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Greg Bluestein

Behind the scenes at the DNC: Prepping for ‘political combat’

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Former President Bill Clinton struts on stage at the Democratic National Convention. Miguel Martinez/MundoHispanico

Former President Bill Clinton struts on stage at the Democratic National Convention. Miguel Martinez/MundoHispanico

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 and her second piece here. Here’s her third installation:

By Rebecca Walldorff:

The alarm goes off. You bounce (or fall) out of bed (depending on age times number of drinks divided by amount of hours slept). You fuel up on DoubleTree bacon and eggs. Your hard-earned credentials hang, Olympic metal style, from your DNC lanyard.

Now what? Throughout the day, there are endless choices of meetings, lectures, sit-ins, group hugs and receptions for everyone on the political spectrum.

To an extent, what you do depends on if you are a Clinton or Bernie delegate. Bernie folks are more likely to sit-in, Clinton supporters are in a group hug. Both are over the lectures.

As for staffers, it’s easy to tell the difference: trouser length. If you work for Bernie’s campaign, you can wear cargo shorts. In political combat parlance, it says “yeah, I’ve been in battle, and I’m also able to carry a bunch of stuff in my pockets.” Clinton staff are wearing actual pants.

Even local business are catering to the factions. A local pet groomer clearly depicts Senator Sanders as the ultimate cat herder, which is exactly what he’s doing this week with his supporters.

Bernie Sanders as a cat herder. Rebecca Walldorff/Special

Bernie Sanders as a cat herder. Rebecca Walldorff/Special

What has unified these delegates is not beating Trump. Its waiting in the absurdly long lines together for a ride to the Wells Fargo Center. Bill Clinton likes to say “Republicans fall in line, Democrats fall in love.”

Not this week. Since Monday, what both camps have endured together is standing around. To get through security.  For the delegate seating. For the restrooms.  For photo ops. It’s in the queue where differences are being hashed out and healing is taking place. It’s equalizing and humbling, actually – and probably good for our party.

As for me, I’ll be reporting the big speech from the somewhat non-democratic (lower case “d”) areas of the arena: the floor and the suites. That’s where the staff go during the convention events to refuel and regroup. There’s no press, but there is an open bar.

And where there’s an open bar, there’s a line. Just to keep it humble.

An open bar at the DNC. Rebecca Walldorff/Special

An open bar at the DNC. Rebecca Walldorff/Special

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.