POLICE HERE ARE WORKING hard to overcome the image of the police riot of 1968 when Mayor Richard Daley unleashed them on anti-war demonstrators and allowed them to raid the offices of presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy and beat the volunteers. On Sunday night Daley's son, now the Mayor of Chicago, held a "reconciliation party" which featured the music of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. In a surreal moment, members of the Chicago 8, including David Dillinger and Tom Hayden, introduced themselves on stage as a large picture of a 1968 Richard Daley was projected above them.

Loyalty Has its Rewards
MINNESOTA IS ON A ROLL at this year's national political conventions. Republicans occupied prime seats in San Diego and the Democrats have a great viewing spot at the United Center. The delegation can be found just below the ABC and NBC News skyboxes in the loge section to the right of where the basketball net would be for the Chicago Bulls. South Dakota has seats on the floor in front of a huge podium but may not be able to see the speakers very well. Minnesota and Massachusetts -- the two most loyal states in the last seven presidential elections -- have been rewarded by the Democrats with excellent seats for viewing. Minnesota has voted Democratic for president in six of the last seven elections.

Happy to be Here
AMONG THE HAPPIEST DELEGATES this year is Ben Frazier of Minneapolis. Frazier has worked in politics for 40 years and is best known as the man who staffs the DFL booth at the Minnesota State Fair. But he's never been able to get elected as a delegate. This year, some longtime friends joined as many caucuses as possible and got him enough support to have him elected by acclamation at the state convention in St. Paul. "I almost cried," he said. We'll be profiling Frazier this week on one of our reports from Minnesota Public Radio.

Security Check
OK, THIS WON'T BE THE LAST COMPARISON with San Diego but what's the deal with security here? Today I walked into the United Center with a large case (broadcast equipment, that's my story and I'm sticking to it), and the only thing a private security guard wanted to see was my credential. Nobody asked what was in the case, no search, no metal detectors ... nothing! Now, it's true the convention doesn't start until Monday, but in San Diego two weeks ago Sunday, we went through TWO security checkpoints staffed by the police and Secret Service. We were frisked, we went through metal detectors, and we had to prove everything we had with us was what it appeared to be ("no, officers, it's not a bomb, it's a tape recorder!"). On Sunday night, the United Center was closed for an all-night security sweep, but couldn't they make it just a little bit tighter BEFORE people brought stuff inside? Curiously, there were no Secret Service personnel nor Chicago police evident inside the center. Instead there were dozens of private security officers dressed in lime-green T-shirts. It'll be interesting to see if the Chicago cops keep a low profile inside the United Center.

Look, Up in the Sky
ON SUNDAY, several delegates wandered outside and looked up to watch the Chicago Air and Water Show. The stealth fighter was the star attraction for the estimated one million people who watched throughout Chicago. I always enjoy telling my non-Minnesotan, non-fisherman friends that some radio stations provide LIVE coverage of the opening of fishing season. In Chicago, radio coverage of the Air and Water Show was equally ... umm ... interesting. "There he goes up into the air ... here he comes down ... wow!"

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