History-Making Moment 'Phenomenal'
When the Democratic National Convention made history Wednesday night in electing the first African American nominee for the presidency, Moore County's Tessie Taylor was a part of it.
Responding to a plea from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the convention overwhelmingly agreed to suspend the roll call vote and to elect Sen. Barack Obama by acclamation as the party's nominee.
"It was phenomenal," Taylor said Wednesday night in a telephone interview from the convention floor at the Pepsi Center in Denver. "It was so good."
Taylor, who is a delegate to the convention, admitted that the entire process was orchestrated for greatest dramatic effect, but it worked.
"Everybody was crying," she said of the emotional response when the convention actually clinched the nomination for the senator from Illinois.
Taylor said she was impressed with the spirit and sincerity of both Sen. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton addressed the convention Tuesday night, and her husband was a key speaker during the Wednesday night session.
"I really think the Democrats can take back the White House," Taylor said in the midst of the history-making Wednesday night session. "After being here and seeing what is happening, it's a really good thing, and I am elated,"
The third night of the convention was filled with stirring oratory, including major addresses by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Sen. John Kerry, of Massachusetts, the party's nominee for president in 2004; and, of course, the acceptance speech by Sen. Joseph Biden, of Delaware, who is Obama's vice presidential running mate.
But just as everyone thought the convention was wrapping up for the night, a surprise visit from Obama sparked fresh electrical voltage.
Obama, who had been on the campaign trail earlier in the week, had not been expected to make an appearance until Thursday night, when he delivered his acceptance speech, marking the close of the convention.
He briefly addressed the gathering and challenged the delegates to help his campaign to "take back America."
Taylor, a Democrat from Jackson Hamlet, said the North Carolina delegation was tipped off early in the afternoon that a dramatic event was in the making. She said the message came through that everyone was to be prepared for the evening roll call.
"Our votes were already tallied," Taylor said.
Although most North Carolina delegates were committed to Obama, the remaining delegates for Clinton had previously agreed to release their votes Wednesday afternoon.
"We were standing and ready to cast our votes," Taylor said.
Through a clever bit of theatrics, the roll call of states, which starts at the beginning of the alphabet, reached New Mexico shortly before Obama would have racked up enough votes to clinch the nomination. However, the spokesperson for New Mexico made a short speech, then ceded that state's place in the process to Illinois, Obama's home state. After another short speech, the Illinois spokesperson ceded its place to New York, the state that Clinton represents in the Senate.
And it was Clinton who called on the convention chair to suspend the roll call and made the motion to nominate Barack Obama by acclamation. The response was a clamorous vote of approval from the noisy convention floor.
The tension was further relieved when the former president took the podium to deliver an address calling on everyone to restore the American dream by electing Obama as the next president.
Delegates expressed agreement that Clinton's address cleared the air of the rancorous mood clouding the atmosphere during what many considered to be an unnecessarily bitter battle for the nomination between Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Critics complained that Clinton never gave up, even after it was obvious that she did not have sufficient delegates to win the nomination, and that her husband, the former president, was even more rigid in his disappointment about her loss.
However, Taylor thought Hillary Clinton's Tuesday night address was "phenomenal" and praised the former candidate for her warm and clear support for Obama's candidacy.
Prior to the convention, some party stalwarts had expressed fear that the Clintons would spoil their support for Obama with lukewarm oratory, but that fear faded after the addresses of Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
"Her speech was well thought out," Taylor said. "She really did speak from the heart, and I think she understands that this is not her time this year."
Taylor said that the Wednesday night events were so exciting that some members of the North Carolina delegation actually swapped credentials with alternates to give everyone an opportunity to taste history in the making.
"It was a fantastic time for North Carolina to be here," she said.
Obama's acceptance address highlighted the closing session of the convention Thursday night when the theme was "Change You Can Believe In."
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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