Will Obama deliver the goods? The Democratic Convention is over and Reuben Guttman is still unsure.
CHARLOTTE, NC -- Democrats boarded buses, planes, trains, and cars today, leaving this city after what was really no more than a week-long rally preceding a sixty day campaign sprint to the November 6th election.
Obama strategists clearly are worried about the President's chances of victory in Ohio which may decide the election. One of the President's key advisors was overheard saying, when asked by a party official about the Ohio prognosis, "I worry about everything." But inside the convention hall it was clear that Ohio is a big worry. At the Time Warner Center, the site of the convention, even the seating arrangement, with the Ohio delegation placed near the podium and in range of national TV broadcast, spoke to the Democrat's electoral priorities.
While modern US political conventions have been known more for their parties than their substance, several basic Democratic strategies were telegraphed at this one. First, the Democrats will focus on the auto industry bailout: a success story and an endeavor which was opposed by Republican candidate Mitt Romney. They will say that the bailout saved one million jobs while adding 80 thousand more. Second, they will claim credit for the capture of Bin Laden and the end of the war in Iraq. Third, they will focus on the power of the incumbent.
The Obama who stood to accept his party's nomination, here, was a far cry in tone and substance from the Obama who gave the keynote at his party's convention in Boston back in 2004 and certainly a far cry from the Obama of 2008 who campaigned on a platform of "change." This year the theme was "forward" and not "change" and the 2012 Obama in rhetoric and substance cast himself before an audience of 14 thousand people in the convention hall and millions watching on television as a methodical leader moving forward incrementally.
Downplayed during the convention was the President's healthcare package. Although it should have been the President's crowning achievement during his first term, the Republicans have done a masterful job painting it as a flawed piece of legislation making Obamacare so controversial that the President cannot hang his hat on it as an accomplishment which will deliver undecided votes.
Looking for an accomplishment that may sway voters in the rust belt, and particularly Ohio, the Democrats have chosen to focus on the auto industry bailout as a campaign centerpiece.After a long night of parties, conventioneers now face the task of heading home to energize voters. For Obama, the grass roots efforts will be critical. While the President's electoral team boasts its number of campaign headquarters and massive staff, the Obama strategists know that the Romney campaign will greatly outspend them on television advertising.Whether the Obama grass roots strategy works in this election season will define tactics in future election years.
It is now Day 1 of the 60 day sprint.