CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Four Coloradans took their turn at the podium Tuesday and addressed the Democratic National Convention as it officially got underway here, underscoring again the importance of this “swingiest” of all swing states.
Ryan Case, the CU-Boulder student who introduced President Obama at last Sunday’s rally on the campus’s Norlin Quad, took the stage first, following a video telling his story.
“I wish you all could have met my parents,” Case told the audience following a video explaining that they both lacked health insurance and died from illness.
In his remarks, which lasted two minutes, Case focused on the president’s support for Pell grants, which he’s using now to finish college.
“There’s just no way I could pay for schol without the Pell grant funding President Obama doubled,” Case said. “Gov. Romney’s plan could reduce Pell grants for 10 million young people like me.”
Case is one of the ordinary people whose personal stories the Obama campaign is highlighting at the DNC in an effort to sharpen the contrast between their policies and Mitt Romney’s.
Maria Ciano, another Coloradan, is another. A former Republican, Ciano switched her party affiliation and became a Democrat in 2006 after the GOP embraced Personhood initiatives.
“Women back home feel very strongly about these issues just like I do,” Ciano told FOX31 Denver Tuesday. “I don’t know a woman, Republican or Democrat, who doesn’t feel like she should have control over her own family planning.”
Tuesday night, First Lady Michelle Obama is the headliner during primetime, but was set up by a long line of Democratic speakers that also included Boulder Congressman Jared Polis and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who took the stage in his trademark cowboy hat.
“Mitt Romney hasn’t walked in the shoes of ordinary Americans,” Salazar told the crowd after describing his hardscrabble upbringing in the San Luis Valley. “Barack Obama has walked with us.”
Polis, the gay millionaire who was elected to Congress in 2008, will speak for five minutes around 6:30 p.m. Mountain Time, an indication of his rising stature within the Party.
“I’ll be talking about unity and the need to come together and roll up our sleeves and work together, despite our differences,” Polis told FOX31 Denver Tuesday morning.
Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio told FOX31 Denver that all the speakers from the Centennial State underscore not just the state’s relevance in this election but the gains his party has made there over the past decade by running more moderate candidates.
“They all play to a varied audience, and I think that’s the importance of putting them on a national stage,” said Palacio. “Colorado is a critical state, but it’s also a model for how Democrats can win and have won by appealing to people in both parties.”
Seven Coloradans to speak at DNC
In total, seven Coloradans will speak during the three-day convention.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is scheduled to arrive in Charlotte Tuesday night, will address the convention Wednesday night in primetime, with the prominent speaking slot only adding to the buzz about a possible presidential bid in 2016.
Denver Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Colorado’s longest tenured member of Congress, will speak Wednesday afternoon between 3 and 4 p.m. Mountain Time.
Jason Crow, a Denver attorney and veteran who did three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, is also slated to address the DNC on Thursday, prior to President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at Bank of America Field.
More Colorado arrivals Tuesday
DeGette and Golden Congressman Ed Perlmutter arrive in Charlotte Tuesday night, as does Sen. Michael Bennet.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock arrived Monday night; and former Mayor Wellington Webb is also in town.
Also in Charlotte: Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia; state Reps. Dan Pabon and Crisanta Duran; state Sen. Michael Johnston, who is taking part in a panel Tuesday put on by Democrats For Education Reform; KBNO radio host Fernando Sergio; VISIT Denver’s Anthony Graves; former state lawmaker Polly Baca; Jim Carpenter, the chief of staff to former Gov. Bill Ritter; and ProgressNow founder Michael Huttner.
Democrats to adopt new Party platform
Also Tuesday as the convention got underway, delegates voted to adopt the official Democratic Party platform, which for the first time includes a plank of support for same-sex marriage.
Released Monday night, the platform lays out the party’s positions on everything from health care to lobbying reform and ending the war in Afghanistan.
Of note is the platform plank reaffirming President Obama’s unfulfilled pledge to close the prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, but backs away from a 2008 plank suggesting that terror suspects are entitled to a day in court.
“We are substantially reducing the population at Guantánamo Bay without adding to it. And we remain committed to working with all branches of government to close the prison altogether because it is inconsistent with our national security interests and our values,” the new platform says.