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Illinoisans Say the Long Wait for Obama Speech was Worth It

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Illinoisans Say the Long Wait for Obama Speech was Worth It

Supporters at Obama’s acceptance speech. (WBEZ/Ben Calhoun)

On Thursday morning, people at the Illinois delegation breakfast meeting were focused on one thing. They were all trying to figure out how long it would take them to get through security at the Invesco Field where Barack Obama was giving his speech last night.

Kate O’Malley was brain-storming while she ate her eggs and drank coffee.

O’MALLEY: I want to go early enough to get a seat but it’s a little bit of strategy you have to use because I don’t want to be sitting in the sun all day, although I did buy my number 30 sun lotion and a baseball hat so I’m ready for anything. FOUCHER: I heard that to get through security there’s going to be about three hours wait to get through the checkpoints.

That’s Kwame Foucher, a doctor who works at medical clinics for people who don’t have insurance. He flew to Denver just hours earlier for the speech and only the speech.

There’s no way he’s going to miss it so he’s planning to leave for Invesco field in the morning even though Obama isn’t expected to hit the stage until 8 at night.

FOUCHER: I just wanted to make sure that I got in and got my seat and was comfortable and could take it all in.

The easiest way for delegates to get to the speech is to take the shuttle bus from the hotel.

That’s Kathy West’s plan. She hops on one at three o’clock.

She ends up sitting beside the flamboyant and outspoken state representative Monique Davis.

The two mesh well and soon they’re laughing and hugging like best friends on the school bus.

A few rows up, Bill Crowley from Chicago’s northern suburbs is having a good time too, but just because the bus ride is going unexpectedly well.

CROWLEY: I’ve been taking buses over to the Pepsi center every night. Those have been horrendous. Today, we’re at this point right in front of Invesco field in a very short time.

WEST: Oh, this is such a pleasant surprise to be here.

West and Davis get off the bus and continue chatting.

Having known each other for all of a half an hour they decide to get a number of pictures taken together outside the stadium.

I get split from them in line and the next time I see West she’s on the convention floor.

Since retiring after being a teacher for 30 years, West has gotten involved in a number of things.

She’s on the city council of her town, which has 6,000 residents, she’s on a hospital board and she has a job acting ill, memorizing symptoms and then explaining the symptoms to doctors in training who have to pretend diagnose her.

But when I see her on the convention floor she’s in the third row, right in front of the podium where Obama will speak.

She’s surrounded by members of Congress, the lieutenant governor of Illinois, the attorney general, and she’s talking about history and Martin Luther King with Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

WHITE: I probably saw him over a period of five years, over a hundred times.
WEST: Isn’t that awesome.

West snaps a picture of Spike Lee who’s standing nearby and then Jesse White nudges her and points to the aisle.

WHITE: Judge Mathis. Right there, Judge Mathis.

Between the stars, the entertainment and hanging out with some of Illinois’ most prominent politicians, West is happy to have four or five hours waiting to hear Obama’s speech.

Kwame Foucher, the doctor, is in the highest level of the stadium, where the crowd is doing the wave and stomping their feet.

FOUCHER: This is an electric experience. That’s the wave again.

As Foucher talks more, his eyes start to water.

FOUCHER: Oh, that was just something in my eye.

As he continues to talk tears start streaming down his cheek.

FOUCHER: The stadium was set up with flags in every seat so every person here is waving an American flag. It’s a proud moment to be an American. It’s a great event. It’s a great event.

Foucher says the flight out to Denver, the long trip to the stadium and the long day at the stadium, it was all worth while.

FOUCHER: I have a plasma TV at home and my friend was saying why don’t you just stay home and watch it on high def, but this can’t possibly be captured in high def. I know it.

At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, I’m Robert Wildeboer, Chicago Public Radio.

Video: From the floor after Obama’s speech and from the nose-bleed seats.
Photos: From the nose-bleed seats
Blog: Get all the coverage from the DNC
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Unfiltered: DNC Speeches: Jan Schakowsky

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