DNC: What does Obama want to achieve?

The Democratic National Convention will begin on Tuesday, September 04.

Questions:

What kind of message are President Barack Obama and Dems hoping to sell to the public through their Convention in your opinion and why this kind of message?

Answers:

David McCuanAssistant Professor of Political Science, Sonoma State University

The challenge for the President and the Democrats is to spend this week re-capturing some momentum lost from last week, but more importantly, to re-ignite their campaign by firing up the base and reaching out to the all important “swing voters.”

We should expect to see Democrats addressing core constituencies and issues such as reaching out to working people and union members, women, and under-represented voters, portraying the GOP against Main Street and for Wall Street, and working to define further the differences between the incumbent party and Republicans. Expect to hear much about foreign policy successes, the death of Osama Bin Laden, and the drawdown of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, at its core, this is an election about the economy, so the President and Democrats will highlight this issue by pointing to the riches of Romney and how the GOP is out of touch with the concerns of regular Americans.

Divisive issues such as God, Guns, and Abortion will play prominently in that distinction, so Democrats will attempt to link these economic concerns of most voters with more divisive, extreme elements of the GOP. In order to rally the base, the President and his team will look to avoid gaffes and “Eastwooding” moments that take them off script. Energizing the base and reaching out to swing voters in important states like Florida, Ohio, and others means that Democrats will want to emphasize the quality of life issues that they hope will form the core of their arguments this week.

Look for moments of distinction and harsh language that make for great TV and headlines. Levity and compromise will be out – harsh tone, strong rhetoric, and a re-kindling of a fighting spirit are what Democrats hope will come out of the convention held in Charlotte this week.

Steven GreeneAssociate Professor of Political Science, North Carolina State University

President Obama and the Democrats want to present a stark choice between themselves and Romney and the Republican party. The economy is not good and if this election is referendum on Obama, it is hard for him to win. Rather, Democrats would like to turn this election into a choice between Obama and Romney—and his conservative policies—where they feel on much firmer ground.

Democrats will argue that Republican policies will simply take us back to failed policies of previous Republican president, George W. Bush. There will also be a major theme that Mitt Romney is out to serve only the wealthy Americans, whereas President Obama is looking out for the middle class.

Again, though, I would say that the key for Democrats is to get voters to think about the election as a contrast about who you want to be president for the next four years, rather than thinking about whether Obama “deserves” a 2nd term.

Russell Riley, Associate Professor and Chair of the Miller Center of Public Affairs’s Presidential Oral History Program, University of Virginia

There will be a mix of positive and negative messages. The negative will be to highlight Romney’s political vulnerabilities especially on the economy. And there will be questions about the firmness of his core values. The focus on the positive will be a more difficult task because of the severity of the economic conditions. They will argue that we are on a responsible path forward made difficult by their republican predecessors.

Unusually they may also highlight Obama’s foreign policy successes. This is genuinely rare in a presidential contest, except in war, and certainly so for a Democrat.

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