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Live-blogging the Democratic National Convention

By on September 3, 2012

The Democratic National Convention starts Tuesday. President Barack Obama will give his speech to accept the party’s nomination Thursday night. Previewing and live-blogging here.

Thursday

2:55 p.m. - In an apparent attempt to ward off any protests of a planned speech by Charlie Crist, Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith told delegates to be on their best behavior at the Democratic National Convention this evening, reports the News Service of Florida.

Smith didn’t specifically reference Crist, a Republican-turned-independent who has endorsed President Barack Obama, in his closing remarks to the delegates at Thursday’s breakfast. But he stressed the importance of the 2012 presidential race and Obama’s speech. “I expect everyone in this room to govern themselves accordingly,” he said.

1:07 p.m. - Noam Bramson, a New York delegate at the Democratic convention, points out some eerie similarities between Elizabeth Warren’s speech last night and one given by Franklin D. Roosevelt at the 1936 Democratic convention.

“Just about everyone to the left of Glenn Beck regards Roosevelt as a hero these days, so next time you hear a Tea Party activist denounce President Obama as a socialist or call him un-American, go back and reread that Roosevelt speech (or a hundred others like it) to be reminded of the richness and complexity of the true American tradition.”

Bramson’s convention notes from Day 1Day 2 and Day 3 are also interesting and worth reading.

11:15 a.m. - Sarah Kliff notes that Clinton’s prepared remarks last night were 3,136 words but his speech as delivered was a whopping 5,895 words.

10:43 a.m. - Matt Latimer spells out why Clinton soared last night:

Here’s why I think Bill Clinton’s speech was successful. For all of his tortured arguments and wonky, ponderous asides, Bill Clinton made a substantive case. He dealt with facts and statistics.  He made points and then explained why he made them.  He had details. Boy, did he have details. In short, he did what almost no one at the Republican convention tried to do, what few conventions bother to do anymore.  He treated the American people like thinking human beings.

10:32 a.m. - David Maraniss: “In classic Clinton style, the more he got going, the less inclined he was to follow his printed text, ad-libbing his way through a series of knowing asides such as, ‘I know; I get it; I’ve been there.’ He took his listeners on a kaleidoscopic tour of recent political history and deep into the Clintonian method, a modern-day variation of the Socratic method in which every question is worthy of consideration, and every opposing argument is given its due before being shredded.”

10:29 a.m. - Andrew Sullivan highlights an explanation for why Hillary Clinton is not at the Democratic National Convention.

Because it would be illegal:

Federal law — the Hatch Act of 1939, amended by Congress in 1993 — specifically prohibits secretaries of state from attending political conventions, and the State Department’s own ethics guidelines also rule out political activity. A senior administration official, speaking on background because the official is not authorized to speak on the record, told CNN, “The law carved out the State Department as having a unique position in the government in that foreign policy, by its nature, must remain nonpartisan/apolitical.”

Clinton, who is on an eleven-day trip to Asia, will miss the Democratic convention for the first time in four decades.

9:42 a.m. - The morning after Day Two of the Democratic National Convention, when most political junkies (Republicans, too, at least privately) are still buzzing about how blown away they were by Bill Clinton’s tour de force, some poor schlubs have to go to work very early today denying it mattered at all. Maybe nobody saw it, preferring to watch pro football’s season-opener. It was too long! It was too wonky! It was really designed to “show up” Obama and/or boost Hillary! If you want to see every negative asessment a malignant heart can devise instantly, particularly with full access to Romney campaign advice, you can check out Jennifer Rubin’s sour take.

The most popular tactic among conservatives for dealing with the case Clinton made was simply to ignore it, and instead focus incessantly on the Great Platform Scandal of 2012. Look at any aggregator this morning, and you will see this discussed endlessly on conservative and MSM sites. I certainly agree that it was an “unforced error” for the Democratic Convention to get trapped into defensive manuevering on completely symbolic language in acompletely symbolic document; word is Obama himself insisted on the amendments. But it’s all pretty much a nothing-burger, and the frantic efforts to fan this into a really big deal–if not a deadly insult to God or to Israel–are a sign of how badly many conservatives want to avoid dealing with the actual Democratic Convention. Expect this to get even worse in the course of the day when, I expect, those gabbers who aren’t still yapping about the platform will switch to claiming that Clinton set the bar so high that Obama will surely fail when he comes to the podium tonight. Count on it.

