DNC: What you need to know

What you need to know

September 1, 2012 

  • Six things we’ll be watching The just-finished Republican National Convention was not without drama – even if none of it made it to the prime-time coverage: those unhappy Ron Paul delegates, a hurricane, Clint Eastwood’s bizarre speech. So what can we expect from the Democratic National Convention this week in Charlotte? Better Hollywood celebrities, the usual parade of politicians – though some facing tough re-elections are staying home to campaign, a few tributes and protesters, and media stereotypes about the South. Here’s what we’ll be looking for: 1. How Democrats define the race. After four years of dealing with a struggling economy, Barack Obama’s hair is specked with gray. No longer the party’s fresh face, the question is: Can he revive the energy from 2008? 2. The Romney narrative. What Democrats say about Republican challenger Mitt Romney will speak volumes about the narrative for the campaign’s final weeks. Does the Medicare issue take the lead, or will it be Romney’s business record at Bain Capital? 3. The bounce. The Obama campaign wants to use the convention as an organizing tool. It succeeded at that in Denver and was able to carry Colorado. The same success here could mean the difference in the election. 4. A gay stand. Gay activists want to use the convention as a platform to agitate for repeal of the state’s recently passed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. 5. A new political star. A party convention can produce a new star. Which Democrat emerges at the national level? And in North Carolina, can Walter Dalton excite the Democratic faithful, or does Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx become the future face of the state party? 6. North Carolina in the spotlight. It’s the state’s chance to shine and prove it’s a permanent swing state. How does North Carolina – a state in flux with one of the highest unemployment rates – look to the world? And can organizers pull off a flawless event and keep order in the streets?

When is it?

The parties start Saturday, but the convention doesn’t officially start until Tuesday and runs through Thursday. On Monday, Charlotte hosts CarolinaFest, a family event downtown with concerts, skydivers and games.

The first two days will be at the Time Warner Cable Arena. The roll call of state delegates will be Wednesday. President Barack Obama will accept the Democratic nominations for president on Thursday at Bank of America Stadium.

Who’s speaking?

The very long list includes:

• Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, former Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who’s now an independent, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, CarMax co-founder and former CEO Austin Ligon, Caroline Kennedy, women’s rights activist Lilly Ledbetter, U.S. Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Costco co-founder and former CEO Jim Sinegal, Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

•  Former President Jimmy Carter (via video).

• Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to give the nominating speech.

• And from North Carolina: Rep. G.K. Butterfield, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, former Gov. Jim Hunt, Reps. David Price and Mel Watt.

How to watch

Your best bet is cable TV or the Internet, where all the networks plan live streaming. For a full report on who’s showing what, read our Happiness is a Warm TV blog at blogs.newsobserver.com/tv. Here is what was planned at press time:

ABC and CBS each plan to air one hour of prime-time coverage at 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. NBC will air one hour on Tuesday and two hours on Thursday; Wednesday it’s airing NFL football, the Dallas Cowboys vs. the New York Giants.

All three plan to air their morning shows and their nightly news programs from Charlotte.

PBS will provide three hours of coverage each night beginning at 8. One of its live stream channels will provide simultaneous Spanish translation.

CNN kicks off its programming from Charlotte at 9 a.m. Sunday with Candy Crowley, followed by Howard Kurtz at 11. Monday through Thursday, it will have live broadcasts starting at 5 a.m. and going all day long

C-SPAN will air political discussion programs originating from Charlotte each morning (usually starting around 7:45), but when things get going on the floor in the afternoons, C-SPAN will, for the most part, turn the cameras on the speeches. No commentary and no commercials.

Fox News starts daily coverage at 6 a.m. Monday through Thursday.

MSNBC starts at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday through Friday.

News14 Carolina, the state’s local 24-hour news channel, will carry major convention speeches live, and its “Capital Tonight” program will anchor from Charlotte and provide interviews and insights from the day’s action. That show airs at 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Comedy Central will take “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” to Charlotte, airing shows at 11 p.m., and also plans coverage on the network’s Indecision blog.

Star power

Let’s face it: Democrats have always attracted better Hollywood stars. Whether they show up so far from LA, however, remains to be seen. Here’s who is reportedly coming: Patricia Arquette, Beau Bridges, Tim Daly, Eva Longoria, Jeff Bridges, Ashley Judd.

If your taste runs more toward political celebrities, there’s the Kennedy clan. About two dozen, including RFK’s widow, Ethel, are attending, according to the Boston Globe. Joseph Kennedy III, a candidate for Congress, will introduce a video salute to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy on Tuesday.

Who’s protesting?

The Coalition to March on Wall Street South, a collection of more than 90 groups. They plan to demand greater rights for undocumented immigrants, more money for public schools and universities, and an end to foreclosures.

Who else is coming?

There will be 5,963 delegates certified from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories, and about 15,000 credentialed members of the media.

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