Enthusiasm of 2008 is Missing From Democratic Convention

Monday, 03 Sep 2012 12:15 PM

By Patrick Hobin

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Desperate Democrats are handing out tickets to students and volunteers in a scramble to fill seats for President Barack Obama’s Thursday-night accepting nomination to a second term, according to The Associated Press.

The campaign needs to fill 74,000-seat Bank of America stadium to capacity when Obama speaks.

Doling out of tickets to just about anyone is a far cry from the “hope and change” fervor that permeated the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

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“The entire campaign is very different, and by extension, so is the convention. (It’s) a little bit like renewing one’s marriage vows — important and special, but it does not necessarily have the magic of the first time,” Democratic strategist Chris Lehane told the New York Daily News.

“The 2008 convention was a historical moment and, appropriately so, aspirational in nature, whereas 2012 is about the re-election of an incumbent and so, by its very definition, a compare-and-contrast convention when it comes to laying out the case for four more years,” Lehane told the News.

Even Obama’s own aides agree there is a palpable enthusiasm deficit.

Top campaign adviser Robert Gibbs told CNN's State of the Union that "nobody is sitting up here saying this is 2008," but that's because of a "huge economic calamity caused by a series of bad decisions that were made before the president ever got there."

Democrats have been worried for months over whether Obama could fill the stadium. Crowds at campaign rallies in swing states have been notably thin, according to AP. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts also will speak Thursday night.

The Obama campaign has tended toward smaller venues after being unable to fill the arena for its kickoff rally in Columbus, Ohio, leaving thousands of empty seats, Politico reported.

It will be a challenge for Obama to rekindle the excitement from 2008.

Failing to fill the stadium Obama’s big night would be highlighted by Republicans, who will be quick to point out that enthusiasm for the president has waned. That, too, would crystallize their argument that Americans feel that they are worse off than they were four years ago.

Several large black churches in South Carolina are sending busloads of members to the Thursday-night event; Duke University is busing in 100 students; and several thousand tickets have been given to new campaign volunteers in North Carolina. Tens of thousands of other tickets have been handed out to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

Editor's Note: Will Obama Be Defeated? Vote Here!

Obama advisers insist Bank of America Stadium will be filled when Obama steps to the podium.

"The response we've seen from the community has been incredible, and it's obvious that people have a big interest in owning a piece of the most open and accessible convention in history," Adam Fetcher, a campaign spokesman, told the AP.

"President Obama's speech on Thursday night will bring this election into focus for the American people, and it will be even more significant because so many North Carolinians will be there to see it."

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