Michelle nailed it. So did Clinton. But on the big night, the president delivered a dull and overconfident speech.Tom Pennington / Getty Images
How Did Obama Do?
It’s conventional wisdom that Barack Obama and the Democrats have to use their convention to persuade swing voters. OK, but how? That’s the big question. It doesn’t seem at first blush that the famous Reagan question that’s resurfaced—“Are you better off than you were four years ago?”—will work to Obama’s benefit.
Back in 2008, Barack Obama boasted the support of more than 40 prominent Republicans and conservatives, including Colin Powell, Bush press secretary Scott McClellan, and Reagan solicitor general Charles Fried. These “ObamaCons” were offered as a barometer of Obama’s crossover appeal, evidence of his ability to unite the nation.
The last time Michelle Obama delivered a speech on stage at a Democratic National Convention, she wore a teal sheath by Chicago-based designer Maria Pinto, which was accessorized with a starburst brooch at the center of the neckline.
Henry Cisneros. Antonio Villaraigosa. Bill Richardson.It’s a safe bet that Julian Castro, the San Antonio mayor and rising Latino star set to deliver the keynote address Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, remembers these names well.
Not a lot of news—in the sense of unscripted surprises or revelations of things previously unknown—is generated at national political conventions, let alone on the day before national political conventions.So more than a hundred photographers and reporters—some of them speaking French and German—gathered in a mob Monday afternoon on the floor of Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena to watch Michelle Obama conduct television interviews high above in the nosebleed suites and then descend to the blue-carpeted podium to check out the speechifying equipment.
Martin O’Malley, who is busy singing President Obama’s praises in Charlotte, is also keeping one eye on the next Democratic convention—the one that gets under way in 2016.When the Maryland governor submitted his speech—“They only gave me seven minutes”—to Obama campaign officials, he recalls, “they said I had too many applause lines.
The schedule for the Democratic National Convention is laid out a little differently than the RNC's, at least on the first day. Where the Republicans offered a series of speeches one after another, on Tuesday the Democrats will mix major speeches with panel discussions.
Barack Obama won a comfortable victory in 2008, with an 8-point advantage over John McCain. Today things are drastically different. Recent polls suggest a virtual tie between Obama and Romney—which means that, in all likelihood, this election is going to be extremely close.
It’s no surprise that Stephanie Cutter didn’t think much of the Republican convention and its blatant appeal to female voters. But there was one woman she singled out for praise.“Ann Romney is an impressive person and did a good job of giving a lens into her husband,” she tells me.
Tuesday night, arguably the most popular campaigner of this presidential race will have her say, when Michelle Obama takes the stage to make the case for her husband’s reelection.And while her role as candidate’s wife remains more or less the typical one—humanize the hubby—expect the contrast between Mobama’s convention appearance and Ann Romney’s to be dramatic in a number of ways.
Never mind hope and change—or at least the euphoric hope and sweeping change that characterized Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. The message this week in Charlotte, N.C., site of the Democratic National Convention that will nominate President Obama for a second term, is incremental change and a tiny sliver of hope.
This week in Charlotte, N.C., Barack Obama will answer Mitt Romney. It’s a doable task, given that Obama is one of the most gifted orators in modern American history, and Romney, as he reminded us Thursday, is not. But to succeed, Obama’s speech must include two phrases that he doesn’t usually utter on the stump.
The relentless drumbeat during the Republican convention was loud and insistent: Mitt Romney had to deliver the political speech of his life.By contrast, the conventional wisdom surrounding Barack Obama is that he can deliver the speech of his life here in Charlotte and it won’t matter.
They’re caught in a trap. And it’s a trap they built. (Yes, they did build it. Nobody else made it happen.) As the 2012 Democratic National Convention nears, I do not envy Team Obama. They have to escape from the narrative trap they’ve built.
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