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September 7th, 2012
07:58 AM ET

Was President Obama's DNC speech sober or soaring? Dana Bash, Ana Navarro and Richard Socarides weigh in

Dana Bash, Ana Navarro and Richard Socarides weigh in on President Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention.

September 7th, 2012
07:49 AM ET

CNN contributor Ryan Lizza: Obama's speech at DNC sounded like it had 'poll-tested lines' for specific swing states

CNN Contributor Ryan Lizza argues that while President Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention was ambitious, it did accomplish some of its goals.

“I don’t think it was the greatest Obama speech in terms of the sweeping rhetorical speech, nothing like his 2004 speech, but in terms of getting a lot of work done, I thought it accomplished something,” Lizza says. “And if you were a voter who just cared about what Romney would do or what Obama would do going forward, Obama’s speech had a lot more for you in terms of vision for America.”

The Washington Correspondent for “The New Yorker” also takes note of Obama’s efforts to impact swing state voters in the speech. “He had a lot of very specific, I thought, frankly, poll tested lines. You could almost see the strategist saying, ‘Oh you need this policy for Ohio, you have to talk about wind in Iowa,’ messages for the specific swing states,” Lizza says.

Lizza felt the energy was stronger in Charlotte that the Republican National Convention last week. “I’d still be surprised if there’s a big bounce, because we know what the dynamics of this election are: tiny group of undecided voters that don’t seem to move,” he says.

September 7th, 2012
07:31 AM ET

Rep. Judy Chu: Pres. Obama's speech was 'tremendous,' says Gabby Giffords appearance was emotional

President Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president last night, concluding the Democratic National Convention this week. Both parties appealed to immigrants in the United States in both Tampa and Charlotte during the conventions, calling out to Latino voters especially. Meanwhile, Asian Americans actually represent the fastest-growing immigrant population in the country. Democratic California Congresswoman Judy Chu is an Asian American and Obama Campaign Co-Chair. She spoke at the DNC this past Wednesday and joins John Berman on “Early Start” this morning.

While many have argued the President’s closing speech wasn’t his best, Congresswoman Chu says she thought President’s closing speech was “tremendous.” “I think that his goal was different,” she says. “He had to combat the terrible commercials that have been laid out by the Super PACs, and he had to show that he is presidential, that he made some very, very tough decisions."

President Obama addressed immigrants with the slogan, “You did that.” Congresswoman Chu thinks it “was a way of showing that it was Americans that resulted in these policies that he put forth.”

Congresswoman Chu also comments on her friend Fmr. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords reciting the Pledge of Allegiance last night. “It was so emotional to see her out there, after all her struggles, to see her so committed to the Democratic future of this country."

September 7th, 2012
07:25 AM ET

CNN contributor Maria Cardona: America 'can't compare' Obama's DNC speech to 2008

As the Democratic National Convention comes to a close, CNN Contributor and Democratic Strategist Maria Cardona weighs in on President Barack Obama’s nomination speech late Thursday.

“You can’t compare it to 2008,” Cardona says. “I think that that was strategically smart, because, again 2008 was lightening in a bottle, he was not going to be able to recreate that. What he needed to do last night was reassure – and what I thought what he did brilliantly – he made us take ownership of the hope and change.”

Cardona praises the president for reaching out to all parts of the Democratic Party at the convention. “He talked about immigrants, he talked about women, he talked about gays, he talked about labor, everybody was included in [the speech],” she says.

September 7th, 2012
04:11 AM ET

'You can't touch this': John Berman's reflects on the 2012 RNC/DNC in photos

Editor's Note: John Berman reported live from both the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. Throughout his reporting, he's been sharing Instagram photos of the conventions. This piece was producing using some of those photos. Follow him on Twitter: @Johnsberman

You can't touch this. That’s right, if you are a political junkie, a political reporter, or a political player, there really is nothing that beats a convention. Nothing. Sure there are plenty of people who reasonably say that conventions have become pieces of performance art, staged with such precision as to render them meaningless, or even worse, dull.

