WASHINGTON, September 4, 2012 — Two speeches on Tuesday evening during prime time are expected to set the tone, rallying Democrats to action.
Michelle Obama, the wife of President Obama, like Ann Romney did for her husband Mitt Romney at the Republican Convention, will personalize her husband’s story and maybe explain some of President’s gray hairs. She will speake at 10:30 pm., preceded by a video. The other speaker being launched tonight at 10 p.m. is the Hispanic mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julian Castro. While known as a dynamic and charismatic personality, Castro is basically unknown nationally, making his appearance a big leap to center stage.
The task before Michelle Obama, who is a strong, personable speaker, is not to introduce or even reintroduce her husband as Ann Romney had to do, but to use her own high likeability quotient with Americans (65% of whom view her favorably) to help voters see Obama as a husband and father of two girls, Sasha, 11, and Malia, 14, and not just as the leader of the free world. Expect to hear one or two stories that will show the President’s character, even revealing flaws that only a wife can know.
Four years ago, Americans felt very differently about Michelle Obama, seeing her as a radical figure, who was even seen as dangerous. During her years as First Lady, she has won over most of the country with her childhood obesity crusade, “Let’s Move!” and her funny, down-to-earth appearances on Jay Leno and Jon Stewart shows.
Plus the fact that the First Lady is often seen wearing “Mom” outfits like sweaters and skirts from J. Crew instead of high-end fashion has strengthened her middle class appeal.
Advisors say Michelle Obama will give people a chance “to see up close and personal what being President looks like.” That many problems have “no easy solutions, the judgment calls where the stakes are so high and there is no margin for error.”
Obviously her appeal will also be to women, but watch Michelle Obama balance that appeal carefully, probably not engaging in the current cultural wars on women that have dominated much of the campaign rhetoric while still reminding women voters that the woman behind the president is the one who keeps him grounded.
The Convention’s keynoter, San Antonio’s mayor, brings great appeal both as a Hispanic and a powerful speaker, adding some pizzazz. Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager even claims, “You’re in for one of those moments that 10 years from now, you’re going to say, ‘I was there when he gave that speech.’ ” That may be hard to live up to, but having Castro on the bill can’t hurt and it may energize not only Hispanics, but people tuning in if he gives the speech everyone is promising. Will it be electrifying or has it been overhyped? Tune in around 10 p.m. for the answer.
And don’t forget eight years ago, an unknown Illinois state senator running for the U.S. Senate stepped on the national stage and gave a speech that galvanized the nation, making people ask, “Who is that guy?” Today he is President. So stranger things have happened.
PBS, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News will be covering the convention from the opening gavel at 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The networks, CBS, NBC, and ABC, will cover the Democratic Convention only from 10 to 11 p.m., although NBC will skip convention coverage on Wednesday night to show the opening game of the NFL season with the Dallas Cowboys vs. the New York Giants.
Sorry, Bill Clinton. You know what most folks will be watching.
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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