8:00 a.m. -  Politico’s Mike Allen reports in Playbook, Sen. John Kerry tonight will offer a detailed critique of the “Romney-Ryan foreign policy.”

“Watch for him to call it naïve and extreme, arguing that they would make us less safe. The 2004 nominee will say Obama kept his promises on Iraq and Afghanistan, killed Bin Laden, led in Libya and reduced the threat of nuclear proliferation.”

7:58 a.m. - Charlie Crist takes the stage tonight at the Democratic Convention. Crist arrived on Wednesday with wife Carole Rome and John Morgan, the head of the law firm where Crist currently works and a major Democratic fundraiser.

“It’s awesome. People are so friendly and so kind and so nice,” the Palm Beach Post via the News Service of Florida quoted Crist as saying. “It’s just a wonderful atmosphere and we’re having a great time.” Crist says he plans to talk about Obama’s efforts to help Florida.

4:08 a.m. - Tomasky is still raving:

Holy smokes. That was the best political speech more or less ever. There wasn’t a thing he didn’t touch on, and there wasn’t a thing he didn’t just blast out of the park. His carriage and delivery nailed it for partisans and for persuadables. He hit Republican obstructionism. He slammed the Romney and Ryan plans on virtually every point they’ve raised in the last six months, from the welfare ads to the tax cuts to the Medicare “cuts” to so much more, and he did it in detail.

1:07 a.m. - Chris Cillizza admires Clinton’s political skills:

He was the explainer-in-chief without seeming too preachy. He was full of Southern aphorisms without being hokey.  And, perhaps most importantly of all, Clinton was quite clearly having a very good time — and he let it show. He adlibbed. He played with the crowd. He smiled and laughed. And, yes, he went on a little too long.  But, if you are a student of campaign politics — like we are — what you watched tonight was the work of someone with massive natural ability in the political arena.

12:15 a.m. - Will Wilkinson applauds:

As for form, no living political figure can match Mr Clinton’s rhetorical ear, improvisational lability, or daemonic audience connection. As for content, Mr Clinton’s typically overstuffed address packed in more policy detail than the entire GOP convention, all while maintaining a coherent narrative thread. A few tendentious points aside, it was a masterful speech which redeemed an otherwise embarrassing night for the Democrats.

Wednesday

11:35 p.m. - Scott Galupo calls Clinton’s speech “yet another virtuoso performance from a man whose political talents, however at times infuriating and mendacious, you can’t help but wish were deployed on your side’s behalf”:

Earlier this week, I argued that former President Bill Clinton would aim his convention address primarily at fence-sitting whites. I was wrong. He did more than that. He did everything, and he arguably did it better than President Obama has ever done in his own right. … Clinton’s wasn’t just a speech aimed at wavering whites — although it certainly was that (many g’s were dropped, and the president referred to himself as a “county boy” at one point). It was aimed at seniors, women, and young people, and, with its riffs on voter ID laws and Medicaid, immigrants and minorities and people with disabilities.

11:30 p.m. - Joe Klein was seriously wowed:

I can’t think of any politician who talks as good as Bill Clinton. Certainly, no politician has ever been able to unpack and explain dry, complicated policy nuances in as juicy and entertaining a manner. The folks at Fox were speculating that the speech was overly wonky and maybe a lot of people got bored and turned off their televisions. Wishful thinking, no doubt. That’s what they always said about his epic State of the Union filibusters–and they were always wrong. People like listening to this guy. He’s informal, and informative, in a way that Obama, sadly, has never been able to be–otherwise the folks would have known all that good stuff about the health care plan, and the stimulus plan. But then, Obama’s in good company: as I said, Clinton’s the most compelling policy wonk I’ve ever heard. And there is no second place.

9:00 p.m. - Brian Williams showed Clinton the cover of Newsweek (“Why Barack needs Bill”) during an interview that airs tonight. Then he asked: “Why do you think Barack needs Bill?” Clinton’s response: “I really don’t know. I’ve always been mystified by that…I hope what I can do, because we did have a good economy, because we did have the longest expansion in history, is explain why I think his approach is right and it’ll pay off if we renew his contract. Explain why the economy he faced was much weaker and different than the one I faced, so that…no president could have restored it to full health in just four years.”

