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Entries in Democratic National Convention (38)

Monday
Sep172012

Has Obama's Poll Bounce, Bounced Itself Out?

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of the Democratic National Convention, Mitt Romney campaign pollster Neil Newhouse characterized the bump that President Obama was getting in the polls as a “sugar high” that would soon fade. Monday, it seems that the buzz has indeed worn off.

Fresh Gallup tracking numbers show President Obama’s convention bounce fading from a high of 7 percentage points last week to just 3 percentage points today. He now leads Mitt Romney, 48 percent to 45 percent nationally.

However, Obama’s job approval rating remains at a very strong 50 percent; this figure has historically served as a better judge of future success than the ballot test.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep072012

Democrats Trash Lobbyists in Speeches, But Party with Their Cash

ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Inside the Democratic convention hall in Charlotte, N.C., this week, lobbyists and special interests took a rhetorical beating from the party that has tried to carry the mantle of Washington reform.

"If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are making it harder for you to vote," President Obama said as he accepted his party's nomination Thursday night.

But outside the hall, lobbyists and their friends in Congress were the toast of Charlotte, just as they had been in Tampa, Fla., during the Republican convention.

At the Mint Museum, a global art museum with a modern flair, top Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta received a steady stream of guests -- senior Democratic senators, ranking members of the House, and the congressional staffers and insiders who play key roles in the legislative process.

"We're happy to entertain our friends and guests," said Podesta, whose clients include BP Oil, Wal-Mart and dozens of other corporations with major issues in Washington.

When Charlotte was named as the convention host city, the Democratic National Committee said they wanted a different kind of political event -- one that would be in keeping with Obama's vision for diminishing the role of special interests and corporate lobbyists.

When he announced his White House bid in 2007, Obama complained that lobbyists "think they own this government.  But we're here today to take it back.  The time for that politics is over.  It's time to turn the page."

In the convention hall, lobbyists were enemy number one.

"American families didn't have an army of lobbyists on our side," said the Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, to lusty applause, as she described the fight to create a new consumer financial protection agency.  "And when the lobbyists were closing in for the kill, Barack Obama squared his shoulders, planted his feet, and stood firm.  And that's how we won."

But by the time the 2012 convention launched this week, the goal of a convention free from lobbyist money had been significantly watered down.  One of the major sponsors donating to an entity formed to help pay for the festivities was McGuireWoods LLP, a firm registered to lobby for Duke Energy, the NBA, and others.

Lobbyists were an even greater presence outside the official convention events -- at restaurants and other party venues around town.  Lobbyists for electric utilities rented out the historic Duke Mansion in Charlotte's oldest residential neighborhood, and entertained Democratic governors with a string quartet and open bar.  Casualty insurance lobbyists held court at a nightclub called Tilt, where drinks flowed and music pounded.

There is a reason the lobbyists have blanketed Charlotte, even in the face of the harsh rhetoric aimed in their direction, said Jack Abramoff, the one-time super-lobbyist who became an advocate for reform after he served a prison term for bribery.

"It gives a lobbyist an opportunity to be displayed in a setting of political importance for the members of Congress, and for the others who will be, perhaps, in the administration," Abramoff told ABC News.  "And I think the more the lobbyists are seen in the context of important events and hobnobbing with people who are important, the more their stock goes up."

While many of the events were closed to the media, Podesta was one of the few members of his trade who didn't feel the need to hide his efforts in Charlotte.  ABC News spotted five U.S. senators at one of his daytime events, among them: Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy.

Podesta said he was happy not to be hit up for money to support the convention host committee.

"It enables us to be able to do wonderful parties like this instead of spending money on fencing and security so we thank the president for his direction of our activities more to events like this," he said.

Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia said he did not feel compelled to defend his decision to attend Podesta's event.

"It's still a free country and people can network with people of their choosing," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

Michelle Obama: We're Better Off Today than Four Years Ago

ABC/Rick Rowell(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- As some Democrats waver over whether the country is “better off today than four years ago,” first lady Michelle Obama told ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer her answer is yes, and that Americans “are growing to understand just how much we’ve accomplished.”

The first lady pointed to the end of the war in Iraq, a planned departure from Afghanistan, and an economy “on the brink of collapse,” that’s “now consistently creating jobs.”

