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July 16, 1976 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1976-07-16

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Mugging at the Convention

IyJ EFFREV SELIST
NEW YO1K-uge klieg li'hts
suddenly flashed on, and caught
in the glare, we blinked. Cam-
eras rolled around on all sides,
and people with yellow tags
around their necks issued crisp
orders in every direction. Flunk-
ies were everywhere.
This was the lobby of the
Statler Ililton Hotel, in New
York City, on Tuesday, July 13,
1976, and the Democratic Na-
tional Convention was in full
swing. Delegates, newspeople,
and operations personnel made
Madison Square Garden and the
Statler Hilton their headquar-
ters.
Two friends and I had made
the decision to go to New York
about 1i a.m. on the 13th, lured
by the promise of press cre-
dentials being given away wan-
tonly, and the excitement, and
the glamor. We drove twelve
and a half hours straight, from
4:30 a.m. until S p.m., and there
met friends in the lobby of the
hotel.
And there it was. One of the
most important news events of
the year, possibly the decade,
and we were in on it. It was-
in a word-overwhelming.

The Statler liltton swas a bee-
hive, Possessed of an elegant
lobby and a gigantic mezzanine
floor, the hotel n-as taken over
by delegations from various
states, and by the press. The
entire mezzanine floor, as a
matter of fact, had been con-
verted into makeshift press of-
fices, via curtains and rods.
Rumor has it that the floor
space was going at $15 per
square foot. Every major news-
paper and wire service in the
country was represented - De-
troit by the Scripps-IHoward
(Detroit News) office and the
Knight-Ridder (Detroit Free
Press) office.
IN TH LOBBY there was a
bar, converted for the con-
vention, known as the Donkey
Den. As there were several of
us in the group, and we all
spent the night running back
and forth from the hotel to vari-
ous places in the city to Madi-
son Square Garden, we chose
to meet at various intervals
at the Den.
The first major desire was
to have dinner, thence to be-
come credentialed for the con-
vention. We had one to pass
around, that belonging to a

The Michigan Daily,
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Friday, July 16, 1976
News Phone: 764-0552
Mondal: A good choice
SENATOR WALTER MONDALE is our first choice for
vice-president. We are glad he is Jimmy Carter's as
well.
Our first choice, that is, out of Carter's main con-
tenders; we certainly would have been pleased with a
nomination of Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan,
a woman more inspiring than any other Democrat who
stepped to the convention podium this week.
It is difficult, of course, to be sure of the motivations
for Carter's final choice. Besides being a liberal, a Nor-
therner, and a member of Congress, Mondale is an at-
tractive candidate in the JFK mold. Photogenic, smooth,
he will present a pleasant new face to match Carter's
own. Even if this is why Carter picked him, we are lucky
to benefit from the strength of his progressive record.
Mondale has long been involved with urban affairs
as well as budget legislation, and has handled both areas
competently. His decision to drop out of the presidential
race last year has been cited by some as a fault, as an
indication that he is not tough enough for the long cam-
paign. But if there is anything frightening about Carter,
(as well as several recent presidents), it is that he wanted
the job too much, that his desire might be untempered
by scruples. That Mondale was less voracious, that he
weighed the alternatives and took the less exciting, is
refreshing.

