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At Democratic watch party, enthusiasm and hunger for more change

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 6, 2012 - After the video feed cut out in the opening of Jill Biden’s speech, and the attendees cheerfully called out hints like “Check the surge protector!” the watch party at the Royale for the Democratic National Convention was promptly put back on track.

The party had spilled outside into the back lot of the restaurant on S. Kingshighway, where a large screen projector was set up. Attendees, both standing and seated, clapped loudly as the screen lit up once more with the video of the convention, even as they energetically talked with friends and strangers alike.

“There’s something exciting about being with a group of people who are all watching the same thing you are and sort of feeling the excitement makes it so much more fun than just being off on your own,” said Jennifer Greenfield, a grad student in social work at Washington University.

Politics weren’t forgotten for the evening, however. Wayne Johnson, a St. Louis firefighter, said he and his wife like what the Democratic Party stands for.

“Being a firefighter, a public servant and a labor guy, (I think) the other side doesn’t seem to support our issues nearly as much, as well as the whole health-care issue. We have a son with special needs, so just the idea that he can’t be turned away because of a pre-existing condition is huge for us,” Johnson said.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., arrived at the party before Biden began her speech. McCaskill made her way through the clumps of people shaking hands, taking photos and waving back to people shouting her name from across the crowded space. McCaskill spoke positively about the country’s recovery during Obama’s time in the oval office, and outlined what she thinks are some challenges the country will face in the future.

“Obviously the big problem is, while the economic recovery has made progress, we’re not well yet,” McCaskill said. “The patient stopped bleeding, but the patient isn’t all the way cured. So people are frustrated that we’re not all well. We want to make sure they aren’t tempted to go back to the same policies that caused the problem in the first place. That’s why I think the theme they’ve used in the convention has been very effective, about going forward instead of backward.”