Politics, government and public life for Southern California

California has lousy convention seats, but delegate finds the best of the worst

Keith Umemoto is attending his sixth Democratic convention

Thursday night, Barack Obama makes his case to the nation at the Democratic National Convention why he should be re-elected. Everyone in the arena wants a good look at the president. 

Keith Umemoto, originally from Los Angeles, is a convention veteran. His father took him to conventions as a child. This is his sixth convention as a delegate.

He says that experience helps him snag the good seats. 

Rule 1: Get there early.

As soon as the doors open to delegates, Umemoto is inside the arena. Today that was 1 p.m. ET.

Rule 2: Scope it out.

Umemoto says he surveys the landscape and picks his spot.

Rule 3: Make the best of a bad deal.

Umemoto says California's seats "are not as prime as Illinois or Delaware." That's because there's no Californian on the ticket and we're a reliable "blue" state.

Rule 4: Be fast.

Umemoto says he makes a bee line for the seats he wants, spreads out his stuff, then heads back to the hotel.  He'll return to the Time Warner Arena in a few hours with the rest of the delegation, secure in the knowledge he's done what he can to get a good look at President Obama.

Umemoto is lucky he has a seat at all. The president's speech was supposed to take place at a 70-thousand-plus seat outdoor football stadium, but predictions of thunderstorms moved it back inside the arena.  That leaves about 40,000 people on the outside looking in, watching instead on TV.
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