When I first tried to get in to the main part of the arena to get near Florida’s delegates during former President Bill Clinton’s speech, I had innocent and honest intentions- I just wanted to get reactions and quick interviews.
Unfortunately, so was the entire rest of the press corps, so all the floor passes were gone at that point.
I went back to the media room and worked from there, not a problem.But I was not leaving without talking to my delegates. So after the speech and just as the roll call vote began, I tried once again.This time I gained access to the floor once again, although actually getting access was a different story.
First, there was a huge backlog at the entrance.Luckily enough, when I was caught in the group, I spotted former CFO Alex Sink leaving the arena, and she stopped for a quick interview.
Getting down stairs is always fun when everyone else is walking up them.I say that with every bit of sarcasm I can muster.Regardless, it was not too difficult to get to the brim of the sunshine delegation with the members already gathered around the podium where Florida Democratic Party Chair Rod Smith would deliver the state to the President.
But with a few hundred members officially in the delegation and many of them in that cluster, the brim is where I stopped.So while I was stranded form my Northeast Florida contacts, I was still able to get a feel for how the Sunshine State was feeling.Then, having about one hour to get out of the arena and to the light rail (a 10 or 15 minute walk), I decided to head out.
Unfortunately, the rest of the people in that area didn’t decide that as well.
As I tried to get up the stairs, the Georgia delegation was blocking half the aisle because they were already gathered around for their picture as well. Despite the fact that we were far from their turn, they would not budget.
This may not have been a huge problem, except there was a Florida television station blocking the other half, and when we asked them to move they either didn’t hear us or pretended not to.I’m going to side with the latter.
So there I stand, the head of a growing line of people yelling at me for not being able to get through, which of course prompted the people I was trying to get through to yell as well.It became clear very quickly that the solution I offered, which would have only required one person from the Georgia group to move, was not possible.Georgia told me to make Florida move.Florida wasn’t listening.
Oh, and I still had a ride home to catch.
Eventually, with the help of a very strong gentleman, I was able to be essentially pulled through a gap far too small for me and my reporter’s bag.I never saw the people behind me again.
Just when I thought I was in the clear, however, my blouse snagged on one woman’s watch, causing a slight- although luckily brief and reparable- wardrobe malfunction to add to everything else.
Finally, home (aka hotel) free.
So if you see some tension along the state line start to pick up, or find the Florida/Georgia game in Jacksonville is a little more intense this year, I apologize.