USA Votes 2012

DNC to Open With Focus on Hispanic, Female Voters

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (L), who will be the convention keynote speaker, and his twin brother, State Representative Joaquin Castro, who is running for U.S. Congress, are interviewed at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North CarolinSan Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (L), who will be the convention keynote speaker, and his twin brother, State Representative Joaquin Castro, who is running for U.S. Congress, are interviewed at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolin
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San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (L), who will be the convention keynote speaker, and his twin brother, State Representative Joaquin Castro, who is running for U.S. Congress, are interviewed at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolin
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (L), who will be the convention keynote speaker, and his twin brother, State Representative Joaquin Castro, who is running for U.S. Congress, are interviewed at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolin
Sean Maroney
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Two blocs of voters - Hispanics and women - will be front and center when the Democrats formally open their national convention Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina. The event will feature a rising Hispanic figure in the Democratic Party - San Antonio, Texas, Mayor Julian Castro - as well as first lady Michelle Obama.

President Barack Obama leads his opponent, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, among likely voters who are either Hispanic or female. But the latest polls show Mr. Romney receiving a modest gain in support - to 30% - among Hispanics following the Republican convention last week in Tampa, Florida.

Republicans featured several high-profile Hispanics, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.

Julian Castro ready for prime time

Democrats have their own rising star delivering the Tuesday evening keynote address - San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.

And while Castro told VOA he believes the destiny of the Hispanic community is interwoven with the destiny of the United States, he said he hopes to reach a broader audience as he lays out the main themes for the week.

“Tonight I'll be speaking to all Americans with the message that I believe will resonate with all Americans: how America became the land of opportunity in the first place, how we need to keep it the land of opportunity and why President Obama is making the investments that are necessary to do that.”

Castro's life story features many similarities with that of the president's. He is the son of a single mother and a graduate of Harvard Law School. He also has had a meteoric rise in politics. He is the youngest mayor of a top 50 U.S. city and is listed as one of Time magazine's “40 under 40” rising American politicians this year.

  • President Barack Obama waves after his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 6, 2012.
  • Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama wave to the delegates at the conclusion of President Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention, September 6, 2012.
  • President Barack Obama and First lady Michelle Obama joined by their children Sasha, left, and Malia walks across the stage after President Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama (L) embraces former President Bill Clinton onstage after Clinton nominated Obama for re-election during the second session of Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 5, 2012
  • U.S. President Barack Obama (L) joins former President Bill Clinton onstage after Clinton nominated Obama for re-election during the second session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 5, 2012.
  • Former President Bill Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina, September 5, 2012
  • First Lady Michelle Obama waves after addressing the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 3, 2012.
  • Delegates cheer as First lady Michelle Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • Delegates recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of the Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • A woman records the invocation at the Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • Delegates await the start of the first day of the convention, September 4, 2012.
  • A group of third grade students rehearse saying the Pledge of Allegiance ahead of the first day of the convention in Time Warner Cable Arena, September 4, 2012.
  • Advertisements for the DNC line the walls at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
  • Protesters block an intersection near the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina for several hours while surrounded by police who allow the demonstration to continue, September 4, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • Delegates tour the floor ahead of the convention, September 3, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • Programs laid out for guests inside the convention center. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • The Charlotte, North Carolina skyline seen through the window of an airplane, September 2, 2012.
  • President Barack Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina tours the floor at the Democratic National Convention, September 3, 2012.
  • Delegates and Democratic National Convention visitors crowd one of the merchandise stores in Charlotte, September 3, 2012. (J. Featherly/VOA)
  • Delegates await the start of the first day of the Democratic National Convention, September 4, 2012.
  • A 15-ton sand sculpture of President Obama is on display outside the convention. The sand comes from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. (J. Featherly/VOA)

First lady will take spotlight

First Lady Michelle Obama on stage with actor Kal Penn at the Democratic National Convention inside Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday, Sept. 3, 2012.First Lady Michelle Obama on stage with actor Kal Penn at the Democratic National Convention inside Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday, Sept. 3, 2012.
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First Lady Michelle Obama on stage with actor Kal Penn at the Democratic National Convention inside Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday, Sept. 3, 2012.
First Lady Michelle Obama on stage with actor Kal Penn at the Democratic National Convention inside Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday, Sept. 3, 2012.
Aside from Castro's keynote, first lady Michelle Obama will be the featured speaker Tuesday evening. And just as Republican nominee Mitt Romney's wife Ann reached out to female voters in her speech, the first lady is expected to do the same.

Elaine Brye is a military mom from Ohio, a must-win state for both candidates in this year's election. Mrs. Obama invited Brye to a state dinner last March after receiving a Christmas card from her thanking the Obamas for their support of the troops.

Now Brye is tasked with introducing the first lady, which she said is “just crazy.” If the Democrats hope to humanize the president and his family to voters in this convention, Brye - who said she is not politically active - certainly has the view they want to project.

“I'm just speaking as a mom to a mom, somebody who has a heart and somebody who just is a warm and caring person,and that has been demonstrated,” said Brye.

Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to speak Wednesday, and President Obama will take the stage in an outdoor stadium Thursday night.


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