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Obama To Accept Nomination At Mile High Stadium

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

It's a quite familiar picture in American politics. At the climax of the four- day convention, the candidate steps up to the podium, accepts the nomination and on cue, balloons or confetti rain down from the ceiling. Well, when Barack Obama gives his acceptance speech next month, there will be no ceiling, just open sky at the INVESCO Field at Mile High.

The DNC confirmed today that Obama plans to bring the last night of the convention, quote, "out to the people," by moving his speech from Denver's Pepsi Center to the stadium where the Broncos play. With a seating capacity of 76,000, INVESCO can accommodate more than three times as many people as the Pepsi Center.

For more on this move and other convention news, I'm joined by NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hello, Mara.

MARA LIASSON: Hello, Michele.

NORRIS: So why is Barack Obama doing this?

LIASSON: Because he can. He has demonstrated a unique ability to draw these tremendous crowds - he got 75,000 people at a rally in Portland, and this is a way for him to really show his strength. He wants to open up the convention; as the party has said, this kind of goes with his ethos of inclusivity. He is in a state - Colorado - that he very much wants to win in the fall. And he wants to get as many people involved in his campaign as possible.

And it's going to be incredible television, incredible images, and the Democrats hope it'll increase the bump that all candidates get out of their nomination.

NORRIS: Now, you mentioned the images. Obama will deliver his acceptance speech on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech, so I'm guessing there's going to be all kinds of symbolism that night.

LIASSON: Absolutely. A big, historic event, and there'll be a lot of historic references.

NORRIS: Now, there've been a lot of reports about the DNC and its troubles with planning and raising money for the convention. Is this because the primary season seemed to extend forever, or is it because Clinton supporters and Obama supporters aren't getting along with each other?

LIASSON: Actually, I think it's a different kind of friction. Everybody's been focusing on the tension in the party between the Obama camp and the Clinton camp. In fact, the tension around the convention is between Howard Dean and everyone else in the party. The complaints about Dean's governance of the Democratic National Committee have been going on for a very long time. And it is true that fundraising for Denver has lagged behind. I think they're about $10 million short of their goal.

T: red, green, yellow, blue and purple. And every plate has to be 50 percent fruits and vegetables and no fried foods...

NORRIS: No fried foods?

LIASSON: No fried foods.

NORRIS: Oh, my goodness, at a convention.

LIASSON: So basically this can be parodied, of course, as the worst kind of Democratic micromanaging or social engineering. But the fact is that - I think some of the tension between Howard Dean and the rest of the party are overblown.

First of all, Obama's moving to take over control of the party, as all nominees do. I think that he runs a pretty tightly disciplined, organized ship. I think a lot of his problems will be solved. But more important, I think, is that there is a direct line between Howard Dean and Barack Obama. Howard Dean planted the political seed - using the Internet, very grassroots, outside of the Beltway - that Barack Obama really turned into a very flourishing garden.

NORRIS: And his 50-state strategy.

LIASSON: And his 50-state strategy. You know, a lot Democrats complained about Howard Dean's 50-state strategy - why spend money on two staff members in Guam or Mississippi? Well, along comes Barack Obama, and he is going to spend money in a lot of states that Howard Dean laid down roots in.

NORRIS: Now, have they worked out a role for Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill Clinton?

LIASSON: I don't think that they're finished with negotiating the actual role for Hillary Clinton but rest assured, it will be a big one. There will be a Hillary Clinton night. She will be celebrated at the convention. I think her husband will also have a big role. The only thing that remains to be worked out is will her supporters, her delegates, insist on putting her name in nomination, or will she release them all so they can support Obama. That hasn't been worked out yet.

NORRIS: An important symbolic gesture there.

LIASSON: Yeah.

NORRIS: Mara, thanks so much.

LIASSON: Thank you, Michele.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Mara Liasson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.
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