Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama's Camp Takes the Stage Looking for Bounce in Polling Numbers, Will 'Lay out Pillars' of Economic Plan

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama's Camp Takes the Stage Looking for Bounce in Polling Numbers, Will 'Lay out Pillars' of Economic Plan

Article excerpt

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- First lady Michelle Obama's highly anticipated speech tonight, at the opening session of the Democratic National Convention, will spark inevitable comparisons with her counterpart, Ann Romney, one of the stars of last week's GOP fest in Tampa, Fla.

Mrs. Obama will take the podium ahead of Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, Texas, the convention's keynote speaker, who may face still tougher comparisons as he follows the role that vaulted President Obama to prominence after the then-Senate candidate from Illinois spoke at the Boston convention in 2004 that nominated Sen. John Kerry for the presidency.

The three days and nights where Mr. Obama and his allies make their case for his second term will bring overall comparisons to the Republican gathering and to past conventions of both parties as analysts of this deadlocked race assess whether either event yielded the kind of polling bounce coveted by the organizers of these multimillion-dollar extravaganzas.

In an opening news conference yesterday, Democratic officials criticized the Tampa event, arguing that beyond its criticisms of the incumbent, it had offered little in terms of policy specifics on where the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan proposed to take the country.

"I think that most Americans who have tuned into the conventions are looking for answers to the questions about how we're going to restore economic security for the middle class," said Ben LaBolt, press secretary for the Obama campaign, in the Labor Day news conference. "The middle class has been stretched thin over the past couple of decades, and so they want to know how we're going to create good-paying, sustainable jobs for the middle class ... and the Republican convention didn't address those questions."

Last week and throughout the campaign, Republicans have leveled similar criticisms at the incumbent and his campaign, contending that their efforts so far have concentrated more on criticizing Mr. Romney than offering details of what they hope to accomplish in the next four years.

Mr. LaBolt said the speakers, culminating with the president on Thursday night, would present a fuller picture of the administration's goals.

"... [N]ow we need to lay out the pillars of how we're going to restore economic security for the middle class," he said, according to a transcript of his remarks. "And that involves paying down the deficit in a balanced way, that involves building an economy from the middle class, invest in things like education, research and development, and infrastructure."

As Pennsylvania's delegates were checking into their rooms, scattered among three hotels in an office park in Charlotte's suburbs, state officials held a news conference to offer their take on the convention goals. Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter, who is scheduled to speak Wednesday night, in the same session that will feature former President Bill Clinton, argued that the GOP speakers had offered, "no tangible ideas to move our country forward. …

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