During an interview in Charlotte, the first lady also touted President Obama’s health care reform law.

“Our grandparents can afford their medicine,” she said.  “Our kids can stay on our health care until they’re 26 years old. I could go on and on and on.”

Democrats would like nothing more. Michelle Obama is, with former President Bill Clinton, among the party’s most popular figures. She also may be the president’s most powerful campaign surrogate.

“I didn’t think it was possible,” she said during her convention speech Tuesday night, “but, today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago, even more than I did 23 years ago.”

Tune in to ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer and Nightline tonight to see Sawyer’s full interview with Michelle Obama.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

Obama Speaks to Supporters Unable to Attend Tonight's Speech

Official White House File Photo by Pete Souza(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- President Barack Obama told supporters in a conference call today that he regretted they wouldn’t be able to see him in person delivering his acceptance speech in Charlotte, N.C. on this final night of the Democratic National Convention.

Sixty-five thousand ticket holders learned yesterday that the location for the president’s speech had to be moved from a large outdoor stadium that holds 75,000 to a much smaller, indoor arena due to the threat of bad weather.

”It was a safety issue,” the president said in the five-minute call. “I couldn’t ask you to subject yourselves to severe thunderstorms.”

Obama called the situation “disappointing” and thanked those supporters, many of whom received their tickets by volunteering for the Obama campaign.

The president encouraged supporters to find a community watch party in their area so they could view his prime time speech together with other supporters.

“My main message is we can’t let a little thunder and lightning get us down,” he told listeners. “We just have to roll with it.”

To make it up to them, Obama promised his team would get them into one of his upcoming campaign events as he travels around the country in the next two months. “I hope to get to see all of you…hopefully you’ll have a closer front row seat.”

President Obama also briefly talked about the ongoing convention -- tonight being the last day of the 3-day gathering -- praising the many speakers and saying that last night’s nominating speech by Former President Bill Clinton “broke down the issues as effectively as anyone could.”

He implored grassroots supporters to work hard acknowledging that this is going to be a close election and asking them to talk about his accomplishments and vision “in clear contrast to what we saw in Tampa” referring to the Republican convention held there last week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

Steelworker Featured at DNC Didn’t Work for Bain

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- The Democratic National Convention on Wednesday featured three speakers billed as “former employees of companies controlled by Bain Capital.” They each told compelling stories about jobs lost, allegedly because of the actions of Bain under Romney’s leadership. But it turns out one of those employees never actually worked for a company controlled by Bain Capital.

David Foster was supposedly one of those former employees on the convention schedule. He told the story about 750 steelworkers who lost their jobs when the Bain-controlled company GST steel filed for bankruptcy in the early 1990s.

“In 2001, with GST bankrupt and Romney still CEO of Bain, I stood in front of hundreds of steelworkers in their 50s and 60s, and retirees in their 70s and 80s, and told them Romney and Bain had broken their promises. Jobs, vacation pay, severance, health insurance and pension benefits that were promised — they were all gone,” he said.

But Foster, according to a former spokesman for GST Steel, never actually worked for the company.

“David Foster was never an employee of GST Steel’s Kansas City plant. He was employed by the United Steelworkers of America as their regional union director to represent GST Steel, but was not employed at our facility,” according to BC Huselton, who was head of HR at GST.

Instead, Foster was a union organizer, who negotiated for workers that did work for the company.

Foster explained in his remarks that he was an organizer during his dealings with GST Steel. But it is not clear from the remarks that he never worked for a company controlled by Bain.

Foster was prominently featured in an Obama campaign video, “Romney economics,” where he is identified as lead negotiator for workers at GST Steel. In the video he explains that Bain executives took bonuses even as the company flailed. Politifact rated that Obama video “mostly true.”

An Obama campaign TV ad based on the story of a GST worker who suggests that his wife’s death from cancer years later was due in part to losing health insurance when the plant closed got a “false” from Politifact and drew criticism for being misleading.

But the Romney campaign has released its own version of what happened at GST Steel. The video features a former executive, Huselton, who says that Bain’s actions actually saved the company.

