This week, hundreds of delegates, elected officials, and reporters descend upon Charlotte, North Carolina for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Just one week after the Republicans showcased the best their party has to offer at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Democrats will use this week to define the stakes of this election.
For too long, the GOP has defined the political narrative in this country. At this convention, Democrats need to make the case for why Obama should be re-elected on his own merits, and not simply as an alternative to Romney. Democrats need to make the case for the importance in investing in infrastructure, education, and the health of our citizens.
Among the notable speakers this week to help make this case will be: First Lady Michelle Obama (to speak on Tuesday); San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (also to speak on Tuesday), who will be the first Latino keynote speaker in convention history; former President Bill Clinton (to speak on Wednesday); Vice President Joe Biden (to speak on Thursday); and, of course, President Obama (to address the crowd on Thursday evening).
No convention would be complete without also including an array of musical talent. Whereas Trace Adkins and Kid Rock performed at the RNC, the DNC will feature the following artists: Amber Riley, also known as Mercedes from Glee, Jessica Sanchez of American Idol, jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis, hip hop icon Mary J. Blige, Earth, Wind, and Fire, the Foo Fighters, Delta Rae, Marc Anthony, and James Taylor who will reportedly perform his classic "Carolina in My Mind."
Charlotte and southern hospitality will be on display, and all signs point to a brutal, close presidential election in North Carolina.
PolicyMic will be covering all the events and speeches during the Democratic National Convention live. For live updates bookmark and refresh this page.
UPDATES: 7:37 PM The festivities are underway. A group of impressive female senators has taken the stage while Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate, addresses the crowd.
4:00 PM For full coverage of all of Wednesday night's speeches and continued coverage of the DNC Convention, follow along here.
Sept 5th- 7:19 p.m. Nancy Pelosi has taken the stage.
2:36 p.m. Michelle Obama spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at lunch sponsored by the Victory Fund and Human Rights Campaign in honor of LGBT elected officials. She implored the audience to take part in the campaign, and reminded them of how close the 2008 election was in some states. She gave special attention to North Carolina, reminding the crowd that in North Carolina, her husband only won in 2008 with a margin of “five votes per precinct.” In addition to Obama, Representative Tammy Baldwin, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke. Elected officials that attended the lunch included Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Rep. Barney Frank, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Lunch attendees were treated to an appetizer of cheese and vegetables when they entered the room, and were not served lunch until late in the program, after the First Lady left the room. Rumor has it that the Secret Service would not approve of silverware in the room while the First Lady was speaking.
10:23 “In the end, the American Dream is not a sprint or even a marathon, but a relay.” - Julian Castro
10:02 p.m. Martin O'Malley needs to learn to deliver bad news without smiling. His words need more weight.
9:26 p.m. While Michelle Obama’s and Julián Castro’s speeches will be closely watched in final hour of tonight’s meeting, pundits thinking about 2016 should pay close attention to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s speech. O'Malley is arguably the most articulate politician on a national level in making the case for investment in public infrastructure. Earlier this year, he called for Maryland to increase taxes to fund jobs and improve transportation stating, “"Everything has a cost. Failing to make decisions that are consistent with the interests of the next generation – this too has a cost. Progress is a choice." If his speech goes well at 10 PM, expect the rumors about a 2016 presidential run to only increase.
9:10 p.m Best line of the night so far- “Barack Obama saved the auto industry. Mitt Romney saved on his taxes." -Ted Strickland, former Governor of Ohio
8:59 p.m. Stacey Lihn just took the stage with her husband and two daughters to make the case for the value of the Affordable Care Act. As she spoke about her daughter’s heart defect, her daughter began to cry. Prior to the passage of healthcare reform, her daughter likely would have hit her lifetime health insurance cap very early in her life. That may have been one of the simplest, and most effective arguments I’ve seen made for the Affordable Care Act since its passage.
8:44 p.m. Several speakers on the agenda tonight are “regular people”, a nice balance to the stream of politicians. Do you ever wonder the behind the scenes story of how the DNC staff determines how to select speakers for those slots? Maria Ciano was one of those speakers earlier tonight, and was described as a former GOP voter who is supporting Obama this year. How did they find her? Did she walk into an OFA office somewhere, announce she wants to volunteer, and then wind up at speaking at the convention weeks later?
8:31 p.m. The Democrats have lined up an impressive group of speakers to speak on the social issues surrounding gay rights and abortion issues tonight. Both Rep. Polis and Nancy Kennan of NARAL have acknowledged the importance that faith plays in these kinds of decisions, and it’s refreshing to hear them acknowledge it. Kennan is clearly here to fire up the crowd, boldly contrasting Obama’s records on women’s issue with Romney. “Women in America cannot trust Mitt Romney. We cannot trust Mitt Romney with our health… We cannot trust Mitt Romney to respect our rights. He would repeal Roe v. Wade.”
8:17 p.m. Colorado Congressman Jared Polis has just begun to speak, opening with “I’m Jewish and I’m gay... But first and foremost, I’m an American.” Polis hits on several achievements for LGBTQ citizens, including the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and receives a loud cheer from the crowd when discussing marriage equality. “Together we are America… Tonight I don’t just ask for respect for my relationship with my partner and my citizen. I ask for respect for a Christian family with concerns of moral decay.”
