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It's All Politics
Thu September 6, 2012
Live Blog: Thursday At The Democratic National Convention
Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 5:02 pm
Good evening from Charlotte. Tonight during the last day of the Democratic National Convention, President Obama will accept his party's nomination.
It will be a star-studded evening with performances from James Taylor and the Foo Fighters and appearences from stars like Eva Longoria and Scarlett Johansson.
We'll keep tabs on it the whole night. Also, along with NPR's Liz Halloran and Becky Lettenberger, we'll hit the floor and bring you updates on several of the delegations. Make sure to refresh this page to the see the latest.
"I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention," President Obama said. "The times have changed — and so have I."
Obama delivered a speech about hope, but through the prism of a man at the tail end of his first term as president.
The Obama we saw today didn't run from the promises of hope and change that he ran on in 2008. But he presented a tempered version of it.
"I'm no longer just a candidate," Obama sad. "I'm the President. I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn't return. I've shared the pain of families who've lost their homes, and the frustration of workers who've lost their jobs. If the critics are right that I've made all my decisions based on polls, then I must not be very good at reading them. And while I'm proud of what we've achieved together, I'm far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, 'I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.' "
President Obama went on to say that it is Americans who give him hope.
"America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now," he said. "Yes, our path is harder — but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer — but we travel it together. We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth."
President Obama has just accepted the Democratic nomination for president.
There are very few individuals with greater insight into the tough decisions of a president than a vice president.
Joe Biden served as a character witness tonight in Charlotte.
"Bravery," he said, "resides in the heart of Barack Obama."
The vice president gave two main examples to back that claim up. He said that Obama saved the auto industry because he knew it was about more than cars — it was about the people who built those cars and what the industry represents for America.
It was same with the killing of Osama bin Laden. President Obama, Biden said, knew ordering the raid that killed bin Laden was about "repairing an unspeakable wrong." So he ordered the the risky operation.
Biden certainly sprinkled in some of his typical humor. But mostly those came when he talked about Mitt Romney. When he spoke about Obama, he was very serious, he slowed down his cadence and, at times, he almost whispered.
Producer Brakkton Booker tells us he just stepped outside the arena and he finds that it is "bone dry outside."
Remember, tonight's event was supposed to happen at Bank of America stadium because of concerns over weather. To be fair, we did get quite a rainstorm earlier in the day.
While we heard passing references to the killing of Osama bin Laden, tonight we've heard quite a bit about it. We've seen interviews with Vice President Biden on the subject and we've seen footage of the president delivering the news to the American public.
Sen. John Kerry delivered one of the most pointed comments on it during his speech by mixing criticism of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney along with it.
"[Obama] promised to end the war in Iraq — and he has — and our heroes have come home," Kerry said. "He promised to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly — and he is — and our heroes there are coming home. He promised to focus like a laser on al-Qaeda — and he has — our forces have eliminated more of its leadership in the last three years than in all the eight years that came before. And after more than ten years without justice for thousands of Americans murdered on 9/11, after Mitt Romney said it would be 'naive' to go into Pakistan to pursue the terrorists, it took President Obama, against the advice of many, to give that order to finally rid this earth of Osama bin Laden. Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago."
According to excerpts released by the Obama campaign, Vice President Biden will say America is at the "hinge of history."
He will say:
"The two men seeking to lead this country over the next four years have fundamentally different visions, and a completely different value set.
"Governor Romney believes that in the global economy, it doesn't much matter where American companies put their money or where they create jobs.
"I found it fascinating last week — when Governor Romney said, that as President, he'd take a jobs tour. Well with all his support for outsourcing — it's going to have to be a foreign trip.
"Look, President Obama knows that creating jobs in America — keeping jobs in America — and bringing jobs back to America — is what being President is all about."
Many were looking forward to the speech by Charlie Crist tonight. Mostly because there's some great built-in drama to it: Crist is the former Republican governor of Florida. He ran for Senate, but during the primary he had a fallout with his party.
Crist delivered an unequivocal endorsement of President Obama and political compromise.
Here's a key passage from that speech:
"I'll be honest with you, I don't agree with President Obama about everything. But I've gotten to know him, I've worked with him, and the choice is crystal clear. When he took office, the economic crisis had already put my state of Florida on the edge of disaster. The foreclosure crisis was consuming homeowners, the tourists we depend on couldn't afford to visit and our vital construction industry had come to a standstill. President Obama saw what I saw: a catastrophe in the making. And he took action.