“There’s this vampire story that Bain comes in and shows its teeth and sucks the blood out of the operation,” says Huselton. “It’s really quite the opposite. We went out looking for a blood donor. Bain came in, and the way I look at it actually gave us a blood transfusion.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

Michelle Obama Rallies Women Voters

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- First lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by Dr. Jill Biden, rallied women voters on the closing day of the Democratic National Convention, prodding them to work hard this election to ensure her husband is re-elected and highlighting their efforts to advance women’s rights.

“The values we are talking about are ones we all hold dear.  That hard work should be rewarded. That’s how we were raised. Everyone in this country has something special and valuable and that we should all have a fair chance to succeed if we’re willing to put that work in, which we are,” Michelle Obama said at the women’s caucus meeting. “There are women all over this country who are doing that work, playing that critical role in making that vision a reality because we have to work for that vision women.  It just doesn’t happen.”

“We can’t go back and fight the same battles we fought,” Dr. Jill Biden told the group.  “We’ve been fighting them for years and even decades and believe me, I’m old enough that I know those fights in the 60’s.”

Mrs. Obama explained her husband’s dedication to women’s issues saying, “my husband and his partner Joe Biden have had our backs as women every single day.”

“He will keep fighting every single day to ensure all of our daughters have no limits to their dreams.  That’s over.  That there are no second class citizens in our work place, that’s got to be over. That we as women can make our own decisions about our bodies and about our healthcare, that’s over,” the first lady said.  

As her husband prepares to address the convention Thursday evening, Mrs. Obama asserted that the week in Charlotte has been a success and noted “President Clinton did a phenomenal job” with his speech Wednesday night.

“I don’t know about all of you, but I think we have had a pretty amazing week here in Charlotte,” Mrs. Obama said. “And from the energy and enthusiasm we’re seeing, not just in the caucuses but in the streets — it’s just palpable. It’s so clear that people are fired up.”

Mrs. Obama asked everyone to prepare for the months ahead urging the crowd to “rest yourselves because I’m going to ask you to do some work,” and encouraged them to recruit their friends, donate to the campaign, and volunteer, especially in battleground states.

“If you don’t live in a battleground state, get to one. We all live near a battleground state, but we don’t live in one. Look around, this election is going to be won in those battleground states,” Mrs. Obama said. “This one could come down to those last few thousand votes in a single battleground states.”

“When you get up from those chairs and you walk out that room, the work begins . It continues for so many of us, but for some of us, it will begin,” Mrs. Obama said. “Do you understand the charge? Are you really fired up about the charge? Are you feeling ready to go about the charge? Because if you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty fired up and ready to go myself.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

David Plouffe: Don’t Expect a Big Post-Convention Bounce for Obama

ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- David Plouffe, the architect of President Obama’s 2008 campaign, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos Thursday morning on Good Morning America not to expect a significant post-convention bounce in the polls for President Obama.

“Listen, this is a very tight race,” the White House adviser said.  “We’ve always believed that there’s very little elasticity in this election. I don’t think you should expect a big bounce. I think this is a race where we’ve got a small but important lead into battleground states."

“It’s going to be very, very close all the way out but I think the Republicans had an opportunity last week to lay out for the American people what they would do for the American class," Plouffe continued. "Our sense is that they missed the mark, so we think we’re making a lot of progress this week but, again, you’re not going to see big bounces in this election.  I think for the next 61 days it’s going to remain tight as a tick.”

Historically, candidates see a positive jump in the polls after conventions, but this year could be different. After the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., last week, Gallup did not detect a bounce for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. It is also possible that Plouffe is simply considering the optics of the situation. If the president does not receive a bump, it will appear as if the campaign expected it.  If the president does get a bump, it could be characterized as a unexpected surprise.

Obama will formally accept the nomination from the Democratic Party for a second presidential term Thursday evening in Charlotte, N.C., at the Time Warner Cable Arena, which seats about 15,000 people. The president was initially slated to speak at the Bank of America Stadium, which seats nearly 75,000 people, but the location was shifted on Wednesday ostensibly because of the threat of storms.  

During Thursday's interview, Plouffe dismissed the suggestion that the venue was changed because Democrats were struggling to fill all the seats at the original speech location.

