Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

AJC at the DNC: Kareem Abdul Jabbar's big laugh line

Updated at 9:35 p.m.: Two days after honoring a group of mothers whose children had died at the hands of police or in law enforcement custody, relatives of slain police officers were given a place on the stage of the Democratic National Convention.

The session was led by Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, whose deputies participated in the aftermath of the killing of five Dallas officers earlier this month who had been protecting demonstrators who were protesting police violence.

Some elements of the convention hall were on the verge of erupting, when Valdez began speaking:

 “When I told my father I was going to join the police, he got angry. You see, he and my older brothers had been beaten by the police for no legitimate reason. But I stuck with my decision.”

That silenced the dissenters. Read more here.

Updated at 9:10 p.m.: Retired NBA star Kareem Abdul Jabbar might have delivered the biggest laugh line of the night, if not the week:

"I'm Michael Jordan and I'm here with Hillary. I said that tonight because Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”

Updated 8:52 p.m.: The people joined most of the pols Wednesday in pushing for a $15 minimum wage at the Democratic National Convention. Questions remain, though, whether Hillary Clinton is on board.

Henrietta Ivey, a Michigan home care worker who works two minimum wage jobs, believes Clinton will fight for higher wages.

Updated at 8:41 p.m.: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf spoke this evening to the convention being held in his state.

Before last week, that wouldn't be news. But, after last week, it apparently is. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook took note of the occasion \at a news conference this morning where he previewed the final day of the convention.

"Some other highlights tonight: you’ll hear from a governor of a must-win state, right here in Pennsylvania," Mook said. "Governor Tom Wolf will actually be attending our convention. Last week (Ohio) "Gov. John Kasich did not attend."

Wolf did not make note of the situation although he did take a few (very) mild jabs at Donald Trump.

Updated at 8:20 p.m.: Here’s a difference between the Republican gathering in Cleveland and the Democratic one here in Philadelphia:

After his endorsement of Trump from the Cleveland stage, actor Scott Baio was asked how he came to be there. Baio replied that he had run into Trump the week before, and the businessman invited him.

In Philly, wife-and-husband actors Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson just finished their stint on the stage. Steenburgen said her relationship with Hillary Clinton dated back to 1978.

Updated at 7:45 p.m.: As Democrats celebrate becoming the first major American party to nominate a woman for president, little mention has been made of Nancy Pelosi’s breaking of another glass ceiling.

Pelosi, the veteran California congresswoman, became the first female speaker of the U.S. House in 2007. She’s now the House minority leader. At the Democratic convention Thursday, Pelosi said neither she nor Clinton can take credit for the accomplishments.

“Hillary Clinton knows that this moment is not just about one woman’s achievement,” Pelosi said. “It’s about what electing a woman president will mean for achieving the dreams and hopes and aspirations of every woman, every daughter, every son and every family, all across our land, for generations to come.”

Updated at 6:35 p.m.: U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., the highest-ranking African-American member of Congress, said Clinton fought to reform South Carolina's juvenile justice system in the 1960s when young black men were routinely jailed in men's prisons.

“If there’s one thing I know about Hillary Clinton, it’s this: She is a fighter," Clyburn said. "And she fights with her head and her heart.”

Clyburn also urged Democrats to come together.

"Let’s emerge from Philadelphia working together to make our nation stronger, Americans better, and America greater by electing Hillary Rodham Clinton the next president of the United States," he said.

Updated at 6:15 p.m.: U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a former Black Hawk helicopter co-pilot who lost her two legs in Iraq, courtesy of a rocket-propelled grenade, took on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday. But her real aim was a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Duckworth walked to the podium on two artificial legs, to cheers from her state’s delegation. she spoke of working her way through college with odd jobs and a Pell Grant. But she had her sharpest words for the Republican presidential candidate on Thursday:

“In Donald Trump’s America, if you get knocked down, you stay down. By the way, Donald Trump, I didn’t put my life on the line to defend our democracy so you could invite Russia to interfere in it. You are not fit to be the commander-in-chief.”

Democrats are putting great stock in Duckworth, who has been befriended by former U.S. senator Max Cleland of Georgia. Duckworth is challenging U.S. Mark Kirk, considered one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in November. From Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune:

The strength of Duckworth's political brand is such that Kirk already is spending precious cash to run early attack ads in an attempt to redefine Duckworth's shining image for voters. He's trying to paint her as just another partisan hack by tying her to her onetime boss, imprisoned ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. At the center of the ad is a long-running lawsuit filed by two state veterans affairs employees who claimed Duckworth retaliated against them for whistleblowing.

