CHARLOTTE, N.C. Charlotte launched its flirtation with the worlds media Monday, as Democratic National Convention leaders rolled out a theme of building an economy from the middle out.
All speakers at the convention that officially opens Tuesday will touch on that theme, Ben LeBolt, spokesman for President Obamas campaign, said at the opening news conference of the convention. Hundreds of journalists gathered at the Charlotte Convention Center to be welcomed to Charlotte and hear about how the Democrats plan to create a contrast with last weeks Republican convention in Tampa.
Our convention looks like America, said Democratic National Committee Secretary Alice Germond, who talked about the large and growing number of African Americans, Latinos, women and youth among the 5,556 delegates in Charlotte.
It is big. It is bold. It is beautiful, Germond said. It is America, and I am proud to be part of it.
Mondays CarolinaFest street festival is designed to boost the image of openness thats part of the convention theme.
Charlotte residents are ready to put their best foot forward and show good Southern hospitality, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said. Other speakers showered him and the city with praise.
What I saw was a great, vibrant city, a Queen City. I wish we had as many trees as you do, said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the convention chair. He called Foxx the face of the New South and underlined the diversity message by giving an abbreviated version of his remarks in Spanish.
All speakers said this weeks convention will present an alternative view of the economy and Obamas record to the bleak account presented by Republicans. They said speakers will talk about a president who led the country through a devastating recession, rescued the auto industry, passed health care and student loan reforms and offers a plan for the next four years.
The election will offer a choice between a candidate who wants to build an economy from the middle out, vs. a candidate who wants to build an economy from the top down, Villaraigosa said.
While the street party livens up Tryon Street, delegates are holding state meetings across Charlotte and Concord. Mondays caucus and council meetings at the convention center include meetings of African American, Hispanic, Native American, veterans, youth and faith groups.
The schedule of speakers for the convention at Time Warner Cable Arena will be released the night before Tuesdays and Wednesdays sessions. First Lady Michelle Obamas staff have announced that she will speak at 10:35 p.m. Tuesday.
In response to a question about the strategy of choosing Charlotte for the convention, Foxx said he thinks the race will be close, but he believes Obama can win North Carolina again, with a ripple effect in Virginia.
I think that the people of North Carolina understand that this president has their back, and in the end will have his back, Foxx said.
After a reporter asked about the decision to avoid raising convention money from corporate donations or political action committees, convention CEO Steve Kerrigan raved about the number of donors but offered no information about whether the convention has met its $36.6 million fund-raising goal. Several campaign and convention staff said after the conference they did not immediately have that information.