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Democrats join convention crowd

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Hearing public speeches by President Barack Obama are becoming a recurring event for Columbus residents Brandon Allen and Pat Conard.

Both will hear him accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for president on Thursday night in Charlotte, N.C.

Four years ago, they heard him speak at Columbus East High School when Obama was stumping for the party’s nomination in the primary against then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

Allen is in Charlotte as a delegate from Indiana. One of his duties is to cast his vote for Obama as the party’s official nominee.

Conard is part of a group of Obama for America volunteers who are driving down today in order to hear the president’s speech.

“It’s a huge thrill ... especially when it’s someone who is saying things you believe in,” Conard said.

From what Allen has heard from other delegates at this year’s Democratic National Convention, the one four years ago was “like a rock show.”

That’s when then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., accepted the party’s nomination for president, which he later won by defeating the Republican nominee, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

While this year’s convention in Charlotte, N.C., hasn’t been a rock show, Allen said he’s enjoying his first experience as a delegate to the convention.

“It’s been extremely positive. ... It’s more subdued this year, but nobody has been depressed,” said Allen, the lone delegate from the area.

There’s been a lot to look forward to. Speeches by former President Jimmy Carter and first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday night. Allen casting his vote for Obama as the party’s nominee today. Obama accepting the nomination Thursday. Participating in caucus meetings and touring Charlotte.

One interesting development, Allen said, was an effort to create a Progressive Caucus at the Democratic National Convention. One exists among the party in the U.S. House of Representatives and others on the state level.

The caucus supports issues such as the public option for health care, clean energy and equal access to education for all people.

Allen said he’s interested in the caucus but wants to gather more information before deciding if he would join.

“It’s always exciting to be part of something that makes people’s lives better, makes a community better,” said Allen, a precinct chairman with the Bartholomew County Democratic Party and a 2008 candidate for Bartholomew County commissioner.

The past several months, Conard’s role with Obama for America has been registering people to vote, telling people about the president and making phone calls and door-to-door visits to inform people about the president and answer questions.

Nashville resident Teri Bleuel, who also volunteers with Obama for America, received a call from the group’s Indianapolis office that it had passes available for the president’s speech. When Bleuel called Conard with the offer, she quickly accepted.

“I have learned that when you are presented with these possibilities you don’t pass them up,” Conard said. “And I’m a big supporter of the president.”

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