August 27th, 2008 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

DENVER NOTEBOOK: Merkley Takes the Podium at Dem Convention


He was nervous but he pulled it off. A little after 5 p.m. Mountain Time, House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Merkley loped out to the podium amid raucous cheers and frenetic banner-waving from the Oregon delegation.

"My opponent talks like Barack Obama but he votes like George Bush," Merkley said.

Here's a full text of what Merkley (shown above in an appearance earlier in the day with New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Congressman Tom Udall of New Mexico) said.

"I'm glad to be done," Merkley told WWire afterwards in the bowels of the Pepsi Center amid a sea of grim-face Secret Service agents and self-important Democratic National Committee staffers.

"I tried to convey who I am and how critically important the Oregon race is to winning a strong Senate majority," Merkley said. "That's not easy in 90 seconds."

Convention speakers have the benefit of a gigantic teleprompter but Merkley feared a technical glitch.

"When I first started, I didn't think the microphone was on so I started speaking really loudly," he said, adding that he was "really nervous."

In the Pepsi Center concourse about 20 minutes after the speech, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer from Portland applauded Merkley's effort.

"I think it showed his continued growth as a candidate," Blumenauer said. "I'm already hearing a lot of good things about how he has impressed people here."

(Merkley, who arrived yesterday afternoon was part of a joint conference with the national press earlier in the day and took part in other private meetings with party bigwigs and potential supporters.)

In the photo below, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada introduces Merkley, Reps. Tom Udall of New Mexico; Mark Udall of Colorado; candidates Tom Allen of Maine; Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.

Merkley conference

Members of the Oregon delegation, who watched Merkley's speech from the nose-bleed seats, also thought he had a good day. "He was great," said Laura Calvo, a delegate from Portland. "That was convention quality," said Frank Dixon, another Portland delgate. "He really has his message down."

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