Democrats gearing up for national convention in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE – Democrats received the keys to the Time Warner Arena here this morning, one of the first steps in transforming the city into a national stage for their convention that will kick off President Barack Obama’s re-election bid.
In the next seven weeks, about 200 workers will convert the home of the Charlotte Bobcats basketball team into a stage for one of this year’s biggest political events, the Democratic National Convention, set for Sept. 3-6.
Their work will be seen close up by thousands of people from the Carolinas and millions more watching on TV around the nation and world.
The party hopes to make this convention one of the most accessible ever, with a Labor Day street party in downtown Charlotte where attendees can visit the caucus meetings in the arena – and with 10,000 public credentials for Obama’s big speech in the neighboring Bank of America Stadium. Details on applying for those will be released within a few weeks.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Vallaraigosa, the convention chair, alternated between English and Spanish in answering press questions and vowed the convention will be “as accessible as possible.”
“That’s why we are opening and closing the convention with events that are open to the public,” he added.
It remains to be seen how holding the convention affects this fall’s vote in North Carolina -- or the politics just south of its state line.
While Obama narrowly won North Carolina against Republican John McCain four years ago, the odds are against him winning here on Nov. 6, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
“But the message being sent is that Obama is going to fight for every square inch of ground he carried in 2008,” he added. “There are some analysts who think Democrats might pull it out in North Carolina again, and we’ll see.”
He noted Obama’s holding his 2008 convention in Denver is believed to have helped him break the GOP’s recent lock on Colorado. Sabato said that state’s growth in Democratic-leaning Hispanic voters probably played a bigger role, “but I’m sure the convention helped Obama somewhat in winning that state.”
The Republicans, who are confident they will carry South Carolina this fall for GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney, will hold their convention the earlier week in Tampa.
Read more in tomorrow’s Post and Courier.