Well I say to you people out there that these past two weeks are proof that something always happens at these things; something unexpected, something fascinating, something that in one way or another will absolutely impact the outcome of the election.

Seriously, two weeks ago, who would have thought to talk to a chair?


(This was my view of that Eastwood episode from just feet away).

Seriously two weeks ago, who would have though that the two most tactful politicians named Romney and Obama were named Ann and Michelle?


(This is how I saw it when Michelle Obama first saw the arena she was soon to own.)

Two weeks ago, who would have though that weather would threaten to completely disrupt and dismantle the carefully laid plans of both political parties?


(This is what Isaac looked like from my hotel.)

Two weeks ago, who thought I would meet the guy from Wings?


(me with Tim Daly)

I fully understand that nominees no longer get picked in contentious floor fights. Boy, do I wish I had been around when they were (except I feel like the levels of hygiene may have alarmed me back then.) But these days conventions represent that moment when a political campaign is allowed to put forth what it thinks its best case for winning. And it is always worth evaluating what they offer. Moreover it is worth noting in this aura of hyper-control that they often lose control. Note the moments of discomfort for the GOP with the Ron Paul folks on the floor. Note the almost inexplicable confusion and backtracking with the Democratic platform.

They also make for incredible people watching. Can you name all these political players I spotted the last couple of weeks?


A real "Real World" alum.


The son of Greek immigrants. (Not Wolf Blitzer)


He said his keynote in 1992 was "scary."


Mr. Speaker!


Big wave surfer, or Senator?


He's usually a very serious guy.


Guess Virginia IS for lovers!


Look closely, there are two lawmakers in this shot.

Finally, or as Bill Clinton said in 1988, “in closing,” if you need more proof that conventions still matter, are still fun, and are still fascination...
If you need more proof that you can’t touch this...I offer you: MC Hammer.

September 6th, 2012
08:29 AM ET

What does President Obama need to do in his DNC speech? Socarides and Hoover weigh in

President Barack Obama will deliver a speech to the Democratic National Convention late Thursday to accept his party's nomination for president. Former adviser to President Clinton Richard Socarides and CNN contributor Margaret Hoover weigh in on what President Barack Obama needs to do in his speech to convince both democrats and independents to vote for him in November.

“I think President Obama’s going to talk about where do we go from here. What is going to be different in these next four years, what is his plan, what is his vision for a second term,” Socarides says. “He’s got to be positive and say what is going to be new, what is going to be different.”

Hoover, a former White House appointee under the Bush Administration, argues that Obama needs to be “convincing and compelling” for both democrats and independents. “He knows he has to say what he’s going to do in the next term, but he also has to answer the implicit criticisms that many people haven’t tackled head on until Bill Clinton last night,” Hoover says. “What about the spending? Independents are concerned about the spending. What about the unemployment? 23 million people are unemployed. What are you going to do differently in the next four years?”

September 6th, 2012
07:24 AM ET

Fmr. Clinton White House comm. director Don Baer says Clinton speech 'created forward motion' for voters

Former President Bill Clinton officially nominated President Obama for a second term at the Democratic National Convention last night, making an impassioned plea for the president while under the spotlight himself. Joining John Berman on “Early Start” this morning is the man who helped write Clinton’s own 1996 re-nomination speech, Don Baer.

Baer, the former communications director and chief speechwriter for the Clinton Administration, and current CEO of the global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, weighs in on the Clinton speech and what Obama needs to say tonight.

“It was a full speech, and a terrific one,” he says. “He provided a storyline for what the last four years have been about to really frame it and help explain it to the American people.” Baer says he did something else that was very important. “There’s a positive forward motion to that story,” he says, “and that’s what the American people need to hear.”

