Former President Bill Clinton will have a prime speaking slot. But his vice president, Gore, is taking a pass, a dozen years after losing the 2000 presidential race to George W. Bush.
Vulnerable Senate candidates — among them Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana — are staying away, and Democratic leaders in Washington have urged House candidates to skip the conventions and spend the week in their states trying to win votes the first week of September.
"If they want to win an election, they need to be in their districts," Steve Israel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said recently.
Left unsaid is the very real fear among moderate Democrats in political trouble that attending the same event as Obama, who Republicans castigate as a big-government liberal — could drag them down even further.
Some Republicans in tough races also are trying to keep some distance between themselves and the national gathering, mindful that ties to the party establishment can be a political liability in some places.
Among the GOP Senate hopefuls who plan to stay away from Tampa: Heather Wilson from New Mexico, George Allen from Virginia and Linda McMahon from Connecticut.
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