CHARLOTTE, NC (TIP): The US Democratic Party launched its National Convention September 4 as it seeks to convince voters that President Barack Obama deserves a second term.
The chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, brought the gala into session with a strike of the gavel at 5 P.M. ET.
Schultz, who is also the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said that throughout the next three days, “we will demonstrate we need to keep President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden four more years.”
We will keep tabs on the convention all night. I’ll be joined by NPR’s Liz Halloran, and photographer Becky Lettenberger will bring us some of the sights.
If Ted Strickland delivered the strongest attack on Mitt Romney, Gov. Deval Patrick delivered the best defense of Barack Obama.
“If we want to win elections in November and keep our country moving forward, if we want to earn the privilege to lead, it’s time for Democrats to stiffen our backbone and stand up for what we believe,” he said.
He added:”This is the president who delivered the security of affordable health care to every single American after 90 years of trying. This is the president who brought Osama bin Laden to justice, who ended the war in Iraq and is ending the war in Afghanistan. This is the president who ended “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that love of country, not love of another, determines fitness for military service. Who made equal pay for equal work the law of the land. This is the president who saved the American auto industry from extinction, the American financial industry from self-destruction, and the American economy from depression. Who added over 4.5 million private sector jobs in the last two-plus years, more jobs than George W. Bush added in eight.
“The list of accomplishments is long, impressive and barely told—even more so when you consider that congressional Republicans have made obstruction itself the centerpiece of their governing strategy. With a record and a vision like that, I will not stand by and let him be bullied out of office—and neither should you, and neither should you and neither should you.”
First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton are among those who will address the three-day jamboree in Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina.
A recent opinion poll shows Mr. Obama maintains a thin lead over the Republican nominee Mr. Mitt Romney.
With November’s election looming, the president will aim to recapture the political spotlight over the next few days, after last week’s Republican convention. Throughout this campaign, there’s been a lot of talk about whether President Obama would be able to rekindle the kind of fervor he sparked in 2008.
Mr. Obama is expected to answer Republican attacks that his economic policies have failed, and present himself to voters as an experienced and caring alternative to Mr. Romney.Shortly after the convention opened, delegates cheered their backing for the party’s new platform in an open voice vote.
Among the changes found in the text of the party’s 2012 platform was the removal of language from the Middle East section referring to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That message was replaced with a passage referring to the party’s “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security” and Mr. Obama’s “steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel”.
The change prompted criticism from Republicans and Mitt Romney, who accuse Mr. Obama of “selling out” a key US ally.
Tuesday’s first session saw a series of Democratic governors, members of Congress, mayors and electoral candidates speak in support of Mr. Obama and his policies, most notably his much-criticized healthcare reform law.
A video tribute to the late Senator Edward Kennedy included clips from his 1994 Senate debate with Mr. Romney, and independent Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee argued that his former party – the Republicans – had lost their way and had forfeited the label of conservative.
Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said the next president would set the tone for the next 40 years.
“It will be the president’s leadership that determines how we as a nation meet the challenges that face the middle class. It is the president’s values that shape a future in which the middle class has hope,” he said.
Mrs. Obama’s address at the end of Tuesday’s session will highlight the president’s character and praise his attributes as a father and husband.
Her remarks will inevitably be compared and contrasted with those by would-be first lady Ann Romney, who gave a glowing tribute to her husband last week to the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida.
The Democratic convention is likely to highlight the party’s diversity, with young black and Hispanic party members set to deliver speeches.Julian Castro, the Latino Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, will give the keynote address immediately before Mrs. Obama. But a number of the country’s top Democratic figures will not attend.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is missing a Democratic convention for the first time in more than 40 years on account of ethical guidelines preventing cabinet heads from participating in political activities.
Nor will California Governor Jerry Brown and former Vice-President Al Gore be present, both citing personal commitments.
A number of Democratic congressional candidates and incumbents have also declined to attend, as they are engaged in tough battles for election in November.
The Democratic gathering will see Mr. Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden formally re-nominated as the party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates on Wednesday.
Later that evening, there will be speeches from Elizabeth Warren, who is fighting Republican incumbent Scott Brown in a high-profile race for a Massachusetts Senate seat, and former President Clinton.The convention culminates on Thursday with speeches from Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden.The gala also offers the Democrats the chance to make a high-profile pitch to voters in North Carolina, a state that narrowly voted for Mr. Obama in 2008, but is now firmly up for grabs.
As they did four years ago, the Democrats will take the event outside the convention centre for the president’s prime-time speech, taking over a 74,000-seater stadium in Charlotte for the final night of speeches.
Organizers are working to ensure a full house for Mr. Obama’s speech. But organizers are concerned that thunderstorms forecast to hit Charlotte during the convention could keep people away.
Meanwhile, Republicans were quick to seize on a remark Mr. Obama made on Monday, in which he told a local Colorado news station that he would give himself an “incomplete” grade on the economy.
Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan told CBS News that the US should be “bouncing out of” the recent recession. “We’re not creating jobs at near the pace we could,” he said.
A Gallup opinion poll on Monday suggested the convention had given the Republicans only the slightest of boosts, with 40% saying they were now more likely to vote for Mr. Romney but 38% of respondents describing themselves as less likely to.Mr. Obama maintained a lead over Mr. Romney of one percentage point – as he had done before the event