BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: In Depth: US Elections: Election news
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

banner Thursday, 3 August, 2000, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
On the party circuit

By the BBC's Gordon Corera in Philadelphia

If you ask a political scientist, they will tell you that delegates come to conventions to nominate a presidential candidate, to adopt a party platform and decide rules for their party.

But if you ask most delegates why they come here - they will give you a different answer.

They are here to party. There are something like a thousand "events" happening over Philadelphia this week - ranging from the chance to play a round of golf with a congressman to vast parties, bankrolled by corporations which the delegates flock to after the evening's business is done.


Last night, a Congressman threw a half million dollar extravaganza at the old Navy Yards.

The theme was Mardi Gras and the drinks looked to be flowing freely (sadly, the media were turned away and left pressing their nose against the glass watching the merriment).

Meanwhile, a more intimate affair was taking place over at Penn's landing onboard the Amber Jack yacht where Voter.Com were throwing their bash and where the press were made more welcome.

The general rule is the smaller the party, the harder it is to talk your way in and the better it will be once you get in.

Money and politics

The top restaurants in this town have been booked months in advance and even venues like the Museum of Natural History are being used for receptions which run through the day.

The newspapers around here have even started publishing guides on how to talk your way into a party you haven't been invited to.

Yesterday, I also managed to bump into the Mayor of New York Rudi Giuliani at the entrance to a reception for Rick Lazio, Hilary Clinton's senate opponent, who was charging $1000 a head for a private reception to fund his campaign (again, the press were not welcome inside).

It all sounds like fun but some people are worried by the way in which conventions are changing and the way in which money is eclipsing real politics.

To people like Scott Harshbarger, President of Common Cause, a group which looks at the influence of money in politics, conventions are becoming private parties in which big business woos Congressmen and presidential candidates to buy access and favours while the average voter is left out in the cold.

Among those paying for some of these parties are corporations who have business before Congress.

No pay, no play, as they say over here.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

01 Aug 00 | Election news
Bush's bumpy centre ground
01 Aug 00 | Election news
The two faces of Philadelphia
29 Jul 00 | Election news
Choreographing the convention
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Election news stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Election news stories