There may not be much suspense when Democrats gather this summer in Charlotte to renominate Barack Obama and Joe Biden as their nominees. But the organizers of the event are determined to re-invent the modern political convention, shortening it and moving key moments outdoors. Just as he accepted his nomination in 2008 in a football stadium, the president's acceptance address this time will be in the 74,000-seat Bank of America Stadium, home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers.
Those plans were announced Tuesday by Steve Kerrigan, CEO of the Democratic convention, who left no doubt that Democrats would love to recapture the magic of 2008 when Obama was nominated in Denver. That was before the economy became his responsibility, before the health care vote, before the "shellacking" of 2010.
Kerrigan also announced that the Democrats will try something this year that has long been recommended since the role of conventions changed from the old one of picking a nominee in a process that often required multiple ballots and loud floor fights. With the proliferation of primaries, those days are gone. But as much as the business of conventions now requires fewer days, neither party was willing to drop the fourth day, in large part because no host city was willing to go to all the trouble and expense without guaranteeing the delegates and media would be there long enough to spend their money locally.
But the Democrats have solved that by making the official convention only three days long, but planning a fourth day of activities outside the convention hall. Kerrigan said the schedule was changed "to make room for a day to organize and celebrate the Carolinas, Virginia and the South and kick off the convention at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Labor Day."
Events at the speedway are designed to "show the world what we can do when we out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world and build an economy that creates opportunity for all," he said in his announcement. The whole point of the different schedule, said Kerrigan, is to demonstrate "that this convention is about more than political rituals and confetti falling from the rafters."