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Delegate Hand lends support
Local woman returns from Democratic convention
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Forsyth County News
A very tired Beth Hand returned from the Democratic National Convention a changed woman.

The Cumming delegate went to the convention as a strong Hillary Clinton supporter.

She returned as a clear backer of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, the recently confirmed Democratic presidential ticket.

“I was a Hillary delegate, so I was sort of ambivalent about the whole thing for the first few nights,” she said.

“But Barack knocked it out of the park. His speech is what sealed the deal for me. He said what he needed to say and I look forward to helping elect him president.”

Hand left Aug. 22 for the convention in Denver and returned Friday, along with many other convention-goers.

“I had to be at the airport at 4:45 a.m. [Friday] and it was nothing but Democrats,” she said.

Biden, a longtime senator from Delaware and the party’s vice presidential candidate, gave one of the more surprising speeches Hand said she heard.

“I didn’t know his story,” she said. “I didn’t know his background and I didn’t know where he came from.

“I didn’t know anything about him except that he’s been in the Senate forever. So to hear his story was really great.”

Her whole experience over the four-day convention was filled with excitement, Hand said. But with that excitement came exhaustion, which she hadn’t expected.

“It was very tiring,” she said. “You get up, have breakfast and you go all day until you get back to your hotel after 11 at night ... it was very exhausting, a lot more than I could have ever even imagined.”

“[Thursday] night though, there was a rush of energy for sure ... people were going wild and, of course, when Barack spoke, people were hanging onto every word, that’s for sure.”

During her time at the convention, Hand’s days were spent at meetings, many of which were sponsored through the convention.

She did attend a function for Emily’s List, a political action committee that supports female, Democratic candidates who favor abortion rights initiatives.

Obama’s wife Michelle, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton all spoke during Emily’s List event, Hand said.

All of Clinton’s speeches were on target, said Hand, especially the one Tuesday validating Obama’s candidacy.

“She did a tremendous job ... she’s just a class act,” Hand said. “Her speech was unbelievable. She just did everything she needed to. She was on it.”

The major speeches during the convention were televised, but what Hand said most people didn’t see were the floor whips, “telling everyone to hold their signs up.”

“They didn’t tell us when to applaud, but they did tell us when to hold up signs,” she said.

“Sometimes you sort of miss part of [the speeches] because you’re passing signs down and making sure everyone’s got what they need.”

Another thing viewers may have missed was all the security to control the crowds of more than 75,000 during Obama’s Thursday speech.

“The security was unreal,” she said. “They had the system down ... it was pretty amazing that they can move that many people through that quickly and effectively.”

Hand’s seat in the Georgia delegate section was central and within the first 20 rows, she said.

In addition to having a close view of the speakers, she was near the CNN news crew, which was stationed on the floor. Her proximity to media also landed her an interview for a California radio station.

As a former Clinton supporter, many news crews were looking for delegates like Hand to “see what I was going to do and what I was thinking.”

Though Obama and Biden will get Hand’s vote in November, she’s worried history could repeat itself.

“It’s ours to lose,” she said. “If the Democratic Party screws this one up, we won’t have anybody to blame but ourselves. This is the Obama-Biden team from here on out.”