Live Blog: Democratic National Convention 2012; Michelle Obama, Julian Castro
Days after Republicans wrapped their convention in Tampa, Democrats kicked off the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. We'll keep you up to the minute all day and into the night.
ABC News and Yahoo! News will stream the convention proceedings, which on Monday include keynote speaker and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and first lady Michelle Obama. Watch Live from 7 p.m. ET until 11 p.m. ET at abcnews.go.com/politics/live
Tell ABC: Are You Better Off Than You Were 4 Years Ago? - It's the question of the week as posed by Paul Ryan. Democrats will have to figure out how to convince Americans to answer 'yes' if they want to reelect Barack Obama as president.
Obama loses ground among women 6:52 p.m. ET - The latest favorability poll from ABC News / Washington Post polls shows some troubling numbers for the president's reelection campaign, per ABC pollster Gary Langer -
Barack Obama approaches his nomination for a second term with the lowest pre-convention personal popularity of an incumbent president in ABC News/Washington Post polls since the 1980s. He's also at his lowest of the year among registered voters, with trouble among women.
Just 47 percent of registered voters in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll see Obama favorably overall, down 7 percentage points from his recent peak in April, while 49 percent rate him unfavorably. He's numerically underwater in this group for the first time since February.
The decline has occurred entirely among women registered voters - from 57-39 percent favorable-unfavorable in April to a numerically negative 46-50 percent now. That's Obama's lowest score among women voters - a focus of recent political positioning - in ABC/Post polls since he took office. Unusually, his rating among men, 50-47 percent favorable-unfavorable, is numerically better than it is among women, albeit not by a significant margin.
The result is not the only sign of the work ahead for Obama among women. In a separate ABC/Post poll last week, he led Romney among women registered voters in vote preference by just 6 points, 49-43 percent. In 2008, Obama won women by 13 points, 56-43 percent.
As if misery loves company, Mitt Romney's favorability rating remains numerically lower even than Obama's in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Nonetheless Romney does show a faint convention bounce, a 5-point gain in favorability among all adults vs. a week ago. (Gallup, separately, today reported no bounce for Romney in the horse race, a different measurement than favorability.)
Solyndra figure given red carpet treatment at DNC - 6:47 p.m. ET - From Brian Ross and Matthew Mosk -
The Obama campaign rolled out the red carpet this week for a former top Energy Department official who was at the center of the ill-fated government loan to Solyndra, a California solar panel firm that wound up in bankruptcy.
Steven J. Spinner joined other top fundraisers for a VIP tour of the Democratic National Convention floor in Charlotte Monday evening, posing and waving for a photographer while standing behind the podium. When he saw ABC News cameras, however, he ran for the exit.
'Being asked to pay your fair share isn't class warfare, its patriotism - Crowd loves Cory Booker - 6:35 p.m. ET - From ABC's Chris Good -
The Newark mayor gave an impassioned speech on the 2012 Democratic platform, moving the crowd to its feet for the final quarter or third of his remarks. Booker set an energized tone, flashing his stage charisma.
Two separate chants of "USA" and, after he finished, a faint chant of "Cory, Cory" as Villaraigosa called a vote on the platform, as Sunlen noted.
Booker drew big applause on lines about education, health care, and especially retirement. Crowd joined in on the line "liberty and justice for all."
As ABC's Karen Travers points out, Booker is a very strong speaker for the 6 pm hour. He clearly carries some star power in this party, and he surely could have carried a much more prominent slot..but recall his stepping on the Obama camp's Bain attacks and subsequent walk-back.
Out in Iowa, Ryan seizes on $16 trillion debt - 6:28 p.m. ET - Republicans planned their convention during a hurricane. Democrats had theirs when the debt reached $16 trillion. As in today. Here's how Paul Ryan addressed the issue, per Shush Walshe, who is with him in Iowa -
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa-Paul Ryan mentioned the national debt surpassing 16 trillion dollars Tuesday afternoon calling it "a little bit of a downer."
"We just heard about an hour ago that our government eclipsed the 16 trillion dollar mark in our national debt," Ryan said at a rally with over 800 people here. "This is a serious threat to our economy. Of all the broken promises from President Obama, this is probably the worst one because this debt is threatening jobs today, it is threatening prosperity today and it is guaranteeing that our children and grandchildren get a diminished future"
At last week's Republican National Convention in Tampa, a debt clock hanging in the arena ticked the debt upwards. Tuesday afternoon, it surpassed that number and Ryan sarcastically noted the Democrats holding their convention this week in Tampa don't have a debt clock.
"The problem is, the president keeps kicking the can down the road. No leadership on this issue. The Senate hasn't even passed a budget in three years. We have a very clear choice ahead of us," Ryan said.
Iowa governor Terry Branstad introduced Ryan and also mentioned the national debt and like Ryan bringing out the sarcasm and saying it's "no coincident it's the same day as their convention begins."
North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue got her biggest applause line at this quote - 6:24 p.m. ET - Per ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield -
"President Obama is also standing up for women in North Carolina and across our country. He has helped women fight for equal pay for equal work; he has fought to guarantee that women have access to quality, affordable health care, including making sure that insurance plans cover birth control with no out-of-pocket cost. And unlike Mitt Romney, President Obama is standing up for Planned Parenthood."
