Democrats have a great advantage, in holding their Democratic National Convention one week after the Republican National Convention, if they play their cards right.
What will this week’s political convention bring? Will there be any 'Eastwooding' going on? Will Betty White be there? What will Michelle be wearing? So many questions!
In all seriousness, I believe former President Bill Clinton's speech on Wednesday evening has the potential to have a big impact on the tone of the Convention. Expect him to call out the RNC on welfare and health care issues, which many Democrats say are blatant lies.
On Tuesday evening, Michelle Obama will speak, and she comes across as a more powerful figure than Ann Romney. Just like Ann Romney's speech, we should not underestimate the importance of Michelle’s speech, just because spouses have traditionally been softball spokeswomen for their husband candidates. Issues like education, child health, and the continued sacrifices of military families will certainly be on Michelle Obama’s agenda.
This week, I expect to see calculated responses from the Democrats to the criticisms of the RNC, in the form of speeches with specific policy plans. I also expect to see a very effective, simple argument from attack dog Vice President Biden. He and Clinton both have a knack for simplifying complex topics into digestible sound bites, serving as a complement to the President's more professorial and cool demeanor.
We can expect a host of targeted criticisms of Paul Ryan's budget, though the DNC may worry about hosting a classroom lecture on prime-time television. I would love to see that, as I think people need to become more educated about the numbers in order to fully understand the issues at stake. Right now, it seems as though there will most likely be methodical and maddening fact-checking of every last statement of every speech set to take place at the DNC.
On Thursday, President Obama's speech will most likely have shades of 2008, with it's lofty rhetoric set to inspire. But it will also contain the darker realities of our economic situation. He is certain to address foreign policy, especially Afghanistan, and frame these successes in terms of jobs and the U.S. economy.
PolicyMic will be covering all the events and speeches during the Democratic National Convention live. For live updates bookmark and refresh this page.
UPDATES: Wednesday 5:00 PM To catch all the live action on Wednesday, including a preview of Elizabeth Warren and former President Bill Clinton's speech during the 10:00 PM hour, see here.
Overall Monday recap:
FLOTUS nailed it. I fully admit I am incapable of being unbiased about Mrs. Obama. Her accessibility as a woman and mother is tangible. I have a lot of respect for Ann Romney, but Michelle Obama is just the more commanding and heartfelt speaker. The policy points in her speech were surprising, but seemed necessary. That speech easily could have been too personal, too lofty for a country of unemployed workers and frustrated voters but it just seemed to hit all right notes at the right time.
Castro's speech I expected to be different; it was the same 'bootstraps and immigrant' storyline as Rubio, but he did include specific policies; he did talk about Obama more than Rubio did about Romney it seemed. It took him a while to find the rhythm - his 'speech legs,' but he closed it well and unlike Chris Christie, he wasn't nearly as politically selfish. Also, his daughter is adorable (and so were Chris Christie's).
Deval Patrick, I never knew he was such a fiery speaker! If that wasn't a bid for higher office, I'm not sure what is. I could have done without o'Malley, it fell flat coming after Patrick's speech and the tone was forced. Ending the night on a high note was a drastic improvement over Night #1 of the RNC, but I definitely wish Tammy Duckworth and Stacy Lihn had been featured in the 10pm hour, even if it wasn't tonight.
I'm divided on the addition of Keenan, NARAL President, as well. This election cannot be won on abortion rights, it has to be won on equal pay and basic healthcare rights for women. I'm not sure why politicians think there are actually single-issue voters anywhere in this country. Perhaps there are, but the issue is a large one - the functions of government in general.
A speech you may have missed was from Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. It was an open condemnation of Romney. If you are looking for an aggressive face of the Democratic Party, the underlying anger which effectively couples Romney with the whole of the GOP, extremes and all - take a look here. Romney made a huge mistake saying he was 'severely conserative' as a Governor because look to lower level Dems to push on that until the breaking point, but outside of the limelight.
That was a political speech, it was very explicit in not separating liking President Obama and not liking his handling of the economy. If you like the man, you have to vote for him is essentially what she was saying. I'm not sure that sentiment will convince undecided voters but I think it may make disappointed Democrats more comfortable with voting for her husband.
11:00pm FLOTUS is getting emotional on stage when talking about giving all children a 'limitless possibility"
Every camera shot included a different type of person getting emotional, mostly women though. It did ring of the 'hope and change' lofty rhetoric of 2008, but it was much more realistic. It made it more respectful of the struggles people are going through today, a note I don't think Ann Romney could hit effectively.
