CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Many Democrats are acknowledging the same thing this morning: President Obama has yet to make the case for his own re-election as deftly as Bill Clinton did last night.
And many of them are already thinking about how the president might be about to break loose from the polls that have changed so little over the last few months and begin to put some distance between himself and rival Mitt Romney if he did.
In his speech last night at the Time Warner Cable Arena, Clinton summed up the message from the GOP convention last week like this: "In Tampa, we heard a lot of talk about how the President and the Democrats don't believe in free enterprise and individual initiative," he said "how we want everyone to be dependent on the government, how bad we are for the economy."
He then sought to systematically dismantle Republican lines of attack on a breathtaking laundry list of issues: from Obamacare and Medicare to welfare reform and the national debt. He also touted a "we are in this together" philosophy throughout his speech.
But as ABC News Political Director Amy Walter points out: No one needs to convince Americans of the benefits of government programs like Medicare or Social Security. They want government to fund schools, build roads and protect our food and water.
But, for the last few years, the politicians in Washington haven't given voters much of a reason to believe in them. Partisan gridlock has paralyzed Washington and has helped to drive Congress' approval ratings down into the single digits.
More important, President Obama campaigned as the man who was finally going to break this deadlock. He was the president who was going to transcend party and pettiness. He was going drive the dysfunction out of Washington.
Yet, four years later, the dysfunction is as bad as it has ever been.
If Obama couldn't deliver his promise to change Washington, it is tough to convince voters that re-electing him will ensure that he can now make Washington work for them.
The challenge for Obama isn't convincing Americans that government is important. It is convincing them that government is competent. Tonight he gets a chance to take a stab at that.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Are you better off than you were 20 years ago? The candidate of "forward" looked back last night, and Bill Clinton's force and skill in packaging policy and politics made President Obama's record, particularly on the economy, look better than Obama has ever been able to make it look himself. Clinton's "new American Dream economy" reinforced the central Obama campaign themes, and Obama's literal embrace of the former president solidified an unlikely, almost unfathomable partnership. The Obama campaign may be comfortable with the election as a referendum, so long as Obama gets to bring along a new friend.
FACT-CHECKING ELIZABETH WARREN AND BILL CLINTON. ABC's Gregory Krieg notes, there were, a few controversial lines to come out of the Democratic convention's second night. Greg takes a look at some of the claims made by Liz Warren and Bill Clinton in their addresses and where they fall on the scale of accuracy. http://abcn.ws/RotZte
OBAMA'S ADDRESS: A PREVIEW. ABC's Devin Dwyer and Mary Bruce report, it won't be the grandiose backdrop that he had envisioned, but maybe it's just as well. President Obama tonight will accept the Democratic nomination for a second presidential term inside the Time Warner Cable Arena here facing a wave of discouraging economic data, a potential bombshell of an August jobs report expected Friday, and a lingering longing for the spirit of the 2008 convention and the promise it represented. http://abcn.ws/Q1M2tv
THE KENNEDY CLAN:
-VIDEO OF THE DAY: KENNEDYS, THE NEXT GENERATION. In the latest episode of his ABC News/Yahoo! Power Players series "Spinners & Winners" ABC's Jonathan Karl talks to Ted Kennedy Jr., son of the lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, about a potential run for office. "Maybe one day," says the eldest son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy. "We were brought up in a family that was taught we need to give back in some way, not just elected politics," continued Ted Kennedy Jr. "I would be honored to have the opportunity to serve in some capacity. What that is now, I have no idea, but you know, I'm still a young man and I hope to find some way to serve." WATCH: http://yhoo.it/Opgfj1
-CAROLINE KENNEDY TELLS DAVID MUIR: TED WOULD BE PROUD OF OBAMA. A video celebrating Ted Kennedy's career in politics played Tuesday evening during the Democratic National Convention. Although it has been three years since the "Lion of the Senate" lost his battle with brain cancer, the man behind the booming voice that enthusiastically endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 is still a force in the 2012 campaign. The crowd at the convention especially loved the part of the tribute that showed Ted Kennedy debating Mitt Romney during the 1994 Senate campaign. "It was just so classic Teddy that he was somehow able to appear and be relevant again and again," Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, told ABC News anchor David Muir. "We saw that with health care, it was such a tremendous achievement of the president to get that done, and then last night when he popped up debating Mitt Romney, it really made me smile." For Caroline Kennedy, 54, who is scheduled to speak Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., this is the first convention she's attended in more than a decade without her uncle. http://abcn.ws/OScUtJ
ON THE TWITTERS: As far as the Twittersphere is concerned, Bill Clinton bested Mitt Romney but fell short of Michelle Obama, reports ABC News' Molly Hunter. The former president's speech Wednesday night peaked at 22,087 tweets per minute, while the first lady's peaked at 28,003 TPM on Tuesday, according to Twitter. As Yahoo! News points out, Michelle Obama peaked with 90,000 tweets in a 10-minute span to Clinton's 60,000, with both peaks corresponding to the moment the speakers took the stage. Note: Clinton's tweets per minute topped Romney's speech last week which notched just 14,298 tweets per minute at the RNC.
with ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield )
DNC CHAIRWOMAN: PLATFORM CHANGE WAS A 'TECHNICAL CORRECTION.' ABC's Jonathan Karl and Kyle Blaine report, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told Jonathan Karl on the ABC News/Yahoo! DNC live stream that "there was no fight at all" over the addition of "God" and "Jerusalem" to the 2012 platform. "Essentially, it was a technical correction," she said. "President Obama wanted to make sure, I mean we already had, 100 percent, strong pro-Israel platform that we were all really proud to support… The platform change was met by boos from delegates on the convention floor. http://abcn.ws/Q5YmpW
FROM THE ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: "Mitt Romney has consistently stated his belief that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Although today's voice vote at the Democratic National Convention was unclear, the Democratic Party has acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement. "President Obama has repeatedly refused to say the same himself. Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel's capital."
WOODWARD BOOK: DEBT DEAL COLLAPSE LED TO 'PURE FURY' FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA. ABC's Rick Klein reports, an explosive mix of dysfunction, miscommunication, and misunderstandings inside and outside the White House led to the collapse of a historic spending and debt deal that President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner were on the verge of reaching last summer, according to revelations in author Bob Woodward's latest book. The book, "The Price of Politics," on sale Sept. 11, 2012, shows how close the president and the House speaker were to defying Washington odds and establishing a spending framework that included both new revenues and major changes to long-sacred entitlement programs. http://abcn.ws/ORW4LB . And watch Jon Karl's GMA report: http://abcn.ws/NOcNTz
LIVE BLOG: DNC NIGHT 2. Missed something from night two of the DNC? Follow the night from start to finish- the 5pm gavel-in to the roll call vote at midnight where Barack Obama was officially re-nominated- on our ABC News live blog where you can see the speech highlights, plus on the ground color from our team in Charlotte. http://abcn.ws/QamIxn
#HILLARY2016 TOPS TWITTER TRENDS AS BILLS TAKES THE STAGE. ABC's Sherisse Pham reports, if people on Twitter had their way, Hillary Clinton would take one more crack at shattering America's highest glass ceiling. As President Bill Clinton took to the Democratic National Convention's main stage Wednesday night, the Twitter hashtag "#Hillary2016? briefly became the top trend on Twitter in the United States. The tweets asking the secretary of state to run skyrocketed to the top shortly before 11 p.m., about 10 minutes after President Clinton gave her a shout out in his speech. http://abcn.ws/Utf7hI
DEMS PUNT ON PLAN TO STAGE DNC WITHOUT CORPORATE MONEY. ABC's Brian Ross, Matthew Mosk, Rhonda Schwartz and Megan Churchmach report, for more than a year, the Democratic National Committee touted its "unprecedented" plan to prohibit corporate and lobbyist funding of the 2012 convention in Charlotte, but it found it just couldn't put on a show without the money. The convention's host committee has acknowledged that it established a separate entity to help shoulder the costs of many of the convention activities this week. That entity, New American City, Inc., has accepted millions of dollars from companies that include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and most prominently Duke Energy, the nation's largest electric utility, which has sponsored events all over town. http://abcn.ws/Q1RWdV
GABBY GIFFORDS IN CHARLOTTE. Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose political career was cut short when she was shot in the head by a deranged constituent, has traveled to North Carolina for the Democratic National Convention. "I can confirm that Gabby is in Charlotte to attend the convention, and she is excited to be here," spokeswoman Hayley Zachary said after Roll Call first reported she'd made the trip. "She does not have a role in tonight's convention schedule." Her appearance at the convention could be an emotional lift for the Democrats at the TimeWarner Cable Arena. http://abcn.ws/RFSk2c
WHAT WILL GIFFORDS DO? Roll Call's Abby Livingston, Nathan Gonzales and Daniel Newhauser report: "She will deliver the Pledge of Allegiance, according to a source close to the former Congresswoman, kicking off the night that will culminate in President Barack Obama accepting the Democratic nomination for president." http://bit.ly/P0LiV5
