Posted by on September 05, 2012 in Blog

Tuesday Speaker Recap

The speeches on the opening night of the convention were widely regarded as a triumph for the Democratic Party. Speeches from several current Democratic Governors, in particular Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, electrified the crowd. The attacks on Romney were both harsh and numerous, with Romney’s offshore assets being the subject of the sharpest barbs from the speakers. In between the Governors and candidates for office, the audience also heard testimony from citizens who had benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro cemented his status a rising star in the Democratic Party with his keynote address. The 37-year old Castro, already a star in Texas but little known on the national stage, roused the packed audience at the Time Warner Center with a pointed message to voters: "Mitt Romney quite simply, doesn't get it."

All speeches paled in comparison, however, to the address by First Lady Michelle Obama. Ms. Obama served as an effective character witness for her husband and gave illustrative personal anecdotes in similar fashion to Ann Romney’s address at the GOP convention. The first lady went further than Ann Romney however, in that she subtly waded into political waters. Her challenges to the GOP’s message were explicit, though she never mentioned opponents by name. For instance, her message of “humility and thankfulness” was a subtle challenge to the GOP’s theme of “we built that.” Between the First Lady and Mayor Castro, the first night of the Democratic convention was certainly effective in firing up the crowd in Charlotte. Whether the inspirational speeches will inspire Obama’s supporters beyond the arena has yet to be seen.

AAI Hosts Arab American Delegate Luncheon

AAI hosted over 50 Arab American DNC delegates, alternates, and committee members today at Levant Restaurant in downtown Charlotte. The delegates – many of whom were featured nationally the night before sporting Yalla Vote materials on the convention floor – met each other, discussed electoral strategies, exchanged information and ideas, and told their own stories of Arab American political empowerment. They were also joined by Jeff Marootian and Broderick Johnson. AAI President Jim Zogby and Executive Director Maya Berry also delivered remarks on the remarkable growth of Arab American representation at both conventions, and the increasing importance of Arab American political constituencies in winning key elections.

Wednesday Speaker Preview

Tonight the Obama campaign will continue its aggressive appeal to women with early speeches from the president of Planned Parenthood and activist Sandra Fluke. Also slated to speak is Sister Simone Campbell, who leads a progressive Catholic organization that has been vocal in its opposition to the Paul Ryan budget. 

Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for Senator in Massachusetts, will speak in one of the prime time slots. Warren’s race against Senator Scott Brown is one of the most high profile and close races this election cycle. Warren, the architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was recruited by Democrats to challenge Brown, who surprisingly won a 2010 special election over Democrat Martha Coakley. The race is one of a handful which stands to determine which party controls the upper chamber next year. Despite running in a heavily blue state, Warren has so far failed to gain momentum for her campaign and trails Brown by a slight margin. Thus, her speech tonight is a make-or-break moment for her candidacy, as well as for Democratic hopes of maintaining control of the Senate.

Former President Bill Clinton will give the final address tonight. The content of Clinton’s speech has been the subject of much speculation, as apparently his speech is the only set of remarks that was not vetted in advance by the Obama campaign. The alliance between Obama and the former President would have been unthinkable four years ago, due to Obama’s tough nomination fight against Hillary Clinton. Now, the Obama finds himself with a potentially powerful ally and effective surrogate.

Jerusalem in the Democratic Platform

Republicans have leaped to criticize Obama and the Democrats this morning for their platform’s failure to mention Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan called the omission “tragic” and accused Obama of undermining bipartisan support for Israel. Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said the omission “takes the rug away from the Israeli position.”

These charges are ironic given the fact the GOP platform also toned down its position on Jerusalem from past platforms. The GOP platform for the first time since 1980 removes the pledge to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem as well as removed the key word “undivided” in its description of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Also, if Democratic politicians, including the president, were to change their tune on Jerusalem, it certainly wouldn’t be because of a non-binding platform plank. Daniel Seidemann wrote today in response to the backlash: “The discourse on Jerusalem within the political arena in the United States is a charade, and all but the deluded and the devout know it.” Unfortunately, criticism from the “deluded and devout” was loud enough today for the platform committee to push through an amendment putting the Jerusalem language back into the platform at the last minute.

The amendment encountered heavy opposition on the convention floor, particularly from the large contingent of Arab American delegates present this year. Despite the fact that the voice vote appeared to be evenly-split on both sides, the amendment was accepted on the third voice vote with an assumed 2/3 majority vote. You can read AAI’s statement on the amendment vote here.

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