Accessibility links

USA

At Convention, Democrats Look to Counter GOP With Upbeat Message

  • Aru Pande

The stage stands ready for the start of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, July 22, 2016. The convention is scheduled to convene on Monday.

The stage stands ready for the start of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, July 22, 2016. The convention is scheduled to convene on Monday.

Divisive and scary — that’s how Iranian-American Yasmine Taeb describes Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s remarks on immigration.

“What he is doing is just dividing us, and that’s not what we are about,” Taeb said.

The attorney is the first Muslim American from Virginia to be elected a Democratic superdelegate and will travel to Philadelphia next week for the party’s national convention.

Trump’s words particularly hit home because Taeb and her family came to the United States from Iran when she was 6.

Once undocumented immigrants, all are now American citizens — doctors, lawyers and other professionals — contributing to the United States.

“We are really a product of the American dream,” Taeb said. “We identify more with the Democratic Party because we see they are more inclusive of minorities and communities of color.”

It’s this message of inclusivity, Taeb noted, that will be front and center when she and other Democrats gather to nominate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to speak at a rally in Entertainment Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, July 22, 2016.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to speak at a rally in Entertainment Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, July 22, 2016.

“Ours is going to be a stark contrast to the Republican National Convention,” Taeb said. “Ours is going to be very positive, looking to the future and continuing to build on the successes of the current administration.”

Countering 'we don’t win'

George Washington University professor Gary Nordlinger said Democrats should focus on that positivity and putting forth their own policies to counter the messaging of Trump and the Republican Party.

“I think the Democrats would make a mistake if this [convention] is four nights of attacking Donald Trump,” Nordlinger said. “I think what they should do is portray a very positive message.”

At the same time, Democratic convention speakers will look to rebut Trump’s remarks that crime has gone up and the country is worse off than it was eight years ago, said Think Progress political reporter Alice Ollstein.

“Trump said in his speeches, ‘We don’t win,’ and, 'America isn’t doing well,' ” Ollstein said. “I think the Democrats are going to try to counter that with a very positive message about where the country is and how many people have benefited from some of the policies under the Obama administration, like affordable health care.”

FILE - Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders wave to supporters during a rally in Portsmouth, N.H., where Sanders endorsed her for president, July 12, 2016.

FILE - Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders wave to supporters during a rally in Portsmouth, N.H., where Sanders endorsed her for president, July 12, 2016.

Replaying populist themes

Delegates on Monday night will hear from first lady Michelle Obama and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who will highlight the theme of the convention’s first day — “United Together."

Despite vying for the presidential nomination, Sanders, who endorsed Clinton earlier this month, will most likely urge unity among Democrats as the race moves forward.

“My hunch is Senator Sanders is going to use the same sort of populist themes he used in the primary, but this time explain why Clinton will fight for them and Trump will not, in hopes that his enthusiasm for Hillary will translate to enthusiasm [for her] from his supporters,” Nordlinger said.

Arlington, Virginia, resident Taeb, who ran for the Democratic National Committee as a delegate for Sanders, said Democratic unity should not be an issue.

“He [Sanders] has brought in millions of new voters; he has expanded our party,” she said. “The more we are able to listen to one another and be able to work with each other, we will be successful.”

FILE - Immigration activist Astrid Silva (in red) stands next to her mother, Barbara Silva, as she speaks about immigration reform at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 10, 2014. Astrid Silva will be one of the speakers on the opening night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

FILE - Immigration activist Astrid Silva (in red) stands next to her mother, Barbara Silva, as she speaks about immigration reform at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 10, 2014. Astrid Silva will be one of the speakers on the opening night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Highlighting inclusiveness

The party’s focus on inclusivity and its stance on immigration and race issues will be highlighted in the speeches from immigration activist Astrid Silva on Monday and the mothers of African-American men and women killed by police on Tuesday.

On immigration, political reporter Ollstein said Democrats might have a tough time addressing the issue with Latinos, who are more crucial than ever in winning the November 8 election.

“They can say, ‘Clearly we’re better than Trump, clearly we’re more inclusive, and we’re not yelling about building a wall,' ” Ollstein said. “However, they are in a weird position, because President Obama has really cracked down and deported a lot of people, and there is a lot of anger around that.”

Despite any policy differences, Iranian-American DNC member Taeb said Democrats would put forth a united front during the four-day convention, with party unity and inclusiveness being even more critical this election year as Clinton goes up against Trump.

“It’s really important for our party and our party’s leadership to continue to work to build a more diverse and inclusive party that is really representative of the entire American community,” she said. “That’s what our party stands for. That’s why I am a Democrat.”

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG