The popular mayor of Newark, N.J., gained national attention this spring after helping to rescue a neighbor from a burning home, and then for calling out the Obama campaign for attacking Mitt Romney's role at Bain Capital. Booker, 43, may be preparing to take on one of the Republican bright lights — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, fresh off his stint as GOP convention keynote speaker — in next year's gubernatorial race.
The 44-year-old former assistant secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs lost both legs and the use of an arm when the Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting in Iraq was shot down in 2004. After losing her first congressional bid in 2006, she's now running for Congress from Illinois. This summer, her Republican opponent, Rep. Joe Walsh, publicly complained that she uses her veteran status for political purposes. "My God, that's all she talks about," said Walsh.
Ledbetter, 74, is a retired Goodyear supervisor and namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill President Obama signed into law, which makes it easier for women claiming gender-based pay discrimination to sue employers. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, now the Republican vice presidential nominee, voted against the legislation, which is sure to be stressed at the convention.
The 56-year-old Massachusetts governor may spotlight an issue Romney rarely mentions: the Massachusetts health care law Romney ushered through and signed as governor. It was Patrick who was charged with implementing much of the law when he followed Romney in the governor's office.
The 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio is the first Hispanic to give the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. The role has been used by Democrats in recent conventions to highlight emerging stars; Barack Obama's 2004 keynote speech, when he was in the Illinois Legislature, is credited with bringing him to national prominence. A graduate of Stanford and Harvard Law, Castro became the youngest mayor of a major American city in 2009. He is the son of Mexican-American political activist Rosie Castro. His twin brother, Joaquin, serves in the Texas Legislature.
While Ann Romney's well-received speech at the Republican convention was an opportunity to give Americans a rare window into her husband's personal story, first lady Michelle Obama's goal might be more about reminding voters about things that appealed to them four years ago. Veteran journalist Tom Brokaw this weekend called the 48-year-old first lady and Ann Romney "the two most effective campaigners" for their husbands.
The Senate candidate from Massachusetts may paint one of the clearer distinctions between Republican and Democratic views of the role of the federal government. The Harvard Law School professor is a consumer advocate credited with the creation of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — meant to monitor mortgages and credit cards, among other things — part of the Dodd-Frank banking reform legislation that many Republicans strongly oppose and that Romney has vowed to repeal if elected. Warren, 63, is locked in a tight battle against incumbent Scott Brown for the Senate seat held for more than 45 years by Ted Kennedy.
The recent Georgetown Law Center graduate was at the center of a controversy early this year over the Obama administration's new policy requiring employers to provide free birth control in group health insurance plans. It applies even to employers with religious affiliations (like Georgetown, the nation's oldest Catholic and Jesuit university), but not to churches themselves. Fluke, 31, who testified before Congress on the issue, was attacked by conservative radio's Rush Limbaugh, who later apologized for his name-calling after losing several sponsors.
The Los Angeles mayor and chairman of the convention said Monday that the convention speakers will not shrink from reminding Americans about Obama's first term, saying the president "stopped an economic catastrophe," passed a landmark healthcare law and "saved the auto industry." Villaraigosa, 59, recently criticized Republicans for not backing up their appeal to Hispanic voters with significant proposals on immigration reform. The Mexican-American two-term mayor is ineligible to run again next year because of term limits.
The 42nd president remains hugely popular in Democratic circles, and the Obama campaign hopes he can make a difference for the incumbent among undecided and independent voters — especially white males, who polls show are largely siding with Mitt Romney. Four years after Obama defeated Clinton's wife, Hillary, in the Democratic primary, the former president has the role of formally placing Obama's name into nomination. A charismatic speaker, Clinton, 66, is charged in part with reminding voters that the U.S. economy can flourish (and has in the not too distant past) under Democratic leadership.
The former Republican governor of Florida is the Democrats' answer to Artur Davis (the former Democratic congressman from Alabama who switched parties and spoke at the Republican convention last week). Crist, 56, was elected Florida governor in 2006 as a Republican, and served from 2007 to 2011. He ran for U.S. Senate, ultimately as an independent, losing to Republican Marco Rubio in 2010.
The loquacious 69-year-old former senator will be a point man in attacking the Romney-Ryan ticket, a traditional role for the vice president. Biden, whose off-script reputation was, ironically, a subject of ridicule during Clint Eastwood's unscripted monologue at the Republican National Convention, brings a mix of foreign policy expertise and blue-collar style that plays well to the Democratic base.
This will be the third major Democratic convention speech for 51-year-old Barack Obama. His 2004 keynote address, in support of John Kerry, was remembered more as a national coming out for the young Illinois lawmaker. His 2008 acceptance speech exhibited his hallmark rhetorical strengths (while a Greek-column backdrop is still mocked by opponents). Obama's mission in Charlotte is to defend his record while convincing voters that he — not Mitt Romney — is the right choice for the next four years.