Obama Lays Out Democratic Convention Week

By Lindsey Ellerson

Aug 25, 2008 8:45pm

ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller Report: Senator Obama, on Day one of the Democratic National Convention, laid out what he envisions for this week’s convention. 

Speaking to reporters in Moline, Illinois Senator Obama said he hopes the convention achieves two big goals: to clearly define the difference between himself and John McCain, and to highlight who he is and what he stands for.

“I want to make the choice between myself and John McCain as clear as possible. I don’t want people to be confused,” Obama told reporters after a campaign stop in Iowa, “I also hope that the convention conveys who I am.”

Obama said that over the course of a 19th month campaign, when he is on TV, and in big auditoriums it sometimes gets lost who he is – and what he stands for – and that’s one of the goals of the speaking line up this week.

Michelle Obama is the keynote speaker for tonight’s condition – and Obama will watch from the living room of a Kansas City, Missouri family’s home. Her address will focus on Obama’s family life, values, and his service over the years. 

“It is a great way to kick off the convention with the star of the Obama family, Michelle Obama as well as Malia and Sasha Obama, I think they’re just going to be terrific,” Obama said of his family, “And hopefully Michelle will be able to talk a little about our family and what this campaign has meant and why we’ve made this commitment.”

Obama – who addresses the convention on Thursday – says that he is also excited to hear Senator Clinton, Mark Warner, and his newly chosen VP, Sen Biden speak.

Last week, Senator Obama had a broad conversation with former President Bill Clinton about his speech on Wednesday night, but said that he did not tell Clinton what he could and could not talk about in his speech.

“ I said ‘Mr. President you can say whatever you’d like’.” Obama joked.

Wednesday’s night at the convention is focused on foreign policy – but Obama made clear that the former president is not held within that topic parameter – and if he wants to give a speech about the economy – he will.

“Bill Clinton knows a little bit about trying to yank an economy out of the doldrums and helping middle class families and so wouldn’t make much sense for me to want to edit his remarks to prevent him from making a strong case about why we needs fundamental economic change in this country.”

Senator Obama gives his own convention speech on Thursday night. Obama has been clearly downplaying expectations – especially in comparison with his 2004 Democratic National Convention address which brought his name into the limelight.

“I don’t think you can duplicate that kind of moment,” Obama said of his 2004 speech, “But more importantly my role is different now. At the time I was a member of a supporting cast trying to make the case for John Kerry and so I could structure a speech that was all about inspiration and broad themes. You know, this speech is different.”

The presumptive Democratic nominee said that his speech is going to be “a more workmanlike speech” this convention – and he is not aiming for the “high rhetoric” like last time.

“I think people know that I can give the kind of speech that I gave four years ago. That’s not the question on voters’ minds. I think they’re much more interested in what am I going to do to help them in their lives.”

Senator Obama won’t arrive in Denver – the site of the convention – until Wednesday afternoon. He campaigns through battleground states in the lead up to his primetime speech on Thursday.

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