Thu04172014

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The strategy behind President Obama’s Charlotte 2012 convention pick

Charlotte, one of the last cities for candidate Obama’s campaign the day before the Nov. 4, 2008 general election, was officially announced as the site for the Democratic National Convention Sept. 3-6, 2012. by Cash Michaels
NNPA News Service

It is the only Southern state that offered Barack Obama One Stop/Early Voting and Same Day Registration, enabling his 2008 presidential campaign not only to attract a treasure trove of new voters for both the Democratic primary and general election that year, but bank those ballots to eek out a razor slim 14,000-vote victory over Republican rival John McCain.

The Southern state that uniquely offered a dynamic mix of a sizable African-American vote, coupled with a large college-aged and professional voting bloc that, when turned out, would neutralize the strong conservative base in an otherwise “red” state.

And, on May 6, 2008, it was the state that ultimately clinched the Democratic Party’s nomination for president for the young senator from Illinois, and propelled him into history.

Those are just three of the many strategic reasons why Barack Obama, when given a choice by his closest political advisers, picked his favorite Southern state, North Carolina – a state Obama believes he can win again – to officially accept his party’s renomination for president of the United States.

Charlotte, one of the last cities for candidate Obama’s campaign the day before the Nov. 4, 2008 general election, was officially announced as the site for the Democratic National Convention Sept. 3-6, 2012.

More than 35,000 Democratic delegates from across the nation, in addition to national and international press, are expected to rain down on North Carolina’s banking capital for what First Lady Michelle Obama, who broke the news last week, calls “the People’s Convention.”

More than anything else, we want this to be a grassroots convention for the people,” Mrs. Obama wrote in an email to Democrats.  “We will finance this convention differently than it’s been done in the past, and we will make sure everyone feels closely tied in to what is happening in Charlotte.  This will be a different convention, for a different time.”

City officials, led by Queen City Mayor Anthony Foxx, were elated at being chosen over Cleveland, St. Louis and Minneapolis.  Their challenge now is to get Charlotte in shape – from hospitality to its arenas – to welcome the national throng.  Boosters are already underway to raise the $53 million needed.

Foxx, a Democrat and African-American moderate Charlotte city councilman elected mayor 14 months ago, is credited with building a close and evolving relationship with the president during the several times they’ve met.

But, beyond the obvious economic boost and tremendous exposure that North Carolina will get from the four-day national convention, the political reality escapes no one.

“If this decision is proof of anything, it’s proof that Barack Obama will be fighting hard for North Carolina in 2012, as he did in 2008,” David Parker, the newly elected chairman of the NC Democratic Party, said via YouTube video.

It’s also solid proof that the southern, voter-rich states of Florida, Virginia, and of course, North Carolina – states that Obama won in 2008 – will definitely be in play again for the 2012 election effort.

Though the campaign hopes that lightning will strike twice, there are new challenges for the president as he faces re-election.  For starters, Obama will now have an extensive record in office with which the press, the public, and certainly his Republican opposition will hold him to.

The state of both the national and North Carolina’s economy will most certainly play a role in the success or failure of the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte.  North Carolina is slowly recovering, with the unemployment rate here dropping incrementally below 10 percent compared to the national figures.

And of course, with North Carolina being a military state, with prominent bases such as Fort Bragg and Seymour Johnson Air Force base at hand, the state of America’s war effort in both Afghanistan and Iraq will also be charged to President Obama’s record while in office.

Still, North Carolina is a big gamble for the Obama campaign to count on again, some observers say.

“Despite being warned by some very smart demographers within the Obama camp, I was plumb wrong about Obama’s chances of carrying North Carolina in 2008.  He did win, but narrowly, and I’m willing to go double or nothing that, barring a disastrous GOP nominee or campaign, Obama will not repeat in the Tar Heel state in 2012,” Tom Schaller, a political science professor and author of “Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South,” told The Huffington Post.  

“The Charlotte choice can’t hurt, but it won’t help that much.”

But former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, who helped to strategize the party’s 2008 50-state strategy, disagreed.

“I don’t know what the deciding factor was,” Dean told The Huffington Post.  “But Charlotte is very well equipped for this, so I think it will be a good convention and it is a swing state and I think that’s good for us.”

(Special to the NNPA from The Wilmington Journal)

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