CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Don’t expect President Barack Obama to try to reinvent himself next week at the Democratic Party’s national convention. Instead, he and a slew of his defenders will seek to convince voters to stick with the president they know rather than gamble on someone new, a challenging task given that most Americans say the country is heading in the wrong direction.
“This Thursday, I will offer you what I believe is a better path forward, a path that grows this economy, creates more jobs and strengthens the middle class,” Obama said Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa, previewing his pitch. “And the good news is, you get to choose which path we take.”
While Democratic loyalists will fill the stadium where Obama accepts the nomination Thursday night, the president’s target audience is the small sliver of undecided voters in battleground states who will be critical to the outcome of what polls show is a tight race with two months to go. His campaign also will try to revive some of its insurgent, grassroots appeal from 2008 by using technology to let people participate in the convention. That effort also will help Obama’s team collect more data on voters.
Starting Tuesday, a parade of high-profile speakers will stand on a blue-carpeted stage in Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena to vouch for Obama’s economic agenda, which his team says is focused on the middle class: ending tax cuts for the rich and reducing the debt, while spending more on education, energy and infrastructure. Several voters — called “American Heroes” by Obama’s team — also will speak at and appear in videos at the convention, putting a human face on Obama’s program.
The Democratic convention starts less than a week after Republicans gathered in Tampa, Fla., to nominate Mitt Romney as the party’s presidential candidate. Democrats hope that by holding their convention second, Obama can emerge with momentum on his side as the race for the White House bounds into its final stretch.