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Conventions Rally Both US Parties

Hawaii delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., September 5, 2012.

Hawaii delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., September 5, 2012.

U.S. Democrats are expressing confidence coming out of their national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, after formally nominating President Barack Obama for a second four-year term. Republicans also were energized after their convention the previous week in Tampa, Florida.

Republicans have long been unified in their desire to deny President Obama re-election, even if there are lingering questions about their level of passion for nominee Mitt Romney.

Democrats used their week in Charlotte to try to reignite the party faithful, well aware that the enthusiasm level for the president is down from what it was four years ago.

For Georgia delegate Al Williams, the Democratic convention was an effective tool for party unity.

“The folks that are here, the troops are energized," said Williams. "Now it is a matter of transferring the energy to some people out in the hinterlands because we are ready, there is no lack of enthusiasm. It's very similar to Denver [2008 convention]. Let's get it on. We are like prize fighters, man! Let us out of the dressing room! Let's get it on!

Other delegates say they already have all the motivation they need to get out and support the Democratic ticket in November.

Virginia delegate Rosalyn Dance also attended the convention four years ago, when Obama was first nominated.

“And I'm just as excited, maybe even more so, than in 2008 because he's made it," said Dance. "I think he's lived up to what he committed to do and that he has been doing his best.”

But some of the delegates here do acknowledge at least a mild sense of disappointment that the president was not able to turn around the U.S. economy faster.

“Sure, I mean, I'm disappointed that things aren't better. But regardless of what Republicans say, Obama has made some progress," said Tom Simmons, a retired school principal from North Carolina, a state Obama narrowly won in 2008 but may have trouble winning again this year. "He has created jobs," he added. "Not as many as we'd like to see, of course.”

In an attempt to motivate those who are less enthusiastic this year, Democrats brought out their most popular senior statesman, former president Bill Clinton, who made a passionate case for Obama's re-election.

“You see, we believe that ‘we are all in this together’ is a far better philosophy than ‘you are on your own,’” said Clinton.

Comparing enthusiasm levels between the two conventions is never an exact science. Republicans also felt confident coming out of their convention in Tampa that they can make a strong case for Mitt Romney in November.

“The fact is that the American people know right now that the president has failed, that his policies don't work, and that they are not just bad for the country, they have made things worse,” said Tom Price, a Republican congressman from Georgia.

With the conventions behind them, candidates Obama and Romney will return to the campaign trail and prepare for the next major event in the election cycle, the first of three presidential debates, which will be held in Denver on October 3.
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    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.