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DNC's Charlotte Pick: Choice Setting For 'Win The Future'

Feb 1, 2011

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Frank James

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The choice of Charlotte, NC to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention will allow President Obama and Democrats to communicate several important messages to voters as they work towards his re-election.

One, it's a big thank you to the North Carolina. By the narrowest of margins, the state gave its 15 electoral votes to Obama in 2008, with 49.9 percent of the vote. Sen. John McCain got 49.5 percent. Less than 14,000 votes separated the two men. It was the first time a Democratic presidential nominee outpolled his Republican opponent in 32 years.

Having the convention in Charlotte will put Obama and Democrats on the ground in the state at a critical time, allowing them to make their argument for re-election personally.

That could prove especially important if the Republican nominee turns out to be former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at the Republican convention in Tampa.

And North Carolina's northern neighbor is Virginia which went for Obama by a wider margin but has looked significantly more red since 2008. So holding the convention in Charlotte probably won't hurt in the effort to be competitive again in Virginia, too.

Two, it's a recognition of the Charlotte region's importance in the national economy. Over the past 15 years, the Charlotte area has quietly transformed itself into an important financial services center.

Indeed, many Americans would probably be shocked to learn that Charlotte is the nation's second largest banking and finance hub after New York, headquarters for Bank of America and Wachovia, a unit of Wells Fargo.

Of course, this could prove a double-edged sword. It could allow Obama's opponents to talk about Democrats meeting in a city whose major employers benefited from government bailouts to big banks and who are big players in the foreclosure crisis.

The choice of North Carolina will also allow the president and other Democrats to reprise incessantly the "win the future" message heard in the State of the Union.

North Carolina has the famed Research Triangle whose angles are formed by the cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill and their famous universities, NC State, Duke and UNC. It is one of the nation's most productive information technology and biotech hubs.

So the choice of Charlotte will allow Democrats to talk at length about innovation, education and infrastructure.

Third, North Carolina has a huge military presence. Ft. Bragg, the nation's largest military base, and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune will allow the president to showcase his role as commander-in-chief.

It will also allow First Lady Michelle Obama to highlight her work on one of her signature issues, supporting military families.

And I haven't even mentioned how basketball crazy the state is. It's easy to visualize the photo op of Obama shooting hoops with Michael Jordan, the legend himself and owner of the Charlotte Bobcats or some other hoop luminaries.

Fourth, the state has a Democratic governor, Bev Perdue, the first woman to be elected to be the state's chief executive. That will allow Obama to spotlight Perdue and energize her and her fellow Democrats in the state to work hard for his re-election.

The state's big role in NASCAR could also provide him with other opportunities to show he's reaching out to a demographic that's definitely not part of his political base.

All in all, out of the cities on the short list to host the convention: St. Louis, Cleveland and Minneapolis, Charlotte probably offered the most possibilities in terms of the kind of messages Obama and Democrats hope to send as they enter the last leg of the 2012 general election.

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