"One of his first trips in office brought him to Fort Myers, where I was proud to embrace him and his plan to keep our teachers, police and firefighters on the job. Well, that hug caused me more grief from my former party than you can ever imagine. But even as the Republican Party fought tooth and nail to stop him, this president showed his courage, invested in America — and saved Florida. Two years later, Florida and the Gulf Coast faced the worst environmental disaster in our nation's history, this time when a ruptured well spilled nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama came to our rescue again, leading a massive cleanup effort and demanding accountability from those responsible. He didn't see a red state or a blue state. He simply saw Americans who needed help. And I once again saw the leader our country needs."
There's no doubt that the entrance of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is one of the convention's most emotional moments.
Giffords was one of those injured in a 2011 shooting rampage at one of her community meet-and-greets in Arizona. Giffords was shot in the head and survived.
Today, she walked onstage on her own, with her friend Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz by her side. She recited the Pledge of Allegiance and received a standing ovation. (Here's video of the moment.)
So far we've seen these stars onstage: Kerry Washington, James Taylor, The Foo Fighters, Mary J. Blige, Scarlett Johansson.
Of the speakers, the most political was Washington, who said she wasn't here as an actress but as a woman.
"The other side wants to take our votes away and render us invisible," she said. "But we are not invisible."
The atmosphere in arena is very different tonight. The lines at the concession stands are long; the arena is packed to the gills and at times becomes deafening.
I headed down to where the Rhode Island delegation sat. Rhode Island has the second-highest unemployment rate, 10.8 percent.
Ed Pacheco is the delegation's chairman. He readily admitted that people are frustrated in his state.
"Despite the progress, people want to get back to work," he said. "But we see a glass half full," he said.
And that is difference between the parties, he said.
Pacheco said that he grew up poor on food stamps and government assistance. And it was that helping hand that helped make him a success.
"The majority of people never lost hope," he said. "And they believe that it's on them as much as it is on the government."
Right now, he said, people in Rhode Island are looking for a push from the government, and the gridlock is frustrating.
As you might expect at a Democratic convention, he blamed Republican obstructionism for the paralysis. He painted them as a nihilist group with zero intentions of cooperating with Democrats to help Americans.
I asked him if there was anything Democrats should give in on to help those negotiations. Pacheco said that on the national level and on the state level, they've tried.
He points to the debt ceiling debate in Congress. Obama sat down with Speaker John Boehner, he said, and a grand bargain was derailed by the far-right faction of the party who didn't want an earnest deal.
"It's frustrating," he said. "But we need to continue to try."
Vice President Biden has been officially nominated as the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa suspended the rules and asked for a vote by acclamation.
The ayes gave way to silence and Biden was officially nominated.
We've heard it all week: This election represents two different visions of the United States. President Obama will continue with that theme when he delivers his acceptance speech on Thursday.
The Obama campaign has sent this excerpt of the speech:
"On every issue, the choice you face won't be just between two candidates or two parties.
"It will be a choice between two different paths for America.
"A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.
"I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or easy. I never have. You didn't elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It will require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one. And by the way — those of us who carry on his party's legacy should remember that not every problem can be remedied with another government program or dictate from Washington.
"But know this, America: Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I'm asking you to choose that future. I'm asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country — goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit; a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation. That's what we can do in the next four years, and that's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States."
Georgia Rep. John Lewis gave the first long criticism of the voter laws being passed across the nation. Lewis said this was an attempt at voter suppression by the Republicans.
"Brothers and sisters, do you want to go back? Or do you want to keep America moving forward? My dear friends, your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful, nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union. Not too long ago, people stood in unmovable lines. They had to pass a so-called literacy test, pay a poll tax. On one occasion, a man was asked to count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap. On another occasion, one was asked to count the jelly beans in a jar — all to keep them from casting their ballots.
"Today it is unbelievable that there are Republican officials still trying to stop some people from voting. They are changing the rules, cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the vote. The Republican leader in the Pennsylvania House even bragged that his state's new voter ID law is "gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state." That's not right. That's not fair. That's not just.
"And similar efforts have been made in Texas, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina. I've seen this before. I've lived this before. Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote."
There is definitely a party atmosphere at the Time Warner Cable Arena tonight. Many of the delegates made their way in very early and the lower bowl was packed by the time the first speaker made his way onstage.
But as we noted above, tonight is about the stars, whether that is the star of the party, President Obama, or the man onstage at the moment: James Taylor, who with a three-piece band is rocking the arena.