Behind The Scenes In Denver

A convention is almost like a city within a city. Close to 5,000 delegates and more than 15,000 credentialed guests, speakers, honored guests have all descended upon Denver. CBS News anchor Katie Couric took a look at what happens both onstage and off.



"The 45th quadrennial of the Democratic Party will now come to order," said DNC chairman Howard Dean.

And with that, Dean will kick off the Democratic National Convention.

"One of the greatest problems of people who have never spoken at the convention before is they shout," Dean told CBS News anchor Katie Couric.

"You know a little bit about that," Couric joked.

"I know something about that," Dean admitted with a smile.

Close to 5,000 delegates will be watching them from the floor.

"How do you decide who sits where?" Couric asked Dean.

"Well, Illinois obviously has an important position," he said.

So does Joe Biden's Delaware and Howard Dean's Vermont.

Delegates from some key swing states also have prime real estate. But in this most environmentally friendly convention yet, one staple will be noticeably absent.

"Where do the balloons drop from?" Couric asked.

"No not this year. Not green enough. Fireworks," Dean said, hesitating. "I'm not sure I'm supposed to tell you that."

Underneath the stage lies another secret: an actual moving platform that adjusts to each speaker's height.

"Obviously Sen. Obama is a great deal taller than I am, and I don't want to have it here," Dean laughed. "So there has to be a happy medium.

While Dean is center stage at the convention, Anita Dunn of the Obama campaign is running the show backstage.

"This office is where the speechwriters are," Dunn said. "Some speakers write their own speech and some speakers have the speeches written for them."

Vicky Rideout helped craft Senator Obama's keynote address in 2004

"Did you ever think it was going to create the sensation that it did?" Couric asked.

"I thought, you know, we might have just started something big here," Rideout said.

This is one of the final stops before their big moment - the rehearsal room.

"A lot of people who speak at the convention have never spoken from a teleprompter before, so they practice their speeches," Dunn said. "Especially everday people. They have never stood at a podium or had screens."

Everyday Americans like Mike and Cheryl Fisher of Beech Grove, Ind., who had lunch with Barack Obama last spring, and are now appearing at the convention.

"Last Sunday I got a call and they said come to Denver," Mike Fisher said.

There are press secretaries in the showers, even the sauna has been transformed into an office. But when it's all over, the whole massive arena goes back to the Denver Nuggets.
  • Katie Couric

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