A correction was made to this article on July 27, 2004.
BOSTON — Michael Moore was in his element at the Democratic National Convention.
Sen. John Kerry and the DNC didn’t invite Moore to their political pow-wow, but the resourceful filmmaker relied on his connections to the Congressional Black Caucus to crash the party.
Moore was invited to receive an award at an event posted by a black activist connected to the CBC. Event was supposed to honor Fanny Lou Hamer, a black woman who protested when she was refused entry to the 1964 convention. But the Moore folks put out a press release and more people and press showed up than the room could accommodate. Because the hotel manager refused to allow the overflow to enter, an angry throng of ticket holders and media quickly gathered outside the event. An alternative press conference developed, with one woman, Janet Wilson, a CBC delegate from Staten Island, cursing Moore’s presence at the event.
“One movie does not make me a Democrat. One movie didn’t make me want to come to this convention and support John Kerry,” she fumed. “I’m not here for Michael Moore. I’m here to recognize Fanny Lou Hamer, and I can’t even get in.”
Inside the room, Moore was passionate in his promise not to allow the voices of black lawmakers to be silenced again.
Moore also predicted a massive outpouring of support for Kerry.
“George W. Bush is in for a big surprise,” he said.
Outside the room, organizers were trying to manage the fallout.
Cecilia Huffman, the black activist who planned the event, explained that she, with the help of the NAACP, invited Moore to the convention.
Despite the angry throng that Moore’s appearance generated, Huffman said she was still happy she invited him.
“He is controversial because he made it so clear how Bush got to the White House, and he told the story of the African-American lawmakers. He was the only one who had the nerve to take up the issue,” Huffman said.
But Kerry and the DNC are keeping their distance from Moore.
Kerry and Moore will not even appear in the same room together during the convention. Democratic officials clearly want the week to be a positive debut for Kerry, free of over-the-top Bush-bashing.
Moore, who was flanked by five security guards, did not take questions from reporters after the CBC event, even though they followed him down a hallway before he jumped in an elevator.
But Moore is not keeping a low profile.
After a screening of “Fahrenheit 9/11” this morning, he will lead a Take Back America rally along with Howard Dean and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
On Wednesday, Moore will fly to Crawford, Texas, the heart of Bush country, to hold another screening of the doc. In an open letter Moore has invited President Bush to attend.
When asked about Moore’s presence at the convention, Kerry spokesman Tad Devine said only that the filmmaker is welcome and quickly walked away without answering any other questions.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was a little warmer: “I’m glad he’s here, I’d like to meet him.”
When asked if Moore is helping to defeat Bush, Reid said, “Well, it’s certainly not hurting us.”