CONVENTION WATCH: Paging Betty White, Ryan rivals

CONVENTION WATCH: Paging Betty White, Ryan rivals

(AP) CONVENTION WATCH: Paging Betty White, Ryan rivals
CHARLOTTE, N.C.
Convention Watch shows you the 2012 political conventions through the eyes of Associated Press journalists. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.

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PAGING BETTY WHITE

With all respect to Clint Eastwood, some Democrats want Betty White to make their day.

Some Democrats are leading an effort to bring in the actress to speak at this week’s Democratic National Convention _ essentially to serve as a counter to the role that Clint Eastwood played last week in helping to introduce Mitt Romney at the Republican convention.

A petition at the website change.org says that Eastwood “gave a bad name to older Americans everywhere with his absurd and awkward-to-watch introduction of Governor Romney.”

Supporters of the effort are encouraged to go to a Facebook page entitled “Bring Betty White to the DNC.” More than 33,000 people have liked the page so far.

White told The Associated Press in May that she normally stays away from politics because she doesn’t want to alienate fans, but this year she wants to see Obama re-elected. There’s no indication yet that the efforts to recruit White will bear fruit.

_ Kevin Freking _ Twitter http://twitter.com/APkfreking

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PRIDE ACROSS THE POND

Stephanie Stewart flies the red, white and blue _ on both sides of the pond. A delegate for the Democrats Abroad contingent at the convention in Charlotte, N.C., the Londoner holds dual citizenship. She has family in Delaware but votes in New York, since that’s the last place she lived stateside.

The convention caps a big year for her _ first Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, then the London Olympics, now this.

Stewart’s group points to swing states and tight races such as the 2008 elections of Alaska Sen. Mark Begich and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken as places where Americans overseas can make a difference.

_ Joe Danborn

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RYAN’S RIVALS

The Paul Ryan opposition is in full force at the Democratic National Convention.

Vice President Joe Biden arrived Tuesday. Rob Zerban, who hopes to beat Ryan in a race for Congress, is in Charlotte, too.

Wisconsin law permits Ryan, a seven-term Republican congressman, to run for vice president and re-election simultaneously.

Zerban, a Wisconsin delegate, is getting hugs and handshakes as he meets fellow Democrats. He’s been invited to participate in panel discussions, but unlike Biden he won’t appear on the convention main stage. Still, Zerban said it’s a prime chance to connect with movers and shakers in the party.

_ Brian Bakst _ Twitter http://twitter.com/Stowydad

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JOBS, JOBS AND JOBS

Campaign 2012 is all about jobs.

The next unemployment report from the Labor Department comes out Friday morning, but President Barack Obama typically gets a peek the night before.

So will the president be privy to that closely watched data when he addresses the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night?

White House and campaign aides say they don’t know.

Here’s what to expect either way: Economists believe the report will show job gains of around 135,000 or so, but they expect the unemployment rate to hang at 8.3 percent. Anything under 100,000 new jobs would raise concerns that hiring is slowing as the economy sputters. Or the president could get a post-speech bounce if the figure tops 175,000.

There will be two more jobs reports before the election: Oct. 5 and Nov. 2.

_ Christopher S. Rugaber _ Twitter http://twitter.com/ChrisRugaber

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BEER POLITICS

Vote for Barack Obama. You might get a beer.

The president of the United States stopped at a fire and rescue station in Norfolk, Va., on Tuesday as his convention began in Charlotte, N.C. Obama presented White House-brewed beer to the battalion chief and four firefighters.

Though the beer didn’t have a label, the White House says it was a mix of bottles of honey ale, regular ale and dark ale. The Obama White House has been dabbling in homebrews of late, and it released a recipe over the weekend.

One of the firefighters at Norfolk Fire Rescue Station 14, presumably on duty, asked Obama: “Should we wait until tomorrow to drink it?”

AP White House Correspondent Ben Feller put it this way Saturday: “As a political symbol, beer is not just about beer. It is about the likable, accessible, regular guy who relates to life in the real world and enjoys popping a cold one. Sure, taste counts, but so do votes.”

_ Matthew Daly _ Twitter http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC

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MAKING THE GRADE

Grading metaphors were all the rage on Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention, which also happens to be the first day of school for a lot of kids.

