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Monday
Sep172012

‘Democrats for Lingle’: Hawaii Senate Candidate’s Ad Features Republicans

Douglas Graham/Roll Call(HONOLULU) -- Hawaii GOP Senate candidate Linda Lingle’s newest ad is purported to feature Democrats who support her -- and it does. But the TV spot, originally posted online under the headline "Democrats for Lingle," also features several Republicans.

"I’m a Democrat, and I’m voting for Linda Lingle," says Elaine Slavinsky, the first person to appear onscreen. Slavinsky ran for state Senate as a Republican in 2004.

"I know she’s gonna work with both parties to get things done," says Jan Shishido, who formerly headed the Maui County Republican Party and ran for state House as a Republican in 2004.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee produced research on five other people with varying degrees of GOP affiliation who appear in the ad.

The ad itself does not identify the speakers as Democrats, and the campaign has since changed its online banner to read, “People Across the State Agree.” Slavinsky is the only person in the ad with previous GOP affiliations to identify herself on camera as a Democrat.

The Lingle campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. When contacted by the Honolulu Civil Beat, Lingle spokeswoman Corrie Heck told the paper:

"What the DSCC ignores is the three very prominent Democrat leaders featured in the spot: a former Democrat state Senator, the former State protocol officer who worked for 5 of Hawaii’s Governors (four of whom are Democrats), and a self-identified Democrat supporter who plans to vote for President Obama.

While the spot was labeled 'Democrats' during the transfer to the stations, no where in the spot do we state that all individuals featured are Democrats. The spot is about people across the state -- from diverse backgrounds, political affiliations and perspectives -- that agree Linda Lingle is the clear choice for U.S. Senate. As your research will point out, there are several current and retired public school teachers included in the spot, as well as a native Hawaiian community leader, in addition to the Democrat supporters. These individuals are representative of the broad spectrum of supporters who are backing Linda Lingle for U.S. Senate."


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep102012

In Tough Districts, Some Democrats Shun Obama to Stay Afloat

Wilson (L) and Tomblin (R). US Senate/Governor's Office, W.Va.(NEW YORK) -- It is nothing new for local politicians to shun unpopular leaders of their parties to remain viable with voters, nor is it so uncommon for elected officials to switch parties when the going gets tough.

But least two Democrats are trying a different approach this election season: actively attacking President Obama.

Take Charlie Wilson, a former Ohio congressman who lost his reelection bid in 2010 to Republican Rep. Bill Johnson. Facing his old foe again this November, Wilson has debuted a new ad that strikes as much at his own party as at his opponent’s.

“Charlie Wilson voted against [Rep.] Nancy Pelosi 105 times,” the narrator says, adding that Wilson also opposed President George W. Bush’s plan to privatize Medicare. The ad says Wilson opposed “Obama’s bad trade deals,” and calls Wilson a “true independent.”

Also on the ballot: West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, whose first ads are out Monday and squarely distance him from Democrats in Washington.

In one 30 second ad, the narrator says Tomblin’s “conservative financial management” has balanced West Virginia’s budget, “while the federal government can’t stop spending.”

Another attacks Obama’s energy policy.

“Since the day I became governor, I fought the Obama Administration’s war on coal,” it says. “I took them to court, and we won.”

Of course, bucking one’s own party isn’t unique to Democrats this cycle. Earlier this summer Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., drew criticism for donating to the reelection campaign of another West Virginian: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. And in Hawaii Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono, running for Senate, enjoyed the backing of veteran Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, in a televised ad.

“Here’s what’s important, Hawaii,” Young says, seated next to his colleague. “If you’re looking for a United States senator who doesn’t just talk about bipartisanship but actually knows how to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done, Mazie Hirono will be that senator.”

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

Dems Look Ahead to 2016 at DNC in Charlotte, NC

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- It’s never too early to talk 2016.

Democrats may be launching President Obama’s re-election push in Charlotte, N.C., but behind the scenes Charlotte also signals the unofficial kickoff of the 2016 presidential primary, with delegates from key primary states getting wined and dined by potential candidates testing the very early waters.

This week’s festivities offered potential Democratic presidential candidates a chance for some coveted face time and schmoozing with activists from important early primary states, such as Iowa and New Hampshire, who are attending the Democratic convention as delegates and alternates.

Relationships are everything in these early primary states.

The Iowa delegation was perhaps the belle of the ball by 2016 standards, getting plenty of attention by Democratic up-and-comers eyeing a run.

