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President Obama to try to make case for sticking with him for four more years

By Julie Pace

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Sept. 1 2012 3:12 p.m. MDT

The convention opens Tuesday with first lady Michelle Obama, whose popularity far surpasses her husband's, as a featured speaker. San Antonio, Texas, Mayor Julian Castro also is slated for that night. He will be the first Hispanic to deliver the Democratic convention's keynote address. Their roles on the convention's opening night are part of Democrats' efforts to shore up support among women and Hispanics, two crucial voting blocs where Obama holds an advantage over Romney.

Mrs. Obama is expected to make the case that Obama is the best candidate to advocate on behalf of the middle class because he has experienced their struggles himself.

Many voters already have heard Mrs. Obama's stories about her husband being raised by a single mother and his grandparents or having struggled to pay off student loans.

But she is emphasizing them again in this campaign in hopes of drawing a contrast with Romney's privileged upbringing.

Polls show voters think Obama understands the economic issues that are important to them better than Romney, even though the Republican has an edge on who voters believe is better suited to manage the economy.

Former President Bill Clinton, who is emerging as one of the campaign's most effective surrogates, will headline the convention Wednesday and formally nominate Obama. He hopes to remind voters of the flush economy he presided over and make the case that Obama's policies will lead to similar results.

Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry will address the large stadium crowd Thursday night before Obama speaks.

Kerry, seen as a potential second-term secretary of state under Obama, will try to capitalize on the Democratic Party's rare advantage on national security issues. He is expected to trumpet Obama's decision to order the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the president's plan to end the Afghanistan war, a sharp contrast to Republicans who rarely mentioned the war during their convention or the tens of thousands of troops still engaged in combat.

Obama picked Charlotte as his convention site in part to help boost his chances of holding onto North Carolina, a state he moved into the Democratic column in 2008 for the first time in decades. Democrats acknowledge that the political landscape in North Carolina has shifted back toward the Republicans, though they hope the convention will help them reverse that course.

"We know that Republicans want to win it back," Cutter said. "But that's one of the reasons we chose Charlotte to host the convention. It's a pretty big investment in that state, and it gives us an advantage."

Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, will seek to steal some of the spotlight from Democrats when he campaigns in Greensboro, N.C., on Monday. Romney will spend next week preparing for debates. He has no public events scheduled.

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC.

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