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    Democrats Gather for National Convention

    A sign for the campaign of US President Barack Obama is seen on August 31, 2012, at the site that will host the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
    A sign for the campaign of US President Barack Obama is seen on August 31, 2012, at the site that will host the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
    CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — In U.S. politics, thousands of Democrats are gathering this week in the southern city of Charlotte, North Carolina for their party’s national convention. The convention opens Tuesday and will build to a climax on Thursday, when President Barack Obama will formally accept his party's nomination for a second term.
     
    After a week of being bashed by the Republicans at their convention in Tampa, Florida, Democrats are hoping to rally around President Obama this week in Charlotte.
     
    Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his allies went after the president's economic record during their convention, and now it will be the Democrat's turn to defend his record and offer a vision for where Obama would like to take the country over the next four years.
     
    David Plouffe is one of the president's top political advisers. He spoke on ABC's This Week program. “So what we are going to lay out this week is we are going to explain to the American people and the middle class of this country how we are going to continue to recover. But do more than just continue to recover. To build an economy from the middle [class] out," he said. 
     
    At last week's Republican convention, nominee Mitt Romney said he would focus on creating jobs, cutting the budget deficit and making the United States energy independent if he wins in November.
     
    Analysts say voters also will expect some specific plans from President Obama when he speaks on Thursday.
     
    Mark Shields is a syndicated columnist and a political analyst for the NewsHour program on the Public Broadcasting System. "There isn't a specific sense where the president wants to go and how a second term under President Obama would be different from the first term and how it would be better for the country," he said. 
     
    Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina

    DAY ONE: The Charlotte in 2012 Host Committee holds 'CarolinaFest 2012,' a family-friendly, Labor Day celebration and convention week kick-off event open to the public

    DAY TWO: Democratic National Convention Chair Antonio Villaraigosa officially begins the proceedings. Committees determine the agenda and conduct Democratic Party business

    DAY THREE: Delegates vote for the Democratic Party candidate for president

    DAY FOUR: President Barack Obama will accept the Democratic nomination at an outdoor stadium. The event is open to the public
    Historically, political conventions chose presidential candidates, but that is no longer the case. Now, the conventions merely ratify the candidates after they win their party nominations through a lengthy series of caucus and primary votes in the states that begin in early January.
     
    Conventions do offer an opportunity for the candidates to make their case directly to the American people, says Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown.
     
    “The next to last big opportunity to make an impression. So if you don't capitalize on it then you have essentially given up an opportunity. After the conventions the only thing left are debates and they are very big, no doubt about it," he said. 
     
    President Obama will give his nomination acceptance speech Thursday at an outdoor football stadium, much like he did four years ago when he accepted the 2008 Democratic nomination in Denver, Colorado.
     
    Vice President Joe Biden also will speak Thursday. Other prominent Democrats scheduled to speak include first lady Michelle Obama and former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
     

    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.

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