By NBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Brooke Brower
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If there’s a theme to tonight’s speaking lineup here at the first day of the Democratic convention, it’s a nod to all the important voting and demographic blocs of the Obama coalition. Women? You have First Lady Michelle Obama, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Lilly Ledbetter. Latinos? Keynote speaker Julian Castro and Rep. Xavier Becerra. African Americans? The first lady and Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. Why is tonight’s coalition night so important for Democrats? Because they are facing an enthusiasm gap — at least compared to 2008 — with these voting blocs. In the Aug. 2012 NBC/WSJ poll, just 52% of voters under 35 and only 49% of Latinos expressed high interest in the upcoming election, which was down about 20 points for both groups at this same point in ’08. That said, almost all voting segments in the poll — Democrats and Republicans alike — aren’t as interested as they were in 2008. So this is the opportunity that the Democratic convention represents for the Obama camp and Democrats: maybe a final chance to rekindle some of the 2008 magic. If Mitt Romney had to close his likeability gap at last week’s GOP convention, Barack Obama and the Democrats this week have to close the enthusiasm gap.
*** Fired up? Ready to go? Obama campaign officials say their voters are getting more excited (example: the 13,000 who turned out in Colorado over the weekend) and believe that 65,000 supporters filling the Bank of America Stadium on Thursday will reflect plenty of energy heading into November — assuming, of course, that the weather cooperates that night. (Per NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, the Obama campaign is telling reporters that Thursday night at the football stadium will happen, rain or shine, unless there is a last-minute safety issue.) “You’ll see for sure enthusiasm coming out of the convention,” one official told First Read. Enough to propel Obama to victory in two months? We’ll find out…
*** The Democrats’ three objectives: In a briefing yesterday with NBC, Obama campaign officials said that the convention has three objectives. One, to present the economic choice between the Obama and Romney visions. Two, to paint where the country is today vs. where it had been, highlighting the tough decisions Obama made (like on health care and the auto bailout). And three, to make the case where the country goes from here.
*** Tuesday’s convention schedule: Below are some of the major speakers for the first evening of the Democratic convention here in Charlotte, which gets gaveled in at 5:00 pm ET.
7:00 pm hour: Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Joe Kennedy III (whose speech is tied to a video tribute to the Kennedy family)
8:00 pm hour: Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak, Rep. Jared Polis, House candidate Tammy Duckworth, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee (I), House Leader James Clyburn, and Rep. Xavier Becerra
9:00 pm hour: Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, actor Kal Penn, Obama half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and brother-in-law Craig Robinson, Lilly Ledbetter, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick
10:00 pm hour: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, First Lady Michelle Obama
*** On the trail today: Obama campaigns in Norfolk, VA at 12:35 pm ET… Paul Ryan stumps in Westlake, OH at 12:20 pm ET and Cedar Rapids at 5:10 pm ET
*** GOP counterprogramming: At 1:00 pm ET in Charlotte, Republicans Nikki Haley, John Sununu, Jason Chaffetz, and Tim Scott hold a press conference to counter today’s activities at the Dem convention. Meanwhile, after yesterday’s back-and-forth over “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” the Romney camp is pouncing on an interview that Obama gave to a Colorado Springs affiliate, in which gave himself an “incomplete” grade on the economy. Obama added in his response, “What I would say is the steps we’ve taken in saving the auto industry, in making sure that college is more affordable, and investing in clean energy and science … those are all of the things that we’re going to need to grow over the long term.”
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