It all began after President Barack Obama gave himself an “incomplete” when an interviewer asked him to do a self-assessment of his performance on the economy.

Republicans were quick to pounce.

Obama adviser Robert Gibbs, appearing on MSNBC, said an incomplete makes sense because the nation still has “a long way to go to get back to the type of economic security that middle class families expect in this country.”

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, appearing on Fox, gave Obama an “A for effort. I give him an A for making sure Americans are better off today than they were four years ago.”

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said “an incomplete and a desire to do more is far better than a failing grade.”

She awarded Republicans a “failing grade” _ and faulted them for “bad study habits” and “rotten ideas,” too.

_ Nancy Benac _ Twitter http://twitter.com/nbenac

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AND FOR THOSE AT HOME …

When he speaks Thursday at the Democratic National Convention, President Barack Obama wants supporters who didn’t trek to Charlotte to feel like they’re part of the action.

His campaign blasted out invitations Tuesday to neighborhood watch parties that promote the gatherings as a chance to “tune in to the big night and be part of the discussion about the next steps for getting out the vote in your hometown.”

If that’s not enticing enough, the Obama campaign says the watch parties will include an online, pre-speech show hosted by actor Kal Penn that features exclusive interviews with first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

_ Brian Bakst _ Twitter http://twitter.com/Stowydad

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`BE CLEARER’

_ Josh Lederman _ Twitter http://twitter.com/JoshLedermanAP

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BRACKETOLOGY DEBT

President Barack Obama campaigned at Norfolk State in Virginia on Tuesday, and he told a friendly crowd there that they owe him for lousing up his predictions in the NCAA brackets last spring.

What would be a fitting payback? How about, say, delivering Virginia for the Democrats in November?

Norfolk State was a No. 15 seed in the tournament, and beat second-seeded Missouri 86-84 in the second round.

_ Nancy Benac _ Twitter http://twitter.com/nbenac

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THE ICK FACTOR

President Barack Obama has been using some vivid imagery lately to discuss the national political dynamic.

He’s talked about breaking the fever of partisan sniping in Washington. And he’s speculated that his re-election might help end the political stalemate in Washington, much like “popping a blister.”

About that latter description … Even deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter called it “disgusting.” She spoke during a panel discussion with ABC News and Yahoo! News

_ Nancy Benac _ Twitter http://twitter.com/nbenac

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BY THE NUMBERS

Some numbers to ponder as the Democratic National Convention begins in Charlotte, N.C.:

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_The Democratic National Committee says there are 10,000 volunteers, 6,000 convention delegates and 15,000 members of the media expected in Charlotte this week.

_Barack Obama will need votes from 2,777 delegates to win the nomination (the 5,963 total delegates includes alternates).

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_ Julie Pace and Stephen Ohlemacher _ Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and http://twitter.com/stephenatap

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WATCH THE TRACTOR

Even the contender for the highest office in the land sometimes has to wait.

Mitt Romney’s motorcade, en route to the home of former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey in West Windsor, Vt., on Tuesday morning, got briefly waylaid _ by a tractor.

Romney’s motorcade was winding its way through the mountains, driving past red barns and horse farms and leaving the highways behind in favor of gravel roads that often carried the cars far out of range of any cell phone signal. At one point, the motorcade came upon the tractor, slowing it to a stop before the tractor got out of the way.

Healey’s home is outside of any actual town. Woodstock, Vt., where reporters traveling with him will be staying, is about 8 miles away.

_ Kasie Hunt _ Twitter http://twitter.com/kasie

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WEATHER WATCH

Republicans had a hurricane to contend with during their national convention last week in Florida.

Now it’s the Democrats’ turn to fret about the weather.

They’re keeping a close eye on the forecast in Charlotte, where President Barack Obama is scheduled to accept his party’s nomination Thursday night at an outdoor football stadium with 74,000 seats.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina says the president’s convention speech Thursday will go on “rain or shine” at the outdoor Bank of America Stadium _ but there’s still some wiggle room.

That could change if the weather conditions would put people at risk, Messina said during a panel discussion with ABC News and Yahoo! News.

_ Nancy Benac _ Twitter http://twitter.com/nbenac


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