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Dems Roll Up Their Sleeves to Re-elect Obama

Barrington M. Salmon | 9/12/2012, 10:17 a.m.

Aziz, a self-described young adult who's studying biology and chemistry, said before and since the convention, her job is to reach as many people as she can with the Obama message.

"We have to show people what we can be like," she said. "We are a point of contact with the everyday voter. Most voters will never meet the president or a senator. I'm a real person and I can show what his [Obama's] policies have done in my life and how this has affected me. We show what the alternative would be under a different [president]."

Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards, her colleague Frederica Wilson and political analyst Avis Jones-DeWeever all agreed that the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party needs to concentrate on invigorating segments of its base such as young people, seniors and Hispanics.

"It seems to me very clear that the difference between winning on Nov. 6 and not, is turnout," said Edwards, who represents Maryland's 4th District. "In D.C. and the metro area, we are overwhelmingly Democratic which is a good thing but we have to get out. The president needs popular numbers so he can lead more effectively and with a bigger mandate."

Jones-DeWeever, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women, credits the convention for defining in stark terms the differences between Republicans and Democrats and said the masterful performance of the speakers has led to the increased lead in the polls the president now enjoys.

"It was really one of the most well-executed conventions I've seen by either party," said Jones-DeWeever, 44. "I was really impressed with all aspects, execution, signage, and the degree to which every speaker brought their 'A' game."

Jones-DeWeever said the Democrats offered a clear vision going forward and noted the vast contrast between the GOP, whose speakers engaged in more self-promotion of themselves, rather than Romney. She said the delegate audience was very enthusiastic adding that the convention set the table for the run to the general elections. On Tuesday, September 11, a Reuters/IPSOS poll had Obama with a 47-43 percent lead over Romney.

"We're already seeing the evidence of the bounce. The convention really did a great job getting the message beyond the bounce. The speeches were so extraordinary that they were able to milk it beyond the convention. It reinvigorated the base more than one could expect," Jones-DeWeever said.

"How many times did we see Michelle Obama, Deval Patrick and Bill Clinton the next day and the day after? With the Democrats, every speaker was on message promoting the president. Speakers offered a very vigorous defense and offense on behalf of the president, versus the tepid endorsements of GOP speakers."

No one expects the race to be a cakewalk, particularly given the attention, money and focus the GOP has directed toward voter suppression. But Wilson said Democrats have a key weapon in their arsenal - absentee voting - that they've neglected to use to this point.

Wilson said that voters can sidestep the barriers put in place by the Republicans by submitting absentee ballots in lieu of going to the polls.

"Florida is one of many states which has tried all kinds of voter suppression legislation since the 2008 election," said Wilson, 69, who represents Florida's 17th District. "They did it for the specific purpose of disenfranchising students, seniors and poor people."

She said the courts have reversed some of the more onerous conditions on voting, but "in the meantime, while we're waiting for courts, we're letting a perfect window of opportunity pass," she explained. "We're one of a few states where you have no excuse. You need none. You can vote as long as you are a registered voter. People who take advantage of that are Republicans. Democrats stand in line ... As sure as I'm speaking to you, they'll change the rules. We need to take advantage of the opportunity."