Duity phstographer. I took his
yellow press pass and waltzed
through the police lines and on
into the plaza.
But first a note. There were
identical passes for everyone
except that they came in dif-
ferent colors. Red passes were
for delegates, bright green for
"honored guests," green for
mere "guests," light blue for
alternates, blue for U.S. Sen-
ators and Representatives, and
yellow and pink for the press.
That was the problem. The
yellow press passes were easier
to come by, but didn't allow
the newsperson onto the floor.
The process was complicated.
The yellow pass, once inside
the "perimeter" (yellow was
marked "News - Perimeter"),
would be swapped for the pink
pass which contained a perfor-
ated tag to be ripped off upon
entering the floor. In a half-
hour (the allotted time for use
of the floor pass), the pink
pass wearer had to redeem his
yellow; if he failed to do so,
he might have trouble redeem-
ing it at all.
So the real fight was to get
hold of a pink pass. But! One
also needed a hand stamp! ("All
right, put the pink pass in your
pocket, wear the yellow. Now,
go out, getting your hand stamp-
ed for reentry. Then, wear both
the yellow and pink back in.")
There are ways of circumvent-
ing security.
HEN ONE HAD to get hold
of a floor pass. Enough
already, I thought. I watched
Humphrey's speech from the
perimeter area, and went back
to the Statler.
But not before bumping into
one of the most incredible peo-
ple I met on the trip - Repre-
sentative Barbara Jordan from
Texas, hanging about the back
of the ABC booth, on her way
nut fromn the floor. I was.- floor-
ed (no pun intended). We had
a brief if inconsequential chat
about the proceedings. They
were, she agreed, somewhat
predictable, though not unin-
spiring.
Jordan herself had come un-
der some heavy speculation
from the news media, follow-
ing her impressive keynote
speech, that she might be con-
sidered for the vice-presidential
spot. Even as unlikely as such
a choice would be, she acknowl-
edged that such attention could
hardly harm her career.
I went downstairs to the Rail-
road Lounge, a press lair for
credentialed reporters, where
beer, pop, and sandwiches were
being served free of charge. I
flashed my little Lounge pass
at the guard, who waved me
in. There I saw three tele-
vision sets, one of which was
carrying Humphrey's speech,
and two of which (and I might
add, the ones the reporters
were all watching) carried the
All-Star Game.
Well,.I didn't know whether
to be insulted or amused.
I went back to the hotel,
where a couple of us went to

the Penn Bar, I think it was
called, and proceeded to down
seve r a l overpriced drinks.
There was a familiar voice be-
hind us, and we turned - none
other than University Regent
Sarah Power, a convention Al-
ternate delegate, was sitting
behind us, having a drink with
a friend.
By now, it was positively Old
Home Week. I had run into a
photographer I knew at the
Garden, and we were later to
run into an ex-Daily staffer in
the Hilton lobby, where he had
just arrived from Washington
and was looking for a taxi to
take him to Greenwich Village!

vania? Well Milt told me the
absolute inside scoop that hi,
delegates are going to go for
Carter. But don't let Newsweek
hear! Or AP! It'll be all over
the country in ten minites and
we have to break it to The
Daily!")
The commotion was unbeliev-
able. Other members of our
party took the credentials that
we were passing around, and
hopped on to the convention
floor, while I decided to look
up a friend who lived in a dorm
at NYU in the Village. He
wasn't in, of course, but I had
a chance to watch everyone in
the lobby of his dorm, huddled

SECONDS WERE ticking away
madly. Here it was, ten
p.m., and we were leaving for
Ann Arbor in just a few hours.
I went upstairs to the press
floor again, and there ran into
another notable, and one just
perfect for the budding young
journalistic groupie like myself.
Sally Quinn of the Washington
Post (and briefly of the CBS
Morning News) was standing
about, bewildered. Mistaking
me for an operations staffer,
she asked me directions to one
of the newspaper rooms. I had
remerbered seeing it, and we
walked over to their impressive
suite, chatting all the whiles I
was bowled over, to put it mild-
ly.
One of the others I'd come
with was busily cornering poli-
ticians on the Garden floor, and
gave us a haughty report later.
("God, that Dick Daley is a
laff riot - and you know Gov-
ernor Milton Shapp of Pennsyl-

around the TV sets, observing
excitedly the most minute de-
tails of the convention. ("Isn't
that Coretta King" I toss off
to my companion. "Yes," she
replies, surely loud enough for
everyone to hear. "Poor dear.
I hope she's overcome her at-
tack of nerves. You know how
she gets." A few heads swivel
around. "Oh my GOD!" I say
in alarm, looking intently at ay
watch. "We've got to get back
- they'll be preparing the re-
leases and we've got to talk
to Beame!" "Beame?!" return-
ed my companion. "Hubert told
me to be up in his suite in an
hour!" Everyone is staring at
us now. One thin, bearded type
See MUGGING, Page 6
Jeffrey Selbst, Daily Arts
Editor, is currently scaring s1
the money to go to Kansas City
for the RePublican ConventioN.
He has aboat a month.

By Pete
Schneeberger
and John
Guillean

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