“Well, that’s just preposterous.  We were going to have a sold-out crowd and then probably people in an overflow room but the weather is what it is and we couldn’t take a chance with people’s safety,” Plouffe said.  ”We knew it was a possibility when we made the decision to locate the convention here and plan to do the speech outside but we always had a contingency plan and I think what the American people are less interested in is where the president is going to give his speech than what he’s going to say tonight.”

Plouffe also defended the president’s first term when asked about Bob Woodward’s latest book, which chronicles the failure of Obama to reach a debt-reduction deal with House Republicans.

“Well, I’d step back and say we worked with the Republicans in Congress when they’re willing.  We’ve cut taxes for the middle class.  We’ve cut over a trillion dollars in spending, more than was called for in the Bowles-Simpson plan, we’ve helped our entrepreneurs, so we’ve worked with them on important things,” Plouffe said.

“Obviously, we tried to reach a deficit deal with the Republicans.  We got very close and didn’t get there. I think this election is going to make clear, I think, to the country and hopefully to members of Congress that we’re willing to do a lot of tough things -- cut further spending, reform entitlements in the right way -- but asking a little more from the wealthy has to be part of the answer,” he added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

Obama to Accept Nomination at Democratic National Convention

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- President Obama Thursday night will accept the Democratic nomination for a second presidential term inside the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., facing a wave of discouraging economic data and a potential bombshell of an August jobs report expected on Friday.

The number of Americans receiving food-stamps hit record highs in June, the Agriculture Department reported on Tuesday, topping 46.7 million, up 3.3 percent over the year.  The manufacturing sector, which had been an economic bright spot, contracted in August for only the third time since July 2009, according to an industry trade group.  And the unemployment rate hovers above 8 percent following a summer of sluggish job growth.

Obama had been slated to kick off the final stretch of his campaign at a rock-concert-style event inside the 74,000-seat outdoor Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.  But Democratic National Convention organizers announced on Wednesday that they were moving his acceptance speech indoors because the possibility of dangerous thunderstorms was a threat to public safety.

Whether or not the decision involved ulterior motives, the smaller venue of 15,000 seats presents a more intimate and comparatively subdued setting for Obama's big pitch. There won't be a balloon drop to conclude the evening in traditional celebratory flair, organizers said.

The president plans to use the moment to "savor" his first term accomplishments, he told supporters in an email this week.  Political strategists said he'll need to present a compelling case for how the country is better off four years on.

Only 31 percent of Americans believe the country is on the "right track," according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.  Sixty-seven percent say it's on the "wrong path."

"Are the American people better off than they were in Sept. 2008 when we were losing 432,000 jobs a month?  I would say yes," said Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki this week.  "Is there more we need to do?  Absolutely.  The president has spoken about that at nearly every event he's done.  He'll continue to talk about it in the months ahead."

On the economy, voters give Romney a slight edge when asked who would do a better job -- 46 percent to Obama's 44 percent -- in the same ABC/Post poll.

While Obama has outlined a broad economic vision for the country -- an approach that emphasizes higher taxes on wealthier Americans to fund greater investments in education and infrastructure -- he has offered scant details about if and when the recovery will proceed more quickly and create millions of new jobs.  He is asking voters to trust that the status quo will be the better path.

"When Gov. Romney had his chance to let you in on his 'secret sauce' he didn't offer you a single new idea.  It was just a retread of the same old policies that have been sticking it to the middle class for years," Obama told supporters at a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, last week.

"I will offer you what I believe is a better path forward," he said, "a path that will grow this economy and create more good jobs, and strengthen our idle class and create ladders for everybody who's working hard to get into the middle class.  And the good news is you're going to get to choose."

Aides said the president's moment in the spotlight would also be an opportunity for him to energize the base, with grassroots supporters planning hundreds of watch parties around the country.  Democrats have also heavily promoted a free live stream of Obama's speech on smartphones and online, with pre- and post-speech conversations hosted by actor Kal Penn.

Obama will be preceded Thursday night by speeches from 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden.

First lady Michelle Obama, who addressed delegates on Tuesday, will watch her husband's speech from inside a VIP suite at the arena.  She will be joined by daughters Sasha and Malia, whom aides said would make a day trip to Charlotte after school.

