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President Obama to Speak at Democratic National Convention

Aired September 6, 2012 - 17:59   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is a servant of today, but his true constituency is the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America is a future that each generation must enlarge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because this election is not about ideology, it is about confidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still believe in a place called hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I stand here tonight as my own man and I want you to know me for who I truly am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am John Kerry and I am reporting for duty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America, we cannot turn back, not with so much work to be done.



BLITZER: The final night of the Democratic National Convention now under way here in Charlotte, North Carolina. And we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Wolf Blitzer.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "AC 360": And I am Anderson Cooper. Now every minute of this week has been leading up to this very night and President Obama's speech as he makes his case for reelection.

BLITZER: And John Lewis, the congressman from Georgia, the historic civil rights leader is speaking right now, Anderson. Let's listen in.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: A recent Supreme Court ruling that (INAUDIBLE) racial discrimination on buses across the state line. We tested the waiting room, restroom facility

But here is Charlotte, North Carolina, a young African-American tried to get a shoe shine at the Greyhound bus station. He was arrested and taken to jail. On that same day, we continued on to Rock Hill, South Carolina, about 25 miles, where my seatmate, Albert Bigelow, and I tried to enter a white waiting room. We were met by an angry mob that beat us and left us lying in a pool of blood.

Some police officers came up and asked us whether we wanted to press charges. We said, "No, we come in peace, love and nonviolence."


LEWIS: We said our struggle was not against individuals, but against unjust laws and customs. Our goal was the true freedom for every American.

Since then, America has made a lot of progress. We are a different society than we were in 1961. And in 2008, we showed the world the true promise of America when we elected President Barack Obama.


LEWIS: A few years ago, a man from Rock Hill, inspired by President Obama's election, decided to come forward.

He came to my office in Washington and said, "I am one of the people who beat you. I want to apologize. Will you forgive me?"

I said, "I accept your apology."


LEWIS: He started crying. He gave me a hug. I hugged him back, and we both started crying.

This man and I don't want to go back. We don't want to go back. We want to move forward.

Brothers and sisters, do you want to go back?


LEWIS: Or do you want to keep America moving forward?


LEWIS: My dear friends, your vote is precious, almost sacred.

It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union.


LEWIS: Not too long ago, people stood in unmovable lines. They had to pass a so-called literacy test, pay a poll tax.

On one occasion, a man was asked to count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap. On another occasion, one was asked to count the jelly beans in a jar -- all to keep them from casting their ballot.

Today, it is unbelievable that there are Republican officials who are trying to stop some people from voting.


LEWIS: They are changing -- they are changing the rules, cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the vote.

The Republican leader in the Pennsylvania House even bragged that his state's new voter I.D. law is "going to allow Governor Romney to win the state."

That's not right. That's not fair. And that's not just.


LEWIS: And similar efforts have been made in Texas, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, and South Carolina.

I have seen this before. I lived this before. Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote.


LEWIS: And we have come too far together to ever turn back.

So, Democrats, we must not be silent. We must stand up, speak up and speak out.


LEWIS: We must march to the polls like never, ever before. We must come together and exercise our sacred right. And together, on November 6, we will reelect the man who will lead America forward, President Barack Obama.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Congressman John Lewis, the legendary civil rights leader, really, really getting this crowd excited here.

Wow, what a speech that was.

Beau Biden is joining us here now live. The Delaware attorney general happens to be the son of the vice president of the United States.

Your job tonight is, you're going to nominate your dad for a second term.

BEAU BIDEN, DELAWARE ATTORNEY GENERAL: That's right. I'm really looking forward to it. It is a great honor, great honor.

BLITZER: Do you think there are going to be any problems? You are pretty confident? You think the crowd with...


BIDEN: I did this one time last year -- or four years ago.


BLITZER: Give us a little preview. What do you hope to share with all of us, people watching here and around the world?

BIDEN: When I did it four years ago, I was leaving for Iraq.

