Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • ‘West Wing’ actor calls Clinton speech inspiring

    CHARLOTTE--Actor Richard Schiff, who played White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler in the seven-season series The West Wing, raptly watched former President Bill Clinton's Democratic National Convention speech from an uncomfortable perch on a crowded balcony Wednesday night.

    Schiff told Yahoo News he found the speech "inspiring and absolutely emotional," before he was interrupted by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who came to say hello and snap a photo with the actor. The 72-year-old senator turned the camera around to show Schiff the photo. "I will tweet that right now!" Schiff exclaimed.

    Schiff said his experience playing the strategic Ziegler has given him some insight into politics, but he's only attending this convention because he's shooting a political web series called Chasing the Hill. "I certainly understand the conflicts and the desire to do something for the greater good and the necessity to compromise," he said.

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  • DNC small-business vendors: ‘We feel forgotten’

    Gwendolyn Clarke, a DNC vendor, says she is no longer supporting Obama. (Goodwin/Yahoo News)

    CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Rows of enthusiastic vendors hawking Obama buttons, tote bags, puppets, T-shirts and other memorabilia seem to be doing brisk business beside the Charlotte Convention Center, where thousands of delegates and members of the media have descended for the three-day Democratic National Convention. But just across the street, and behind a row of low metal barricades, a cluster of unhappy vendors—many of whom traveled hundreds of miles to attend the convention and are ardent Obama supporters—say they paid thousands of dollars to rent stalls that were placed in an out-of-the-way, unmarked parking lot where they are steadily losing money.

    On Wednesday, news spread around the lot that President Barack Obama's Thursday night speech will no longer take place in the planned outdoor stadium, pushing convention attendees even farther away from the vendors.

    "We feel forgotten," said Marcy Nation of Georgia, who has a stall selling Obama bumper stickers and other memorabilia in the lot. Nation is directing 10 percent of her proceeds to the Obama campaign. Several vendors who were originally given spots around Nation have picked up and moved on altogether, giving the lot an abandoned feeling. Nation said she expected the DNC host committee to put up large signs directing foot traffic to the lot, and said the street barriers make it hard for passers-by to cross over from the convention center. "They don't know we're here," she said.

    The DNC has not yet responded to Yahoo News' requests for comment about the vendors' complaints. In an interview with The Charlotte Observer, a spokeswoman for the host committee said the hefty fees for tent stalls were needed to cover the cost of renting the parking lot for the week.

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  • NAACP’s Ben Jealous: DNC will shift focus to economy

    CHARLOTTE—NAACP President Ben Jealous said he thinks the Democratic convention will shift to job creation and the economy after an opening night often focused on women's reproductive rights and closing the male-female pay gap.

    "I think we'll see more of a focus on the economy," Jealous said in an interview on the floor.

    "The best opportunity Tampa presented is for Democrats to be clear on how they'll move the economy forward," he added. "It doesn't have to happen tonight but it has to happen this week."

  • N.C. delegate proudly sports vintage JFK hat

    North Carolina delegate Judith Porter. (Liz Goodwin/Yahoo News)North Carolina delegate Judith Porter in a vintage JFK hat (Liz Goodwin/Yahoo News)

    CHARLOTTE, N.C.—North Carolina delegate Judith Porter waved her vintage John F. Kennedy hat in the air as the convention audience applauded a tribute video to the Kennedy family Tuesday night.

    "It was great," Porter said of the video, which drew some of the loudest applause of the evening. The 72-year-old voted for Richard Nixon over Kennedy in 1960 but became a Democrat shortly after. She remembers feeling devastated after JFK's and Bobby Kennedy's assassinations and the recent death of Ted Kennedy. "If they had lived, I think our country would be a lot better than it is today," Porter said.

  • Occupy protesters block DNC buses

    An Occupy protest shuts down traffic Tuesday. (Goodwin/Yahoo News)

    CHARLOTTE, N.C.—On Tuesday, a group of more than 100 protesters shouting "Obama is a traitor" temporarily shut down official bus service that ferries around delegates at the Democratic National Convention. The protesters, some of whom were lying down in the street, were surrounded by Charlotte police, who used their bicycles to build a barrier around the group.

    "What do you think of free speech zones?" shouted one protester to the police and onlookers, referring to the cordoned-off areas for activists. "Does that seem strange to you?" Protesters also shouted that accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning should be freed. At one point, the protesters raised a tent above their heads and set it on the ground. "Bad news, guys, they've pitched a tent," a police officer joked. "They might be here for the duration."

