Entries in DNC (41)


It’s Obama vs. Obama as Democratic National Convention Begins

Edward Linsmier/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — President Obama has met his own worst enemy, and his name is Barack Obama.

As the Democratic National Convention gets underway this week in North Carolina — a state that epitomized the Obama wave of 2008 but has slipped steadily from the Democrats’ grasp since then — memories of the hope and expectations the president embodied four years ago loom over the gathering.

It’s a sentiment more threatening to the president’s reelection chances than the caricature of an ineffective president perpetuated by some on the right.

That’s one reason that version of the president was barely introduced when the GOP’s own convention, a gathering that seldom lacks red meat, was held last week.

“You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him,” Mitt Romney said last week in accepting the Republican presidential nomination.

The optimism that’s morphed into uncertainty colors the lackluster economic statistics that are a drag on the president’s reelection prospects.

It’s why Paul Ryan’s apocryphal story of the 20-something living back home with his parents, staring at a faded Obama ’08 poster, stands as the most enduring image of last week, this side of Clint Eastwood’s empty chair.

This week is particularly challenging for the president because it invites comparisons to his past convention speeches. Gatherings like this one contributed to the lofty expectations that powered Obama to the presidency, despite the brevity of his national political career.

The president burst onto the national landscape in Boston in 2004, with a clarion call to move beyond red- and blue-state identities for a common good.

His commanding performance four years later — amid the columns and literally on the mountaintop in Denver’s clear air — was the apex of his promise and his appeal.

“What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose,” candidate Obama said four years ago, “and that’s what we have to restore.”

But governing has proven more difficult. Promises about ushering in a new era of politics evaporated with Capitol Hill realities around a stimulus bill, a bitter health care fight, and then the rise of the tea party movement that turned back the president’s army in Congress.

It is therefore disillusionment more than anger that represents the president’s most formidable adversary. That will take battling throughout the week, in the push to fill a stadium, and fulfill a promise that isn’t so old, but has seldom felt more distant.

The president’s challenge is also his opportunity: to fill that chair with presidential leadership, and to deliver an argument for keeping himself firmly planted in that seat for another four years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Democrats Tap Sen. John Kerry for Stadium Speech on Foreign Policy

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats will make President Obama’s foreign policy achievements a major theme of the final night of their convention next Thursday at Bank of America Stadium, ABC News has learned.

Organizers announced Wednesday that Sen. John Kerry — chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a decorated combat vet– will deliver a televised address in primetime that night, preceding Vice President Joe Biden and Obama.

Kerry is expected to tout Obama’s record on ending the war in Iraq, setting a timetable for Afghanistan, and stepping up the targeting of al Qaeda leaders, including the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“Senator Kerry will speak to how the President has restored America’s leadership in the world, has taken the fight to our enemies, and has a plan to bring our troops home from Afghanistan just like he did from Iraq,” said an Obama campaign official on condition of anonymity.

“He will contrast the president’s strong leadership in this area with Mitt Romney, who has embraced the go-it-alone, reckless policies of the past that weakened America’s place in the world and made us less secure here at home,” the official said.

The Obama campaign believes that with the president getting some of his strongest polling numbers on foreign policy they can effectively woo independent voters by highlighting his record.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Delegate Mom Fights to Open Democratic Convention Floor to Kids

Hemera/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was voted in as speaker of the House in 2008, dozens of children, including her five grandchildren, stood on the House floor to witness the event. But when Barack Obama is officially voted in as his party’s presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention next week, there will be no young children on the convention floor, which is open only to credentialed state delegates.

One mom, Susie Shannon, a California delegate from Los Angeles, is fighting the DNC rules so her four-year-old daughter Gracie can accompany her onto the convention floor.

“It’s either allow children on the floor or provide child care,” Shannon said. "You can’t expect that every single woman who is a delegate can leave their child at home in another city for week and go to the convention.”

Neither the Democratic National Convention nor the Republican National Convention provide any type of child care services, although the DNC does include a list of nearby child care centers in its delegate packet.

RNC spokesman James Davis said children are allowed on the floor of the GOP convention if they have the proper credentials, which “in theory” he said could be given to a 4-year-old such as Shannon’s daughter.

