Dr. Saundra Curry Ardrey is the Department Head for Political Science at Western Kentucky University. She is attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, this week. During the week, Dr. Ardrey will be providing a Kentucky perspective to the activities at the Democratic National Convention.
Tuesday, September 3, 2012
Tar Heel southern hospitality began even before the plane left the Nashville runway. In the complementary copy of U.S. Airways travel magazine, there was a southern style welcome from the mayor of Charlotte, Anthony Foxx. My seatmates, returning to Charlotte from vacation, were quick to ask if I was attending the Convention. It was evident they were very proud to host the Convention. This sense of pride continued as six thousand delegates, plus this one observer, arrived on Saturday for the 46th Democratic National Convention. We arrived at the airport to warm smiles from Convention committee hosts offering maps, shuttle services, information and city souvenirs. This Convention is being called the “largest non-sports media event in the world”.
Among the six thousand delegates are seventy-three from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I spoke with Bowling Green delegate, Michele Thomas, who will be busy attending caucuses and gathering ideas on how to mobilize voters back in Warren County.
Activities for Michelle and the other delegates kicked off Monday with Carolina Fest. Torrential wind and rain didn’t seem to dampen the spirit of delegates who were entertained with live music, speakers and interactive expositions that honored working families.
Caucus meetings also started Monday at the Charlotte Convention Center. Groups like the Youth Council, Black Caucus, Faith Council, Hispanic Caucus, Veterans and Military Families Council invite delegates and people from the community to come share their concerns and vision for America. And of course, what’s a Convention without protesters and demonstrators. Fifteen hundred or so protestors joined The Coalition to March on Wall Street South for the first official protest march on Sunday.
Tonight marks the official beginning of the Convention. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx will welcome delegates but the excitement is in anticipation of First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech.
Last week at the Republican convention, Mitt Romney showcased young talent with vice-president Paul Ryan, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Florida Senator Mario Rubio. Democrats have tapped San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to deliver the Tuesday keynote address. Castro is the youngest mayor of a top 50 American city. He will be the first Latino keynote speaker at a Democratic National Convention. Actress Eva Longoria is also rumored to be a surprise speaker at tonight’s convention.
While polls show Obama with a commanding lead over Romney among Latino voters, the enthusiasm among this group is low. President Obama and Democrats have worried publicly about this enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans. Obama campaign strategists hope Castro and Longoria involvement will increase Latino turnout. That could really help Obama win states like Nevada and Colorado.