Golden boy Clinton adds his support
Former president Bill Clinton will lead the cheers as he nominates Barack Obama for a second White House term tonight in a bid to enhance the Democrats economic credibility.
Mr Clinton, who oversaw America's 1990s boom years, is hoping to counter the challenge of Mitt Romney, who still holds a lead among voters as the candidate best qualified to manage the still-struggling US economic recovery.
Overall, surveys find Americans evenly split on backing Mr Obama or Mr Romney in what looks to be the closest US presidential election in recent memory. While the vastly wealthy Mr Romney has an edge on the economy, Mr Obama holds a huge lead as the candidate seen as best able to relate to the needs of ordinary Americans.
And that was the message brought to the Charlotte convention hall by First Lady Michelle Obama on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention.
She declared that after nearly four years as president, her husband is still the man who drove a rusty car on their early dates, rescued a coffee table from the trash and knows the struggles of everyday Americans because he lived them in full.
With thunderstorms on the horizon, Mr Obama scrapped plans to deliver his Thursday night acceptance speech at a 74,000-seat outdoor arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. Instead, will accept the nomination indoors at the location where the Democratic convention business is being conducted. It holds far fewer people.
Aside from what was expected to be Mr Obama's soaring speech on Thursday night, convention goers and the politically attuned audience in front of television sets nationwide were most anticipating Mr Clinton's nominating address. It will mark a true healing of a difficult relationship between the former and current presidents who sparred, sometimes sharply, in the 2008 Democratic primaries, when Mr Clinton was supporting his wife Hillary's campaign for the party nomination.
But Mr Obama is heavily weighed down by more than 42 months of unemployment surpassing 8%, the longest such stretch since the end of the Second World War. No president since Franklin Roosevelt in the Great Depression has been re-elected with joblessness so high.
Mr Romney took a few days off from the campaign trail, preparing in Vermont for three debates with Mr Obama that could prove pivotal in the close election. But running mate Paul Ryan kept up his criticism of the Democrats, saying the convention's first day was "what you expect when you have a president who cannot run on his record."
Democrats hope to use the convention and its national television coverage to help Mr Obama recapture the hearts of Americans once drawn to his message of hope and change, but now weary after years of economic weakness and political squabbles.