    Delegates and convention goers who were forced to wait for buses to be rerouted expressed surprise that the Occupy presence has been stronger at the DNC than at the Republican

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  • More Occupiers protest Democratic convention than RNC

    Protester John Harrelson in front of Charlotte's Occupy encampment. (Goodwin/Yahoo)CHARLOTTE--About a half a mile away from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, more than 100 protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement are camped out in tents and on sleeping pads in a sweltering local park.

    The protest turnout has already far exceeded that of Tampa, when the threat of a hurricane derailed East Coast activists' plans to come down by bus and camp out in a tent city they dubbed "Romneyville." Protests at the RNC were so sparse that the local police chief cancelled several planned press conferences that would have addressed the force's response to activists. The largest protest event only attracted 300 people, while a coalition of 1,000 Occupy and other protesters already squashed that record in a march on Sunday in Charlotte.

    Ryan Lash, an Occupier from Washington D.C., told Yahoo News on Monday that despite the group's bigger presence in Charlotte, the protesters equally dislike Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

    "We don't like either side," the shirtless Lash said. "I challenge you to find a real Occupier who supports either Romney or Obama."

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  • Ron Paul supporters’ silent protest over rules changes

    Jim Uprichard, a Nevada delegate, wears the T-shirt (Liz Goodwin)A few Ron Paul supporters are staging a silent protest of rules changes adopted Tuesday that give more power to the national party leadership over states.

    The delegates wanted to debate a minority report that struck the rules changes, but were dismissed by John Boehner after a close voice vote Tuesday. One new rule allows the RNC to change the rules that all the delegates hashed out last week at any point over the next two years.

    Jim Uprichard, a Nevada delegate, sported the T-shirt Thursday, standing out in the crowd of jacket-wearing delegates.
    Maryland delegate and state Rep Michael Smigiel said he is also upset about the rules changes, which makes the party "top down," he says. But Smigiel thinks it's time to move on and not distract from Romney's nomination. "It's in the past," he said. "It's time to support the nominee."

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  • Sen. Scott Brown to cameraman: ‘Your arms are bigger than my calves!’

    Sen. Scott Brown (Liz Goodwin/Yahoo News)Sen. Scott Brown (Liz Goodwin/Yahoo News)

    As Sen. Scott Brown greeted delegates and reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention during a speech by former members of Mitt Romney's congregation, a buff cameraman reached out his hand to shake Brown's.

    "Your arms are bigger than my calves!" Brown exclaimed. (Sadly, we didn't get a picture of those limbs.)

    Brown was also popular with delegates from Connecticut (pictured above).

    The Massachusetts senator told reporters Thursday that he was asked to play a bigger role in the convention but declined. He's facing a challenge from the left from Elizabeth Warren this fall.

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  • RNC’s hottest accessory: the Mitt Romney mask

    Mitt Romney mask (Liz Goodwin)

    Maryland delegate and state Rep. Michael Smigiel sports Thursday's hottest accessory: the Mitt Romney mask.

  • 'Freedom is Fabulous’: Two Republican gay groups make waves in Tampa

    Homocon invite (GOProud)TAMPA--An older gentleman in a sparkling cowboy suit and matching hat made out of sequins gazed at a pair of buff male go-go dancers wearing tight jeans and skimpy tank tops that read "Freedom Is Fabulous." That was the scene at a local gay bar called "The Honeypot" on Tuesday night. More than 800 Republican delegates along with members of the local Tampa gay community and reporters clustered to listen to the colorful conservative gay group GOProud make the case for electing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

    "This is the largest event hosted by a gay group at any Republican convention," GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia shouted at the crowd during a brief speech at the party, called "Homocon."

    "Not that size matters," he added, to laughter, "But ours is the biggest."

    If you sense a hint of competition in the statement, you'd be right. GOProud often needles the older, more established gay conservative group, The Log Cabin Republicans, by emphasizing that GOProud is the "only" gay group to have endorsed Mitt Romney. The group hints that Log Cabin is the stodgy uncle figure in the very small world of gay conservative groups.

    "Have you been to any of their events?" LaSalvia asked, looking smooth in a suit and purple tie on Wednesday. "Womp-womp."

    "Our focus is very much within the grassroots of the conservative movement." he explained. "They are very establishment." LaSalvia and GOProud co-founder Christopher Barron are both former Log Cabin staffers. They left after neither was selected for the organization's top job a few years ago, and started GOProud in 2009.

    Yahoo News has, in fact, attended a Log Cabin event. On Sunday, the group held a welcome cocktail hour hosted by three local chapters at the Rusty Pelican, an oceanfront eatery. Fred Karger, a gay rights activist and long time Republican operative who launched a failed bid for the GOP presidential nod last fall, and Sandy Steen, the 73-year-old vice president of the Broward County, Fla., Log Cabin Republican chapter, chatted in a corner at the party.

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