Iowa’s delegation heard from such high-profile Democrats as Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, who’s also chairman of the Democratic Governors Association; Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, N.J.; and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, who all spoke at delegation gatherings. All three could conceivably vie for the party’s presidential nomination in four years.

“These are the activists who are here as delegates, and it’s a way to sort of test the water,” said Peggy Whitworth, a delegate from Cedar Rapids. “I don’t think these people are necessarily running, just getting a feel for the thing.”

“Cory Booker was very passionate. He connected with them, because he shared personal stories,” said LaNore Guillory, a delegate from Clinton. “The mayor of Los Angeles was more cautious. He was very well-spoken.”

Charlotte also offers states like Iowa the chance to remind presidential aspirants of their importance as early states. With limited time to offer, Iowa invited a roster of big names to address its delegation.  Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, who spoke at the Time Warner Cable Arena Tuesday night, was invited but did not attend. Patrick spoke to party activists at their Hall of Fame Dinner and state convention June 15 and 16. Villaraigosa, for his part, will address the state party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner Oct. 20.

New Hampshire also heard from Booker, who spoke to the delegation over breakfast Thursday morning.  Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana spoke at the same event. The delegation also heard from Gov. Dan Malloy of Connecticut, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“New Hampshire has been doing phenomenal job of vetting potential presidential candidates for the last half-century,” Torie Norelli, the Democratic leader of the New Hampshire House, said. “We ask the tough questions and will for 2016.”

Norelli said she found many of the potential 2016 candidates who came to speak with the delegation on the sidelines were inspirational.

“Some may decide to run, and some may not,” she said.

"Clearly, it’s a chance to meet people and make contacts and give speeches,” Gary Richardson, a delegate from Concord, N.H., said. “Great speakers, great inspiration."

Asked if any of the speakers he heard from this week stood out as an early leaders of the potential 2016 pack, Richardson mentioned Booker and Schweitzer but would not pick one.

“There’s so many choices,” he said, smiling. “I wouldn’t pick one.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

Sen. Charles Schumer Says Focus on Middle Class Will Propel Dems to November Victory

Win McNamee/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer says that the Democratic Party’s focus on the middle class will result in victory up and down the ticket in the November election, but that it was up to President Obama to “seal that deal” Thursday night during his speech at the Democratic National Convention.

ABC News’ senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl interviewed Schumer on ABC News/Yahoo News’ DNC show in Charlotte, N.C. Thursday evening.

“Middle-class people, I think they realize that [Mitt] Romney is not for them because of his narrowness, but they want to make sure that Barack Obama is focused on them with things that will make a difference,” said Schumer, D-N.Y. “They know he tried, but they also know that it didn’t do as well as [Obama or his supporters] would have liked. Some of that is because of obstructionism among Republicans, but they want to make sure that it isn’t simply because he doesn’t have good ideas for the future.”

Schumer predicted that Obama will defeat Mitt Romney “by more than people think” this fall.

“I’d say at least two percent [on the popular vote]. More than people think,” Schumer predicted. “Electorally, he’ll do better than the popular vote because where he’ll go down in the popular vote is the anger at him in the red states.”

Asked whether he sees Democrats losing any seats in the Senate, the New York Democrat was bullish, predicting that there will not be a shift in the balance of the upper chamber, where Democrats currently hold a 53-47 seat advantage over Republicans.

“We’re going to keep about 53 seats,” Schumer said. “We’re doing so much better in places that people never imagined. Nevada, North Dakota, New Mexico, Montana, Missouri. It’s going much better than we ever imagined.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

Super PAC Co-Founder Says Democrats Should ‘Be Very Nervous’

ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- When it comes to a battle of the bankrolls, Bill Burton, co-founder of the super PAC Priorities USA Action, has got a serious warning for Democrats gathered for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

“I think Democrats should be very nervous,” Burton said on the ABC News/Yahoo News DNC Live Show Wednesday.  “On the Republican side, that money’s not that big of a deal.  On the Democratic side, people aren’t giving for the same kinds of reasons. … You know, most of our contributions come from the entertainment industry.  They’re not gonna sell more movie tickets because Barack Obama gets elected president.  They just care about the issues that are important to Democrats.”

Still, his super PAC is doing pretty well, he told ABC’s Amy Walter and Rick Klein.  Burton noted he’s seen a major uptick in donations in the last month -- including a fresh, half a million dollar check Tuesday night at the convention.

