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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Democrats are sending a message from their national convention here that President Obama’s record and stance on issues such as health care and Wall Street reform, the bailout of the auto industry and social and women’s issues are strong reasons for him to be reelected.
Speakers and party loyalists have framed their message as a choice between the Democratic party of the people versus the Republican party of the elite, as they championed and defended Obama’s accomplishments over the last four years and outlined his vision for a possible second term.
Two Democratic Capitol Hill lawmakers, who cochair the Fashion Caucus, told WWD that Obama’s policies will continue to help the fashion industry if he is reelected.
“I think [four more years] would improve the strength and economic stability of the country and grow the amount of money people have, so that’s good for the fashion industry,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.). “So when you help the country, you help the fashion industry.…Because of the policies he put in place — saving the auto industry when his opponent said he would vote against it — it saved [millions] of jobs. He has stabilized the financial industry and helped restructure and put more safety and soundness into our financial industry, which has helped everyone, and he invested in our infrastructure.”
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Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) said Obama will create jobs in the next four years by investing in infrastructure, scientific research and education, and helping state governments with funding to avoid laying off teachers, firefighters and policemen.
“That’s how you create jobs,” he added. “The fashion industry is one industry that benefits when people have money to spend.”
The carefully orchestrated convention was forced to improvise as Mother Nature once again foiled the best-laid plans of organizers. The Democratic National Convention Committee said Wednesday that Obama’s prime-time acceptance speech was being moved from the Bank of American Stadium, which holds 73,000, to the much smaller Time Warner Cable Arena, the site of the first two days of the convention, due to forecasts of severe weather.
Delegates did not let the weather forecasts dampen their enthusiasm for Obama or their resolve to get him reelected.
“The President inherited an immense debt, immense military commitments that you don’t walk away from,” said Choco Gonzalez Meza, a delegate from San Antonio and former Clinton appointee to the Department of Housing & Urban Development. “To me, he’s done an extraordinarily good job given the challenge he was handed. These are issues that are time-consuming, financially demanding, and in spite of all that, he can point to many successes.”
Meza said immigration reform is vital for Texas, but Republicans have blocked Obama’s efforts.
Anita Lovely, a committeewoman for Lumberton, N.J., highlighted a long list of successes in Obama’s first term, including “bringing the troops home, getting Bin Laden, health care.
“What he did in Detroit with the car business kept us from going into a Depression, not just a recession,” she said. “He worked with the schools on Pell grants. He has been working hard to get Medicare stabilized. He could have had more success if the Republican Party was not holding him back and voting against him, trying to make him a one-term president. That gets my dander up.”
Gregory Cendana, a Washington, D.C., delegate and labor activist, said a Republican majority in Congress in the last two years has blunted the extent of Obama’s accomplishments. But he pointed to the passing of landmark legislation — the stimulus package, the health care bill — as proof that the President has delivered on campaign promises.
“There’s a lot more I wish he’d done, but I know he’s done his best,” said Cendana, adding that Obama’s bond with young voters is still strong.
“People see their story in him, and that’s powerful,” said Cendana, executive director at Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, noting that the administration has supported issues like gay marriage and low interest rates on Stafford loans that resonate with young people.