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Democrats Questioned by Some for Choosing Charlotte For Convention

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — This week, the U.S. Democratic Party holds its national convention in the southern city of Charlotte, North Carolina to officially name incumbent Barack Obama as its nominee for president in the November election. 

The party's choice of Charlotte as the location made sense originally, but now some events leave people wondering if the Democrats are sorry they did. 

Charlotte, North Carolina - home to 750,000 people - is everything America's South is known for: southern accents, southern fried foods, and southern charm. 

Charlotte is the global base for Chiquita bananas and NASCAR racing, and at one time was the center of a gold rush. In a way, it still is: It is America's second largest financial center, after New York City, controlling more than $2 trillion in assets.

Democrats have tried to make "big money" a negative in this year's campaign. For example, they refused to accept corporate contributions to fund this convention. But the party fell short of cash and had to shorten the gathering from four days to three.

President Obama will make his acceptance speech Thursday in Charlotte's professional football stadium, which was underwritten by the nation's second largest financial corporation. 

So to avoid any connections to big banks, the Democratic Party likes to refer to the Bank of America Stadium as Panther Stadium... renamed after the professional football team that plays here.

In the 2008 presidential election, Obama narrowly won North Carolina, becoming the first Democrat to do that in more than 30 years. The state is a gem with its 15 electoral votes.

Peter Brown, a pollster with Quinnipiac University, said, "It's one of those states that if the president wins, there's no way [Republican challenger] Mitt Romney will win the White House."

Recent polls show the president even with Republican Romney in this state, and that worries even his staunchest supporters, like North Carolinian Dwight Price. 

"I think it's going to be really, really hard. Last election turnout among young voters was really high, and a lot of people coming out for the first time. I do hope for a repeat like that, but I'm not so sure," he said. 

Others aren’t either. North Carolina's 9.6 percent unemployment rate is above the national average. Democratic Governor Beverly Purdue is so unpopular she isn't seeking a second term, and the executive director of the state Democratic Party resigned after a sex scandal.

But Charlotte is embracing the 35,000 people attending the convention, and Democrats are hoping North Carolina does the same with Mr. Obama in November.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

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