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Arianna Channels Her Inner Oprah

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Traffic jammin’: Sheriff’s deputies from Clayton County, Ga., busted their moves this week for convention-goers.(Liz Lynch)

Mellowness Flows at Oasis

Scented candles, check. Books on sleep and blood sugar, check. Yoga and meditation. Coconut water, pomegranate juice, all-white furniture, and vases of freshly cut flowers. These are the hallmarks of Oprah Winfrey’s live-your-best-life world. Yet now, convention-goers in Charlotte can enjoy these amenities too, thanks to Huffington Post founder and media mogul Arianna Huffington.

The Huffington Post Oasis, located just a few blocks from the convention center, is open for just one more day on Thursday. The oasis takes appointments starting at 7 a.m. for its menu of free spa services. And, if you want a book off the shelf or a new T-shirt for yoga, they’ll give you that, too.

 

Huffington presides over the spacious area, interrupting the mellow atmosphere to do the occasional media hit on Huffington Post’s live streaming video. The set-up makes you wonder: Is this a sign of Huffington moving more in the direction of lifestyle services?

Security Delays Get Worse

And they won’t get better until the Democratic National Convention is over. If you thought the security lines were long and the streets already clogged to the max with protesters, convention-goers, and cars, get ready to practice some patience.

“Thursday night will be very difficult,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., on Wednesday afternoon about the night that President Obama will accept the party’s nomination. “I expect it will be very tight. And it will take a long time to get into the hall.”

 

Then there is the seeming Herculean task of getting into and out of the uptown Charlotte area, as thousands of people all try to do the same thing simultaneously. Convention-goers—delegates and general public alike—report horror stories about driving around.

“We had to go through three security checkpoints before we could park our car,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., referring to her arrival on Wednesday morning. She dismissed the notion that there is too much security. “I don’t ever think you have too much security,” said DeGette, whose district includes Denver, the 2008 Democratic convention city. “I think what­ever the experts tell you, that’s what you should have.”

The Ladyfest Continues

Tuesday night’s speeches marked an all-out fight for the female vote, and Wednesday’s social calendar was no different. EMILY’s List and Marie Claire threw a packed afternoon cocktail reception at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, where young women and Democratic operatives mingled alongside House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sens. Kay Hagan, Amy Klobuchar, Patty Murray, and Al Franken as well as former presidential candidate and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

“I want to double the number of women in Congress by 2020,” Pelosi told the audience, while Murray threw the proverbial red meat to the liberal crowd. “Need I mention [Rep.] Todd Akin, who says what the rest of them [the Republicans] think?” The crowd loved that line.

 

After the female lawmakers heightened the fear factor about the future of women’s reproductive freedom, the audience helped themselves to wine, beer, and complimentary tote bags full of Aveda products.

A Voicemail for Paul Ryan

The two top members of the House Budget Committee spend most of their time these days bashing one another. Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen secured a prime speaking slot on Wednesday’s convention program in part because he knows the Ryan budget better than other Hill Democrats.

He used that knowledge to twist the knife on Ryan’s policies in his convention speech, bashing Ryan’s plans for Medicare, deficit reduction, and what Van Hollen says are economic policies that will only turn the country backward.

In real life, away from the policy fights, Van Hollen admits that he and Ryan get along quite well. So well, in fact, that when Mitt Romney announced Ryan as his running mate, Van Hollen left him a voice message. “I just told him, ‘Congrats. I hope we get some time off from this budget discussion.’ ”

They haven’t spoken since then.

The Dancing Cop

He got low and windmilled his right arm, the whistle between his lips working a staccato beat. He moonwalked, vamping for the onlookers snapping photos and grabbing cell-phone videos. And, when the cars stopped, Deputy Michael Johnson’s fellow officers carried him from his intersection stage to cool off before his next performance.

Johnson calls it “traffic jammin’.” At the corner of Tryon and West 5th streets this week, emissaries from the Clayton County, Ga., Sheriff’s Department are mixing police work and performance art, to the delight of passersby and to alleviate their own boredom.

The dance recital/crime-fighting had started on Monday, Johnson said from the sidelines Wednesday, looking on as a fellow officer took center stage, dropping to his knees James Brown-style and pumping his arms frantically. Johnson took the lead at the start of the week, he said, and then, “They all got into it, too.”

“We’ll go home after this week and go back to our regular duties,” Johnson said, sounding more than a little resigned.

Google Gets Exclusive

Google may pride itself on its mission of organizing the world’s information, but at the convention, the door policy for the Google building was not that democratic on Wednesday afternoon. To access the standalone structure, people had to show a convention credential. A few locals were turned away at the door. It turns out that only the convention-goers and delegates can drink all that free coffee and use the free Wi-Fi, at least for now.

Obama Girls’ Travel Plans

Sasha and Malia Obama will fly to Charlotte on Thursday afternoon after school to listen to their dad’s speech, according to a campaign spokeswoman. So if you think the traffic is bad now, just wait.

The president and his motorcade arrived on Wednesday afternoon at 3:32 p.m.

Nancy Cook, Amy Harder, and Jim O’Sullivan contributed contributed to this article.

This article appears in the September 6, 2012 edition of NJ Convention Daily.

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