5:36 p.m. - Tonight’s speaker list has a little bit for everyone: a former president, a gay congressman, a 2016 hopeful, a potential Supreme Court justice and a liberal icon.

5:18 p.m. - John Heilemann says First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech last night “was one of the most extraordinary convention turns I have witnessed in more than two decades in this racket.”

5:13 p.m. - A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted prior to both political party conventions finds former President Bill Clinton with a 69% favorable rating — a personal best spanning his presidential and post-presidential years.

4:45 p.m. - A Smart Politics review finds that Michelle Obama’s 2012 speech to the Democratic convention was written at the highest ever grade level for spouses of presidential candidates and seven grade levels above Ann Romney’s Republican convention remarks, as measured by the Flesch-Kincaid readability test.

3:49 p.m. - Reid Epstein considers the risk that Dems are taking in showcasing Warren, scheduled to introduce Bill Clinton tonight:

Will she handle the flood of interviews without hijacking Obama’s message to middle-class voters or alienating what remaining Wall Street donors the campaign still counts as friends?

3:48 p.m. - Democrats appear to be running “two parallel conventions”:

One hard-edged pitch to the party’s base; and one broad, warm appeal to swing voters. The beginnings of Tuesday’s convention were marked by fiery, shouted denunciations of Mitt Romney’s wealth and and by relentless warnings about Republican views on women’s health and quips like former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s: “If Mitt was Santa Claus, he’d fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.” The program swerved when prime time hit and broadcast viewers arrived, however, quickly becoming conciliatory and emotionally warm, closed by Michelle Obama’s personal speech.

11:09 a.m. - Andy Borowitz made me laugh with this one:

The Democratic National Convention today released a dramatically revised schedule for the night of Wednesday, September 5th:

8:00 Call to Order by First Lady Michelle Obama
8:10 National Anthem, performed by Branford Marsalis (saxophone), Michelle Obama (vocals)
8:15 Pledge of Allegiance to Michelle
8:20 Former President Bill Clinton introduces video of Michelle Obama
8:25 Video replay of last night’s speech by Michelle Obama (on loop until 10:58)
10:58—10:59 Remarks by Vice-President Joe Biden
10:59 Benediction by the Reverend Michelle Obama

10:07 a.m. - The Democratic National Convention Committee announced that convention programming, originally planned for Bank of America Stadium on Thursday would be moved to Time Warner Cable Arena, the site of the first two days of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, due to severe weather forecasts.

The DNCC also announced that President Barack Obama will address community credential holders in a conference call on Thursday.  Call information will be emailed directly to community credential-holders.

9:08 a.m. - At Florida DNC delegation breakfast, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says “what I didn’t see was an arena that looked like America” at RNC.

Tuesday

5:59 p.m. - Dylan Byers writes (via Poynter) about the crisis affecting political reporters, whose job may sound like fun but is apparently more suited to pondering whether existence is a hole in the fabric of the universe.

If there is one narrative to anchor what often feels like a plotless 2012 campaign, it is media disillusionment. Reporters feel like both campaigns have decided to run out the clock with limited press avails, distractions, and negative attacks, rather than run confident campaigns with bold policy platforms or lofty notions of hope and change — leaving the media with little to do but grind along covering the latest shallow, sensational item of the day.

5:51 p.m. - The 10 weirdest brags and vaguest platitudes in the Democratic party platform here.

4:30 p.m. - Bloomberg TV looks at whether Democrats have a built in advantage by having their convention after the Republicans.

4:22 p.m. - David Brody reports God’s name has been removed from the Democratic National Committee platform.

This is the paragraph that was in the 2008 platform: “We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-givenpotential.”

11:19 a.m. - As I first reported, Gov. Charlie Crist will speak Thursday.