And I asked the delegates here and the American people to be there for my dad. And they were. But really what I am going to talk about tonight is how he has been there for them, how he has been an incredible and exceptional leader in this country, a partner with the president.

BLITZER: You served a year in Iraq even as your dad was vice president. Right?

BIDEN: That's right. In fact, I will talk a little bit about him visiting Iraq when I was there on Fourth of July 2009.

BLITZER: You were with Delaware National Guard? Is that right?

BIDEN: I was.

I will give you a little preview. He came and did a naturalization ceremony, which I know you attended, which are moving whether they're in a federal district courthouse in America or even more moving in Iraq. And I saw this in Baghdad.

And it's something most Americans didn't see, when you see people who put on our uniform, put their name on their chest and the U.S. Army and go and fight a war for a country they're not even yet citizens of and become citizens while they're serving and fighting for our country.

BLITZER: Have you been talking to your dad about what he will say during the 9:00 p.m. Eastern hour tonight?

BIDEN: Well, he is going to be talking about what an exceptional commander in chief the president has been, and how he has a bird's-eye view, a partnership with this president.

Look, there's no one that's been closer to the president to watch him make the decisions he's made since the moment he took the oath of office. You will see a very personal perspective of what this president has done for this country.

BLITZER: He's going to share some insights into what he sees this president behind the scenes, what he sees is going on?

BIDEN: One hundred percent, what he has seen at his side for the last three-and-a-half years in terms of what they inherited and what they have done and what they will achieve in the next four years.

BLITZER: You have heard all the suggestions that 20`6, your dad will be all that old. What is he, about 74 years old? Is that realistic to think he might run for president in 2016?

BIDEN: November 6 is the only date we are focused on in the Biden household, making sure the president of the United States is reelected.

BLITZER: What about you, attorney general of Delaware?

BIDEN: I love being attorney general. It is the greatest honor. Being attorney general of Delaware now for six years is the greatest honor.

Actually, the greatest honor of my life, quite frankly -- I have told you this before -- is being a major. It is being in the military, it's wearing the uniform.

BLITZER: Are you going to share -- because we know you and your dad, you went through some real serious issues way, way back when your mom passed away and all of that. Are you going to get into a little bit of that tonight?

BIDEN: I am not going to be get into that, because my mom -- I have had two moms, you know. And my mom is actually going to introduce my dad tonight.

You are going to see my mom, who is a teacher at Northern Virginia Community College.

BLITZER: Dr. Jill Biden.

BIDEN: Dr. Jill Biden to talk about it.

I have been a blessed child. I have had a mom, two moms, and a sister and a brother who are extraordinary. If I am half as good a dad to my two kids who will be here tonight as my mom and dad have been to me, my kids are going to be in good shape.

BLITZER: Because I still remember the stories -- he took that train, that Amtrak from Washington, D.C., Union Station, to Wilmington, Delaware, every single day. That was a long commute.

BIDEN: We did a great event in Green Bay, Wisconsin, before we came out at the train museum.

And my kids were running around. My dad stayed around afterwards to look at all these beautiful trains they have in Green Bay. It is part of his journey. He has been on that train back and forth, making sure he comes home at night, tucks us into bed, have dinner with us and be there when we wake up in the middle of the night with a bad dream, or just want to get in bed with them and be there and have a bowl of cereal in the morning.

BLITZER: Beau Biden, we will look forward to your remarks later tonight. We will look forward to your mom's remarks, your dad's remarks. You got the whole Biden family up on the stage behind us. Thanks very much for coming in.

BIDEN: Thanks very much, Wolf.

BLITZER: Appreciate it, the Delaware attorney general.

We are awaiting the president of the United States. He will be speaking obviously later tonight. What is he going to say? Stay with us.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All eyes on President Obama when he takes the podium here in Charlotte just about four hours from now. A lot before then.

Our CNN correspondents, Dana Bash, Brianna Keilar, and Kate Bolduan are down on the arena floor.

