A political convention wrap up from Charlotte

From Charlotte, North Carolina - 

Despite warnings to travelers to get to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport as much as three hours ahead of your scheduled flight, the day after the Democratic National Convention ended in the Queen City did not produce loca travel gridlock.

Yes, there were a lot of people at  the airport - but nothing that seemed over the top.

"We're not as busy as we expected," said one TSA screener who had been brought in from the airport in Raleigh to help with security checks.

As usual after a convention, the airport was a mixing bowl of people you know, people you work with and people you recognize from Washington, D.C.

In line behind me at the ticket counter was Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who looked like any other old guy traveling to see his grandchildren.

Walking by was a pair of people that I seem to run into only outside of Washington, D.C., as there was Dave Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network and his producer Dana Brown - the three of us only seem to knock into each other in the last two years when we are waiting for a plane.

"See you in the next airport!" Dana tweeted from down the concourse.

Going back through my mental rolodex, I can see Dana and Dave a number of times; in the airport in Omaha, on the plane from New Hampshire, Florida and more.

Sometimes, that's the way it is - you only see certain people out on the campaign trail and not back in D.C.

The last night of the convention was a little crazy, as the police shut the doors to reporters right around 6 pm, meaning that if you weren't in the convention hall before then, you were going to have explain why you couldn't do that live shot after the President's speech had wrapped up.

It was reminiscent of 1988 in Atlanta, when the fire marshal closed the door there on lawmakers, party big shots and delegates alike.

Back in my workspace, I was dutifully writing my Obama speech stories when suddenly something didn't seem right at 12:30 am.

The internet suddenly stopped working.

I was the only there at the time, so either someone yanked our line by mistake, or that's all we paid for.

It forced me to pack everything up and go back to my hotel, where I finished filing my stories for the morning, and then took another "nap" before my morning radio live shots.

(Forgive me if any of this blog seems choppy; I am literally falling asleep as I type this while waiting for my plane. I am not going to sleep though, I am still scarred by falling asleep at the gate in Des Moines and almost missing my flight.)

Right now in my gate, a Charlotte local is trying to explain to one Washington resident why they call the downtown part of their city "Uptown" - a major topic for reporters as we walked around the convention area in the last week.

"I am the Voucher Queen," another woman said behind me, telling someone she's talking to about how she is $900 ahead on U.S. Airways in recent weeks.

"Just don't overplay the idea about her getting a job in the administration," a guy down my row is saying sternly into his cell phone, sounding a bit too important for the airport in Charlotte.

Meanwhile the gate agent is mumbling so badly that none of us can figure out whether he just said that the flight to Washington has been moved to another airport.

Back to the convention.

One of the more disappointing aspects of the Democratic National Convention was that the back of the hand was again given by the party to talk radio stations.

Friends of mine who worked over on Radio Row in the Time Warner Cable arena said the party was once again no help - just like in 2008 in Denver - and seemed to actively dissuade lawmakers and other activists from speaking with certain shows that were deemed too conservative.

That's frustrating, because it would seem to me that both sides would benefit from live interviews with each other - it might make for good radio, but the Democrats evidently aren't interested.

Otherwise, the facilities for both the Democratic and Republican conventions were fine; the cities seemed nice enough, even though I had no time as usual to get out and explore.

And even though I had to engage in mortal combat with the crickets (plural) in my hotel room on several different nights, I finally figured out how to get them.

Finally, while many people are ready to pronounce these conventions as dinosaurs from another era, it didn't seem to me like too many delegates were ready to consign these gatherings to the dust bin of political history.

For example, a woman has just showed up at the gate next to me with the sign from the convention floor that says, "MASSACHUSETTS."

Everyone is taking her picture with the sign and she is all smiles.

So, hopefully in another four years, I will be sitting in an airport waiting area, trying not to fall asleep while I type a blog about what I just covered the past two weeks.

It may not make much sense to those of you reading this, but while the conventions are a frustrating mass of logistical troubles, they are also a very interesting story, a great way to get a feel for what's happening politically around the country.

After 20 straight days at work, it is time to go home. Maybe my family will recognize me.

And soon enough, it will be time to get back on the road.

See you on the radio.

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