In Charlotte, Democrats Push The Vision Thing (The Note)

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone ) and AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter )


  • OBAMA GRADES HIMSELF: 'INCOMPLETE': With 63 days to go to the election, President Obama says he still deserves an "incomplete" - rather than a letter grade - when asked to rate his performance on fixing the economy, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports. "You know I would say incomplete," Obama said in an interview with local Boulder, Colo., TV affiliate KKTV."But what I would say is the steps that we have taken in saving the auto industry, in making sure that college is more affordable and investing in clean energy and science and technology and research, those are all the things that we are going to need to grow over the long term," he said. "One big piece of business that we still have to do is make sure our debts and deficits are brought under control, and I've put forward a balanced plan that would reduce our deficits by 4 trillion dollars." NOTE: It's not the first time Obama has rated himself "incomplete" when asked about his first term economic performance. In May, Obama told the ladies of ABC's "The View" that his record on the economy is still in progress. "It's still incomplete," he said. "We've still got work to do."
  • WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT THE DNC: ABC News Political Director Amy Walter highlights the list of five things to watch for at this week's convention: Addressing the elephant in the room (is the country on track?), filling in the "forward" theme, the enthusiasm gap, how the Democrats cope with the timing (in addition to being DNC week it's also first week of school for many, the start of football season, etc.) and the inevitable comparisons to Denver in 2008.
  • WHO YOU WON'T SEE THIS WEEK: As Democrats descend on Charlotte, N.C., this week to light a fire under President Obama's re-election campaign, a few of the biggest names in the party will not be there, ABC's Amy Bingham reports. While party honchos like former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are set to take the stage, other Democratic heroes such as Al Gore and Hillary Clinton are staying far from Charlotte. And with hotly contested House and Senate races peppered across the map, many Democratic members of Congress have swapped convention parties for campaign events. We've tracked them down:
  • TODAY IN CHARLOTTE - ABC-YAHOO NEWSMAKERS EVENT: ABC News' Diane Sawyer, Jake Tapper and Yahoo News' Olivier Knox hold an ABC News-Yahoo News conversation with Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter and campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt. The event takes place this morning at 9:30 a.m. in Charlotte at the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Belk High Octane Theater, 400 East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. You can watch this morning's ABC News- Yahoo News Newsmakers Live event this morning from 9:30-10:30 am from Charlotte online:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - First Lady Michelle Obama takes center stage on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, and as one senior Obama campaign official told ABC News yesterday, she will be a "character witness" for the president's decision-making process during troubled times.

Mrs. Obama will talk about "who the president is, the values that drive him, what motivates him," and although the DNC will not have nightly themes like last week's Republican National Convention, she will highlight the Democrats' one big idea: "How you build an economy meant to last with a strong middle class at its core."

She will be introduced by Elaine Brye of Winona, Ohio. According to the Obama campaign, Brye is a mother of five, four of whom are currently serving in the military. "A teacher, wife, and mom, Elaine's connection to the service is deep-rooted: she grew up with a father who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam," the campaign noted.

The Democrats will spotlight other Americans like Brye throughout the week, as they push three main messages, according to senior campaign officials.

First, the convention will frame the 2012 election as a "choice between the president's vision for the economy vs. Mitt Romney's vision for the economy."

Second, all week long the campaign plans to walk through some of the tough decisions President Obama has made during his first term, such as passing health care reform and bailing out the automobile industry.

Third, the Democrats will "lay out a path forward" - essentially pushing the vision thing.

"We didn't hear anything last week from Mitt Romney about where he wanted to take the country or any tangible plan to do it," an Obama campaign adviser said. "You'll hear that here. You'll hear concrete workable clear plans of how to move this country forward."


ABC's AMY WALTER: Julian Castro hits three of Obama's key target demographics: He's young, he's Latino, and he represents a fast-growing city in the western part of the country. He also has a lot in common with the man who gave that 2004 DNC Keynote speech and is president today. Raised by a single mom, he attended Harvard Law School, and represents a new era of minority politics. A New York Times magazine piece dubbed him "The Post-Hispanic Hispanic Politician." Even so, he's also a reminder of the fact that the Democratic bench of high-profile minority politicians is thinner than the GOPs. Republicans have two Latino Governors, two Indian-American Governors and one (and most likely two) young Cuban-American Senators.

