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Convention Round-up Day Two

Rep. Ed Markey (Massachusetts)

Rep. Ed Markey (Massachusetts) delivers a keynote address during an event for convention delegates on the Obama administration’s national security policy sponsored by the Council for a Livable World. 9/5/2012. Photo by Carah Ong.

Day two of the convention was filled with partisan appeals and once again focused on the policy accomplishments and positions of the Obama administration. The main thrust of the speeches was to convey the election as a choice over the future of the middle class, the American Dream and "shared opportunity, shared responsibility, all-in-it-together society." Sandra Fluke and Libby Bruce, among others, discussed what a Romney presidency would mean for women’s rights.  Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Maryland) drove home the differences in economic policies of the two presidential candidates, noting that the election is a choice that “will determine whether America is a place where people climb the ladder of opportunity and pull it up behind them or whether America is a place where people who reach the top help the next person up.” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (California) also called this election a choice not only of candidates, but also of issue positions:

Many names are on the ballot. So, too, is the character of our country…Medicare is on the ballot…Social Security is on the ballot…The hard-won rights of women are on the ballot…Our democracy is on the ballot. Democrats believe we must curb the influence of special interests on our political institutions…The American dream is on the ballot. Ladders of opportunity for our middle class are on the ballot.

One big difference that has emerged between the Republican and Democratic conventions is the Democrats’ focus on veterans affairs, which continued to be emphasized in speeches last evening. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki highlighted the administration’s policies: “Since President Obama took office, nearly 800,000 veterans gained access to VA healthcare. There's been a historic expansion of treatment for PTSD and traumatic brain injury. President Obama has expanded job training to prepare vets for the jobs of the future. And we're on track to end veterans' homelessness by 2015.”

The second day concluded with the official nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. The roll call of states was actually quite interesting. For example, Barry Goldwater’s granddaughter delivered Arizona’s delegates. Delegations also took the opportunity to highlight state or territory contributions to the party or country.

Harvard Professor, former Special Advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Massachusetts Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren was slated as the highly anticipated warm-up act for former President Bill Clinton. Her message was reminiscent of Teddy Roosevelt and Progressive Era beliefs that the government should fight corporations and act in favor of the little guy.

Americans are fighters. We are tough, resourceful and creative. If we have the chance to fight on a level playing field—where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot—then no one can stop us. President Obama gets it because he's spent his life fighting for the middle class. And now he's fighting to level that playing field—because we know that the economy doesn't grow from the top down, but from the middle class out and the bottom up. That's how we create jobs and reduce the debt.

Bill Clinton was by far the star of the evening, if not the convention thus far, engaging in partisan warfare. I predict that with his current favorability rating (coming in around 69%), Clinton’s attack dog performance will contribute to any convention bump President Obama receives.

“In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president's re-election was actually pretty simple — pretty snappy. It went something like this: We left him a total mess. He hasn't cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in…Here's the challenge he faces and the challenge all of you who support him face. I get it. I know it. I've been there. A lot of Americans are still angry and frustrated about this economy. If you look at the numbers, you know employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend again. And in a lot of places, housing prices are even beginning to pick up. But too many people do not feel it yet…President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. Listen to me, now. No president — no president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years. Now, he has laid the foundation for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity. And if you will renew the president's contract, you will feel it. You will feel it…If you want a winner-take- all, you're-on-your-own society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility, a we're-all-in-this-together society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

Clinton appeared to fully enjoy his time on the stage and the crowds response. It was quite a performance and I would go so far as to say that President Obama will have a hard time topping it this evening. Clinton cleverly peppered numbers in his all-out defense of President Obama, noting for example that “in the last 52 years, Republicans have held the Whilte House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private sector jobs. So what’s the job score? Republicans, 24 million; Democrats, 42 (million).”

At one point, Clinton admonished a Republican campaign pollster who said “we can’t let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”  Perhaps unfortunately for him, some have already gone through Mr. Clinton’s speech.  Glen Kessler offers numerous corrections to claims made by Clinton and others at the Democratic convention ranging from Obama’s record on jobs and the economy to Medicare. Although Clinton claimed, “I never hated Republicans the way some of them hate our president now,” and Rep. Steny Hoyer (Maryland) claimed historic levels of partisan obstruction, NBC rightfully noted that both parties are to blame for partisan gridlock. NBC also countered the claim that Obama's health care law is keeping health care costs in check, calling it “wishful thinking at best.”

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