Democrats Hit Back At Reports Of Convention Problems

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story on what it characterized as a "Democratic convention effort marred by costly setbacks and embarrassing delays."

"With the Denver convention less than two months away, problems range from the serious — upwardly spiraling costs on key contracts still being negotiated — to the mundane, like the reluctance of local caterers to participate because of stringent rules on what delegates will be eating, down to the color of the food," wrote the Times.

The story painted a damning picture of the planning of the event, and also suggested that the campaign of Barack Obama was frustrated with "organizers who they believe spent too freely, planned too slowly and underestimated actual costs."

The story was so damning, in fact, that it has prompted a response from Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean and Democratic National Convention Committee C.E.O. Leah D. Daughtry, who suggested that it was "gross misrepresentation of the groundwork that has been laid to date."

Dean and Daughtry wrote that contrary to the Times' claims, the convention has been well-managed and costs and contracts are under control.

"Despite uninformed criticism in the New York Times and the city's worries about the color and fried nature of food among other things, our focus remains on putting on an historic event that helps keep Senator Barack Obama on a path to victory in November," they concluded. "When August comes, the eyes of the world will be watching. And we'll be ready."

The DNC and DNCC have struggled to raise money during this election cycle, in part because the Democratic candidates themselves attracted unprecedented fundraising support, drying up some of the DNC and DNCC's traditional sources in the process. Convention fundraising has also been slowed by the fact that the Obama campaign doesn't allow the DNC or groups related to it to take money from corporate lobbyists.

(That hasn't, however, stopped both the Republican and Democratic conventions from shaping up as what the Los Angeles Times characterizes as "a multimillion-dollar infomercial underwritten by corporations and lobbyists whose influence both presidential candidates decry." Click here for more on that.)

In a conference call today on the Democrats' decision to hold the final day of the convention at Invesco Field (not the Pepsi Center, where the rest of the convention will be held), Dean suggested that the DNC wouldn't be able to make the move if the convention were over budget.