ABC'S RICK KLEIN: For a campaign moving "forward," there's plenty of looking backward in the Democratic National Convention programming. It's back to Clinton years, back to the Bush years, back even to a time in the presidency where Vice President Joe Biden's bumper-sticker line, "Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive," could end an argument. The opening night speakers may provide the best vehicles for looking forward while looking backward: First Lady Michelle Obama providing a reminder of President Obama the person, and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro a reminder of President Obama's promise.

ARE YOU BETTER OFF TODAY THAN YOU WERE FOUR YEARS AGO? PAUL RYAN AND ELIZABETH WARREN TACKLE THE QUESTION. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and Massachusetts Senate candidate and Democratic National Convention speaker Elizabeth Warren took on the question that everyone has been asking this morning on "Good Morning America."

Asked to respond to comments made by Joe Biden yesterday, where Biden said in response to the question "Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive"- Ryan quickly replied: "General Motors isn't alive in my home town." Ryan pivoted to talking about the Romney economic plan, specifically with regards to tax reform. "We're going to reduce people's rates by 20 percent, and we'll do it by closing loopholes" he told George Stephanopoulos. In her response, Warren discussed the financial situation four years ago, saying "I remember what was happening four years ago- the markets were crashing, the financial system was threatening to seize up…and there was a real question as to whether we were head into a full fledge depression."

NOTED: The Note asks for your opinion on the question du jour- are you better off than you were four years ago? Share your opinion in our poll:

THE PLATFORM: From the DNC: "Today the Democratic National Committee announced that it has posted online the 2012 Democratic Party Platform, which will be officially adopted by the Delegates to the Convention tomorrow, Tuesday, September 4. The Party Platform articulates clearly President Obama's vision for moving our country forward by restoring economic security and building an economy that is built to last." Read it:


with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield (@LizHartfield)

OBAMA STADIUM SPEECH PUTS BANK BATTLE IN SPOTLIGHT. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports, when President Obama takes the stage here Thursday inside the 75,000-seat Bank of America Stadium, he and the venue's namesake will become forever intertwined in the annals of political history. Obama will become the first sitting American president to give an acceptance speech in an outdoor pro-sports arena with tickets available to the general public. It's also the first time an incumbent will make a primetime convention appeal in the shadow of a major bank he battled during his first term.

MEET DEMOCRATS KEYNOTE SPEAKER JULIAN CASTRO. The Democrats will open their convention tonight with a keynote speaker who is young, Hispanic and little known outside of his home city of San Antonio, Texas, reports ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield. For Mayor Julian Castro, 37, tonight could be a spring board to national prominence. It was eight years ago when another little known speaker, then-state senator Barack Obama, gave the keynote at that year's Democratic National Convention.

OBAMA VISITS LOUISIANA POST ISAAC. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports, President Obama Monday surveyed a Louisiana neighborhood hit hard by the floods of Hurricane Isaac, reassuring victims of federal recovery aid and hailing the first responders who ensured no lives were lost. Obama got a first-hand look at the devastation in St. John the Baptist Parish, one of the hardest hit in the storm, situated roughly 30 miles west of downtown New Orleans.

BIDEN INSISTS AMERICA IS BETTER OFF TODAY. ABC's Arlette Saenz reports, Vice President Biden joined the chorus of Democrats declaring that America is better off today than four years ago. "Folks let me make something clear, and say it to the press: America is better off today than they left us when they left," Biden said referring to the Bush administration. A crowd of 3,500 at a Labor Day rally in downtown Detroit applauded. "Let me just sum it up this way folks, you want to know why we're better off? I got a little bumper sticker for you. Osama Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive," Biden continued.

OBAMA TAKES CREDIT FOR OHIO'S ECONOMIC RECOVERY. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports, President Obama marked Labor Day in Ohio by claiming credit for the state's resurgent economy and panning his rivals' economic "playbook." Obama told the UAW Labor Day Celebration that the state's above-average job creation record in the recovery is thanks in part to his policies, including the government-funded rescue of U.S. automakers GM and Chrysler in 2009. The auto industry in Ohio has added more than 13,000 jobs since June 2009, according to the Labor Department. The state's unemployment rate is 7.2 percent, more than a full point below the national average.

LACKING SPIRIT OF '08, DEMOCRATS STILL FIND REASONS TO UNITE. The New York Times' Adam Nagourney reports: "Democrats are arriving here to nominate President Obama for a second term in an atmosphere far removed from the Denver convention in 2008, driven by a different kind of urgency and with new questions about their party's direction. Their unity at this point is defined less by faith in Mr. Obama or a robust vision for what the party should stand for than by the prospect that Republicans could control the White House and Congress next year and enact a conservative agenda that would unravel much of what Democrats have stood for since Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Mitt Romney's selection of Representative Paul D. Ryan as his running mate has only intensified the ideological fervor."

