Dispatch from inside the conventions
By Amy Tennery
(Reuters) – Delegates at both the Republican and the Democratic conventions sported outrageous outfits – but the views from their respective gatherings were a study in contrast.
Republican National Convention delegates in Cleveland last week embraced a freewheeling, policy-light lineup, reveling in messages of salvation from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s inner circle, while expressing their fears that America has become less safe.
A man wearing an orange jumpsuit and Hillary Clinton mask told Reuters he had been asked to take pictures standing next to “hundreds” of convention-goers, while “lock her up” – a cry to imprison Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton – became the crowd’s go-to chant.
A woman wearing a red cape with “TRUMP” spelled out in twinkle lights happily posed for the dozens of passersby requesting photos.
The few remaining, weary Ted Cruz supporters found a rallying cry in the former Republican presidential candidate’s refusal to endorse Trump, a moment of party discord that prompted security to escort Heidi Cruz out of the convention hall and away from irate, yelling Trump supporters.
At this week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, erstwhile candidate Bernie Sanders worked to build a bridge over troubled waters (yes, Paul Simon performed the song of that name). At the end of a roll call of state delegations, he called for Clinton to be nominated by voice vote – a show of support and a bid for unity after a bitter primary campaign.
The move prompted deafening cheers on the convention floor – as well as a boos from Sanders supporters, who, on occasion, could be seen angrily arguing with Clinton backers.
And there were celebrities – actresses Eva Longoria, Lena Dunham, America Ferrera, Sigourney Weaver and Elizabeth Banks drew shrieks and cheers from the crowd. But Clinton’s convention was heavy on policy and calls to public service.
Former President Bill Clinton received a rock star’s welcome before ticking off a list of his wife’s civic accomplishments. First lady Michelle Obama drove some members of a rapt audience to tears when she declared, “I wake up in a house built by slaves.”
Reuters photographers caught up with several convention-goers, both Republican and Democrat, and asked “If you could speak to your nominee, What would you like them to know about your hopes for the future of America?” Here are some of their responses:
“Thank you for having my back,” Sharon Jackson, a delegate from Alaska at the Republican convention, said, referring to Trump.
Barbara Finger, a delegate from Wisconsin at the Republican conclave, also expressed gratitude to the New York businessman.
“Keep going the way you are,” she said. “Make America great again.”
Lavon Bracy, a Democratic delegate from Florida, expressed her support for Clinton at her party’s convention, emphasizing the importance of unity.
She said she hopes, “We can all live together in harmony and understand that we have differences and appreciate those who are different.”
Democratic delegate Alvin Peters of Panama City, Florida, said he, too, hoped for brighter days.
“Spread the joy,” said Peters. “Dispel the doom and gloom.”
Reuters photo slideshow: http://reut.rs/2aAmRRd
(Reporting by Amy Tennery and Jim Young in Cleveland and Philadelphia; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)