Romney has suggested he would "get rid" of Planned Parenthood.
Cory Booker - A standing ovation, shouts of "Cory!" and a major overrun - 6:18 p.m. ET - From ABC's folks inside the convention hall, Cory Booker had the crowd on it's feet. But he also went on twice as long as he was supposed to. Booker is the popular mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and many believe he'll challenge Gov. Chris Christie there next year. We'll have a little more on what he said in a moment.
Barack Obama expects to get 'misty' when Michelle speaks tonight - 5:57 p.m. ET - But he'll be watching from the White House:
Paul Ryan on Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act - 5:31 p.m. ET - It's about lawsuits, not fair pay - Shush Walshe notes that Paul Ryan was asked today by a Denver TV station - Fox 31 - about his opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It was the first thing President Obama signed into law and it addressed a statute of limitations technicality on which the Supreme Court dismissed a woman's lawsuit against Goodyear tires. Ledbetter will speak this week at the Democratic National Convention.
Ryan: "Of course I support the concept of equal pay for equal work," Ryan told FOX31 Denver. "That's already been the law. This is about lawsuits. This is about the statute of limitations on whether you can sue people way beyond the time when the infraction occurred." The Fair Pay Act amends the protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by stating that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action.
Boy, Girl, Boy Girl - Most Democratic delegates ever - 5:24 p.m. ET - DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz gaels the convention to order. Elizabeth Hartfield notices this from her brief remarks:
"We have the largest number of delegates ever assembled at a Democratic National Convention."
The DNCC sends out the following numbers on delegates: "The 2012 Democratic National Convention will welcome nearly 6,000 delegates to the convention who will come from grassroots communities and neighborhoods across the country. That's an increase from about 4,400 delegates in 2008, and the most in convention history….Delegates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention are split evenly - 50/50 - between males and females, in accordance with official DNC rules."
Obama gives away more free beer - 4:55 p.m. - At a firehouse in Norfolk, Virginia, the president left two cases of beer brewed at the White House. Another not-so-subtle reminder from the White House on a distinction between him and Romney: Obama drinks beer. More here from Ann Compton and Mary Bruce.
Diane Sawyer interviews #DNC2012 keynote speaker Julian Castro - 4:22 p.m.
Sawyer asks the young mayor about Paul Ryan argument that young people with faded 2008 posters might be regretting their vote as they live at home with their parents.
Castro: But if you look at the policies they embraced, a lot of those young folks won't even make it to college under the policies that Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan would embrace their future would be limited, you know, working…
Sawyer: How do you convey to them that a second your years will bring more to them than the first four did?
Castro: Look at where we were as a nation when President Obama took office. We were losing $750,000 jobs. And look at where we are now with 4.5 million new jobs created. That's more than was created under the previous administration's eight years. So, President Obama, whether he's speaking to young folks or folks who are very well established needs to lay out the case for where we were as a nation and where we are today and, more importantly, what he's going to do in the future.
Julian Castro Profile: Democrats' up-and-comer - 4:41 p.m. ET - From Elizabeth Hartfield:
Castro's biography is one of ambition, charisma and early success.
He was introduced to politics at an early age by his mother, Rosie, who was part of a movement in Texas that fought for Mexican American civil rights.
Castro, along with his identical twin brother Joaquin, received his undergraduate education at Stanford University and then went onto Harvard Law School.
He moved quickly from Harvard into politics. At age 26 he was elected city councilman in San Antonio, the youngest city councilman in the city's history. He was elected mayor in 2009 at the age of 34 and won reelection last year with more than 80 percent of San Antonio's vote.
DNC offers this glossy feel-good video about their keynoter:
Nicki Minaj - Seriously for Romney? Hmmm - But in a new Lil Wayne track - 'Mercy' - she raps:
"I'm a Republican voting for Mitt Romney/You lazy [expletive] is [expletive] up the economy."
No bounce for Romney - 4:03 p.m. ET - Per Gallup, which keeps a daily tracking:
"Mitt Romney received no convention bounce, based on Gallup Daily tracking before (47%) and after (46%) last week's Republican National Convention. He joins John Kerry and George McGovern as nominees who did not get a bounce."
Joe Biden has landed in Charlotte, per ABC's Arlette Saenz - 3:49 p.m. ET -
DNC by the numbers - 4:07 p.m. ET
How Pennsylvania got the plummest hotel assignment in Charlotte - 3:10 p.m. ET - From ABC travel editor Genevieve Shaw Brown:
Some of the delegates of the Keystone State are the luckiest of all - their hotel ranks highest of all DNC hotels on TripAdvisor, coming in at No. 3 of 169. The Hampton Inn Charlotte - South Park gets great traveler reviews: "Quite upscale for a Hampton, including the TV in the bathroom mirror," wrote one. "The bathrooms are sparkling," noted another. "Beautiful property in a great location!" exclaimed a third.
Hillary, Al, Joe - Democrats skipping the convention - 2:18 p.m. ET - They are too busy, out of the country, frustrated with Obama or just out of favor. There are a bunch of Democrats skipping the convention in Charlotte. Amy Bingham breaks them down by type - cabinet officials, former nominees, lawmakers and more. They have last names like Clinton and Gore. Read it here .
Meet Bowhunter and Buttercup - Paul and Janna Ryan get secret service codenames - 2:12 p.m. ET - ABC's Shush Walshe reports that Paul Ryan, who has described the shaking in his leg he gets when he's about to draw his bow and take out a deer, is a natural choice to be " Bowhunter." But his wife gets "Buttercup" after Princess Buttercup in the "Princess Bride."
Michelle Obama will provide 'character witness' for Barack - 2:00 p.m. ET - Here's a look at what Michelle Obama will say when she addresses the convention in the 10 p.m. ET hour. The president, by the way, will watch from the White House, where he expects to get misty. From Amy Walter, Michael Falcone and Mary Bruce:
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, she will be a "character witness" for the president's decision-making process during troubled times.
The first lady 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."
As the first lady readies to rally her husband's base in Charlotte tonight, President Obama, who will watch the speech on TV from the White House, is setting the bar high. Speaking Tuesday morning in the battleground state of Virginia, he said that the convention is "just like a relay, and you start out with the fastest person."
"Whatever I say here today, it's going to be, at best, a distant second to the speech you will hear tonight from the star of the Obama family, Michelle Obama," the president told a crowd of over 11,000 at Norfolk State University, the final stop on his "Road to Charlotte" tour.
Previewing Obama's DNC speech - 1:00 p.m. ET - ABC News and Yahoo! News today conducted a special roundtable with president Obama's campaign team. Campaign manager Jim Messina, spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter and spokesman Ben LaBolt talked about strategy, their plans for the convention, and suggested they don't expect any bounce whatsoever.
"I think that what we want out of this convention is for people to understand that the president has made some very tough decisions over the course of the last four years because it was the right thing to do for the country, not because it was politically popular," Cutter told the panel and audience that filled an auditorium at the NASCAR museum in Charlotte.
Ryan's marathon embellishment mocked with 'Paul Ryan Time' running calculator - 12:08 p.m. ET - The Republican misstated his sole official marathon time during a radio interview over the weekend, shaving more than an hour off the 4 hours and change in which he ran a marathon at the age of 20. Ryan told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt he ran a marathon in less than three hours. Ryan quickly apologized and said his brother Tobin, who competed last year in the Boston Marathon, ribbed him at dinner. But a new online calculator keeps the issue alive. If you plug in your time, it calculates what a shorter, mistaken time would be. Check it out.
Obama grades himself 'incomplete' on the economy - 9:00 a.m. ET - From Devin Dwyer and Jake Tapper:
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.
"You know, I would say incomplete," Obama said in an interview with Boulder, Colo., TV station 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."
But with just about two months until election day, is "incomplete" good enough to sell voters on another four years of President Obama? During an ABC News / Yahoo roundtable with campaign staffers at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, ABC's Jake Tapper asked Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter, "Does that answer cut it? An incomplete after a full term?"
"Yeah, it does," she argued. "Because, you know, once again I'll remind you of what life was like when he took office. 800,000 jobs were lost in that month alone. 3.5 million in the 6 months prior. And, you know, pretty quickly he was able to turn job loss into job growth. But when he's saying incomplete, it means a number of different things. One: we're on a path forward. You know, we're on our way up. And there is a lot more that he wants to get done. He's not done yet."
Warren says the real question isn't "Are you better off," but rather "Who's got the best plan going forward?" - 8:00 a.m. ET
Massachusetts Democrat gave Democrats' response to a question that has befuddled party leaders since Paul Ryan raised it this week: Are you better off than you were four years ago?
"Mitt Romney has made clear what his plan is: cut taxes for the richest Americans and the biggest corporations, increase taxes on the middle class and don't make any investments on the future. Barack Obama says that's not the right way to do it. What we're going to do is ask everyone to pay a fair share, not increase taxes on the middle class, and make investments in the kinds of things that help us build a future; education, roads and bridges. Two very different visions of how to go forward."
Her full interview with Elizabeth Vargas on GMA (note - Warren sounds a bit hoarse one day before her speech to 20 million people):
Ryan: "General Motors isn't alive in my home town!" - 7:38 a.m. ET
Paul Ryan got some grief from fact checkers after his convention speech for seeming to blame President Obama's policies for the closure of a Janesville, Wisc., GM plant that primarily closed when President Bush was still in office. Today on GMA, Ryan, who supported a bailout for the auto companies, told George Stephanopoulos that President Obama taking credit for saving the auto industry did not lead to that plant reopening.
Specifically, Ryan was responding to the new bumper sticker slogan proposed for the Obama campaign by Vice President Joe Biden: "Osama bin Laden is dead and General motors is alive." Biden has introduced the message to campaign rallies.
Ryan also told George that independent tax analysts that have said his budget plan would raise taxes on middle income earners are wrong and he defended his budget proposal that maintains Medicare spending enacted by Democrats but criticized by other Republicans.