A 3-day national convention for Barack Obama?
Barack Obama's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee are toying with a convention scheduling change that has been broached before in theory but never really seriously considered -- cutting the party's conclave in Denver short by one day to try to give Obama an extra day of post-nomination "bounce" in the crowded August calendar.
For the last several decades, since conventions became forums that merely rubber-stamp a presumptive nominee rather than dicker over who it should be, they have traditionally run from Monday through Thursday. Increasingly, both parties have struggled to offer anything of interest during the first couple of convention nights, and the television networks have responded by dramatically reducing live coverage of the affairs. The only truly significant event has become the nominee's acceptance speech, delivered during prime time on Thursday evening.
But this year, The Times' Doyle McManus has learned, Obama aides have floated the idea of ending the Denver convention on Wednesday, Aug. 27, instead of Thursday, Aug. 28, as is currently planned.
The reason is the calendar. This year -- unlike in the past, when there was some separation between the two gatherings -- the Republican convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul is scheduled to begin only four days later, on Monday, Sept. 1. The result, many Democrats believe, could be that Obama would not get the "bounce" in poll numbers that nominees usually can count on immediately after they have been officially anointed.
Quitting early, some Democrats argue, would give Obama an extra day to capitalize on the convention.
Adding to the Democrats' calculation is the growing speculation that McCain will announce his running mate in the brief intermission between the two conventions -- a good way to grab the spotlight back from the just-nominated Democrat.
"I'd expect McCain to name his choice on the Friday after the Democratic convention," said Scott Reed, who managed Bob Dole's presidential bid in 1996. "It would be a good way to quash Obama's bounce."
The shortened-convention idea may have surfaced a bit late for it to happen this year. And one can anticipate that Denver officials and the city's business community will voice strong displeasure to it. Still, it sounds like a plan whose time eventually will come.
-- Don Frederick