CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Obama has shrugged off Mitt Romney’s charge that Democrats have run a divisive campaign, defending his critiques of his GOP challenger as “pretty standard stuff” in presidential races.
But Democratic convention officials appear eager to avoid giving Romney any new reason to call foul this week.
At a background briefing for reporters Tuesday morning, organizers stressed that “forward” will be the theme when the Democratic National Convention kicked off here Tuesday night, vowing that the tone will offer a sharp contrast to last week’s Republican gathering.
While there are sure to be critiques of the Republican ticket, they will be “substance-based,” officials insisted.
The headliners of the night include Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who will describe what it was like to inherit “Romney economics,” contrasting the Republican’s record as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 with the national policies Romney now embraces.
But much of the night will be spent extolling Obama’s own record: Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland will talk about the benefits of the auto industry bailout for his state, while Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will speak to the challenges Obama faced when he came into office.
The 10 p.m. (Eastern) hour, which the broadcast television networks will carry live, will feature a keynote address by the young mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, a rising star in the party, followed by First Lady Michelle Obama. She is expected to talk about the president “as a husband, as a father, as a friend,” a campaign official said, and speak to the values that shape his decisions.
Obama is scheduled to watch her speech from the White House. The campaign will probably release a photo of him, but he is not expected to beam into the convention via satellite with their two daughters, as he did four years ago in Denver.
The back-to-back speeches by Castro and Michelle Obama underscore one of the major strategies Democrats have this week: to run up their advantage among Latinos and women.
Tuesday night’s speakers also include Rep. Charles Gonzalez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Nancy Keenan, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League; Rep. Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles; congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth; Lilly Ledbetter, who inspired the Fair Pay Act; and Elaine Brye, a military mother with four children serving in different branches of the armed forces.
“If by the end of this week you don’t think we’ve hit it with Latinos and women, then we haven’t done our job,” said one highly placed Democrat familiar with the campaign’s thinking.