The DNC media swag bag includes a pedometer, a small can of Diet Coke, an iPad case, a fan, a weird water bottle, and some promotional material.
Just like with Tampa, I rode into Charlotte on a horrendous, dark downpour, like a million tiny spigots suddenly opened up overhead. But Charlotte's rain wasn't the suggestion of a near-miss from a tropical storm; it was just an afternoon thunderstorm, the kind of thing that's gong to happen here all week, a sudden burst of a temper tantrum that turned out to be the preamble to a couple cool breezes. I came in just before 4 pm. By 6 pm, everything was smoothed over. It's hot here, but it's not tropical-hot the way Tampa is, not the kind of choking, down-deep humidity that hurts.
I've been through North Carolina a few times before, but I've somehow missed Charlotte every time. It's a pretty city, with a single light rail line that is is clean and runs often and hits lots of useful locations. Whereas Tampa was done up with red, white and blue elephants everywhere I turned, Charlotte is covered in the red white and blue of the Obama campaign's Charlotte logo. There's a strong police presence—they're still putting up the barriers—but because Charlotte is built tighter together than the sprawl of Tampa, it doesn't feel quite so constrictive. Yet. There's still two days to go before the convention starts, so there's always a possibility that the security presence will be overwhelming by Tuesday.
On the train into town to pick up my credentials this morning, I overheard three women complaining about Kemper Freeman's fight against a light rail line to Bellevue. I introduced myself to them, and learned that they're Washington state delegates, on their way to a gospel concert breakfast event. "There are Democrats on Mercer Island," one of the delegates really wanted me to understand. "We exist. There are lots of us." (Another change from Tampa: I saw not one single Republican delegate on public transit down there. In Charlotte, the train is packed with them.) Now I'm downtown with two days to kill before the party really starts. I picked up my press credentials and I'm about to go check out a protest that's forming somewhere near me. For the first time this trip, I find myself without a strict schedule to keep to. Luckily, I'm in a city I want to explore. Looks like it's gonna be a beautiful day.