The DNC said it has no plans to add child care services and justified keeping kids out of the delegate seating area for security and capacity reasons.

“Democratic conventions have historically required credentials for all individuals to access the convention hall to ensure the safety and security of all attending,” DNC Committee spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in a statement to ABC News.

While kids are banned from the convention floor, they are welcomed on the floor of the House of Representatives, where members of Congress can bring children under the age of 13 while the House is in session.

Four Southern California chapters of the National Organization for Women teamed up with women’s rights icon Gloria Steinem to condemn the DNC’s policy and call for the party to allow delegates to bring their children with them into the convention voting space.

“Women are the key to a Democratic victory, and sometimes, children are the key to women,” Steinem said in a statement. “It’s both right and smart for the Democratic Convention to behave as if children exist.”

While Steinem is critical of the Democratic Party this week, she was commending its leader for supporting women’s rights.

“He understands that women are absolutely full human beings,” Steinem said of Obama in a video for his campaign.

Shannon, who is on the executive board of the California Democratic Party, said she has brought her daughter along to every state convention for the past four years with no problems. She criticized the “hypocrisy” of the Democratic Party because while it courts women voters on one hand, it is “not providing for the needs of many women” at the convention.

“It’s sort of like a check your baby at the door kind of policy,” Shannon said. “If they want the mom vote and they want moms to participate and they want to say they are speaking for moms, they need to accommodate for them.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


DNC Set to Feature Sandra Fluke, Pro-Abortion Rights Activists

JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Democrats Wednesday unveiled a list of 10 new activists and politicians -- all women -- scheduled to speak at the party’s grand gathering in Charlotte, N.C., next month, while Republicans grapple with defiant Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin and questions about the party’s decision to renew a push in its convention platform for an abortion ban that makes no exception in cases of rape or incest.

Headlining the Democrats’ group is Georgetown Law grad Sandra Fluke, the woman Rush Limbaugh called a “slut” on his radio show in March after she testified before Congress about the strains facing her and other students denied contraception coverage by their school. Democrats seized on Limbaugh’s comments, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launching a fundraising campaign decrying the “War on Women,” now a familiar phrase in the campaign season.

Fluke has since become an increasingly visible surrogate for President Obama, most recently introducing him at an Aug. 8 rally in Denver. She responded Tuesday to Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy via an email relayed by the Obama campaign.

“This controversy is not an accident, or a mistake, or an isolated incident,” Fluke wrote. “It’s a reflection of a Republican Party whose policies are dangerous for women.”

Less than a day after Fluke’s email went out, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan refused to give his definition of “forcible rape,” a term used in an early draft of legislation co-sponsored by Ryan and Akin. Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson, a longtime women’s and reproductive rights activist and writer, applauded the DNC’s decision to include Fluke to their list of convention speakers.

“She is extremely articulate and smart,” Jacobson said. “Some leaders come about over time, others are catapulted. She speaks for a new generation of young women.”

The old guard will be represented in Charlotte, too, as Nancy Keenan, the president of the country’s longest active abortion-rights group, NARAL Pro-Choice America, has also accepted an invitation to speak.

“As I stand on stage at the convention, I will amplify your pro-choice voices,” Keenan wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “I’m proud that the Democratic Party is again reaffirming its commitment to protect women’s reproductive rights through the party platform, and by choosing so many pro-choice speakers for the convention.”

DNC spokeswoman Melanie Rousell told ABC News, “This convention will define the election as a choice between two very different paths for our nation, particularly when it comes to the health and economic security of women and middle-class families. The speakers announced today were chosen because they can personally define that choice.”

There is no word yet on when Fluke or Keenan will speak, although the group introduced Wednesday is expected to be split up over the three nights (Sept. 4-6) of the convention, which the DNC says will have a “50-50″ split between male and female delegates, in accordance with party rules.

The other speakers confirmed Wednesday morning: Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin; Tammy Duckworth, the former assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ; Denise Juneau, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Montana; Caroline Kennedy; Lilly Ledbetter; Eva Longoria, actress and Obama Campaign Co-Chairwoman; U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland; and Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


DNC Regrets Offending Ann Romney, No More Horse Ads

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now the Democratic National Committee is offering an apology of sorts to Ann Romney.

