There is a vacancy in Chippewa Falls that can make governing a little tricky.More >>
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Republicans and Democrats
jockeyed for economic high ground in a Labor Day warm-up to the
Democratic National Convention, with Republican Mitt Romney labeling the
holiday "another day of worrying" for too many Americans anxious about
finding a job. Supporters of President Barack Obama worked to put a
glossy sheen on economic progress after offering a more muddled message
over the weekend.
Obama addresses a United Auto
Workers Labor Day rally in Toledo before getting his first look at the
aftermath of Hurricane Isaac in a stricken parish outside New Orleans.
He's to meet emergency personnel who've been laboring since the storm
hit last week to restore power and tend to thousands of evacuees from
Romney issued a statement
marking Labor Day as "a chance to celebrate the strong American work
ethic." But he added: "For far too many Americans, today is another day
of worrying when their next paycheck will come."
Obama's backers were up early to
try a morning do-over of his supporters' less-than-rosy answers Sunday
when asked to answer the classic campaign question: Are Americans better
off than they were four years ago?
"Absolutely," said Stephanie
Cutter, Obama's deputy campaign manager, speaking on NBC's "Today" show.
"By any measure the country has moved forward over the last four years.
It might not be as fast as some people would've hoped. The president
agrees with that."
Martin O'Malley, Maryland's
Democratic governor, had answered the same question with a "no" on
Sunday before turning the blame to Obama's Republican predecessor.
Appearing Monday on CNN, O'Malley tried a more positive turn of phrase,
saying: "We are clearly better off as a country because we're now
creating jobs rather than losing them. But we have not recovered all
that we lost in the Bush recession. That's why we need to continue to
move forward" under Obama.
While the official convention
program doesn't start until Tuesday, delegations were gathering across
Charlotte on Monday for state breakfasts. Convention officials were also
hosting a Labor Day festival in downtown Charlotte featuring singer
James Taylor and actor Jeff Bridges.
At a breakfast with the Iowa
delegation, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the chair of the
convention, told about 60 members of the state's contingent that Romney
and running mate Paul Ryan would pursue massive tax cuts that would
benefit only the very wealthy - stances that he said were far removed
from their GOP predecessors.
"Ronald Reagan would turn in his grave listening to some of these people," he said. "They're so far out there."
Villaraigosa told the Iowans
that he spent 25 years as a community organizer and urged them to
register new voters and recruit volunteers to help re-elect Obama.
"We've got our work cut out for
us. We know that," he said. "The country is evenly divided. It has been
for a long time. So what are we going to do? This is going to be a
working convention. Every one of you can sign up as a volunteer. In
fact, I know you're already going to volunteer."
In Boulder, Colo., on Sunday,
Obama warned a college crowd that "the other side is going to spend more
money than we've ever seen in our lives, with an avalanche of attack
ads and insults and making stuff up, just making stuff up."
"What they're counting on is
that you get so discouraged by this, that at a certain point you just
say, you know what, I'm going to leave it up to somebody else." Obama
did not mention his own side's arsenal of negative advertising.
The Republican convention behind
him, Romney was staying low for a few days, preparing for the October
debates as Democratic conventioneers gathered for the opening of their
Younger voters gave Obama a big
boost four years ago and he can ill afford to see their support drop off
in a tight election where the sluggish economy is the dominant issue in
the nation and a specific drag to many young people coming out of
college or trying to afford it.
But his campaign surely has a
more immediate need for young people, too - helping to fill the seats
for Obama's address Thursday. With 6,000 delegates at the convention and
thousands more attached to the event, Democrats hope to pack a nearly
74,000-seat outdoor stadium for the prime-time speech.
Obama deputy campaign manager
Jennifer O'Malley-Dillon told Iowa delegates the campaign was hoping the
rain would stay away when the president delivers his speech.
"If you believe in weather gods, you should pray to them," she said.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro
delivers the keynote speech on Tuesday, followed by first lady Michelle
Obama's remarks. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be nominated
for second terms on Wednesday night, when former President Bill Clinton
takes the stage as star speaker.
Keeping a strong focus on the
economy, a new Obama campaign ad running in six closely contested states
- Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia - claims
Romney's policies would "hit the middle class harder" and that he
doesn't see the "heavy load" the middle class is carrying.
Biden joined the fray, accusing
Republicans of seeking to undermine the decades-old federal program
millions of seniors rely on for health care. "We are for Medicare," he
said. "They are for voucher care." That was a reference to a proposal in
Congress by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential
nominee, to offer future retirees the option of buying health insurance
with a government subsidy.
The president and vice president
campaigned separately across three battleground states as delegates
descended on the Democrats' convention city before their first official
meeting Tuesday in the Time Warner Cable Arena.
Biden's itinerary, in
particular, underscored the threat that a sluggish recovery and high,
8.3 percent unemployment pose to Democrats seeking another term in
power. He was in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states that have received
little attention previously as the candidates, their parties and outside
allies concentrate on the areas of the country deemed most competitive.
His presence suggested the race in both states was tightening.
Romney spent Sunday at his
Wolfeboro, N.H., vacation home, leaving only to attend church services
with his wife, Ann. Aides said he would spend much of the Democrats'
convention week preparing for three fall debates with Obama, beginning
on Oct. 3.
Obama aides said they expected
Romney and Republicans to outpace the president and his party in
fundraising in August because Obama spent less time raising cash than in
the month before, and because the GOP held its convention - usually a
big money draw - in August.
Woodward reported from
Washington. Associated Press writers Philip Elliott in York, Pa., Kasie
Hunt in Wolfeboro, N.H., and Michael Biesecker, Mitch Weiss, Beth Fouhy
and Julie Pace in North Carolina contributed to this report.
2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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