The Speeches They Write Often Go Unspoken

The Speeches They Write Often Go Unspoken

By Raymond Hernandez and Jeremy W. Peters
The New York Times, August 27, 2008

Denver — It seemed like a typical Democratic line, one that would play well with the partisan crowd that has packed the Pepsi Center this week.

Above all, it said, we cant have a Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants to our country as we build a wall on the Southern border. Instead, let us build bridges of friendship and cooperation with our Southern neighbors.

But when Representative Jos E. Serrano of the Bronx submitted his three-minute speech as required to the high command of Senator Barack Obamas campaign, the remark was excised. In fact, there was no mention of immigration policy, an issue of great importance to Mr. Serrano and his constituents in New York.

That was not all that was missing; the speech he delivered here on Monday bore little resemblance to the one he had written. The deletions appeared to reflect political sensitivities of a campaign seeking to attract moderate voters in the general election.

Mr. Serranos experience is one that many convention speakers have had this week, and some are grumbling about it. While all presidential nominees try to put their own stamp on the convention, Democrats say Mr. Obamas vetting team has been especially aggressive.

And there is concern among many gathered here that the four-day production the Obama campaign is putting on lacks the partisan sharpness and fire that they expect the Republican convention will have.

Bill Burton, a spokesman for Mr. Obama, acknowledged that the campaign was working with all the speakers to reinforce the themes of the convention.

Its not that rigorous a process, Mr. Burton said. We just want to ensure that everyone knows our goals of the convention and the message of change that were getting across. We also help to check the facts.