US Democrats kick off 2012 National Convention

Updated: 2012-09-05 09:32


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US Democrats kick off 2012 National Convention

Supporter of US President Barack Obama cheers during the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

CHARLOTTE, the United States - The US Democratic Party on Tuesday kicked off its 2012 National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where President Barack Obama will accept the party's presidential nomination later this week.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, called the conference to order.

"Over the next three days, we will hold the most open and accessible  political convention in history," said Schultz.

Democrats hope the three-day convention would generate a renewed enthusiasm for Obama's re-election bid and help him win the battleground of North Carolina.

Organizers of the convention said nearly 6,000 delegates, with half of them women, would attend the three-day convention. More Latinos are also expected to appear at the venues.

Recent polls show the Democratic incumbent's healthcare reform and less stringent immigration policy give him an edge over his Republican rival Mitt Romney among women and Latino constituents in the swing states, including North Carolina.

US Democrats kick off 2012 National Convention

House Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) addresses delegates during first day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina September 4, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

Julian Castro, Mayor of San Antonio, Texas will become the first Latino to deliver the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night.

The choice of Castro also shows Democrats are looking to solidify Obama's huge advantage over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney among Hispanics and boost the influential voting bloc's turnout.

Following Castro, First Lady Michelle Obama will give a prime- time speech late Tuesday night to woo women and minority supporters for her husband.

Security is tight in Charlotte, as thousands of police officers have been put on high alert to face thousands of demonstrators this week.

The convention will be held first at the Time Warner Cable Arena in downtown Charlotte Tuesday and Wednesday, but will then move on to the Bank of America Stadium, an uptown stadium that could seat more than 70,000 people, Thursday night, when Obama will give his acceptance speech of the Democratic Party's nomination as the candidate to be the president for another term.

Obama will go forward with his acceptance speech at the open- air football stadium whether it "rains or shines", said Steve Kerrigan, CEO of the Democratic National Convention at a pre- convention briefing.

The focus of his acceptance speech will be a "forward-going" plan, said the Obama campaign.

Obama on Tuesday put up a final stretch of warming up his road to Charlotte on a four-day campaign tour targeting swing states like Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia, all of which will play a "pivotal role" in a close election, said Obama's campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Speaking at a campaign event in Virginia on Tuesday, Obama slammed his Republican rival Mitt Romney of offering "not a single idea" during the Republican National Convention last week in Tampa, Florida.

"But on Thursday night, I will offer what I believe is a better path forward, a path that will create good jobs and strengthen our middle class and grow our economy," said Obama, who will arrive in the city of Charlotte on Wednesday.

Right now the incumbent president and the challenger are deadlocked in nationwide voter support. However, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Obama has to do more to thrill the base during the Democratic National Convention.

Currently, 48 percent of Obama supporters are "very enthusiastic" about his candidacy, while 42 percent of Romney backers feel that way about the Republican campaign, according to the findings of the poll. In July, Obama led by a 13 points and even by 25 points in May.

A recent Pew poll also found that about four in 10 Americans are interested in following what happens at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, down from 59 percent four years ago when Obama became the party's presidential nominee for the first time.