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. See below to watch that video live, it's a moving tribute to his life.
7:46 p.m. Watch the live stream of the speeches here:
7:35 p.m. President Obama has restored America's reputation overseas. "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. Now, 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."
7:25 p.m. Congressman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin says she's working hard to "end violence against women." She's received the biggest ovation from the crowd yet. Republicans, she says, have tried to "change the definition of rape." President Obama and Vice President Biden are working to protect violence against women for all.
7:20 p.m. Nancy Pelosi takes the floor, to represent the Democratic women of the House. Women still make just 77 cents on every dollar that men earn. She, along with other House women, tout the Lilly Ledbetter equal pay act, and say they want to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Democratic women are committing to "closing the wage gap and to moving America forward."
New York Congresswoman Maloney: With Obamacare "now women are beginning to get the preventive services they deserve, including birth control."
7:10 p.m. Reid is touting Obama's accomplishments as a leader and president. Obama has taken on the "couldn'ts" and "shouldn'ts" and he has taken on the Republican party, the party of the "wouldn'ts" and "won'ts." Republicans, Reid claims, have made it their number 1 goal to make Obama a one-term president. "I watched the Tea Party take over the Republican Party ... we shouldn't let them take over the Senate and the White House." Reid calls them "extremists" and "ideologues." "If they won't stand up to Rush Limbaugh ... what would make anyone think they would stand up for you."
7:09 PM In the first major speech of the evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid takes the floor, Senator from Nevada.
September 4th 7:00 PM It's Night 1 at the Convention. Virginia governor Tim Kaine is speaking to the DNC. He hammers the RNC for pushing "budget busting tax cuts" and "raising taxes on the middle class" and "turning Medicare into a voucher system. "Let's be clear, that's not fiscally responsible. That's fiscally reckless and we can't afford to try it again," he tells the crowd.
September 3rd: 4:45 PM Outside of the Convention Center, thousands of people filled Uptown Charlotte for CarolinaFest, a typical American street festival that kicked off the convention for visitors and local Charlotte residents. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx has pledged to use the convention as an opportunity to bring Charlotte residents together to solve societal challenges.
One exciting non-profit on display during CarolinaFest was Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!), an organization that empowers youth, in partnership with adults, to create community change. YES! youth leaders worked in partnership with other Charlotte non-profits to determine what issues were on young people’s minds. They decided to focus their advocacy work on issues related to obesity, youth employment, access to education, and gender roles. The youth leaders then worked to create a photo voice campaign and a graphic representation of these challenges.
YES! Youth Leader Tully Conroy was really excited about the artistic project they took on. The artist the youth leaders worked with used spray paint and blackboard paint to create a symbolic mural addressing the challenges youth face, and provided an outlet for the community to respond with their reactions. We can “utilize the artwork,” to address community change, Conroy stated. According to youth leader Rich Burris, “It’s important to have youth involved in the 2012 elections.” From speakers in the Convention Hall, to the CarolinaFest outside, it’s clear that the Democratic Party is committed to engaging young people in all forms of civic engagement, from electioneering for candidates, to addressing the challenges North Carolina faces in non-partisan ways.
September 3rd: 1:00 PM Patrick Gaspard, Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee, spoke to the DNC Youth Council this afternoon. Gaspard was clearly focused on the importance of the youth vote and youth engagement, telling the assembled crowd of young adults, “The weight of the free world is on your shoulders… We did not run a phenomenal campaign in 2008, YOU did. Without your spirited enthusiasm, we will lose.”
September 3rd: 10:45 AM The second speaker at Politico’s Playbook Breakfast was Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles and Chair of the Convention. His conversation had two dual, and sometimes contradictory messages about bipartisanship. Villaraigosa talked of the importance of “bi-partisanship” and compared his record regarding pension reform to that of Republican Governor Chris Christie. Both had supported major efforts to reform the pension systems in their respective states (Villaraigosa is a former California state legislator), and both had been criticized for it. “We have to acknowledge the common ground,” Villaraigosa stated. Minutes later, when asked how to create a more bipartisan political environment, Villaraigosa slammed the GOP, stating, “Bipartisanship will require a Republican defeat, and the party of no does not work. While both parties are broken, it is more broken on the right.” Thought Democrats acknowledge the importance of bipartisanship when it comes to moving the country forward, they also recognize the political reality that Republicans frequently refuse to come to the table.
September 3rd: 10:30 AM This morning, Politico and the Charlotte Observer hosted a Playbook Breakfast with Obama videographer Arun Chaudhary. Arun was an affable and warm fellow, and shared with joy his experiences working with and documenting every move of candidate, now President Obama. He hoped to “capture an authentic portrayal” of the campaign and Obama’s first years in office, and reported that the he hoped that one day to create a searchable video database in Obama’s Presidential Library. Politico’s Mike Allen asked Chaudhary to share something “not known” about the president. He stated that the President is an “intensely curious person,” who always wants to know how someone knows information he does not. “He’s like a dad,” he commented, “He wants to know one more thing and wants to know how you know that.”