Exile on Causeway Street

Published July 30, 2004 8:29AM (EDT)

John Kerry may have hit a homerun with his acceptance speech Thursday night, but as War Room has noted, convention planners whiffed big time. By around 8:15 p.m., the Boston police and fire departments had the Fleet Center surrounded and completely locked down. One police captain announced through his bullhorn that they were "evacuating" thousands of people from the overstuffed building, although when we asked if it was an emergency situation, he said, "No, it is not an emergency situation."

Police and fire did their job well, and it didn't matter who you were. Tom Green, a leader on Kerry's finance committee in St. Louis, stood outside an entrance with his VIP floor credential and two tickets to Kerry's own after-party at the Museum of Science in hand. He laughed it off. "It's almost past my bedtime anyway," he said, and turned to head for his hotel as a phalanx of officers herded the crowd away.

In the Harp on nearby Causeway Street, convention credentials dangled from every other neck. The fish and chips were tasty and the Guinness flowed liberally. It was easily 30 degrees cooler than inside the Fleet. Watching Kerry's speech on a bank of televisions above the bar, the crowd was riveted. His barb at Enron drew particularly thunderous applause.

"I've never been excited about Kerry before," said college student Ryan Doheny. "He's exceeded my wildest expectations."

The second biggest star of the whole convention offered a similar sentiment shortly after Kerry had finished. We were on Causeway Street, scrambling for a cab to the Four Seasons Hotel, when a beaming Barack Obama strode by with his entourage. "I thought John was outstanding," he said. "He was energized and you could sense that he was inspired. The vision he painted for the future of the party and the future of the country was right on target. I don't think he could've done any better."

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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