ELECTIONS

Democrats Kick Off National Convention in Charlotte

In a not-too-subtle effort to show that they are the hands-on party of poor and working-class people, Democrats took the free day before the start of their national convention to help build a home for a military veteran. It’s just one of the ways they aim to counter the narrative from last week of a failed presidency and the need for change.

“You know the president of the United States ended a war. He saved the auto industry. Mitt Romney wanted to let it go,” said Senate President Stephen Sweeney. “Thousands and thousands of jobs would’ve been lost, so I think there is a clear difference between middle class and seniors, protecting them and the Republicans that just think we should just be on our own.”

The Democratic talking points appear to be that the Republicans have amnesia, that the country was left in economic shambles by the Bush administration and that Obama was forced to deal with the crisis without any help from Republicans who were hell bent on seeing him fail. It’s a theme hammered home on the opening night reception by DNC chair, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

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“I thought that it was disappointing how most of what I saw at the Republican National Convention last week, especially coming from Gov. Christie, was an attack on Barack Obama rather than talking about what Mitt Romney would do differently,” Wasserman Schultz said. “I mean that probably has a lot to do with the fact that what he’d do differently would drag us back to the failed policies of the past.”

In fact, Christie and his role at last week’s convention, where he gave the keynote address and wowed a number of individual state delegations, was very much on the minds of Democrats.

“It’s obvious we have a very strong personality in the governor’s office, but do we really want a guy who chases people down the boardwalk with an ice cream cone in hand saying, ‘It’s my policy and nobody else’s’?” asked Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage. “Since Chris Christie’s been elected governor of the state of New Jersey there really hasn’t been a dialogue. It’s either his way, or no way.”

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said Christie missed an opportunity in Tampa. “We’ve got close to a million people in our state who are doing very bad, and our governor needed to be a voice for those people, and he didn’t deliver that,” she said.

At a meeting with the New Jersey delegation this morning, the president’s polling director told delegates that when it comes to the president’s record, they should not apologize. He said don’t play defense; always be on that offense, and that looks like the strategy for the upcoming week.

David Cruz reports from Charlotte.