10:59 a.m. - David Maraniss takes a closer look at the significance of Bill Clinton’s address at the Democratic National Convention, which is slated for Wednesday:

On Wednesday night here, Clinton will be tasked with a mission that has largely frustrated President Obama: Cut through the political clutter and clarify the choice in November. Explain, in his inimitable way, in language that persuadable voters in middle-class America can understand, what Obama has accomplished and why his economic policies would pull the nation out of tough times and GOP alternatives would not.

9:39 a.m. - “Rarely has a political persona been so non grata as John Edwards at this Democratic convention in his home state,” USA Today reports.

9:36 a.m. - Checking out the Google lounge – What you’re missing and should check out this week: Google product demos, nifty charging stations, nice space outside, lots of food. What Google wants you to see: Among other things, its pamphlets touting how Google Maps and other tech are helpful in responding to natural disasters. Look for Google today to hold panels on African American and Latino leaders, and on Wednesday and Thursday, hold a series of discussions about advocacy and social media, 21st century campaigning and the future of the Internet economy. Via Morning Tech.

8:46 a.m. - @BylineBrandon: And we have our first empty chair joke at the Florida delegation breakfast.

8:34 a.m. - U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown and Kathy Castor are speaking to the Florida delegation this morning. Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker and Virginia U.S. Sen. Mark Warner also address Florida delegates to the convention at their breakfast.

8:21 a.m. - The Wall Street Journal says President Obama “has fundamentally shifted his view of modern presidential power” and “is now convinced the most essential part of his job, given politically divided Washington, is rallying public opinion to his side. As a result, if he wins a second term, Mr. Obama plans to remain in campaign mode.”

“The president views a second term in some ways as a second chance, an opportunity to approach the office differently… He would like to tackle issues such as climate change, immigration, education and filibuster reform. He has told some aides that a sizable mistake at the start of his administration was his naiveté in thinking he could work with Republicans on weighty issues.”

7:45 a.m. - Michelle Cottle: “If Ann Romney’s convention speech was, as she adorably put it, all about ‘love,’ Michelle Obama’s will be all about passion. Not hers for Barack (or vice versa), but his for this country, all of its people, and the values about which so many people got so amped up in 2008.” Via The Political Wire.

7:44 a.m. - Michelle Obama takes center stage: USA Today: “Look for Michelle Obama to talk about how the president’s policies are moving the country forward, even in the face of a slow economic recovery. Unlike Ann Romney, who helped soften her spouse’s edges at last week’s GOP convention, the first lady doesn’t need to dwell much on the president as a husband and a father. With two-thirds of Americans holding a favorable view of Michelle Obama, she has proven to be a positive force for the White House.”

7:42 a.m. - In an Obama campaign conference call with reporters, senior adviser David Axelrod said that former President George W. Bush’s policies and legacy — but not Bush himself — will be key to the Obama campaign’s effort to draw a sharp contrast with Mitt Romney, Greg Sargent reports. “Axelrod joked that Bush the man would get about as much of a mention at the DNC as he did at the RNC — which is to say, almost none at all — but said Bush economics would be very much on the agenda.”

7:37 a.m. - Washington Post: “There is nothing formulaic about Clinton’s presence at the Democratic National Convention this year. He is not just another old presidential war horse being trotted out for nostalgia or a staged show of unity. When Obama called in late July to say he would be grateful if his Democratic predecessor would give the speech placing his name in nomination, something that no former commander in chief has done before, it was an acknowledgment of how much the sitting president needs the former president. And Clinton, who loves to be needed as much as he needs to be loved, responded with an enthusiasm and diligence that served as yet another signal to people close to both men that an old wound has for the most part been healed.”

7:32 a.m. - @Markhalperin: Bacon is protein Biscuits are the Southern way Resistance futile #charlottehaiku

7:30 a.m. - Spirit of ’08 Gone, Democrats Unite Against ’08 by Adam Nagourney: “Their unity at this point is defined less by faith in Mr. Obama or a robust vision for what the party should stand for than by the prospect that Republicans could control the White House and Congress next year … Romney’s selection of … Ryan … has only intensified the ideological fervor. … Negative campaigning … can be a powerful tool for the White House. But it raises the question of whether, if he wins, Mr. Obama will be able to claim a mandate from voters and rally the elements of his party in the service of any kind of ambitious second-term agenda … “In many ways the Democratic Party has reverted to form - an unruly conglomeration of sometimes competing interests, united in a belief that government has a crucial role to play in the economy and social justice, but often divided by priorities, means and values.”

