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Democrats Officially Kick Off Convention in Charlotte

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Debbie Wasserman Schultz gaveled the Democratic National Convention to order this evening, kicking off the event that will officially renominate Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and Florida Congresswoman welcomed delegates and guests.

She said the convention was about more than just demonstrating why Obama should get a second term in the White House.

“It’s about Americans coming together to build one economy: not from the top down, but from the middle class out and the bottom up,” she said.

In the minutes before the convention officially kicked off, delegates filed into Time Warner Cable Arena as soulful music played over the loudspeakers. Chants of “fired up, ready to go” — one of the marquee cries of Obama’s 2008 campaign — could be heard as people found their seats.

First lady Michelle Obama has top billing tonight, addressing delegates and a prime-time television audience.

The keynote speaker is Julián Castro, mayor of San Antonio, Texas. He is, notably, Latino — a group of voters Democrats will probably need to win in big numbers if Obama is to be re-elected.

Other scheduled speakers tonight include, top Obama ally Deval Patrick, the Democratic governor of Massachusetts; potential 2016 White House contender Martin O’Malley, the Democratic governor of Maryland; and Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff.

Members of Congress speaking tonight include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) and Reps. Xavier Bacerra (Calif.) and Jared Polis (Colo.).

A handful of candidates are also scheduled to take the stage tonight. The one with the toughest and most consequential race is likely former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who is locked in a tough battle for an open Senate seat in Virginia.

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