By Charles Cullen
Yesterday I arrived at the Convention Center and Charlotte Bobcats Arena early, partially because I was excited by the list of speakers and partially because the nightmare of hoops to jump through that was Tampa was still very fresh in my mind. Let me make this clear; when I say I arrived early, I don't mean "I got there before most," or "I had more than enough time to set up." I mean I got there before almost everybody. Including the Democrats themselves.
While embarrassing, this mistake allowed me the chance to see what goes into creating the visuals that were seen on TV, and will be played again and again, throughout the week by news organizations. It was fascinating. The Democratic staffers were meticulous, down to forcing Debbie Wasserman-Shultz to practice her walk again, and again, and again. Then debating whether or not she stepped too near a power source. "She stepped on the power chord," one convention consultant said, "She did not!" retorted another, loudly enough for the microphones to pick up. This is really how the sausage gets made: speakers names were tested out, then it was time for the band to rehearse. Did I mention I arrived early?
Everything was tested. Everything had to be pitch-perfect. And, by and large, everything was. Say what you will about Obama, but his messaging team leaves nothing to chance. And I suppose that's what was so impressive about last night; the delegate day is SUPPOSED to be the day of flubs, the day people misspeak, go off script, contradict themselves. Not so in camp Obama. Everyone, including the "civilians" who presumably do not spend their spare time speaking to nationally-televised crowds in packed stadiums, were on point almost down to the second.
The Democrats were raucous, happy, and incredibly enthusiastic. In stark contrast to Tampa, the only delegate interruptions were constant cheers of "Four More Years," "USA, USA, USA," "Fired up, ready to go," and more than a few variations of "I love you Michelle!" when the First Lady spoke.
As for the other speakers, they delivered hay-maker after hay-maker to Romney. And the crowd was eating it all up with a spoon.
Whether it was the line "Mitt Romney proudly wrote an op-ed entitled 'Let Detroit go bankrupt,' to which President Obama responded "Not on my watch!" or Newark Mayor Cory Booker's line that "being asked to pay your fair share isn't class warfare; it's patriotism."
The delegates seemed to feed off the energy of the speakers and give back as good as they were getting, especially when it came to women's rights, healthcare (the Affordable Care Act), and the issue of wealth/opportunity-inequality. If there is an enthusiasm gap, I've seen no evidence of it. Rather, I think we have one party who is running desperately for President, and one party whose guy IS the President and because of that seems somewhat less frenzied than it was at the end of the Bush years.