7:27 a.m. - President Obama, in an interview taped Sunday with anchor Dianne Derby of KKTV Channel 11 in Colorado Springs (CBS affiliate), on the grade he would give himself for fixing the economy: “You know I would say incomplete…but what I would say is the steps that we have taken in saving the auto industry, in making sure that college is more affordable and investing in clean energy and science and technology and research, those are all the things that we are going to need to grow over the long term.” Via Mike Allen of POLITICO.

7:22 a.m. - The Obama campaign promises it will fill every one of the 73,778 seats in Charlotte’s mammoth football stadium Thursday night when President Obama accepts the Democratic party’s presidential nomination, The Hill reports. “We’re confident we’ll be full. We have a great ground operation in North Carolina and we’ve registered more voters than any other state,” said Jen Psaki.

6:29 a.m. - With Florida’s very own Debbie Wasserman Schultz serving as DNC Chair and a focal point of this week’s convention, the Political Hurricane looks back to Floridian contributions to past DNC’s.

6:27 a.m. - Here’s the TV primetime lineup of speakers for Day One at the DNC convention.

6:19 a.m. - From an unprecedented endorsement of same-sex marriage to the first lady’s big speech, here’s what’s worth tuning in for on the first day of the DNC.

12:54 a.m. - Democrats unveiled a party platform at their national convention Monday that echoes President Barack Obama’s call for higher taxes on wealthier Americans while backing same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

Monday

7:03 p.m. - There are 5,556 delegates and 407 alternates at the Democratic National Convention. 50 percent are women. 27 percent are African Americans. 285 are currently students. The oldest delegate – Elzena Johnson, of Terry, Miss. -was born in 1914. The youngest delegate – Samuel Gray, of Marion, Iowa – was born in 1994. There will be 4,000 convention watch parties.

3:02 p.m. - Florida delegate Shannon Love offers the following dispatch - Last week Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told residents to “embrace the crazy.” Coming into Charlotte, this city apparently has the same feeling. Coming off the plane, I was greeted no less than three times saying “Welcome to Charlotte.” The traffic was pretty intense, taking an hour and a half for what Google claimed would be seventeen minutes.

The Florida delegation, the largest in state history, has a closely located hotel just blocks away from the Convention Center, as well as the Bank of America Stadium. Meanwhile, in addition to the DNC guest festivities, CarolinaFest seems to be out in full force throughout the area, with delegates, media, and local residents.  The Muse epicentre has replaced Channelside with a main area for media, having the stage for MSNBC as well the CNN Grille. What’s perhaps most interesting is how much more accessible the Democratic Convention areas seem today compared to the Republican National Convention. While hotels ask that only overnight guests enter the hotels, it’s clear that there are more centrally located community events that anyone can access.

11:19 a.m. - Tech contrasts apparent on eve of DNC: Tony Romm reports from Charlotte: “Democratic convention speeches may focus this week on jobs, health care and taxes, but the tech industry is waiting to hear the party contrast President Barack Obama’s vision of innovation, Internet freedom and cybersecurity from that outlined in the GOP platform last week. At stake for the industry: the future of Internet and telecom regulation. …The lines couldn’t be clearer between the president’s positions and his Republican challenger’s tech agenda – on everything from Internet access and buildout to relations with China.” More here.

11:12 a.m. - Auto bailout to take center stage: Obama’s actions to rescue the U.S. auto industry will be front and center during the DNC, top Obama strategist David Axelrod said Friday. With Mitt Romney’s “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” op-ed and Paul Ryan’s convention speech that hit Obama for a GM plant closure, Democrats “from top to bottom” will highlight the president’s actions and how the American automakers have returned to profitability. “It’s certainly something we want to talk about,” Axelrod said, noting that “politics were not on the side of intervening to save the American auto industry.” More at POLITICO here.