Ahead of the president, attendees will be treated to a star-studded concert featuring performances by the Foo Fighters, Mary J. Blige, Earth, Wind & Fire, James Taylor, and Marc Anthony, among others.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

NC Sen. Kay Hagan Says ‘We Had This Stadium Totally Booked’

ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan didn’t hold back on the ABC News/Yahoo News DNC Live Show Wednesday, expressing the frustration many people in her home state feel after being shut out of President Obama’s speech Thursday at the Democratic National Convention.

“You know, people were waiting around the blocks at all of the OFA offices across North Carolina, waiting in line for hours,” she told ABC’s Amy Walter and Rick Klein.  “We had this stadium totally booked … and people are definitely very, very disappointed.”

Hagan also sprung to the defense of fellow Sen. Claire McCaskill, who’s facing a tough re-election battle against Rep. Todd Akin, attacking his now-notorious comments about “forcible rape” last month.

“Every rape is a forcible rape,” Hagan said.  “I think every woman in America,  I think every man in America, needs to be concerned about that.  They have wives.  They have daughters.  You know, this is something that shouldn’t be on a political stage, talking about issues that are as important as that.”

Even though McCaskill isn’t at the convention, she predicted a win for her fellow senator in November.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep052012

Paul Ryan Hits ‘God’ Absence from DNC Platform

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(ADEL, Iowa) -- Paul Ryan weighed in Wednesday on the Democrats’ 2012 platform, which makes no reference to “God,” calling the omission “rather peculiar.”

“It’s not in keeping with our founding documents, our founding vision, but I guess you would have to ask the Obama administration why they purged all this language from their platform,” Ryan said on Fox News.

The word God is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. The word “Nature’s God” appears once in the Declaration of Independence, alongside mention of the word “Creator.”

The new platform refers to faith, saying it “has always been a central part of the American story.”  It also says the U.S. was founded on the principle of religious freedom and the ability of people to worship as they please. It praises the work of faith-based organizations.

Republicans have sought to highlight the absence of the word God from Democrats’ platform. “God” was mentioned once in Democrats’ 2008 platform. The 2012 GOP platform mentions God 12 times. Democrats also left out two sentences from the platform draft that identified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and a pledge to “isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism.”

As for leaving out the mention of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Ryan called it “tragic” because “this is one of the few issues where the Republican Party and the Democratic Party agreed.”

Jerusalem is declared the capital of Israel in the RNC platform.

“To see this kind of language, this acknowledgement removed from their party platform is really kind of disappointing,” Ryan said.

At a rally in Iowa, Paul Ryan mentioned the DNC again, previewing Bill Clinton’s speech to the Democratic National Convention this evening saying he thinks the former president will look back at the time he was in the White House rather than the “last four years.”

“We are going to hear from President Clinton tonight in Charlotte,” Ryan said. “My guess is we will get a great rendition of how good things were in the 1990s, but we’re not going to hear much about how things have been the last four years.”

Ryan even mentioned some of Clinton’s successes including welfare reform and accused President Obama of “rolling back welfare reform.”  He noted that Clinton worked across the aisle with Congress, while Obama is a “gusher of new spending and only demagoguery from those of us who have offered solutions.”

“Under President Clinton, we got welfare reform,” Ryan told a crowd of several hundred people. “Chuck Grassley, everybody else in Congress — we got welfare reform, which moved people from welfare to work to get people out of poverty. President Obama is rolling back welfare reform. President Clinton worked with Republicans in Congress to have a budget agreement, to cut spending.”

Ryan’s welfare attack has been widely debunked. Instead of “rolling back” the work requirement, the Obama administration is responding to requests from both Democratic and Republican governors to allow states to apply for a waiver to administer the work requirements in their states. The Romney campaign has used this as a line of attack, accusing the president of wanting to gut the work requirement.

The Obama campaign immediately responded, calling the attack a “lie.”

“While the Congressman has proven his willingness to ignore the truth, even he should know that President Clinton has joined with every independent fact checker, news organization, and a Republican architect of welfare reform in calling the welfare attack blatantly false,” Obama spokesperson Danny Kanner said in a statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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