FIGHT FOR FEMALE VOTERS WILL CONTINUE AT DNC. The Charlotte Observer's Tim Funk reports: "The Obama campaign hopes this political trip down memory lane will cement its relationship with women at a time when polls suggest every vote will matter in November. 'They want to reopen old wounds and offer reminders of the big (events) that enraged women,' said Mary Grabe, an Indiana University professor whose specialty is elections. Speaking of anger, Democratic speakers will likely find it hard to resist invoking the name of Todd Akin, the GOP Senate candidate in Missouri who, just weeks ago, told an interviewer that victims of 'legitimate rape' don't usually get pregnant."

OBAMA'S BAN ON LOBBYIST GIVING DOESN'T KEEP THEM FROM CHARLOTTE. Bloomberg's Jonathan Salant reports: "Heather and Tony Podesta wore scarlet "Ls" at the Democratic National Convention four years ago, a reaction to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's exclusion of lobbyists from his campaign. Obama doesn't accept lobbyists' donations or allow them to raise money for his campaign. That still won't keep the Podestas, one of Washington's best-known power couples, away from the Democratic conclave beginning Sept. 4 in Charlotte, North Carolina. They're planning two brunches blocks away from where the delegates will nominate Obama for a second term. From meals to cocktail receptions to batting practice at the local minor league ballpark, the Democratic gathering -like its Republican counterpart last week - will offer plenty of opportunities for special interests to mingle with officials in a position to address their concerns."

OBAMA FINDS KEY ASSET IN BILL CLINTON'S SUPPORT. The Washington Post's David Maraniss reports: "There is nothing formulaic about Clinton's presence at the Democratic National Convention this year. He is not just another old presidential war horse being trotted out for nostalgia or a staged show of unity. When Obama called in late July to say he would be grateful if his Democratic predecessor would give the speech placing his name in nomination, something that no former commander in chief has done before, it was an acknowledgment of how much the sitting president needs the former president."

OHIO UNIONS BATTLE CONSERVATIVE SUPER PACS FOR VOTES. The New York Times' Monica Davey and Steven Greenhouse report: "As unions around the nation plunge in earnest into another election season of phone banks, door-to-door canvasses and leafleting, they find themselves confronting a political landscape that is more daunting than any they have faced in decades. Conservative "super PACs," financed with unlimited donations from corporations and wealthy individuals, have saturated Ohio and other battleground states with ads against President Obama. Whether the labor movement and its vaunted ground game can counterbalance this flood of money and media is a question that few political observers can answer.


-FROM THE LEFT: PLANNED PARENTHOOD AT THE DNC. From the abortion rights group: "Planned Parenthood Action Fund will hold a 'Women are Watching' rally during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this afternoon as part of its campaign to educate voters about what's at stake for women and women's health this election. The speaking lineup includes: Planned Parenthood Action Fund President, Cecile Richards, Mayor Cory Booker, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Georgetown Law Center graduate and women's health activist, Sandra Fluke, Aisha Tyler and Lisa Edelstein, among others. The rally will take place at 1 p.m. at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.'"

-FROM THE RIGHT: GRASSROOTS GROUP LABELS DNC 'ABORTION-PALOOZA'. An excerpt of a memo from the anti-abortion rights activist Lila Rose, president of the group, Live Action : "As the Democrat Party establishment puts on an abortion-palooza at their convention in Charlotte next week, it is important that the prolife community speaks boldly and unequivocally about how out of step with women and numerous other constituencies the President and the Democrat leadership are when it comes to their taxpayer funding of abortion on demand policies. The record is quite clear: President Obama is the most pro-abortion, anti-religion president in American history. Using our vast prolife network, from blogging to social media to earned media, I hope we can join our voices together to educate the public and the media about President Obama's extremist obsession with abortion."


@KateEHansen : . @GovernorOMalley and the @MDDems at breakfast #DNC2012

@samsteinhp : WaPo fact-checkers ding Biden for Bain-bailout claim

@KaraCarscaden : New OFA video: "Mitt Romney's tax loopholes." http://OFA.BO/iqgB8n

@RollCallAbby : Maryland breakfast message to delegates: we are safely Democratic but we have to "export our political operation" to PA & VA

@HotlineJosh : The one ad swarming the CLT airwaves: The Clinton testimonial. Not seeing much of anything else

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