This part of the state has three veteran convention delegates at the Democratic National Convention this week in Charlotte, N.C.
All three rate the Charlotte venue one of the best they've attended, and they raved about the speech given Wednesday night by former President Bill Clinton, among others.
"Last night, President Clinton really teed it up -- very, very awesome, very, very powerful," said Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, who is attending his ninth convention. "He articulated and exposed some of the misstatements and misquotes in the campaign about things like Medicare and Medicaid. Those things need to continue to be articulated to show the differences in the parties."
Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, is attending his "sixth or seventh" convention, and called the Charlotte gathering "one of the best."
"This one has been very, very interesting and very, very upbeat," Bishop said. "There have been so many great speeches. I think the message of inclusion, of the big tent that our party represents in working for opportunity for all people came through very strongly." Bishop also was impressed by Clinton's speech, calling it "a compelling case" for sticking with President Barack Obama.
"(Wednesday) night President Clinton made a really strong and compelling case that President Obama should be re-elected if we want to see our country move forward and not return to the policies that got us in the bad shape we found ourselves in 2009," Bishop said.
He also gave high marks to the first lady, who was "elegant and eloquent" in her presentation Tuesday night.
"I was so impressed with Michelle Obama and how she conveyed her husband and what he's like, and the fact that the presidency doesn't change who you are, it reveals who you are," he said. "I was impressed by her advocacy of the job her husband has done for the country, having inheriting a real mess, and having done a yeoman's job of keeping the country, the ship of state, afloat, and now positioning us to move into the future with prosperity."
Bishop's wife, Muscogee County Superior Court Clerk Vivian Creighton-Bishop, is a delegate at her third convention and was unequivocal in how she ranks Charlotte.
"This is the best one I've attended so far," Creighton-Bishop said. "The energy level, the speeches, the venue is a great one. The only thing I can complain about is the weather -- it's stormy right now."
Convention organizers had planned for Obama to speak in a 74,000-seat stadium, but nixed that because of the weather. The speech was moved into the convention arena, which seats only 15,000.
"We're going to have a lot of unhappy campers over that," Creighton-Bishop said. "We've had a lot of people come from all around the U.S to be able to attend in the old venue."
Creighton-Bishop was similarly impressed by the former president's speech.
"I think it's the best speech I've ever heard," she said. "It was electrifying. He brought it home."
Smyre, 65, has seen countless political campaigns at all levels over almost 40 years in politics. He said he's cautiously optimistic about the Democrats' chances in November.
"I'm not one to be naïve. I know this is going to be a close election," Smyre said. "But I feel optimistic about it. We just got to continue to articulate and tell our story."