At issue is a DNC video featuring footage of Ann Romney’s dancing show horse. The DNC used the horse in mocking way to attack Mitt Romney for not releasing his tax returns (and dancing around the issue).

The DNC introduced the video as the first in a series of videos featuring Mrs. Romney’s horse.

Ann Romney, who trains with the horse as part of her therapy for multiple sclerosis, took offense in an interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, and now the DNC is pulling the video, expressing regret for offending Mrs. Romney.

“Our use of the Romneys’ dressage horse was not meant to offend Mrs. Romney in any way, and we regret it if it did,” DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse tells ABC News. “We were simply making a point about Governor Romney’s failure to give straight answers on a variety of issues in this race. We have no plans to invoke the horse any further to avoid misinterpretation.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fleeing Obama? Dems Skipping Out, Adding to Convention Woes

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Four years ago, President Obama's coronation in Denver was a big, happy party.

More than 84,000 Democrats attended Obama's nomination speech at Invesco Field, waiting for hours in a long, snaking line to see the Illinois senator's address among Greek-looking columns, and no one in attendance seemed to heed the conservative mockery they invited.

Denver's streets were filled with political revelers, cabbing from party to party. Somewhere, Kanye West was around.

In 2012, the mood will undoubtedly be festive, but the convention has been beset by a string of bad news in its planning stages.

Over the past few days, a handful of Democratic candidates and elected officials have announced, through their campaigns, that they will not attend the 2012 convention in Charlotte, to be held Sept. 3-6.

Most notable among them is Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who championed Obama as one of his primary endorsers and top surrogates in 2008. "You can't underestimate the importance of Claire McCaskill to this campaign," senior Obama campaign adviser Anita Dunn said in June 2008.

The growing list of Democratic truants includes Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va; West Virginia Gov. Early Ray Tomblin; Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah; Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.., ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reported on Tuesday.

In addition to Tester, two more Democratic senate candidates in competitive races, Arizona's Richard Carmona and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, will not attend the convention, their campaigns confirmed to ABC News. The convention falls in the first week of Carmona's general-election campaign; he faces no opposition in the state's Aug. 28 primary, though he'll learn who his Republican opponent will be.

Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., won't attend the convention either, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday.

These non-attendees have said they will campaign in their states and districts while the convention is happening, and they've downplayed any notion that their decisions were motivated by a reluctance to embrace the Democratic Party and its leader, Barack Obama. Heitkamp spokesman Liam Forsythe said the candidate had planned not to attend the convention "for some time." McCaskill tweeted that news of her non-attendance amounted to a "whole lot of nothing" and that she supposes Obama agrees with her decision. Democratic convention planners declined to comment on the handful of planned absences.

But some of these Democrats hail from states where Obama isn't popular, and where he's not expected to win in November. In West Virginia, federal inmate Keith Judd took a sizable portion of the vote against Obama in the state's Democratic presidential primary. After voting narrowly for John McCain in 2008, Missouri rates solidly as Romney country.

In January, organizers shortened the convention from four days to three "to make room for organizing day and celebrating #DNC2012 host community," the host committee announced via Twitter.

Organizers this week denied a Bloomberg report that they have fallen $27 million short of their fundraising goal. "We are right on track with the fundraising we are doing," convention chief executive Stephen Kerrigan told National Journal by telephone on Tuesday.

Perhaps another issue for the Democratic convention is its location, a state slipping away from the embattled president.

Democrats announced their finalist cities of Charlotte, Minneapolis, Cleveland and St. Louis in June 2010. After the Metrodome roof collapsed amid a snowstorm in Minneapolis, organizers were hemmed in. Charlotte looked like a politically aggressive choice -- a signal that Democrats would fight to defend their Southern beachhead in 2012 -- but now, North Carolina rates only barely as a swing state. Gallup found Obama's North Carolina approval was 43.7 percent in 2011, according to data released in January, a 3.2-percent decline from 2010. Obama's endorsement of gay marriage, after North Carolina passed an amendment banning it this year, seemed to put him at odds with voters there.

While Republicans could see a minor boost in Florida after Mitt Romney's nomination in Tampa in August, Obama may not benefit from a similar swing-state bump.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ann Romney Fights Back: Debuts on Twitter to Counter DNC Adviser’s Insult

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(PROVIDENCE, R.I) -- Ann Romney’s debut on Twitter couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

Ann’s first tweet came just moments after Democratic strategist and DNC adviser Hilary Rosen lobbed an insult at Ann Romney, suggesting that the 64-year-old mother of five and grandmother of 16 had never held a job.

“Guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” said Rosen, who was being interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper about the “war on women.”

And then, just like that, a familiar name popped up on Twitter: @AnnDRomney.

“I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work,” Ann tweeted.

The Romney campaign confirmed to ABC News that the account belongs to Ann Romney.

The tweet came just as husband Mitt wrapped up a second day of campaigning that all but entirely focused on the “war against women,” packing events with female business leaders and accusing the Obama administration’s economic policies of hurting women.

“I could not disagree with Hilary Rosen any more strongly. Her comments were wrong and family should be off limits. She should apologize,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a tweet.

Top Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod also tweeted his disapproval: “Also Disappointed in Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney. They were inappropriate and offensive.”

Following the interview, Rosen herself tweeted, “I’ve nothing against @AnnRomney. I just don’t want Mitt using her as an expert on women struggling $ to support their family. She isn’t.”

Rosen kept tweeting, not appearing to back off of her comments.

“@AnnDRomney Please know, I admire you. But your husband shouldn’t say you are his expert on women and the economy,” said Rosen.

Then Rosen offered a welcome message to Ann, tweeting, “oh and @AnnDRomney welcome to Twitter. You will find it a very exhilarating and often unforgiving place!”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Million Mailers to Women Plug Obama Health Law

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Seeking to expand the edge that President Obama holds over Mitt Romney among women voters, the Democratic National Committee this week is sending out 1 million mailers to women in several states to show how the health care law benefits them.

The two-sided flyers aim to succeed where previous Democratic messaging campaigns have failed: to convince women voters in key general election battlegrounds that the law is laden with cost-saving benefits especially for them, and that the savings could be quickly lost if a Republican wins the White House.

“You may now get many of your preventive care services for FREE,” reads one DNC flyer in big bold lettering. “Without co-pays, thanks to America’s New Health Care Law,” it adds in highlighted text.

Another piece heralds “3 WAYS America’s New Health Care Law is Helping You and Your Family.”  It touts future parity for women with insurance premiums, an end to lifetime benefits caps, and the ability to let children remain on their health plans until age 26.

A Democratic Party official would not confirm which states would receive the mailing or how the party determined its list of recipients.

The mailing, paid for and organized by the DNC, is part of a broader effort led by the Obama campaign in Chicago to leverage recent debates over contraception coverage and the health care law to their advantage. It also comes ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act next week and the first Supreme Court hearing on the law later this month.

Obama for America recently rolled out a new online interactive tool that lets users input information about themselves to learn which aspects of the law apply directly to them.

And President Obama himself has begun publicly touting benefits for women under the new law, including in his campaign stump speech for the first time last week a line about free preventive care for women.

“So when you see politicians trying to take us back to the days when this care was more expensive and harder to get for women -- and I know you’re seeing some of that here in Texas -- you just remember we can’t let them get away with it,” Obama said Friday during a Houston, Tex., fundraiser.

Still, selling the health care law anew will be an uphill climb for Obama who, after months of debate over the law and its benefits, has struggled to win over public opinion.

A USA Today/Gallup poll of voters in 12 general election battleground states last month found majorities believe the health care overhaul is a “bad thing” and, if a Republican wins the White House, would favor the law’s repeal.

Seventy-two percent of voters in the survey said early provisions of the law have had no effect on their health care situation, while 42 percent said full implementation after 2014 would likely make their situation worse.

All the GOP Republican candidates have vowed to repeal or dismantle the law upon taking office.

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said the new Democratic flyers touting the health law’s financial incentives for women won’t be able to gloss over the increasing burdens their families face in the remaining months of Obama’s first term.

“While President Obama tries to spin his failed record with women, budgets are being stretched by increasing prices on everything from food to gasoline as families wonder how they can afford to pay their mortgage, medical bills or send their children to college,” Kukowski said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Convention Chair Says Gay Marriage Should Be Part of Dems’ 2012 Platform

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for BGR(LOS ANGELES) -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Wednesday that his party should take a national stand in favor of gay marriage.

