Democratic National Convention news and discussion thread

The Democratic National Convention opens tonight in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a tightly-packed schedule of speakers. Broadcast television networks will show only the last hour of prime-time speeches: Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Congressional candidate Joaquin Castro of Texas, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Elaine Brye (a “military mother with four children serving in different branches of the armed forces”), and First Lady Michelle Obama.

O’Malley and several other possible future Democratic candidates for president are meeting with Iowa’s delegation in Charlotte this week. Details and other convention-related news are after the jump.

Unlike Iowa’s delegation to the Republican National Convention, the Democrats making the trip to Charlotte are not distracted by arguments over seating delegates for rival presidential candidates or how future Iowa state delegates will be allocated. Instead, networking with an eye to the 2016 Iowa caucuses seems to be the order of the day.

On Monday, former California Assembly Speaker and current Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke to Iowa’s delegates the the Democratic convention. Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson posted highlights and a link to the full audio here.

“I was asked this morning…’Are we better off than we were four years ago?’ and I looked them straight in the eye and I said, ‘Yes!” Villaraigosa said. “…What did President Obama do? He stopped the hemorrhaging.” […]

Villaraigosa will serve as the keynote speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual fall fundraiser, the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, joining a long list of politicians like Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden who’ve used the event to connect with Iowa activists. Speaking with reporters this morning, Villaraigosa deflected questions about his own presidential aspirations.

“Looking to finish my job the way I started, with a bang,” Villaraigosa said. “I’m working ’til 11:59:59 on June 30 and then I’m riding into the sunset for a while…I think it’s time for a little reflection and that’s what I’m looking to do.”

Also on Labor Day, Newark Mayor Cory Booker gave a well-received speech to Iowa delegates. I had no idea that his grandmother was born in Iowa or that his family has roots in the famous coal-mining community of Buxton. Fascinating.

Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Bruce Braley (IA-01) spoke to Iowa delegates this morning. Again, Henderson posted highlights and a link to the audio on the Radio Iowa website.

Tomorrow morning, Maryland Governor O’Malley will speak to Iowa Democrats. O’Malley will also keynote Harkin’s Steak Fry in Indianola on September 16, and Harkin praised O’Malley as “a great progressive governor.”

Other speakers on the lineup include Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (who headlined the Harkin Steak Fry in 2008), U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.

Television ratings for last week’s Republican National Convention didn’t measure up to 2008. Inevitably, Americans won’t be as excited to hear Joe Biden and Barack Obama speak as they were four years ago. Instead of having the vice president deliver the main prime-time speech on Wednesday night, former President Bill Clinton will do the honors. I think that was a smart decision. I am more likely to tune in on Wednesday than on Thursday. Supposedly, Clinton is writing his own speech; the Obama campaign is not writing it for him. The latest issue of the New Yorker magazine has a big feature by Ryan Lizza on the “carefully orchestrated reconciliation” between Obama and Clinton, who reportedly “don’t really like each other.”

The Obama campaign is trying to get some buzz going about Thursday night’s festivities with this web video featuring a phone conversation between the president and Kal Penn, who will host the Democratic National Convention’s closing night. Penn is the actor best known for the Harold and Kumar movies. He left a gig on the television series “House” in 2009 to serve as associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: The Nation’s George Zornick summarizes some good and bad points in the platform that will be approved during the convention.

David Dayen argues that the housing section of the platform “is so disingenuous, it makes Paul Ryan’s convention speech look scrupulously honest.”

Julian Sanchez noticed that the Democratic Party’s 2012 platform says nothing along the lines of this plank from the 2008 platform: “We reject the use of national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.”

THIRD UPDATE: I missed most of Tuesday night’s coverage, but I did watch Michelle Obama’s speech. It was well-written, and she delivered it well. Douglas Burns called it “simply the best speech you will hear from a first lady in your life,” and I can’t think of a better one. That will be a tough act for the president and vice president to follow.

Michael Tracey, who reports for Salon, got kicked out of the media section today for asking Obama friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett about drone strikes.

FOURTH UPDATE: Here’s a transcript of the first lady’s speech (as prepared). According to CBS, she wrote the speech herself. If that’s true, I am very impressed.

At Grist, Lisa Hymas wrote a good profile of the Castro brothers, “rising Democratic stars with a strong green streak.” I did not know anything about their records on environmental issues.

  • Booker

    I’m a huge Cory Booker fan.  I wish Frank Latenburg well, but I hope he doesn’t have to face another primary.  Frank could spend the last couple of years of his life creating companies back in New Jersey.  A Booker and Christie matchup would be interesting.  

    I just hope Booker doesn’t get treated like Joe Lieberman. Harold Ford Jr. and Artur Davis.  I’m still deeply troubled by what happened to Davis.  I don’t think it was all about Artur’s own ego, but it may have played a significant role.  

    Booker has to defend New Jersey and it seems like hedge funds and private equity firms are going to continue to finance a significant number of companies.  

    • I like Booker as well

      recommend the dvd Street Fight if you haven’t already seen it — about his loss to Sharpe James in 2002. They omitted a lot of the dirty tricks.

    • Correction

      Lautenberg, not Latenburg LOL.    

    • I like Lautenberg

      but one of my favorite political ads of all time was the Republican spot after Lautenberg replaced Torricelli on the ballot at the last minute. The kid doesn’t study for his math test–no problem, I’ll just have Frank Lautenberg take the test for me! And more in that vein. It was hilarious.

      We will be seeing more of Cory Booker in Iowa, I am sure of that.

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