You’ve probably seen the news that Mark Warner, the former Virginia governor and the odds-on favorite to replace John Warner in the Senate next year, has been tapped to deliver the keynote address at the upcoming Democratic convention.
It’s causing a mild stir because many believed that the keynote slot had already been given to Hillary Clinton, who is slated to speak on the same night (Tuesday) as Warner. So is this a slap in the face to Clinton and her supporters?
Probably not. The fact is that Clinton’s speech, whether it’s marketed as the keynote address or note, will be delivered in the plum 10:00 P.M. window (the lone hour when all three networks will broadcast live) and will utterly dominate the news for the entire day and morning after. Even if the Obama campaign was looking to show up Clinton (which they’re not), they’d surely realize that Warner is no competition for the former First Lady and her 1,700 delegates – whose reactions at the convention will be closely monitored by the entire media.
In fact, it wouldn’t even be sensible–or appropriate–for Clinton to deliver the keynote. From a practical standpoint, the Democrats have one hour of primetime to program for that Tuesday night. Clinton’s speech will probably take half of it, maybe a little more. Having someone else fill the keynote role ensures that the networks will pay close attention to the other half-hour. (The “keynote address” may sound slightly more compelling to viewers than “a speech by the former governor of Virginia.”)
Plus, Clinton’s speech will, presumably, be different in nature than the kind required of a keynote speaker, who is supposed to address the broad themes that the party wants to express at the convention and in the campaign. Clinton’s address will be more personal than that – a celebration of her history-making campaign, a salute to her supporters, and an effort to forge a lasting (at least through November) peace between the Clinton and Obama armies.
There is room on the second night of the Democratic convention for two speeches. Clinton’s may not technically be the keynote, but it doesn’t mean any less attention or respect will be paid to her.