Let's start with CNN's Dana Bash.

Dana, what are you hearing tonight?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we have been talking to Obama officials pretty much all day as they have been trying to tee up the president's speech.

What they insist is that he is going to give more specifics than perhaps we have heard from others about what he will do in a second term. Remember, the Democrats were pretty hard on Mitt Romney last week because he did not give a lot of specifics about what he would do as president.

They insist that he is going to give concrete, achievable things in his speech, and that by the end of his speech, the American people, not just Democrats here in the arena who are out there watching, but everybody will have a better sense of the kind of president he would be and the kind of goals and what he hopes to achieve in the second term.

The other thing we're going to be watching for is the vice president. You just heard Beau Biden, the vice president's son, speaking with Wolf Blitzer, giving us a little bit of what we're hearing as well, which is that he is going to be a character witness of the professional sort.

We heard Michelle Obama a couple days ago talk about President Obama as a husband and as a father and so forth. What Joe Biden will do is talk about what he is like as a leader, give anecdotes about tough some decisions he has made along the way. That's the kind of preview we have been given of those two key speeches. Of course, most important is the president accepting the nomination.

COOPER: And, Dana, Mary J. Blige is taking the stage. Let's listen in. (MUSIC)

MARY J. BLIGE, MUSICIAN: Thank you. Thank you so much.


BLIGE: Hey. Thank you so much. All right.

So now that it's been established that we are family, let's make this into a family affair and get it crunk for President Obama for four more years. Come on, make some noise. Make some noise.



BLIGE: Thank you.

COOPER: The one and only Mary J. Blige has got everybody on their feet here in the auditorium tonight.

We're getting the first excerpts from President Obama's speech tonight. You will hear them right after the break.


BLITZER: Mary J. Blige was fabulous on the stage tonight. She's with Kate Bolduan right now -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am here with recording artist Mary J. Blige.

You just wrapped up your performance. You have also performed in front of sold-out crowds. Any different?

BLIGE: This is definitely different, because it is our president.

And I just feel so blessed to be a part of this again I sang at the inauguration. To have him call me back and request Mary J. Blige again, it just means so much, because this is the man that is, you know, in control of our country. You know, he is helping us to figure out how to help ourselves.

And I think it is wonderful, the message. And I am just happy, I'm really happy that I am here. I feel blessed, you know?

BOLDUAN: You have been a longtime and vocal supporter of President Obama. How do you grade him after four years?

In a recent interview, he gave himself an incomplete. What grade would you give President Obama after his first term?

BLIGE: I would say -- I would give him an A., because he is a human being that got tossed a lot of mess. And with the mess he was tossed, I think he did a great job, seriously. Like, he is only one man, you know? And he has -- he is really, really smart with what he did. He took all of the mess and made it into an ongoing process of fixing -- and he's going to fix everything. He can't do everything by himself. I think he did a great job with what he got.

BOLDUAN: A lot of people were asking me as we were coming over here, you have -- one of your big hits is "No More Drama."

Have you thought of suggesting in the last two months ahead of the general election suggesting as the campaign theme song for President Obama, "No More Drama"?

BLIGE: "No More Drama"?

For anyone that is going through drama, "No More Drama" is the perfect theme song. Yes, just for people to just chill out, and let the man do his job, yes, no more drama. Leave President Obama alone. Let him finish his work.

BOLDUAN: Mary J. Blige, thank you so much for your time, a wonderful performance this evening.

BLIGE: Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you -- back to you.

BLITZER: Kate, thanks very much. And thank her on behalf of all of us. We really enjoyed her performance.

Let's a little bit dig deeper right now into what the president of the United States will be saying.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is here with me.

You're getting some excerpts. They're already releasing a little bit of what he's going to tell us.


First of all, Democratic sources tell me that the speech will be a largely positive speech in which he will talk about his last three- and-a-half years in office and some of the challenges he has faced, but go into more detail about how he plans to tackle it in the second term.

