Democratic National Convention calls for unity

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By The Staff

DENVER – The mantra of the Democratic National Convention calls for members to come together behind Sen. Barack Obama for president and former rival Sen. Hillary Clinton did just that Tuesday evening.

Calling herself a proud supporter of Barack Obama, Clinton addressed her adoring fans who made up roughly half the convention delegates. “If they want a different America for themselves and their families then they need to vote for Barack Obama,” she said.

Clinton also spent a portion of her speech praising the fortitude of women. “My mother was born before women could vote - my daughter got to vote for her mother for president,” she said.

Clinton praised Obama’s wife Michelle. “Michelle will be a great first lady ... Americans are fortunate Barack Obama will have Michelle by his side,” she said.

During the day, loyalists from state Democratic Chairman Brian Colón to New Mexico’s oldest and youngest delegates, called for bringing the party together to win back the White House.

Talk of unity also laced a special lunch for New Mexico delegates and dignitaries Tuesday at the restaurant Nine 75 in downtown Denver. ConocoPhillips of Houston sponsored the lunch.

“We’re just happy to be here supporting our friends from New Mexico,” Steve Meadows, vice president of government affairs, said. “We have significant business interests in New Mexico and are happy to be good corporate neighbors.”

ConocoPhillips sponsored similar meals for the Texas and Oklahoma delegates.

Colón thanked company officials at the lunch. He also spoke to KRSN local listeners about what’s been going on behind the scenes with the party. “We’ve been going to different caucuses talking abut Hispanic outreach,” Colón said. “We’ve been treated very well by everyone ... they know New Mexico is the state that will determine the president of the United States and we know New Mexico will be a blue state in the November election.”

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, Speaker of the House Ben Lujan and his wife Carmen and New Mexico Treasurer James B. Lewis attended the luncheon.

“There’s a lot of excitement here and everyone I’ve talked to feels it was worth all the hard work it took to become a delegate,” Lewis said.

Lewis described the hospitality in Denver as second to none.

Listening to Caroline Kennedy and Sen. Edward Kennedy speak at the convention Monday evening reminded him of John F. Kennedy’s famous speech in which he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”

“With the issues facing this world, I’m glad Sen. Obama is bringing in so many young delegates,” Lewis said. “The economy, energy and water are paramount issues in this global economy and our economy really is linked to what’s going on in the rest of the world.”

Lewis also called health care a vital issue saying children can’t learn well without it.

Regarding energy, he said there’s a new marketing of energy and New Mexico can become a world leader and he praised Obama for embracing all forms including solar, wind and fossil fuels.

“I went to a United Nations talk in New York in December and Al Gore spoke on green investing,” Lewis said. “Not social investing but opportunistic investing where we’re getting the very best return for New Mexico.”

New Mexico’s oldest delegate, Rep. J. Paul Taylor of Mesilla in the southern part of the state explained what motivated him to be a delegate in Denver.

“I decided to be a delegate this year because I’m 88-years-old and I thought this might be my last year,” Taylor said joking, “I’m not promising this is my last year.”

Taylor has served as a delegate, he said, for four presidential conventions.

White Rock’s Sean Stimmel is New Mexico’s youngest delegate. He celebrated his 20th birthday Sunday.

“I decided to become a delegate this year because I wanted to give every effort I could to see that Barack Obama was elected,” Stimmel said. “I wanted to personally put him in office.”

LeRoy N. Sanchez of Santa Fe is the Democratic National Convention’s official photographer. He worked at the White House in 1994-1995 covering Vice President Al Gore. “It’s an exciting and historical event and I’m honored to take these photographs,” Sanchez said.

Former President Bill Clinton, 2004 presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry and New Mexico’s Rep. Tom Udall and Gov. Bill Richardson are scheduled to speak this afternoon and evening.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Monitor Senior Reporter Carol A. Clark is covering the convention for the Monitor and will file stories daily. She also will report live from the convention floor at noon each day on KRSN AM 1490.