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Deconstructing the Delegate

August 13, 2000|RACHEL USLAN

In a city that favors black attire and utter hipness, who are these 4,369 people wearing red, white and blue and getting away with donkey-shaped jewelry? They're Democratic National Convention delegates, and they're in Los Angeles for the first time since 1960. Here's how they stock up for three days of voting and night after night of social events:

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HALL PASS

Delegates can't leave home without credentials hanging from their necks--the IDs will get them into parts of Staples Center that not even Jack Nicholson has seen. Credentials will feature holograms to prevent forgeries and bar codes that are scanned upon entry.

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CELLMATES

In booths throughout Staples Center, SBC Communications/Pacific Bell Wireless will offer a discount on cell phones, complete with commemorative faceplate of a billowing flag. With a phone purchase of $225 or more, enjoy a "DNC 2000" embossed leather case. If only the phone rang with "Hail to the Chief."

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MAKE IT OUT "TO MY FAVORITE DELEGATE . . ."

Autograph books are essential--how else to prove to the grandkids that you met one of the Gore girls and your favorite home-state senator in the same day?

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HYPERVISION

Binoculars help delegates seek out the political big shots. Hey, there's the lady who sang "Evergreen"!

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FOOTNOTES

Each delegate must decide whether to forgo fashion for comfort, but much of this year's crew will probably turn up in tennis shoes. The Democratic National Convention Committee has already warned them that nearby parking is limited, and, of course, any schmoozer knows that to work a room properly, you've got to be on your toes.

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HAT TRICK

Delegates can't wear or carry flags much larger than the one shown here because they block other people's views. The prospect of an unobstructed Al Gore, however, isn't enough to stop the delegates from wearing hats of all shapes and sizes, including those traditional straw hats with bumper stickers across them and perhaps even a Wisconsin-pride cheese head or two.

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SMILE!

"Laugh at everything Al Gore says," suggests Oregon Democratic Party Chair Jim Edmunson. "We have laughing points, not talking points."

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WHAT'S YOUR PIN?

From the basic "Gore 2000" to a "Beatty 2000" whited-out and politely corrected, no self-respecting delegate's lapel is complete without being pricked. On a vest that must be very heavy by now, one California delegate wears every political pin she's ever received. This year's presence of a metal detector, however, may somewhat thwart her plans.

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ROLL OUT THE BLAZER

"I'll be wearing a bright red blazer with gold buttons and a Stars and Stripes necktie," says Roberts Braden, head of the Senior Caucus of the California Democratic Party. "It's kind of hokey, but that's part of getting into the spirit."

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FEELING GIFTED

Delegates expect lots of freebies in goody bags from convention sponsors, which include American Airlines, Bank of America, Chevron, Edison International, Ernst & Young, Hewlett-Packard, Hilton, Lockheed Martin, Saban and Waste Management. Who doesn't need another mug, or a dumpster key chain, or seeds for plants that don't grow in other parts of the country?

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