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Democratic Convention notebook

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 16, 2000

Uneasy calm prevails on second day

LOS ANGELES -- Police arrested 45 protesters Tuesday as an uneasy calm prevailed on the streets outside the Democratic National Convention, the scene of a violent clash the night before.

The demonstrators were taken into custody late Tuesday afternoon near Pershing Square downtown, where they allegedly planned to smash store windows. Thousands of other protesters marched through the city center to Staples Center, the convention site, without incident.

Meanwhile, civil libertarians accused the Los Angeles Police Department of using excessive force to break up a huge demonstration Monday night. Officers fired rubber bullets and pepper spray into the crowd, injuring several people.

LAPD Chief Bernard Parks defended the officers' actions, and said they will respond with similar might to any further disturbances. "We feel very good about the way we handled it," he said.

Riding off into the sunset

President Clinton on Tuesday flew in to the blue-collar swing district of Monroe, Mich., for a joint rally with Al Gore to pass a metaphorical leadership baton before disappearing gracefully into the background. It was billed as a symbolic moment: Clinton going east, on his way to a vacation, and Gore going west, on his way to the convention, where he will accept the party's presidential nomination Thursday. Gore praised the president and appealed to voters to elect him president to save the economic gains built up while he and Clinton were in charge. "Bill Clinton worked hard to get the economy right. I'm not going to let the other side wreck it," Gore said.

Lieberman seeks to allay concerns on affirmative action

Sen. Joseph Lieberman appeared to win over some wavering black delegates Tuesday when he told them he supports affirmative action.

"Let me talk about affirmative action because questions have been raised," he told a gathering of some 300 black delegates called by the Congressional Black Caucus and the Democratic National Committee's Black Caucus.

"I want to talk very specifically about it," said Lieberman, who made the meeting his first order of business on arriving in Los Angeles. "I have supported affirmative action. I do support affirmative action. And I will support affirmative action."

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who had expressed doubts about Lieberman's stances on some issues, told reporters after meeting with Lieberman that she now backs the Democratic ticket.

Walking out for Elian

Anastasia Garcia said she respects President Clinton. But she walked out on him anyway.

Garcia and three other Cuban-American delegates walked off the convention floor on Monday night, just as Clinton walked onto the stage to give his speech. Their protest was over awards given to the Immigration and Naturalization Service agents who carried out the raid to seize Elian Gonzalez.

"It was difficult to walk out, but the Cuban-American community has gone through so much already," she said Tuesday. "They should have thought about the pain this community has suffered."

Accommodations a sore point

Florida Democratic Party officials continue to field complaints about the delegation's isolated hotel and the difficulty getting around Los Angeles. Some delegates spent nearly two hours trying to get from the downtown Staples Center to the hotel Monday night on crowded shuttle buses.

Other delegates are spending $100 or more a day on cab fares, Florida Democratic Party Chairman Bob Poe said. He reminds delegates that the state party has no control over logistics -- and is lobbying national party officials for help.

Speech draws 23-million on TV

An estimated 23-million viewers saw President Clinton's valedictory address at the convention, according to Nielsen Media Research numbers released Tuesday.

ABC, CBS and NBC, which each carried Clinton's 41-minute speech in its entirety, logged a total of 17.2-million viewers. PBS projected that its convention coverage from 8 to 11 p.m. was seen by an average of 3-million viewers.

CNN, MSNBC and Fox New Channel reported 2.87-million viewers, on average, between 8 and midnight. C-SPAN does not measure its audience.

By comparison, on July 31, the first night of the Republican National Convention, NBC aired a repeat of the dramatic series Third Watch at 10 p.m., which drew 10-million viewers. CBS and ABC drew a total of 12.3-million viewers, PBS logged 2.3-million and the cable networks had a total of 2.4-million, on average.

Short takes

Dodgers and Democrats: Hundreds of Democrats, lobbyists and others flocked to Dodgers Stadium on Tuesday to hit live pitches, shag fly balls, eat Dodger Dogs and simply revel in being allowed onto one of baseball's most famous fields. All were given bags stuffed with Dodgers merchandise, including a cap, shirt and baseball, and former Dodgers Steve Yeager, Lee Lacy and others wandered around signing autographs and posing for pictures.

Y'all act right now: Tennessee delegates have been told not to wear any "Road Kill" T-shirts at the convention. The instructions illustrates the delicate balancing act they face: how to testify about Gore's small-town and rural roots without making the state look backwoods. "They told us we're going to be on national TV, so we need to show Tennessee pride and respect," said Nashville lawyer Mario Ramos. The "road kill" advice refers to a state law that allows residents to "salvage road kill for home cooking."

Quote of the day: Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts brushed off a standing ovation from Floridians at Tuesday's breakfast meeting this way: "Winston Churchill once said the only reason people stand is to adjust their underwear."

On today's schedule

THEME: "Al Gore: The Principled Fighter."

SPEAKERS: Bob Chase, National Education Association; John Sweeney, AFL-CIO; California Gov. Gray Davis; Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.; actor Jimmy Smits; vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman; Karenna Gore Schiff, daughter of the vice president.

TELEVISION: ABC, CBS and NBC plan convention coverage from 10 to 11 p.m.; PBS, 8-11 p.m.; C-SPAN, 5 p.m.-midnight; CNN, 4 p.m.-2 a.m.; MSNBC, 5 p.m.-1 a.m.; Fox News Channel, 6 p.m.-1 a.m.

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