A Good Night for the Dems | Arkansas Blog

A Good Night for the Dems

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The first evening of the DNC played well in Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena and, by all accounts, also well on television. Major speakers from the evening all sang from the same hymnal but with different emphases. Some, like Michelle Obama, trumpeted President Obama's values and achievements. Others, like San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the Convention keynoter, emphasized the opportunity provided in America when government is on peoples' side. Some, like women's rights activist Lilly Ledbetter, emphasized issues that the Obama campaign sees as crucial to its victory. Finally, a few—perhaps most effectively Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick—were critical of GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

However, the direct jabs at Romney were surprisingly rare considering the hard-fought nature of the race for the White House. Even in the First Lady's speech, though, there were clear, indirect references to the GOP nominee: "We learned about honesty and integrity — that the truth matters…that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules…and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square." Clearly, the Obama campaign has decided that this must be a mostly positive DNC to reach undecided voters who were not sold on the aggressive GOP convention according to post-RNC polls. The contrast between the two conventions' keynoters—the bullish NJ Governor Chris Christie and the smiling Castro—could not have been more stark in both substance and style. The weakest speaker of the evening was a surprise. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is often mentioned as a 2016 presidential candidate but his "forward, not back"-themed speech seemed the flattest of all the major addresses this evening.

Having never attended a convention, most impressive was the crispness of the operation. All speeches ran right on time, the photos behind the speakers were sharp and complemented the words being spoken, and signs were handed out all over the hall with precision to create unified visuals. All indicators that, inside the hall, this is a first-rate operation. Charlotte has had struggles with the transportation system for delegates and guests. The bus-based system is fragile and was brought to its knees this afternoon by a relatively small anti-war protest.

The Arkansas delegation's placement in the hall was commented upon in a Christian Science Monitor piece today. That said, the seats—while deep in the back of the hall—do have a good line of sight to the stage.

Late afternoon today, the Democratic Party of Arkansas hosted the major fundraiser headlined by President Bill Clinton. In his remarks, Clinton seemed to be trying out lines and themes for his address tomorrow night. There seems little doubt that Clinton's talk will focus on the economic challenges Obama inherited and the choices he has made to put the country on the right trajectory. Clinton's speech will highlight the Wednesday night session of the convention.

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