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Democrats Rev Up for Charlotte

Aug 30, 2012

This is an excerpt from Executive Insight Briefing, produced every Thursday by the National Journal’s Daily Briefings Team.

Democrats have yet to release a schedule for next week’s convention in Charlotte, N.C., but more information dribbled out this week, including the somewhat surprising news that a sharp critic of President Obama’s new contraception rule would deliver the closing prayer of the convention.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who among others is suing the administration over the new health care rule that would require employers to cover contraception, accepted an offer to deliver the benediction to the convention, The New York Times reported. Dolan has been outspoken in his opposition to the rule, and helped carry the argument that the issue pivots on religious freedom, as Republicans argue, rather than women’s health, as Democrats argue. By handing Dolan the mic, Democrats show they have an eye on Catholic voters. Dolan will also be delivering the closing prayers at the RNC.

Shifting gears, national security will be getting its own theme night, as the Obama camp clearly sees that issue as a winner. Sen. John Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, will deliver a speech about how Obama has “restored America’s leadership in the world, has taken the fight to our enemies, and has a plan to bring our troops home from Afghanistan just like he did from Iraq,” an anonymous campaign official told The Times.

And while the Republicans had their own convention turncoat in former Alabama Rep. Artur Davis, who delivered a scathing rebuke of Obama this week, the Democrats can sport one of their own: Former Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-independent, who will be giving a speech next week. Over the weekend, Crist endorsed Obama for president in a conveniently placed and timed op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times. The Wall Street Journal sneered at the move as a “non-shocker” and said that Crist’s middle name should be “opportunism.” Another non-shocker: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won’t be making her way to the convention, as had long been assumed, per tradition. It will be the first convention she has missed since 1968.

Here’s something you’ll probably be hearing more of in the coming week: complaints about the less-than-glitzy parties this time around and Charlotte’s decided lack of culture. As Reuters put it this week: “Fewer politicians will be making the trip to a second-tier host city with few cultural attractions.”

Thus far, speakers at the convention will include, among others, former president Bill Clinton; Chicago Mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel; San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who will keynote; Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker; Illinois Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth; Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley; Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke; Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; and actress Eva Longoria.

Read the complete August 30, 2012 edition of Executive Insight Briefing.

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