Obama’s convention message: Look what I’ve done
BY LYNN SWEET blogs.suntimes.com/sweet September 2, 2012 9:30PM
Updated: October 4, 2012 6:24AM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Barack Obama delivers his third Democratic convention speech Thursday — and this time — unlike Boston in 2004 and Denver in 2008 — he’s a man with a record.
The Democratic Convention opens officially on Tuesday — first lady Michelle Obama keynotes — with the informal launch on Monday, as overcast clouds, rain and heat threatened to do to Democrats here what Tropical Storm Isaac did to the Republicans in Tampa last week: that is, mess up the program.
As in Denver, Obama delivers his acceptance speech from an open-air stadium — on a night when thunderstorms are predicted.
The Republicans were forced to cut a day off their convention because of the weather. The Democrats months ago slimmed down to three days, dropping a plan to open Monday at the gigantic NASCAR speedway here because of logistical and financial problems.
Instead, Monday — Labor Day — Democrats will hold a daylong series of constitutiency “caucus” meetings at an all-day CarolinaFest — open to everyone — featuring performances by James Taylor, Jeff Bridges and Janelle Monáe.
Obama himself will mark Labor Day in battleground Ohio, delivering a speech to UAW workers in Toledo.
The Obama team has an advantage going into their convention because Mitt Romney already had his turn — and did not receive a big bounce from Tampa.
Stumping in Colorado on Sunday, Obama framed Romney’s convention as a look back — a rerun — which fits neatly into the Obama “Forward, Not Back” slogan.
“Despite all the challenges that we face in this new century, what they offered over those three days was an agenda that was better suited for the last century. It was a rerun. It could have been on Nick at Nite,” Obama said.
“We’ve seen it before. You might as well have watched it on a black-and-white TV, with some rabbit ears.
“And if you didn’t DVR it, the basic recap goes something like this: The economy is not doing what it should be; it’s all Obama’s fault -- that was a key theme — and Governor Romney knows the secret to creating jobs and growing the economy. “
For Obama, the Charlotte convention represents a continuation of explaining his accomplishments — reminding people he didn’t create the economic mess he inherited — and making the argument Romney offers nothing better.
“We’ve been making a clear case throughout the entire campaign. We’re going to keep making the case,” Obama campaign communications chief Brent Colburn told me Sunday.
The convention — with massive coverage — whether through cable or broadcast television, online outlets or via Twitter — will reach undecided voters who may just now be paying attention. “People tune into that process at different points along the way.”
We talked in the Charlotte Convention Center — transformed into work space for media and campaign staff — a few blocks from the Time-Warner Cable Arena, where the convention will take place Tuesday and Wednesday.
Polls show the election close. The Romney team loaded up their convention at a line of attack — directed at 2008 Obama voters — that people, including Romney, wanted Obama to succeed, but he wasn’t up to the job. An Obama team member told me Sunday that’s an attempt to put a dent in Obama’s likability ratings, which have consistently been much higher than Romney’s.
The president arrives in Charlotte on Wednesday. Mrs. Obama comes here Monday, though she has no public events. Obama’s Boston speech was so good it put an Illinois state senator on a trajectory to be elected president a mere eight years later. When Obama talks to his third Democratic conventionThursday — I am sure there will be soaring rhetoric — this time with a focus on what he’s actually done.