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

AUGUST 28, 1996
| Econ 101 | Party Music | T Time |
| Diamonds in the Rough | Laugh In |

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Econ 101
LET THE WORD GO FORTH to a new generation: the Democrats are cheap. Just ask the people selling the official souvenirs at the Convention. Nothing ... nada ... zip for business. Only four copies of Bill Clinton's latest book have been sold since Sunday. Why? One salesperson figures the delegates are hoping the prices will drop as they did in San Diego at the Republican Convention as the session reached its Thursday climax. That won't happen this time.

The situation is the perfect example of the difference in the Republican and Democrat economic theories. Inside the United Center, all of the souvenir stands are owned by the Democratic National Committee. No deals, no bargaining, no competition. In San Diego, the free market ruled. There, the emporium consisted of dozens of small businesses, each independent of the party. As a result prices fell, and business flourished.

Party Music
IF I WERE A SMART PERSON, I'd produce a CD soundtrack of the music from the convention. On Monday night, the cast of Rent closed the convention with a sensational number (by the way, do you think the Democrats have researched the "family values" in Rent?), a young person's gospel group performed last night and Aretha Franklin knocked 'em out with The Star Spangled Banner. But the hit song so far is the one that goes with the Macarena dance -- the YMCA of the 90s. (Scary, ain't it?)

On Monday, the Minnesota delegation tried to "do" the Macarena, and the best that can be said is: nobody got hurt. So on Tuesday afternoon Christine Almeida, a delegate from St. Paul, tried to teach the delegation the basics of the dance. (Don't ask me, I can't do it.) It was a better performance, as judged by the wags on press row.

T Time
AND NOW THE GREAT T-SHIRT HUNT update. I continue to look for the banned Chicago Police union sponsored T-shirt: "We kicked your father's ass in 1968, wait 'til you see what we do to you."

I got a lead that the shirts were available from a shop across from the Eighth District police station. I asked one cop where the station is located. He said it's on the Indiana border.

Asked another who smugly said "I never saw 'em."

The head of Ameritech, which is sponsoring the media lounge here (a mini "Taste of Chicago"), says he's got one. "How'd you get one?" I asked. "Just give 'em free food," he said.

It should be so easy. The search continues. It doesn't look good.

Diamonds in the Rough
CAN WE HAVE ENOUGH of the "Chicago is a shot and a beer town" stuff? And enough of "it's a blue collar party." Almost half the delegates here make $70,000 a year or more. And Chicago now has more than two dozen Starbucks coffee houses. It's a latte town ... it's a Ph.D. party.

Laugh In
PAT PAULSEN hung around with us today. We've been unable to determine how he makes a living these days although we're pretty sure it's not comedy.

Senator Paul Simon visited the Minnesota delegation today. We're not sure how the retiring Senator will make a living next year. We're pretty sure it's going to be comedy.

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