CHARLOTTE, N.C. On the eve of next weeks Democratic convention, both political parties on Friday set their sights on Charlotte and on each other.
Dismissing what they called a GOP convention full of attacks and platitudes, President Barack Obamas top advisers said next weeks Democratic gathering will crystallize the choice facing voters in November.
Heading into Charlotte, the goal of our convention is to bring the choice in this election into sharp focus, deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said in a conference call with reporters. Unlike the Republicans well make an affirmative case for the president.
Meanwhile, Republicans announced plans to counter the Charlotte convention with daily appearances near Time Warner Cable Arena by top surrogates including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and national party chairman Reince Priebus.
This will be the most effective counter-programming effort ever conducted by the GOP, said GOP spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski.
The dueling promises, which came as Democrats began heading to Charlotte, underscore each sides struggle to control the narrative of a campaign entering its final two months.
Nowhere could that pay dividends as much as North Carolina. Two polls this week showed the race between Obama and Mitt Romney is virtually tied in the state.
Cutter and senior campaign adviser David Axelrod made it clear that the Charlotte conventions parade of speakers culminating with Obama, who will give his acceptance speech Thursday night will cast the president as the protector of the middle class and Romney as a throwback to failed GOP policies of the last decade.
Were eager to talk about where weve been and where were going, Axelrod said. This president is committed by his experience and by his beliefs to rebuilding this economy so that every person who works hard can get ahead.
While accusing the GOP of repeated attacks on the president, Obamas advisers ridiculed Romney and other Republicans for what they said, and didnt say.
What they didnt say speaks volumes about why they would take the country backward, Cutter said.
She said while Romney recalled his fathers involvement with the auto industry, even his own love affair with cars, he opposed Obamas government bailout of the industry. And she said his pledge to create 12 million jobs in four years is nothing new.
Moodys Analytics predicted 12 million jobs would be created by 2016 no matter who is president, according to the Washington Post.
Republicans said it was Obama who has explaining to do.
After four years, it is clear that President Obama has run out of excuses for his failed policies, said spokesman Robert Reid. Twenty-three million Americans are out of work, incomes have fallen, and gas prices have doubled. Instead of offering solutions, the president can only offer misleading attacks.
Even though some tea party Republicans have been reluctant to embrace their nominee, Axelrod said the choice of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate ties Romney firmly to his partys most conservative side.
Now that Romney has essentially merged with the House Republican caucus, the last step of that marriage was the naming of (the) leader of the tea party faction of the House to his ticket.
Ryans proposals for Medicare also came under fire.
The chairman of the House budget committee, he proposed a plan that would change benefits for people now under 55. The government would provide a set amount of money for them to use for a private health plan or a government-run system.
If they want to debate Medicare, were happy to have that debate, Axelrod said. Historically the Republican Party has been hostile to Medicare. He called Ryans plan a slow death spiral for Medicare.
Kukowski, the GOP spokeswoman, said Republicans are prepared to counter such claims.
GOP staffers arrive Saturday, she said. The first surrogates are due in Sunday.
She said they plan to get as close as we can get to the (security) perimeter.