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Behind the Scenes, a Tightly Scripted Affair in Charlotte

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi takes a look at the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

The program starts this afternoon, and from there every name pronunciation and every word choice is noted in the script. Almost every word that will be uttered on the stage from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. and then again from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. is already drafted.

Boylan, the head of the team, will always be on or near the stage.

Surprises

Both Cramer and Rodriguez have attended a slew of conventions, seven and four respectively. The group of seasoned professional knows the pressure on the campaign to strike the elusive balance between production perfection and genuineness that the public and the media will be looking for during the three-day show.

Don't expect moments like the Clint Eastwood's speech at the Republican National Convention in, Cramer said.

"I was watching it feeling very uneasy and just thinking, 'My god, this is very sad,'" he said. "Especially, the next day when I read in the newspaper that it was ultimately the only two or three minutes the Romney campaign allowed not to be scripted. That was so unfortunate for them, because everything else was so tightly scripted. When [they] gave three minutes, it turned into 10 minutes and it was kind of a rambling mess.

"I think we learned the lesson," he said. "Certainly, going second, [the Eastwood debacle] is right in to forefront of our minds."

Another plus of having the scripts written days in advance, Rodriguez said, is that if there are any last minute surprise guests or changes, the team will have enough time to add them in.

"I think they have left in room for surprises," she said. "But there won't be the kind of surprises which will make us have to scramble last minute."

As with all live events, there is only so much preparation the team can do.

At the 2008 convention, for example, one speaker had such a case of nerves that he got sick backstage before he was supposed to go on.

The team hustled and moved things around; the nervous speaker addressed the convention the following night.

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