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.

The Washington Post/Getty Images

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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?

In a switch from recent years, voters give President Obama the edge in foreign policy, something convention speaker and former candidate Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts will be sure to point out. The killing of Osama bin Laden will surely be mentioned more than it was in Tampa.

Charlotte in the Spotlight

The city of Charlotte will also play a starring role in the weeklong show. The city has been buzzing in the weeks before the mix of 35,000 delegates, media, politicians and celebrities begin to arrive. Visitors will be greeted by host Anthony Foxx, Charlotte’s second African-American mayor, and an African-American police chief, Rodney Monroe, coordinating security with federal officials.

A convention is a magnet for demonstrations and marches — including those by the Coalition to March on Wall Street South and by undocumented immigrants and their allies, who have traveled across the country by bus. In a recent conversation, Foxx said that the city could strike a balance: “Our job is to do the best we can to preserve and protect their right and balance it with the need to make sure not only that the demonstrators are safe but the entire community is.”

With the big event being held in a museum district that is exhibiting special shows for the occasion, the convention weary can take a break and be challenged by “Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial,” from the self-taught Alabama artist, at the Mint Museum Uptown; or Tavis Smiley’s “America I Am: The African American Imprint,” at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. The man that museum is named for is Charlotte’s history-making first African-American mayor, still a presence as an architect and community leader who, along with Foxx, will be speaking at the convention.

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