That line of attack gained new life Wednesday, when the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Kirk's campaign pointed to a published report that quoted the two women who sued as saying they've changed their mind about a settlement announced a month ago and now want to proceed to trial.

Updated at 5:29 p.m.: U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri engaged in a bit of Republican outreach: "If your party is no longer coming to you, you should be coming to us. It is not midnight in America."

Update at 5:10 p.m.:  Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, dissed Donald Trump while wholeheartedly supporting Hillary Clinton.

“Last month our nation was rocked to its core by the senseless and hate-filled attack that claimed the lives of 49 LGBTQ people,” Griffin told Democratic National Convention-goers. “Yet while the nation mourned, Donald Trump strutted before the cameras and exploited our national tragedy. He had the audacity to tell the American public that he was the true champion for LGBTQ people in this race and that our community would be better off with him in the White House.”

Griffin spoke hours after 10 states filed a brief in federal court supporting the federal government’s lawsuit against a highly controversial, anti-LGBTQ law that North Carolina passed earlier this year which requires people to use bathrooms reserved for the gender listed on their birth certificate. The states claim the N.C. law will cause "irreparable harm to transgender individuals." A trial is set for Nov. 14.

“While Donald Trump threatened to strip away our rights, the Hillary Clinton I first got to know as a closeted kid growing up in Arkansas has always been willing to stand up for the voiceless and she’s made fighting for equality a cornerstone of her campaign,” Griffin said to a rousing response from delegates.

Update 4:51 p.m.: Former South Carolina state Rep. Bakari Sellers, a Democrat from the city of Orangeburg, just finished brief remarks. Sellers, a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, was an early Barack Obama supporter. During the 2008 primaries, at a rally at college, Obama called out Sellers and said in politics there was "only room for one skinny black guy with a funny name."

Careful scholars of the Civil Rights movement will also remember the confluence of the name Sellers and the town of Orangeburg, about 45 minutes east of Columbia. Bakari Sellers' father, Cleveland, was the only person ever jailed after the Orangeburg Massacre, the 1968 shooting of unarmed black student at South Carolina State University.

The students were protesting a segregated bowling alley. Three African American men were killed and 27 injured. Cleveland Sellers was charged and convicted of rioting and served seven months in prison.

Addendum: South Carolina has an oversized presence in this evening’s activities. And there may be something behind the line-up.  Former state Rep. Bakari Sellers was one of the first speakers (see above), followed by South Carolina Democratic party chair Jamie Harrison.

Opening the 6 to 10 p.m. block is U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the most powerful Democrat in the Palmetto State.

Consider this a bit of fence-mending. In her 2008 campaign against Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton’s husband, a fellow named William Jefferson, went to South Carolina and declared Obama an unproven upstart. Much hoopla followed.

Clyburn was alienated.

After much delay, Clyburn endorsed Hillary Clinton during this year’s primary. You have to wonder if tonight’s speakers were part of the bargain.

Updated at 4:35 p.m.: Judging from tonight’s list of speakers, the Rev. Bernice King, the youngest child of Martin Luther King Jr., was the final Georgian on the stage of this Democratic National Convention.

King was one of three who gave this evening’s invocation, and asked the Almighty to put a thumb on the scales in November, in the name of a country:

“Where unity trumps division, peace trumps war, and love trumps hate. We ask, dear Lord, that you anoint Madam Hillary Clinton as our 45th president, to lead us to become a stronger and compassionate nation.”

Just FYI, the Republican gathering in Cleveland featured a number of pastors who asked God for a different result.


PHILADELPHIA -- Hillary Clinton will end this week's Democratic National Convention tonight with a speech that makes clear this election "is really a moment of reckoning for voters," her campaign manager Robby Mook said earlier Thursday.

"You will hear her invoke different principles that have guided her career in particular," Mook told a reporter at a briefing to preview the speech. "You'll hear her talk about how it takes a village, a theme from her 1992 book.

"In this campaign we're talking about we're stronger together and you'll hear her flesh out not just what this means from a policy standpoint, but specific polices to do it and make our country stronger."

Reader Comments ...

About the Author