If you're trying to get around Denver during the Democratic National Convention, choose a bicycle-powered rickshaw.
That's one of the lessons Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, has learned this week while negotiating the Mile High City, where automobile traffic has ground to a halt because of the massive crowd of people in town for the Democrats' nominating party.
Speier and communications director Mike Larsen have found that pedicabs are fast, convenient and capable of getting you close to the Pepsi Center, which is surrounded by a security phalanx that prevents cars from getting anywhere near the arena.
Both congresswomen representing San Mateo County — Speier and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto — spoke with the Times on Wednesday, sharing their impressions of the convention and their reactions to Tuesday's speech by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, which Eshoo called "electric."
"I thought that Senator Clinton could not have given a better speech, delivered eloquently and with no light between herself and Barack Obama, which is essential for (Democratic Party) unity and being successful in November," Eshoo said.
Eshoo said everyone she spoke to Tuesday night was buzzing about Clinton's speech. As for the Clinton supporters who are still reluctant to embrace Obama, Eshoo said she empathizes with them but would urge them to move on.
"I understand giving all of yourself from the depths of your heart to a candidate
"But we have to be very clear-headed," she continued. "This is not a personality contest — this is about the future of our country."
Speier had a similar take on Clinton's performance. The New York senator showed "incredible class and graciousness," said Speier, both in Tuesday's speech and by calling Wednesday on the floor of the Pepsi Center for Obama to be nominated by vocal acclamation.
Though many Democrats have been urging Obama and other Democratic leaders to sharpen their attacks on presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, Eshoo warned that bashing McCain could turn voters off.
Speier feels somewhat differently. Recalling some remarks made at breakfast Wednesday morning by 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry, D-Mass., Speier declared that McCain is "no maverick — he's an extremist."
In support of her assertion, Speier cited McCain's voting record on several issues, including labor, the environment and abortion. She also criticized his temperament and his aggressive approach to foreign policy.
The question, Speier said, is whether Democrats have done enough to present this view of McCain to the national electorate.
"Our work is still undone here," she said.
Aaron Kinney can be reached at 650-348-4357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.