ELIZABETH WARREN: THE SYSTEM IS RIGGED. ABC's Greg Krieg and Elizabeth Hartfield report, Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, speaking Wednesday ahead of Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, delivered an acid rebuke of Mitt Romney and Republican economic policy. "Their vision is clear," she said: "I've got mine, and the rest of you are on your own." Stuck in a 50-50 race with incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., Warren has pinned her candidacy on a stark populism. "People feel like the system is rigged against them," she told conventioneers. "And here's the painful part: They're right. The system is rigged." http://abcn.ws/NTPn9q
PAUL RYAN SEEKS TO CONNECT WITH 'KINDRED SPIRITS' IN IOWA. ABC's Shush Walshe reports, ADEL, Iowa-Paul Ryan gave a strong plea to voters here in this small but crucial battleground state on Wednesday, tying his Wisconsin upbringing to their Iowa roots. Ryan has the right accent, family ties to the state, and the Romney campaign hopes he'll add some Midwest relatability to a ticket whose headliner is a wealthy former East Coast governor. He told the crowd of several hundred that he felt like he "just parachuted into my own home" mentioning his mother-in-law who came from Clinton, Iowa as well as his grandfather who went to college in Dubuque. http://abcn.ws/UsofTM
SANDRA FLUKE'S DNC SPEECH PAINTS STARK PICTURE OF ROMNEY PRESIDENCY. The Georgetown law student shut out of a Congressional hearing on contraception earlier this year is basking in the glow of the Democratic National Convention prime time stage reports ABC's Sherisse Pham. Speaking before a fired up crowd at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., tonight, Sandra Fluke painted a stark picture of what a country led by Republican Mitt Romney could be, calling it "an America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it, in which politicians redefine rape so survivors are victimized all over again," she said to huge cheers from the audience. http://abcn.ws/TpbUA4
DAILY SHOW CORRESPONDENT: OBAMA HAS LOST HIS 'NEW CAR SMELL.' ABC's Amber Porter reports, Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" correspondent John Oliver told ABC News' Amy Walter and Rick Klein that President Obama has lost his "new car smell" for the 2012 election. He was a guest on the ABC News/Yahoo News Democratic National Convention live show. When asked what Obama's smell was now he joked, "wet oak." Oliver was critical of the Obama campaign's decision to move the president's Thursday night convention speech from the Bank of America Stadium to the Time Warner Arena because of the possibility of bad weather. http://abcn.ws/RbGPRp
DEMOCRATS FUNDRAISE WITH SCORNED SUPER-PACS, LOBBYISTS. Bloomberg's Jonathan D. Salant and Julie Bykowicz report: "Lobbyists, corporate donors and super-political action committees are routinely the subject of scorn by Democrats. All three featured prominently this week during the party's national convention… Priorities USA Action, which backs Obama, joined with super-PACs involved in U.S. House and Senate races to fete their donors. Those groups held a welcome cocktail reception Sept. 4 that included a money pitch from former Bill Clinton adviser Paul Begala and a brunch yesterday at which Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, appeared. The donors will go out with a bang tonight after Obama's speech. They'll mingle with the rock band Scissor Sisters and actress Jessica Alba during a private party scheduled for the North Carolina Music Factory. http://bloom.bg/TYz9i6
RAHM'S NEW ROLE. The New York Times' Nicholas Confessore reports: "With less than nine weeks before the election and with conservative groups outspending their pro-Democratic counterparts, Democrats disclosed Wednesday that Mr. Emanuel would try to help them close the fund-raising gap and said that Congressional leaders would step up their efforts as well. Mr. Emanuel, who is leaving his honorary position as co-chairman of Mr. Obama's campaign, intends to help funnel donations to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC founded by two former Obama aides. The group is more than $60 million short of its goal, reflecting a philosophical objection to outside groups among many wealthy liberals, and a feeling among donors that the White House has been insufficiently attentive to them." http://nyti.ms/P1xJ7P
IS CHARLOTTE THE DNC'S LAST BIG CONVENTION? The Charlotte Observer's Jim Morrill and Tim Funk report: "Conventions already are getting shorter. Nobody complained when weather sliced a day off each of the last two Republican conventions. Charlotte's is shorter by design. "Our goal has been to make sure that we really sort of throw out the old playbook and plan a convention that's totally different than any in history," says CEO Steve Kerrigan. "This is really an opportunity to change the format from four days of endless speeches behind closed doors and really make it a convention about people." Critics say conventions could be even shorter - or disappear altogether." http://bit.ly/ROKgII
@emilyrs: Gillibrand: "We would not have repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell if Iowa didn't go first and ensure marriage equality for each person."