“How does that work?” asked Walter.  “Does somebody just write it to you, and then you just put in in your pocket?”

“That does sometimes happen,” Burton laughed.  “They just write it.  But I don’t have it on me right now.”

Burton said his super PAC is spending in Wisconsin, the home state of possible Republican Vice President Paul Ryan, and he also predicted President Obama will take North Carolina in November.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep052012

People Denied? Venue Change Dampens Democrats' Convention for the Public

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- In August 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama marched out to the roar of a jam-packed Denver stadium to accept his party's nomination for president as almost 80,000 people looked on.

Obama's speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention was historic -- not only because he was the first black nominee for any major party, but also because he gave the only open-air stadium acceptance speech at a convention since John F. Kennedy did it in 1960.

This year, Democrats were again looking to make an impression by hosting the first convention that both opened and closed with free events for the public. But a last-minute venue change for President Obama's headline speech Thursday from outdoor to indoor dampened part of that vision.

Democrats' convention festivities kicked off Labor Day with CarolinaFest 2012, a free, public street fair in downtown Charlotte, N.C. In January, organizers announced they were cutting official convention business down -- from four days to three -- to make room for the festival.

The convention's climax is planned Thursday, when President Obama officially accepts his party's presidential nod. His speech was originally slated for Bank of America Stadium, rain or shine, with tickets available to the public free through a "community credential" process.

But Wednesday morning, plans took a turn when convention officials announced they were moving the speech indoors, citing weather concerns. Obama campaign officials Wednesday said there was a 30-percent chance of isolated thunderstorms in Charlotte that night.

Instead of a 73,000-seat stadium packed with grassroots supporters, the acceptance speech will take place at the much smaller Time Warner Cable Arena, which seats 20,000.

"This is not a Panthers game, as you may know. It's a national special security event," said Obama campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki. "The criteria used for that is ensuring that we're not putting the public safety or security of anybody in the audience at risk."

She added that convention officials might have had to evacuate the stadium if a storm hit.

The majority of tickets -- distributed through local Obama campaign offices on a first-come, first-served basis -- went to North Carolina residents, with a guaranteed spot for any North Carolina or South Carolina resident who volunteered nine hours or more on the campaign, according to convention officials.

As of Wednesday morning, campaign organizers said 65,000 delegates and members of the public had already activated the credentials, with 19,000 more people on a waiting list for tickets.

But with the change in venue, only the 21,000 official convention ticket holders will be able to attend the president's acceptance speech in person. Members of the public who applied for and received community credentials will not be honored at the arena. Instead, convention officials said, the president will address ticket holders in a conference call Thursday.

"Sixty-five thousand people are very disappointed right now that they're not going to be able to come see the president of the United States tomorrow night," an Obama campaign aide told ABC News reporters Wednesday.

Among those disappointed would-be speech watchers were Madeline Frank, 16, and her 14-year-old brother, of Charlotte, N.C. Although she's not old enough to vote herself, Frank said she and her brother volunteered 18 hours to the Obama campaign this summer to earn their community credentials for President Obama's speech.

"I've been looking forward to this for a really long time," Frank told ABC News' Sunlen Miller Wednesday. "I definitely feel like they should not have promised all these people tickets if there was a chance that we couldn't actually use them."

Republicans were quick to seize the last-minute venue change as a way for Democrats to hide lackluster support for President Obama's re-election bid.

"Democrats continue to downgrade convention events due to lack of enthusiasm -- this time they are moving out of Bank of America/Panther stadium," said RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski, according to ABC News' Devin Dwyer. "Problems filling the seats?"

Some Romney campaign aides took to the Twittersphere, indicating that Democrats' claims of severe weather reports were overblown.

"What happened 2 rain or shine?" Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul tweeted, according to ABC News' Devin Dwyer and Michael Falcone.

As of Wednesday, Thursday's weather forecast for Charlotte read, "Humid. High 86F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40 percent," according to Weather.com.

In Tampa, the only members of the public who attended the four-day Republican National Convention were the 10,000 GOP volunteers already in place, according to convention officials.

"A lot of that is based on security concerns," said Ken Jones, president and CEO of the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee. "Given the nature and the security of the event, it's very difficult to do truly wide-open events."

Instead of inviting the public in, Republicans relied on their convention app and a social media push, "Convention Without Walls," for people to follow along with GOP happenings.

Some political observers said the choice to include the public or not in convention activities is simply a matter of preference.

