DNC 2012: Democrats Take Their Turn

The left hopes to set the president's record straight at its convention this week in Charlotte, N.C.

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(The Root) -- There may be some rain, the Charlotte, N.C., forecast predicts, but so far no hurricane warnings. Republicans had their turn in Tampa, Fla. At their convention, presidential candidate Mitt Romney at times seemed like a supporting player in his own show, with bombast from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, bite from vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan and a host of prominent women and minorities to present the face of a more inclusive Grand Old Party -- onstage, anyway.

Romney inspired passion with more of a personal story than policy details in his closing-night speech, and his team also beat back the Ron Paul faithful to present a united front, though that whole Clint Eastwood rant didn't turn out so well.

Now it's time for Democrats and Charlotte to take the spotlight. President Barack Obama delivers his big speech on Sept. 6 at Bank of America Stadium, and while the theme may not be 2008's hope and change, the tone promises to be far more optimistic than Tampa's doom and gloom, inside the convention center and out. Instead of the Republican slogan "We built it," you'll hear plenty about how "He saved it" -- meaning the economy, after eight years of Bush-Cheney.

Getting the Democratic Message Out

First on the agenda will be setting the record straight. Despite being called out by fact-checkers for a series of televised ads that falsely accuse the Obama administration of "gutting" welfare reform, the GOP is pressing that message, an attempt, many believe, to accuse the first African-American president of doling out checks to lazy freeloaders at a time when many are suffering.

Bill Clinton, the president who signed the welfare-to-work legislation, has repudiated the GOP's message, though Republicans have given him cameo appearances in the attack ads. Expect a wholehearted Obama endorsement when Clinton takes the convention stage Wednesday night. Though the two men have had a sometimes contentious relationship -- a clash of political egos -- Clinton probably can't resist a chance to play savior in his home region and set the stage for a Hillary Clinton run, if she chooses, in 2016.

There will also be talk about Medicare, as well as the GOP's claim that Obama is cutting health benefits to seniors to fund his Affordable Care Act. In reality, the president's plan trims expenses by reducing payments to insurance companies and hospitals. In Charlotte, Ryan's budget plan and its proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher system that would let seniors tangle with insurance companies no doubt will be dissected and denounced.

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Women will play an especially prominent role at the Democratic convention, especially since Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's words about "legitimate rape" gave Democrats the opening and ammunition to again talk about a Republican "war on women." Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University student maligned by Rush Limbaugh, has a speaking spot. So do Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and Caroline Kennedy, among many other elected officials and policymakers. On Tuesday popular first lady Michelle Obama will set the opening-night scene, and Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren will introduce Clinton on Wednesday.

With the Dems anxious to show a deep bench of young talent, the keynote speech will be given by 37-year-old San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, the first Latino keynote speaker at a Democratic National Convention. Castro, the son of a single mother, earned degrees from Stanford and Harvard. Sound similar to the background of a certain 2004 convention keynote speaker who made the most of his moment?