On eve of convention, Obama consoles storm victims
Monday, September 3, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — President Barack Obama consoled victims of Hurricane Isaac along the Gulf Coast on Monday and stoked the enthusiasm of union voters in the industrial heartland, blending a hard political sell with a softer show of sympathy on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.
At times like these, “nobody’s a Democrat or a Republican, we’re all just Americans looking out for one another,” the president said after inspecting damage inflicted by the storm and hugging some of its victims. He was flanked by local and state officials of both parties as he spoke.
Obama’s trip to LaPlace, La., was a televised interlude in the rough and tumble of the political campaign, four days after Romney accepted his party’s presidential nomination at the GOP Convention in Tampa, Fla., and three days before the president is nominated by Democratic delegates in Charlotte.
Unlike Obama, Romney made no mention of federal aid in his own trip to Louisiana last Friday showing concern and support.
First lady Michelle Obama was already in the Democratic convention city as her husband spent his day blending the work of president and candidate.
He doesn’t arrive in North Carolina until later in the week, after concluding a slow circuit of campaign stops in battleground states and the trip to Louisiana.
In Charlotte, the conversion of the Time Warner Cable Arena into a political convention hall was nearly complete. Democrats convene there today.
Nearby, union members staged a Labor Day march through downtown. Though supporting Obama, they also expressed frustration that he and the Democrats chose to hold their convention in a state that bans collective bargaining for teachers and other public employees.
The kickoff protest ahead of the Democratic National Convention had the benefit of sunny skies, pent-up demand from demonstrators who were rained out in Florida and the perfect setting to decry the practices of big business.
But while Sunday’s March on Wall Street South was spirited, it drew only a fraction of the turnout organizers were expecting and was as free of mayhem as protests a week earlier outside the Republican National Convention in Tampa. The march had been planned as the centerpiece of the week’s protests.
Charlotte Police estimated that 800 people joined the march, but there was only one arrest. Taking their cue from police in Tampa, many officers were seen smiling and chatting with demonstrators. Two attempts to be disruptive outside of major corporate offices were largely ignored by officers. Charlotte hosts several Fortune 500 companies including the headquarters of America’s largest electricity provider and second-largest bank.
The march’s general purpose was to decry corporate influence in politics, but it drew people demonstrating for a variety of causes. Marchers carried signs and banners, banged drums and chanted in a louder and livelier display than Tampa protests that were lashed by the outer bands of Hurricane Isaac.