Baer believes Obama should build on the platform Clinton has provided for him. “Now President Obama needs to do,” he says, “exactly what President Clinton did in 1996.” Baer says that speech was “like a second State of the Union address. He’s talking about the agenda, what he’s going to do in the second term.” Baer thinks Obama should follow that lead.

“There’s been a forward momentum, but now we need to know how we’re going to finish the job,” Baer says. “I think that’s president Obama’s part tonight.”

September 6th, 2012
06:11 AM ET

CNN Contributor Ryan Lizza on Bill Clinton speech: “This was an amazing speech”

Day two of the Democratic National Convention wrapped up last night with a powerful speech from former President Bill Clinton. Clinton’s speech was highly anticipated by both parties and it was the highlight of the night. CNN Contributor and Washington Correspondent for The New Yorker Ryan Lizza joins John Berman at the CNN Grill in Charlotte this morning to weigh in on the Clinton-Obama relationship and the speech that officially nominated President Obama for a second term.

“When you know that these guys have had this difficult relationship,” he says, and then you watch him logically make “the case for why Obama is better than Romney, it sort of to me makes the power of the argument a little stronger.”

For skeptical Obama voters from 2008, “Who better to make that case to you than someone who’s also been skeptical of Obama for a long time,” he asks. “In terms of the voters they’re trying to reach, this was the guy to do it,” Lizza says. “This was an amazing speech."

CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash agrees. It’s hard to deny the power of President Clinton’s speech when he’s given it in a way “that looks like he’s really emoting and he really means it.”

September 5th, 2012
11:07 AM ET

Will fmr. President Clinton steal spotlight from President Obama at DNC? CNN contributor Ryan Lizza weighs in

Bill Clinton will deliver a speech late Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention to offer his support for the president, but Ryan Lizza tells John Berman that the former president has a rocky history with Barack Obama.

“It’s a long, complicated relationship. [There were] lots of bad feelings on both sides for a really long time after that famous wrenching primary between Hilary Clinton and Obama,” says Lizza, a CNN Contributor and Washington Correspondent for “The New Yorker.”

“The relationship really didn’t get better until 2011 when Barack Obama and his political advisors are thinking about the 2012 campaign and looking at the poll numbers, and saying, ‘You know what, the most popular national Democrat these days is not Barack Obama, it’s Bill Clinton,’” he adds.

So, how did Barack Obama and Bill Clinton begin to rekindle their shaky relationship? Over a game of golf, Lizza says.

The former president will have a prominent role at the DNC late Wednesday, but Lizza says it will be "a Bill Clinton speech." "He will be writing it, I'm sure he will let [the Obama campaign] see it at the appropriate time, but this is a Bill Clinton production," Lizza adds.

September 5th, 2012
11:03 AM ET

Creative Coalition's Tim Daly: Defunding arts programs in America is 'bad business'

Creative Coalition president and Actor Tim Daly is in Charlotte, NC for the Democratic National Convention, one week after attending the Republican National Convention. He's working to improve the dialogue around funding arts programs in America, and he tells John Berman on "Early Start" that it's one of the most important investments the country could make.

"Entertainment is the second largest export of the United States of America," Daly says. "It's a huge driver of our economy. And I would like it to be spoken about by politicians on both sides for the same amount of gravitas and respect that we speak about the automobile industry or the pharmaceutical industry or the insurance industry. It's a huge part of who we are. And, you know, I would especially like the Democrats and someone like Kal Penn who owes everything he has to the arts to talk about the vibrancy and the importance of the arts in this country. You know, the Creative Coalition are big defenders of the national endowment for the arts."

Daly notes that some studies have shown that students who get a full education including a focus on the arts are more likely to graduate from high school. He also addresses GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's claim that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts if he were elected president.

"That is bad business, because every dollar spent by the federal government on the national endowment for the arts reaps them seven tax dollars in return. Now, those are odds you take to Vegas or Wall Street any day of the week. And if Mitt Romney knows anything about business, he would know that that is a good investment," he says.

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