Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, does her podium walk-through before speaking at the convention tonight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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THE PODIUM: The Democratic National Convention will convene at 5, the gavel wielded by national party chairwoman and Florida House member Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (It’s the party’s 47th convention, but only the fifth in the South; Republicans have won the presidency each of the previous times Democrats met in the region — the last in 1988, when Michael Dukakis was nominated in Atlanta.) The party has underscored its “room for everyone” approach by sending 5,556 delegates, more than twice as many as went to Tampa for the GOP convention. Half are women, 27 percent are African-Americans and 5 percent are students — including Samuel Gray of Iowa, the youngest delegate, who won’t turn 18 until just before Election Day. (The oldest is 98-year-old Elzena Johnson of Mississippi.)
The opening night’s marquee attraction is Michelle Obama, whose approval rating of 66 percent is 20 points or so above her husband’s current “favorable” polling average. She’ll take the stage at 10:35 as Character Witness No. 1 and testify that her husband’s life experiences guarantee he understands the struggles of most Americans — in contrast, she will imply but might not say explicitly, to his opponent.