For Obama, a public event to replicate his 2008 acceptance speech might be just the ticket to boost post-convention ratings and re-energize supporters.

"A huge crowd like that, with a speech that he'll obviously have worked on a lot -- he'll hit it out of the park, because that's what he's good at," said John Geer, chairman of the political science department at Vanderbilt University.

Convention organizers said they will email community credential ticket holders Wednesday with dial-in information to President Obama's conference call Thursday.

An Obama campaign official said Wednesday that ticket-holders who are shut out from seeing the speech Thursday will "all get a personal touch from this campaign" over the next few months, reported ABC News' Devin Dwyer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep052012

Dems Quickly Switch to Include 'God,' 'Jerusalem' Language in Platform

ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Moments after convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa gaveled in Day Two of the Democratic Convention, the hall burst into chaos as Democrats voted to amend their party's platform to include the word "God" and name Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Villaraigosa called the vote three times. The first two voice votes, which require a two-thirds majority to pass, were tied between "ays" and "nos." On the third vote it was still hard to tell whether the "ays" were audibly louder than the "nays" in the half-full arena.

When Villaraigosa announced "the ays have it," loud boos erupted across the arena.

The changes came after a sharp day of criticism by both Republicans and Democrats alike for the platform's exclusion of "God" and Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Democrats moved Wednesday to make revisions to "maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the president and the Democratic Party platform in 2008," according to a statement from the Democratic National Committee. 

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan criticized the Democrats' 2012 platform Wednesday, 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."

Prior to Wednesday's vote to include "God," the Democratic 2012 platform referred 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 also praised 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.

As for the vote to include language previously left out about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, the DNC said in Wednesday's statement, "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel."

"It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths."

Watch the vote:

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep052012

Immigration Overhaul Is a Question of When, Not If, DNC Panel Concludes

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- "It's not if, it's when," Rep. Xavier Becerra told ABC News' Jake Tapper in response to a question about passing immigration overhaul. "It makes no difference if it's a Democrat in the White House or a Republican, we're going to get immigration reform."

Becerra of California was one of several Hispanic leaders who joined Tapper, National Journal's Ron Brownstein and Univision's Maria Elena Salinas at Wednesday's panel event in Charlotte, N.C., titled "Tomorrow's America: The Hispanic Surge and the New Landscape in American Politics."

The other speakers at the event were Los Angeles Mayor and DNCC Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, Frank Sharry, the founder of America's Voice, National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia and San Antonio Mayor and DNC keynoter Julian Castro.

Villaraigosa agreed with Becerra's take on the issue, saying on immigration, "They [Republicans] will do it because they have to."

As a candidate in 2008, Barack Obama promised to pass new immigration legislation. It's a promise that has so far not been kept, although the president announced in July an executive order to stop the deportations of many young, illegal immigrants who came to the country as children.

While Castro, Villaraigosa and Becerra were careful not to criticize Obama for not passing immigration legislation this term, Sharry did not mince words about the president's lack of follow-through in this area.

"Barack Obama mishandled this issue," Sharry said. "Let's be honest, let's give the 'dreamers' the credit they deserve in forcing him into action. It wasn't a good idea that came from the White House. It was an inevitable idea that came from the grassroots."

Sharry said that, ultimately, Obama's failure to push through a comprehensive immigration bill would not cause him to lose the Hispanic vote, because Romney's policies in comparison are more troubling to many Latino voters.

"The Latino voter who cares about immigration has a choice now between someone who didn't keep his promises, but who put some skin in the game at a tough moment, and a candidate who wants to veto the Dream Act," he said. "The contrast couldn't be clearer. … People are disappointed in Obama, but terrified of Romney."

Latino voters are a fast-growing demographic -- a young Hispanic turns 18 every 30 seconds -- and both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to court them. Obama enjoys a strong lead in the polls with Hispanics, which Castro highlighted. "The issue is the policies, that's why Obama is leading 75 percent to 25 percent in polls among Hispanics," Castro said.

But Republicans do hold one advantage that was highlighted on the panel: There are more Republicans elected to high-level, statewide offices than there are Democrats. Although Becerra and Villaraigosa both pointed out that there are more Hispanic Democrats who serve in elected office in general, they acknowledged the strong Hispanic leaders on the other side of the aisle, and addressed the need for Democrats to catch up in that area.

"Republicans have a long way to go, but good for them, they have high-ranking Latinos in their ranks and shame on Democrats if they don't see that we have to do the same thing," Becerra said.

