Obama's DNC Acceptance Speech Downsized

The news out of the Democratic National Convention Wednesday was that President Obama's speech was being move indoors because of a severe weather threat. The big speaker of the evening is set to be former President Bill Clinton. Although a polarizing figure while in office, Clinton's name and record have even been invoked by Republicans this year. And he's beloved by Democrats. Mara Liasson joins Melissa Block to talk about Clinton and the night's other speakers.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. And we begin this hour with politics.

It's day two of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tonight's headliner is former President Bill Clinton. And joining us now, our headliner, Mara Liasson, who was in Charlotte. Good to hear from you again, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good to be here, Robert.

SIEGEL: And some news today. President Obama will no longer accept his party's nomination in Charlotte's vast football stadium. Organizers say the weather forced the event indoors. What's the reaction to that there?

LIASSON: Well, there are a lot of disappointed people who held tickets to get into that stadium. He's also, the campaign is also getting a lot of pushback from locals here who say what were you thinking to schedule an outdoor event during rainy season in September in North Carolina. There has been a lot of rain here. The Obama campaign decided it wasn't worth the risk of having to maybe evacuate the stadium during President Obama's speech. But of course, Republicans are saying the reason they did this is they couldn't fill the stadium. The stadium holds 73,000 seats. The Obama campaign said they've already handed out 65,000 tickets, and they had 19,000 on the waiting list.

SIEGEL: Mara, what impact, if any, might that have on the Obama campaign?

LIASSON: Well, they miss out on the optics of him addressing a huge crowd. They also miss out on some of the organizing benefits of being able to give volunteers, tens and tens of thousands of them, a ticket to motivate them and reward them for their hard work. The campaign says they will try to get all the ticket holders into another event with the president sometime this fall. But I don't think it's going to dampen enthusiasm here. What we've seen inside the smaller venue in the Time Warner Cable Arena is that these delegates are pretty fired up. I don't see an enthusiasm gap that we've heard a lot about. They're fired up not just to beat Mitt Romney, but for Barack Obama. And on the first night of the convention last night, the speakers really did light into Romney with a level of gusto that I wasn't expecting. It also shows the benefits of being able to have the last word, being able to have the other guys have their convention first.

SIEGEL: There was another bit of news out of Charlotte today, Mara. The Democrats have made an adjustment to their party platform. The platform now states that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. How did that come about?

LIASSON: Well, that's what the platform said in 2008. The platform that was approved in Charlotte removed that reference. All of a sudden, every top Jewish Democratic official is facing questions about that. A lot of attacks from the Romney campaign, saying this showed that the Obama administration is weak on Israel. We are told that the president himself asked for the language to be restored to what it was in 2008. And what that means is that, now, the Democratic party's platform is opposed to U.S. policy on Jerusalem, policy from Democratic and Republican administrations which, of course, says that all final status issues, including the status of Jerusalem, be left in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

SIEGEL: Mara, as we said earlier, the star of the show tonight is scheduled to be Bill Clinton. But he and President Obama have a fraught relationship. But what do you expect to hear? And what does the Obama campaign hope that President Clinton can accomplish?

LIASSON: Well, President Clinton is an incredibly popular figure. He presided over a period of peace and prosperity. He'll basically deliver the message that if you stick with President Obama, we can do that again. The Democrats feel that he can tell the Obama story better than anyone, maybe even better than President Obama. He can lay out the Democratic agenda in a way that voters can understand. There is a risk anytime Bill Clinton takes the stage, not only in making the president look smaller by comparison, but also sometimes, he goes off message.

Not long ago, he said that Mitt Romney had a sterling business career. When asked who is going to vet his speech, the Obama campaign officials said, well, he's going to vet his own speech. But the point is, the campaign feels he's a huge asset, otherwise, they wouldn't be using him so heavily in campaign advertisements.

SIEGEL: OK. That's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Thank you, Mara.

LIASSON: Thank you, Robert.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.