NORWALK, Conn. – Donna King did not expect to see celebrities sitting near her Wednesday night, but that's what happened to the Norwalk resident.
Surprises are part of the routine this week for King, a former Common Council member who is attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. King and Peter Thor, treasurer of the Democratic Town Committee, are among the 88 people representing Connecticut.
Actors who are acting as campaign surrogates for President Barack Obama, including Wayne Knight of Seinfeld fame, Viola Davis and Tim Daly, sat among the delegation Wednesday night with no fanfare.
On Thursday morning Gov. Dannel Malloy joined the delegation for breakfast, surprising King with his mood as he spoke at a lectern.
"You could hear a pin drop in the room. His was low, his voice was serious," she said.
Malloy had 45 seconds to describe Connecticut during the roll call process of the nomination of Obama for reelection. He chose to say it was the Constitution State, the home of the Connecticut Compromise. Thursday morning he expanded on that theme, mentioning "the 19 states where voter suppression is in high gear," King said.
"It was a very serious speech and very mesmerizing," she said. "Everyone in the delegation listened without a peep – there wasn't a fork, there wasn't a cup or anything that you heard, there wasn't a sound."
The Connecticut delegation is in an airport hotel, seven or eight miles from the center of town, she said. That means a lot of walking, as much of downtown is closed to traffic and you can only get so close by vehicle.
What don't you see on television? It rained Tuesday night.
"We walked for blocks and blocks in the rain. A lot of us did not bring any kind of rain gear. I had a jacket with a hood but they don't allow umbrellas into the hall," she said.
King has been at conventions before, in 1996 in Chicago, in 2000 in Los Angeles and in 2008 in Denver. Usually the first night is quiet but this one was "amazingly exciting," she said. First, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro appeared, giving "the kind of speech Barack Obama gave in 2004." Then Michelle Obama "just captured our hearts."
King wasn't surprised at the effect of former President Bill Clinton's speech Wednesday night, describing everyone in the delegation as fascinated and enthralled.
"It's the perfect response to the lies that we heard in Tampa," she said. "He laid it out point by point, and nobody does it better than Bill."
Norwalk's delegation to the Republican National Convention last week declined comment on their experiences.