11:05 a.m. - A California delegate to the Democratic National Convention was hospitalized early this morning, after apparently falling unconscious in a hotel lobby following a night of drinking, while another delegate became confrontational with hotel staff and has since left the delegation, the Sacramento Bee’s David Siders reports. The hospitalized man has since been released from the hospital, California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores said. Flores said two men were involved in an incident early this morning in the lobby of the Blake Hotel, where the California delegation is staying. He declined to identify either man or to say where they are from. ‘Oftentimes at conventions, people who have not seen each other for a long time gather and sometimes people have too much to drink,’ Flores said. ‘That appears to have been the case here, and we’re gathering more information.

10:30 a.m. - Democrats feel good! First Read: “Heading into their convention here this week, the Obama campaign and Democrats are feeling pretty good after Tampa. The polls… suggest that Mitt Romney got little to no bounce from the GOP convention, at least so far. Romney’s speech, while addressing his likeability and gender gaps, is still being criticized for what it omitted… And then there was the whole Clint Eastwood debacle. So Democrats are feeling good, but feeling good isn’t the same as being in good shape. Indeed, the presidential race remains close and competitive. And all the shortcomings from last week only put pressure on the Democrats to do better.”

10:28 a.m. - Charlotte Observer: “National political conventions used to be about just two things: Nominate a presidential ticket, then sell it to the American electorate with a big TV show. This year, there’s a third goal: Win North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes – and perhaps a second term in the White House – by using the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte as a campaign organizing tool.”

9:14 a.m. - The New York Times profiles White House adviser Valerie Jarrett who “often serves as a counterweight to the more centrist Clinton veterans in the administration, reminding them and her innately cautious boss that he came to Washington to do big things. Some of his boldest moves, on women’s issues, gay rights and immigration, have been in areas she cares about most. If Karl Rove was known as George W. Bush’s political brain, Ms. Jarrett is Mr. Obama’s spine.”

8:17 a.m. - A solid read - “Obama, party of one,” by Glenn Thrush and Jonathan Allen : “Back in 2010, when his advisers were scouting possible locations for the 2012 convention, they briefly considered blowing up the traditional format by holding four small, one-day affairs in battleground states – most likely in Charlotte, Columbus, Las Vegas and Denver … It was a telling, if symbolic gesture, underscoring Obama’s drive to maintain an innovative brand distinct from his own party’s traditions … Over the past four years, he has led his party through the political wars, including some they didn’t want to fight, while managing to forge only a handful of new relationships with Democrats outside his tight circle. … “These days, Obama’s messaging is strikingly in tune with that of down-ballot Democrats. Yet there’s a nagging sense among some headed to Charlotte that Obama is an enthusiastic Democrat who remains oddly unenthusiastic about other Democrats. ‘I’ve been on Air Force One twice – with George W. Bush,’ said one Democratic lawmaker, representing the sentiment of a half-dozen prominent Democrats interviewed by POLITICO.”

8:13 a.m. –  [T]he entire Convention will be livestreamed on DemConvention.com/live and through the Democratic National Convention Committee Mobile App … The entire program will be streamed in Spanish simultaneously. Millions of Americans will also be participating in more than 4,000 watch parties organized already in neighborhoods across the country. Some of these watch parties will be highlighted as part of Thursday night’s programming. … ‘We are revolutionizing the way political conventions are done by making Charlotte 2012 more open, accessible and relevant to the American people,’ [Obama for America] Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter said.

8:02 a.m. – Mark Washburn’s “5 Journalists to Watch This Week: “1. Judy Woodruff … Carolinas Connection: Her father is from Roanoke Rapids [N.C.]. She attended Meredith College in Raleigh, then Duke University in Durham. ‘And I married a Demon Deacon.’ … 2. Jake Tapper … His grandfather was head of the physics department at UNC Chapel Hill and his mother grew up there. … Do conventions still matter? ‘I remember well in 2004 covering the convention in Boston when suddenly there was this young state senator out of Illinois giving the keynote speech and getting well received.’ 3. John Roberts … Fox News … Daughter attended College of Charleston. … 4. Norah O’Donnell … Do conventions still matter? ‘Largely they are about letting the American people get a feel for the candidates. … This is an opportunity for Americans to take a gut check about whether they like Romney or Obama, and whether they believe what’s true in their speeches.’ … 5. Jim Acosta … CNN … Carolinas connection: He proposed to his wife on a weekend trip to Cashiers.”

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