As chairman of this year’s Democratic National Convention, Villaraigosa would not say what the specifics of such a stance might be but told Politico‘s Mike Allen he feels the issue is “basic to who we are.”

The position sets Villaraigosa apart from President Obama, who does not support gay marriage but has said his feelings on the subject are evolving.

“The delegates will make the decisions on the platform,” Villaraigosa said of the party’s ultimate 2012 platform. “But I do support it and certainly have for a long time.”

After Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a bill authorizing same-sex marriage into law in his state last month, ABC News reported that stances on the issue seem to be shifting nationwide.

Four states will hold decisive votes on marriage equality in the coming months.

First up, the New Hampshire state legislature is considering a reversal of its 2009 decision to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. The law was originally voted in under a Democrat-controlled Capitol. Now with more than 70 percent of both the State Senate and State House voting Republican, representatives are pushing to repeal the bill.

The state’s Democratic Governor, John Lynch, is expected to veto this repeal, but the New York Times reports that with Democrats and the GOP in New Hampshire unsure of how their electorate would respond to such a law, a veto-proof majority is anything but assured.

In Maine, the issue is even more complicated. First they legalized it. Then, after Republicans took over the state government in 2010, they repealed it.

Now activists have collected enough signatures to put same-sex marriage in the Pine Tree State on the ballot once again. The Portland Press Herald reports the state legislature could vote on the initiative themselves and put the issue to bed for now, or they can pass it along to the electorate. If that’s the case, Mainers will vote on whether or not to allow same-sex couples to marry in November 2012. The Diocese of Portland has said the Catholic Church in Maine won’t involve itself in the fight politically this time around.

But before the November elections, both Minnesota and North Carolina will vote on amendments to their respective State Constitutions that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Former presidential hopeful and current Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is working with the Faith and Freedom Coalition to advance the measure in her state. At a meeting in January, Bachmann suggested activists reframe the issue to concentrate on a way for Minnesotans to exercise their right to vote, as opposed to a moral issue, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

Opponents of the amendment in North Carolina say it would harm families of all unmarried couples, putting their children at risk of losing rights, because of the language of the amendment. If adopted it would read, “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

All of the Republican presidential candidates have come out in favor of a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, except Ron Paul. Paul advocates for allowing states to define marriage individually.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Villaraigosa Pick Shows Importance of Latinos in Election

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for BGR(LOS ANGELES) -- If ever there was a sign of how crucial the Latino vote will be in the upcoming presidential election, look no further than the fact that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been tapped as the chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

An estimated 12.2 million Latinos will vote in the election, according to projections from the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, a 26-percent increase from 2008. They are the nation’s fastest-growing voting bloc.

“I will be reaching out to Latino voters,” Villaraigosa said on a conference call Wednesday. “There’s a benefit to being bilingual.”

Latinos tend to side with Democrats. They backed Obama by a 2-1 margin in 2008, but Obama has failed to enact comprehensive immigration reforms in his three years as president despite promising to do so during the campaign. Coupled with the nation’s economic struggles, that could be enough for some Latinos to side with Republicans this fall. It will come as comfort to the White House, though, that in recent polls Obama has maintained huge leads among Latino voters.

To date Villaraigosa has been a trusted surrogate for Obama, ripping into his possible Republican rivals in the past few weeks. In an appearance on CNN late last month, Villaraigosa claimed that the GOP candidates have veered so far to the right in an effort to secure their party’s nomination that in the process they have alienated Latinos.

“When it comes to policies and actions, it’s the president who has helped to create 2 million jobs that Latinos have right now, 6 million overall with the Recovery Act, so it’s not just immigration,” Villaraigosa said. “I would agree with respect to rhetoric, however, that some of that divisive polarizing rhetoric that you see and hear in the Republican debates are turning off a lot of voters, including a lot of Latino voters.”

According to a poll released last month by ABC News and Univision, registered Latino voters nationwide would back Obama over GOP front-runner Mitt Romney 67 percent to 25 percent. At a speech last Wednesday in Washington, Villaraigosa ripped Romney as “a presidential candidate who has abandoned immigration reform and instead advocates self-deportation.”

The DNC is planning to release a video from Villaraigosa in Spanish, although it has yet to be posted on their website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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