From USA Today:
And her dress was fabulous(!) and not the usual red or blue of politicians' wives.
Also, much more mention of POTUS' Grandmother this election.
"Doing the impossible is what we do as a nation...It's how this country was BUILT"
10:53pm Michelle Obama comes out to the loudest cheers of the night. They won't even let her speak. She looks stunning and is a much more natural speaker than Ann Romney. It's not an unfair comparison, candidates spouses/FLOTUS don't have softball spokeswomen roles anymore.
She's doing the 'what our young life used to be like' also, but it seems more genuine than Romney, more relateable.
"So many people had a hand in our success." Necessary mention of student loans. Does the Barack/Michelle story still play after 4 years?
"Being President doesn't change who you are, it reveals you are."
"Our monthly student loan bill was higher than our mortgage." THAT is a real line. THAT is a real subject people want to hear about in this economy.
She's using quite a bit of policy in her speech, which is not normal for a FLOTUS.
10:36pm Michelle Obama is more popular than POTUS or Romney...combined. And now, a mother of 5 children, one in each branch of the Armed Forces - Elaine Bryne, is introducing the First Lady.
Much, much more mention of the wars in DNC vs. RNC. Also serves to paint the picture of Obama as a Commander-In-Chief, a critique often heard from the GOP.
10:27pm I don't think he was quite ready for the Keynote speakership, but the crowd is loud and his story was genuine. It took him a while to get his voice and pace, but he did it towards the end:
10:15pm "Pre-K and student loans are not charity." Quoting Romney's speech saying "start a business and borrow money from your parents if you have to" in a sarcastic manner.
And there's the line: Romney's a good guy, "he just doesn't know how good he's had it."
10:11pm Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio, is up. Dropped a line in Spanish. I'm still not sure how that comes across, but it had the same vibe as Marco Rubio - a genuine story about his immigrant family.
10:04pm "Swiss bank accounts never built an American bridge" Maryland's O'Malley playing to the RNC 'We Built It' theme. He has everyone saying "Move forward, not back!" again an open criticism of Romney and Ryan saying they want to go back to the days of Reagan, Truman, and Bush taxation.
It was lackluster and unfortunate he had to follow Deval Patrick, who, again, should have been in the 10pm hour.
9:52pm: Deval Patrick is getting fired up and warming up the crowd. Who knew he had it in him?! Giving a list of all POTUS/Biden accomplishments, much needed as the Party has been terrible at doing that until this point. It seems as though, speakers tonight have already talked about Obama more than speakers at RNC mentioned Romney in all 3 days.
9:39pm Lily Ledbetter has taken the stage. It's Ladies Night for sure. Not sure how this blatant appeal to women will go over, but it seems to be playing well. I said it before, equal pay will have to be biggest issue the DNC must use against Romney and GOP. "The Presdient signed the bill for his Grandmother whose dreams hit the glass ceiling and so his daughters' never will." That was the most effective character line of the speech. She calls out Romney on having Swiss bank account and Cayman Island investments and compares that women losing 23 cents "for every hour, for every pay paycheck, for every job." Effective use of numbers and emotion.
9:26pm KAL PENN. I'm really, quite excited about 'invisible man in the chair' reference.
9:22pm Disappointed. No bleeps from Rahm Emmanuel. I was really hoping for some more anger or straight facts. This in-between sans curse words isn't working for me. I have to say, he does stick to his positions, he's concise and clear.
9:15pm HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius doing her job and explaining the details about Obamacare and saying POTUS was 'raised by Kansas women.' She's doing a solid job appealing to those undecided single-issue healthcare voters who want specifics and facts. So far a good balance of emotional and factual. For Democrats, they need to keep up that balance for a wider appeal. Health care got a face in Stacy Lihn and the nuts and bolts right after with Secretary Sebelius.
9:04pm Another emotional speech. I'm not sure how much people can take tonight to be honest. A mother, Stacy Lihn, whose baby needs life-saving surgeries for a congenital heart defect. "If Mitt Romney is elected, my daughter will reach her [insurance] lifetime cap. It's something we worry about literally every single day." Her daughter is barely a toddler and was on stage with her husband. That's the face the DNC wants you to see, a mother pleading for Obamacare not to be repealed and her baby. She cited Romney's line about the best day for Obama voters being the best day for them. She says, no, the best day was when she got the letter in the mail saying there is no lifetime cap on her daughter's health insurance.
Again, this woman should have been in prime time!
8:37pm Tammy Duckworth, Congressional Candidate in Illinois and Iraq war veteran. She lost both her legs in combat. She's also Asian-American and proud of it. A powerful testament to Pell grants, public education, and the military. She's also a badass as one of the first Army women to FLY combat missions in Iraq.
And there it is, an Iraq, Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden mentions. Also mentioned DADT. People are in tears and VP Biden is standing and applauding.
I think it's a mistake not to have her in primetime though. The RNC got caught with the same mistake not having Romney's congregation members give their testaments in primetime. This was a brief, but a VERY good speech.
8:26pm "Especially for those politicians that don't know how women's bodies work." Nancy Keenan, President of National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) is speaking to the convention now. This is bold, this is for those undecided and independent women. Keenan is not holding back regarding GOP policies, painting Romney with the same brush as the 'legitimate rape' party line. 'Mitt Romney cannot trust women." "There is one choice he cannot take and that is decision we can make on November 6." Hits a place Ann Romney and no woman at RNC could hit.
7:50pm To pay tribute to one of the most highly respected Democrats, Ted Kennedy, a video montage is being shown now. It serves as a passing of the torch and a good way of highlighting the achievement in health care reform. There was a poignant moment in the video of the 1994 Massachusetts Senate race. It was a clip of the debate between Mitt Romney and Ted Kennedy, with the latter basically eviscerating a younger Romney. The clip was an overt way of saying Romney flip-flops. I was kind of stunned it was included because I didn't think the tone of the convention would bend towards the personal. Is this a trend we will continue to see?
It ends with the words of Teddy, "the dream lives on."
7:35pmJimmy Carter, at 88 years old, is always the velvet hammer. Obama has faced "bitter, unyielding" opposition. "The biggest problems we face don't lend themselves to quick fixes or snappy advertising. Solutions are complex" It was a brief video statement and may not change anyone's point of view. It does carry weight though, coming from President Carter, a man who himself faced severe opposition and held to only one term.
7:20pm GIRL POWER! More than 30 female members of Congress and candidates, including Rep Rose de Lauro and Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii. They are speaking about the Fair Pay Act. Rep Maloney from NYC (Astoria-Manhattan) even quoted her line from Darrell Issa's contraception hearing repeating "Where are the women?!" as the female delegates cheered and stood up. Rep. Allyson Schwarz of Pennsylvania plays to the fact that women think more about their bank accounts than birth control, by citing her economic policy concerns. Rep. Gwen Moore comes on strong as she speaks to legislation about the Violence Against Women Act.
7:10pm Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was speaking just now (video link via C-SPAN). He doesn't often, or from what i can recall ever really, talk about his faith as Mormon. Accoridng to the Salt Lake Tribune, Reid told Mormon Democrats, should "be proud of who they are and don’t back down."
Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC: "Michelle Obama no longer needs to practice. She is the political pro. She is more popular than the President..She's really selling [POTUS] and his policies [tonight]"
7:00pm Here's a numbers-based look at the question "Are you better than 4 years ago?" as written by Ezra Klein for Bloomberg. One section I think is particularly important to remember for those of us who were exuberant at the 'hope' Obama brought to the world in 2008 is this:
5:00pm The DNC Begins! San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is set to give a rousing. He is the first minority to give a keynote speech at the DNC. Here is the full text as prepared for delivery. What could look like a desparate plea for Hispanic voters seems to come across as a genuine effort not to look at that voting bloc as single-issue. We'll see what the effects are, however, after the actual delivery. Paul Ryan's speech at the RNC actually read quite a bit more aggressive than it was delivered as 'truth.'
3:00pm: In case anyone (like me) is wondering about Betty White, the campaign for her to attend the DNC is still going strong according to CNN. Let's make it happen, if for nothing else than her predictably comedic response to "Eastwooding."
12:55pm: Here is a link to Obama's accomplishments as laid out by the campaign itself. They need to do a better job at communicating this and 'selling' their proposed policies. Agree or not with the GOP, they are very good at that.
Tuesday 9:30am Here are the 4 groups of voters President Obama and the DNC will have to win over this week in order to get that crucial undecided/independent voter bloc.
Monday 9:15pm Here is a map of delegates attending the DNC provided by the 2012 Democratic Convention. You can click on a state to see the number of delegates.