Nevadan still sees upside

DENVER -- Xiomara Rodriguez, the Nevada woman whose scheduled address to the Democratic convention got bumped from the schedule Wednesday night, wasn't too upset about it on Thursday.

Rodriguez figured she was in good company. Also dropped as the program ran long (former President Clinton's speech went 10 minutes over) was New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Rodriguez watched Wednesday night's program from the podium and was onstage with her husband when Joe Biden celebrated his acceptance of the vice-presidential nomination.

"We were right there when history was happening," Rodriguez said Thursday morning. "Neither my husband or I are big political people, but we were standing there with the biggest people in the Democratic Party."

Rodriguez said she got to shake hands with Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi.

Rodriguez gave her 21/2-minute speech to a small but attentive audience, the Nevada delegation breakfast, Thursday morning instead. The 20-year Coast Guard veteran, who lives in Reno, talked about America's duty to its veterans.

"For us veterans, the choice is clear," she said. "We need Barack Obama as the next commander in chief and the next president of the United States."


Nevada's delegation to the Democratic convention started the day with presentations Thursday from unions and, for the second day in a row, Sen. Harry Reid.

Convention veterans have been heard to grumble that the speakers at the four delegation breakfasts have been pretty lame. Four years ago when the Democrats gathered in Boston to nominate John Kerry, the Nevada delegation was wooed with bigger names.

Among them were U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state, who talked about the environment and Yucca Mountain; actor John Cusack, dashingly casual in a ball cap and jeans; and senior Kerry campaign officials for strategy briefings.

This year, the Nevadans have had Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, Reid and oilman-turned-energy-evangelist T. Boone Pickens, all on Wednesday.

The only Obama campaign envoy was energy adviser Howard Learner. There's been an Iowa state legislator and presentations from the corporate sponsors.


Nevada's youngest delegate, 19-year-old Gibran Baydoun, couldn't stay for Thursday morning's delegation breakfast. He had a taping of "The Daily Show," the satirical news show on cable's Comedy Central hosted by Jon Stewart, to make.

Baydoun said he was looking forward to "being ridiculed on national television for being Arab." He said the Democratic National Committee contacted him when the show was looking for an Arab-American delegate for a segment making fun of ethnic stereotypes.

A Henderson native and Green Valley High School graduate, Gibran is a junior political science major at the University of Michigan. Baydoun came back to his home state to attend the Nevada caucuses and conventions.

Baydoun was excited about the prospect of being on the Daily Show, which he said all his friends watch.

Contact reporter Molly Ball at mball or 702-387-2919.