Villaraigosa said, "I've said this before, [Sen.] Marco Rubio and [Gov.] Susana Martinez were the best speakers at that [RNC] convention, bar none, but the soaring rhetoric doesn't match the policies and it doesn't match the platform."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep052012

Dems Lampoon Romney, Defend Obama on First Night of Convention

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Democrats defended President Obama as a man who is "betting on the American worker" and lampooned Mitt Romney as someone "who is betting on a Bermuda shell corporation" on the opening night of their presidential convention Tuesday night.

They defended Obama as a president who saved the country from a depression and ridiculed Romney as someone "whose money needs a passport."

The Democrats cheered and applauded a series of speakers who rallied around the president, while a new poll indicated that Obama needs the help because his support has plunged among women voters.

On a night that Democrats hoped to reignite voters' ardor as the presidential race enters its home stretch, Obama finds himself up against a series of difficult hurdles.

Obama's personal popularity has dropped seven percentage points since April, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday night.

The decline has occurred entirely among women voters, a core constituency and one which he has courted in recent weeks by accusing his Republican challengers of carrying out a "war on women."

For the first time since taking office, more women rated the president unfavorable than favorable, according to the poll.

Obama's much more popular wife, first lady Michele Obama, addressed the convention and the nation Tuesday night in a primetime speech that targeted women voters.

[Click here to see the full text of First Lady Michelle Obama's speech.]

Inside the convention center in Charlotte, N.C., Democrats celebrated Obama as their champion and portrayed Romney as an out-of-touch millionaire who would be bad for the economy and detrimental to women.

A frequent refrain was Romney's opposition to the bailout of the U.S. auto industry.

"Whose leadership, whose judgment, whose values do you want in the White House when that crisis lands like a thud on the Oval Office desk?" asked Chicago mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. "A person who said in four words, 'Let Detroit go bankrupt,' or a president who had another four words, 'Not on my watch.'"

Keynote speaker San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the youngest mayor of a major American city, said Romney "quite simply, doesn't get" the challenges faced by average Americans in a difficult economy.

[Click here to see full text of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro's speech.]

"Republicans tell us that if the most prosperous among us do even better, that somehow the rest of us will too. Folks … we've heard that before," Castro said.

Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland drew howls with his pointed barbs at Romney and his economic history.

"If Mitt was Santa Claus, he'd fire the reindeer and outsource the elves," Strickland said.

"Mitt Romney has so little economic patriotism that even his money needs a passport. It summers on the beaches of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps," was another Strickland zinger. "My friends, any man who aspires to be our president should keep both his treasure and his heart in the United States of America."

He added, "Barack Obama is betting on the American worker. Mitt Romney is betting on a Bermuda shell corporation."

Perhaps the most damning attack on Romney came from Sen. Ted Kennedy, who died in 2009.

Delegates were thrilled when the convention showed footage of a 1994 Massachusetts Senate debate between Kennedy and Romney, a race that Kennedy won. During the debate Kennedy calls himself pro-choice and Romney "multiple choice." Romney today is opposed to abortion.

Kennedy pummels Romney on the issue of health care during the debate, and later in a reference to Romney's reputation for changing his position, Kennedy declares in the video, "Give him two more weeks and he might vote for me."

Tuesday night's speakers, Castro and the first lady, were picked to target two decisive Democratic voting blocks, women and Hispanics.

Castro credits Obama with saving the country from financial ruin four years ago, a direct response to Romney's latest line of attack, asking voters if they're better off today than they were four years ago.

"Four years ago, America stood on the brink of a depression. Despite incredible odds and united Republican opposition, our president took action. And now we've seen 4.5 million new jobs," Castro said.

Castro said voters have to choose between a country "where the middle class pays more, so that millionaires can pay less ... Or a country where everybody pays their fair share."

Despite the rhetoric and applause, Democrats on the floor conceded the convention lacked the electricity of four years ago when Obama made history as the first black man to nominated for president and promised hope and change.

"It feels different," said Kooch Jacobus, a delegate from Albuquerque, N.M., who was at the 2008 convention. "Then it was hope and change and now reality has hit us. "

Jacobus said that feeling of 2008 was something she hoped would have been recreated, but said that it has not yet.

Another delegate pointed out delegates on their iPhones, iPads and shook their head at observing one delegate sleeping. The delegate says that would never happen in 2008, even on a first night of speeches, because people were much more fired up then.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio