On Tuesday, the Democratic National Convention begins in Charlotte, North Carolina, otherwise affectionately known as the Queen City. Rumors have swirled claiming President Obama originally intended for the convention to be in North Carolina because he thought their Electoral College votes would be integral to his reelection. Recently, however, analysts have suggested that the standing President can still earn 303 Electoral College votes, even if he loses the Old North State.
Three speeches will headline this year's DNC: First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday, and Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama's nomination acceptance speech on Thursday. Beyond the names that are sure to captivate the media's attention, be on the lookout for San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. The first Latino to give a keynote speech at a Democratic National Convention, Mayor Castro's speech on Tuesday evening has the potential to secure one of the fastest-growing demographics in America: Spanish speakers. People around the grapevine have likened Julian Castro to a young Barack Obama when he gave a memorable -- and historically significant -- keynote address at the 2004 DNC.
Former Chief of Staff and current Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel is also on the schedule to speak. Emanuel, who left Obama's cabinet with a reputation as a bipartisan leader, faces unique challenges in Chicago that could possibly cast a dark shadow over his speech: the homicide rate in Chicago is up 35%. Nonetheless, Emanuel further exemplifies the Democratic Party's inclusivity that has become increasingly important in the eyes of many voters.
But the names that will hit mainstream media the most, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, should focus much of their attention on the withering away of the middle class, a plague that could wreak serious consequences on the rest of the nation. Also, look for Obama to revert back to his days teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago and hit hard on the points of civil liberties. Indeed, for the first time in history, the Democratic Party Platform now supports gay marraige.
''You know, it's hard to believe President Obama has now been in office for a year. Isn't that amazing? It's a year. And you know, it's incredible. He took something that was in terrible, terrible shape, and he brought it back from the brink of disaster: The Republican party.'' — Jay Leno
For all the latest updates, insights, key facts, and more, bookmark this page and hit refresh as it will be updated LIVE.
UPDATES: To catch all the live action on Wednesday, including a preview of former President Bill Clinton's speech and Elizabeth Warren's address during the 10:00 PM hour, see here.
Geared up and ready to go. Nancy Pelosi just left the stage and Tom Vilsack, Argriculture Secretary, is speaking to the DNC crowd.
11:26 p.m. Mythili Sampathkumar, over at her amazing DNC blog:
"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."
11:20 p.m. Hard to imagine Julian Castro's speech getting blown out of the water at the DNC ... well Michelle Obama did just that:
11:11 p.m. At the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told attendees, “We are proud. We are so proud to have a president who stands with women and who trusts women. A president who signed into law one of the greatest advancements for woman’s health in generations. A president who believes in a woman’s right to make her own decisions. I know this president, and I can tell you that he cares deeply about the next generation of young women in this country, his daughters, all of our daughters.”
I sat, fuming.
Had Nancy Keenan forgotten that just months ago, President Obama had defended HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s decision to override the recommendation of the FDA that Plan-B One-Step emergency contraception be made available over-the-counter? (Kathleen Sebelius, by the way, is a “pro-choice pro-lifer” who believes that abortion is wrong, but that criminalizing it will not reduce it.) And that he had done so by citing concern for his own daughters? And that just a few months after that, he apparently changed his mind, and told voters that he favored taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood so that his daughters could “control their own health care choices?”
She probably hadn't forgotten, and even if she had, I hadn’t. While I do think that Obama generally believes in a woman’s “right to make her own decisions,” as is evidenced by his pro-choice record (he’s even said, controversially, that he may support late term abortions), I fear it will not be up to him. The Supreme Court, not the president, will decide the future of abortion rights in this country.
9:35 p.m. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will deliver the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, representing the first Latino, Spanish-speaking person to hold that honor. See exerts here.
9:28 p.m. Kal Penn -- of Harold &Kumar fam -- mentions OBL killing, gay marriage, says, "thank you invisible man in the chair, for that."
Kal Penn: I've got a 4 letter word for you: "vote"
9:18 p.m. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is up now.
"When I joined the Obama team, we faced so many problems ... a once in a generation moment in history. I said 'Barack, which problem should we tackle?' He said, 'Rahm, I was sent here to tackle all of them.'"
Rahm says Obama is a "once in a generation president."
"Each crisis was so deep, and so dangerous, any one of them would have defined a presidency."
"Because of Pres. Obama's leadership every American will have access to affordable quality healthcare."
"A change we believed in, a change we fought for, a change Obama delivered!"
Rahm Emanuel: Americans can choose between "Let Detroit go bankrupt" Romney or "not on my watch" Obama
"The President never changed his views to suit the moment or the audience, and that is also a sign of leadership."
8:45 PM The speeches are now starting to get going. Major addresses to come.
8:30 PM ICMYI Here is video from Cory Booker's rousing speech. For highlights and analysis, see here.
7:57 p.m. A musical interlude from Ledisi provides a brief respite from the major speeches. We'll catch our breath.
7:52 p.m. The video turns to a highlight reel from the Kennedy debate vs. Romney in Massachusetts in 1994, when Kennedy won handedly. Huge applause from the crowd. Romney comes off like a flip-flopper then (and now).
7:48 p.m. Democratic rising star Joe Kennedy III now takes the stage, so far he's just touting Ted Kennedy's accomplishments in Senate. Now, a tribute video to the late Senator plays before the convention. It's a reminder of why he was one of the leaders in the Senate for his entire career, on issues from LGBT rights to women's issues.
7:45 p.m. Watch the live stream of the the evening's major speeches here:
7:35 p.m. President Obama has restored America's reputation overseas, says Carter. "It's up to all of us to make sure the American people understand ... what's at risk in this election." The 88-year-old says he will cast his vote for Obama and Biden, knowing that "the biggest challenges don't lead themselves to quick fixes."
7:33 p.m. Welcome to Night 1 coverage! To kick things off, former President Jimmy Carter addresses the Convention via video. Speaking about his experience as president, he says that a leader needs "integrity and an understanding of why you serve." He says Obama "puts the interests of middle class Americans above all else. ... Because of President Obama ... everyday people have a chance."