Next week Democrats take their turn
August 31st, 2012
01:46 PM ET
2 years ago

Next week Democrats take their turn

(CNN) – One party ends, another begins.

With the Republican National Convention wrapped up, all eyes now turn to Charlotte, North Carolina, the site of the Democratic National Convention that officially kicks off Tuesday.

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Mitt Romney accepted his party's nomination Thursday night amid heavy fanfare–complete with 100,000 balloons, confetti and a "surprise" appearance by Hollywood royalty Clint Eastwood. Romney delivered a rousing speech, making his case against the president and growing emotional while sharing stories about his past.

It's common for candidates to get a modest boost after their party conventions, but Democrats hope any momentum Romney may gain from the GOP gathering will be short-lived thanks to their big blowout next week.

"Whatever there is, I think we can blunt that pretty quickly," one an official with President Barack Obama's re-election team said last week while speaking with reporters at CNN.

The names of convention speakers have been trickling out in recent weeks. Former President Bill Clinton will give the nominating address to Obama on the final night of the convention, a move that had some critics questioning whether the 42nd president-who now has higher approval ratings than the current occupant of the Oval Office-would overshadow Obama.

The campaign said they had no concerns of Clinton outshining the president. A top surrogate for Obama this year, Clinton starred in a recent television ad released earlier this month for the re-election campaign. Explaining their decision to highlight Clinton, a campaign official said they're not trying to use him as a reminder of "the good ol' days," but as someone who could validate Obama's policies.

"He's a great validator of what we want. He's viewed as an expert on how to move the economy forward and how to build it from the middle class out," one official said. "There are few people who can speak to that authoritatively, and he's one of them-because he's done it. He's sat in the chair."

First lady Michelle Obama will also have a headlining role at the convention, as she's set to speak the opening night, exactly one week after Ann Romney gave spoke about her husband in a prime time convention speech. Campaign officials said the first lady helps augment the campaign's strategy to use the convention as a way to show "what drives (the president) every day."

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro will give the keynote address, marking the first time the keynote is delivered by a Latino at a Democratic convention, organizers said.

Other high-profile speaking spots will go to Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who won the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who acted as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee and is running for U.S. Senate, will also make appearances.

Earlier this week, convention organizers announced that Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Rep. Barbara Lee of California will participate in revealing the party's platform. And the committee officially announced Friday that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will also be on stage next week.

The first two days will take place in the Time Warner Cable Arena, and the week concludes with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden giving their acceptance speeches Thursday in the Bank of America stadium, which seats up to 73,778 people.

With North Carolina a crucial battleground state this cycle -Obama narrowly won the state in 2008- the campaign said they expect the convention to make big returns for the president at the polls this November. They said the location of the site was a "statement on the fact that the president expanded the map of traditional Democratic territory in 2008."

"The campaign really did an incredible job four years ago leveraging the convention to help win Colorado, and we're going to apply all those lessons and skills to this one," one official said.

CNN recently moved North Carolina's rating on its Electoral Map from "leaning Romney" to a "toss-up" after a new CNN/Time Magazine/ORC International poll indicated the race for the state's 15 electoral votes was a dead heat.

Three days long, the 2012 Democratic convention will be the shortest for the party since 1948, which was also three days. The 2008 and 2012 GOP conventions were also three days, but the first day's program each cycle was abbreviated or cut completely due to hurricanes.

While forecasts show the potential for rain and possibly thunderstorms on Thursday for Charlotte, the same day as the outdoor finale at the stadium, organizers said they're in the process of creating a back-up plan-but, they said, the event will go on, rain or shine.

The convention doesn't officially convene until Tuesday, yet many reporters, delegates and attendees are arriving for events beforehand. Friday morning, organizers led students from the North Carolina School for the Deaf on what was billed as the first public tour of the podium, located at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte.

Democrats have been promoting the gathering as an open, public convention, saying they're holding events for the community and offering invitations to anyone to come hear the president's speech on the final night Thursday. Those wishing to attend, however, must first apply online.

Touting the upcoming event, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Friday on CNN's "Starting Point" that the gathering will be the "most inclusive" convention, because Democrats "believe that the people that should be celebrated are the working folks in America, the working class."

– CNN's Shannon Travis, Jessica Yellin, Gregory Wallace and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    The fact checkers will be thankful to able to take a week off.

    August 31, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. Greenspam

    How much are these conventions costing the federal government?????

    August 31, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  3. Debby

    They had their turn for 3 years and failed.

    August 31, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  4. OpportunityForAll

    We are more divided now than we have been in my lifetime. Time for a change.

    August 31, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. Bob

    Oh I can't wait for the DNC!! 3 days of listening to blame Bush and the last 8 years over and over. Democrats are like a broken record.

    August 31, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. NinjaScott

    Should the Democrats play hard ball and lie through their teeth like the GOP just did...?

    August 31, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. Hogan's Goat

    We're going to get Wilford Brimley to scream at a bowl of oatmeal that he thinks is Romney. It will be hilarious.

    August 31, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |