Sabatos Crystal Ball

Low-Carb Convention Wrap

Matt Smyth, Senior Correspondent July 28th, 2004


Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

While you don’t hear the term bandied about much anymore, the hot topic earlier in the campaign season was “NASCAR Dads,” 2004’s trendy demographic group that was purported to take the place of the quickly-fading-from-popularity “Soccer Moms.” NASCAR Dads were often described as middle- to lower middle-class family men who typically live in rural or suburban areas, and who used to vote Democratic but are now trending Republican.

The likelihood that this is an accurate demographic that will be a swing group in the fall is small, but it turns out that there is still something for them here at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. On Wednesday afternoon at the New England Aquarium Plaza, the NASCAR Nextel Cup Family Festival took place, featuring a showing of the IMAX film on NASCAR, as well as an appearance by driver Kasey Khane, who is currently racing in both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series.

Protests Enter the Lumbar Region

Demonstrations and rallies continued on Wednesday, with the more interesting ones taking place further from the Fleet Center. Making a stop in Copley Square, just across from the Boston Public Library was the Backbone Campaign, “a grassroots effort to embolden the Democratic Party with a progressive platform and to rescue it from irrelevance,” according to project director Bill Moyer. The campaign is symbolized by a 70-foot long model of the human spinal column, carried around like a Chinese paper dragon, with each vertebra emblazoned with a different slogan or statement.

The campaign also gives out awards to elected officials and community leaders who show a “willingness to take principled progressive stands at politically lonely moments.” Previous winners of the Oscar-like, backbone-shaped prize include Congressman Jim McDermott, Jim Hightower, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Howard Dean, Cynthia McKinney, and Amy Goodman. The next recipient is slated to be Maxine Waters. The campaign’s presence at the convention is an effort to increase visibility, and “to bring moral support to the efforts of the Progressive Caucus and progressive activists from around the country.”

The Tube Heats Up

Once again, no live major network coverage of tonight’s speakers, but you can catch all of the action on C-SPAN, and a good chunk of it on PBS. Several cable news networks will be covering most of the big names as well.

The Crystal Ball is hoping for a rhyme-off between Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton, both of whom will address the convention this evening, although not at the same time. Sharpton continues the parade of former Kerry primary/caucus opponents, with others tonight including Senator Bob Graham and Congressman Dennis Kucinich. So far, those who have taken the podium have had nothing but praise for Kerry, but Sharpton and Kucinich were two of his more critical opponents during the winter. Kucinich has been making the rounds today, attending events including an ACLU/Amnesty Internation rally for human rights and debate on Iraq sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future and The Nation Magazine. On Tuesday, the Ohio Congressman formally released his 68 accumulated delegates to Kerry, and early word is that his speech this evening will include a massage of unity against President Bush, despite the fact that he likened his views more to Nader than to Kerry.

The final speech of the evening belongs to Vice Presidential nominee, Tar Heel State Senator John Edwards. While early reports have him continuing with the trend of avoiding any specific Bush references, the junior Senator from North Carolina will certainly make a case for his viability as suitable candidate for the country’s second-highest elected office. Of course, Republicans are playing up the expectations, calling it the make or break speech of his career, while Dems are attempting (unsuccessfully) to play it down in hopes of having him exceed expectations.

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