Behind the scenes at the DNC: A ‘divide and conquer’ kind of night

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Monday, July 25, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Monday, July 25, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Insider’s note: Rebecca Walldorff is a longtime Democratic strategist from Georgia who has a rare glimpse at the behind-the-scenes shenanigans at her party’s quadrennial bashes. She’s writing the occasional column for the Insider blog to shed some light on the Democratic National Convention. You can find her first column here. Here’s her second installation:

By Rebecca Walldorff:

PHILADELPHIA – Last night’s official theme at the Democratic Convention was United Together.  Today’s convention goers’ and staffers’ unofficial theme is Divide and Conquer. As in, divide your friends up and conquer as many credentials, tickets and VIP passes as possible for the day’s events.

It's 'Divide and Conquer' night at the DNC. AJC special.

It’s ‘Divide and Conquer’ night at the DNC. AJC special.

The City of Brotherly Love is an ironic backdrop for this Hunger Games-style chase. The stakes are low, but the feeling of “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out) is high. Back in 2000, we couldn’t go online to show our friends how cool we were, let’s say, at a late night party sponsored by Bono’s international aid organization (where this author was last night, FOMO unintended and unnecessary as I left early to swap my ridiculously high heels for my Airbnb bed).

We didn’t live in the instant information age. Gore was multi-tasking between keynote speaker and tweaking the Internet, so give the guy a break.  No, back then we had our own Mocking Jays – an echo of people talking about one party that got whispered to friends, passed through the halls, gathering us in a central location – usually someone’s staff hotel room at 1 a.m., minibar long raided.

So, today I’ve been hot on the trail of a high-value VIP pass and I was told to meet someone named Stan at the Starbucks in Central City.  Walking around their grande line, I’m whispering “Stan. Stan. Stan?” to every man, woman, child and one seeing eye dog. Just in case he was packing. No Stan.

Wait, there’s another Starbucks in Philadelphia? Crap. The hunt for Stan continues. Let the games begin.

If I’m not locked up for pandering (cough, cough), I’ll report back later with my haul.  It’s important to note, however, no matter if you have “cool kid” passes, for the political junkies its really all about gathering late night in – shocker – a staffer’s hotel room at 1 a.m., minibar long raided.

A snapshot of Bono's "One" party. AJC special.

A snapshot of Bono’s “One” party. AJC special.

That’s where the fun is, and that’s where you get the good stories.  Governor X demanded sparkling water with lime in the green room? Outrageous! Senator so-in-so thanked everyone with brownies for the hard work? Let’s get on her campaign! We lay on the double beds, four and five in a row, laughing about the insanity of it all.  And at ourselves for caring.  But, God help us, we do. We care. And laugh.  Hard.

Rebecca Walldorff has held numerous positions on the national stage including in the White House, the U.S. Senate, as Senior Advisor to Edwards for President 2004, and as Chief of Staff to Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan.  She’s come full circle and will be providing the AJC some of the behind-the-scenes tales of the Democratic Convention.


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