Charlotte ready for Democratic National Convention

September 2, 2012 8:16:51 PM PDT
Democrats are preparing to make their case to voters this week at the Democratic National Convention, set to begin Tuesday.

Politicians, delegates and some celebrities have already started to descend on host city Charlotte, North Carolina.

Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina with 750,000 living in the city and another million in the metro area.

It's a place few would have thought would host a national political convention, but with President Barack Obama hoping to win the southern state as he did in 2008, it won the bid.

"It's going to bring 35,000 visitors to our city," Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said. "We're going to have an opportunity to talk about the way this city has grown and where we want to go in the future."

Foxx is in his second term as Charlotte's mayor. He says despite the criticism of Charlotte as host city and the difficulty they had raising money for the 2012 convention, this is a chance for his hometown to shine.

"I think we take this opportunity through this convention to tell a story about our state and our city," Foxx said. "This city has shown a spirit of resilience not only through the great recession but also going back centuries."

It's fair to say the Democratic Party is in trouble in North Carolina. The president's win four years ago was the first by a Democrat in 40 years. The current governor is performing so poorly that she is not seeking reelection. North Carolina voters approved a ban on gay marriage, pushing some to call moving the convention elsewhere. And several high-profile Democrats are not even attending this week.

But organizers remain hopeful.

"This is a huge deal for Charlotte," said Dan Murrey, 2012 host committee executive director.

They expect the effects of this convention to be long-lasting by calling attention to areas of need in the community related to employment, health and the environment.

"Certainly it has a short term economic impact, but long term is the focus we're taking on this," Murrey said. "When we first got the convention, we started with the end in mind thinking, 'how can we use this event to catalyze change for our community?'"

But, of course, the big deal here is energizing Democrats to work, volunteer and vote so they can keep the White House.

"We hope it'll be a spark that will light a prairie fire of support, of enthusiasm, of activity," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

Villaraigosa is the chairman of the convention, and he knows this week is critical for the party's chances in November.

"Yes it's true. We've got our work cut out for us," he said. "But I think the convention is an opportunity for us to frame the campaign, the issues before us, the choices we have."

Stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for the latest from the Democratic National Convention. ABC13 reporter Tom Abrahams and anchor Gina Gaston will be in North Carolina covering the convention all week.


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