You can see it in this one excerpt I am about to read. He says -- he will say in part: "I won't pretend the path that I'm on" -- here we go. This is the second one.

He says: "Know this, America. Our problems can be solved, our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder" than the Republicans', he is suggesting -- "but it leads to a better place. And I'm asking you to choose that future."

It goes on to say: "I'm asking you to rally around a set of goals for our country," and he lists goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security and the deficit. We don't have a graphic of this, but at the bottom of the excerpts is a list of some of his goals, and he says, for example, create one million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016 in manufacturing, on national security, invest in the economy with the money we're no longer spending on war.

The case they're trying to make is that the Republicans said they were going to tackle the hard decisions, but the Democrats argue, in their convention, the Republicans didn't specify what hard choices they will tackle and how, and they will make the argument that in this speech, the president will specify the hard choices he's making.

Don't expect a full second-term agenda, but this is the kind of details he will lay out.

BLITZER: And he goes into specifics in terms of what he says by the end of the second term if he is reelected he is going to have. He is going to double exports by the end of 2014, cut oil net imports in half by 2020, support 600,000 natural gas jobs by the end of the decade.

Are you surprised, as our chief White House correspondent, that in a speech like this tonight he is going to outline these and several other specific agenda items, goals that he is setting for himself?

YELLIN: It is unusual perhaps for a convention speech, but because the president's particular challenge is to show Americans that he understands the problem the nation is facing in the economy and that he knows how to tackle it, this they believe is the way to convey that message, that he is up to the challenge and the ultimate goal for him is to show that he is the only person who really could take on the next four years, that they want him to leave this stage I believe with the viewers thinking no one else could fill those shoes.

BLITZER: So this is not really a stump speech? We're not going to hear any blistering attacks by name specifically against Mitt Romney?

YELLIN: Not from the president and also not from Vice President Biden.

That's unusual. Vice President Biden has sort of been the guy who does the read meat. And I am told that tonight he will draw what we call contrasts in this business, sort of more subtle distinctions, but will not go on, as you say, the blistering attack against Mitt Romney.

BLITZER: And the reason -- what's the theory behind that?

YELLIN: The theory is that being negative diminishes both men, and by being positive, it seems more presidential.

And there have been a series of speakers leading up to today who have been able to be negative -- be negative, and that frees up both Vice President Biden and the president to assume the presidential commander in chief position and stay more positive.

BLITZER: Take the high road. All right, Jessica, thanks, good work.

We're going to be digging deeper on this speech. Our political panel is standing by. So is Anderson Cooper. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the Democratic National Convention. I'm joined with our panel. CNN chief national correspondent John King joins me. Chief political analyst Gloria Borger is here, CNN contributors, Democratic strategist Paul Begala, former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, along with senior political analyst, David Gergen. Let's talk about what you're expecting from the president's speech tonight -- Paul.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What I was hoping for is what it looks like we might be getting, which is an agenda.

COOPER: Specific items about the next four years?

BEGALA: Yes. And there's sort of a facile thing that says the president is very eloquent but he doesn't do -- get in the weeds. I went back and actually read some of his speeches. Certainly, State of the Union gets in the weeds, but even some of his better campaign speeches like last convention speech, he gives some specifics.

This time is more important than ever. He's got to give us an agenda forward. He's given us in the excerpts they've already released five very clear, specific goals on manufacturing, energy, education, national security and the deficit. So, so far so good from my perspective. This is what he needs.

COOPER: Are they goals that appeal to folks in the center, to independents, to that small number of people who are still out there?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Anderson, with all due respect, it's the wrong question. Are they goals that he can achieve, that he has policies to achieve? Because you know what? We've heard so many of these same goals before from President Obama, and he hasn't fulfilled them.

Take one that he announced in the speech that he just distributed. He promises in the speech tonight to cut net oil imports in half by 2020, 8 years from now. Here's what he said four years ago. We can line the tape up; we can find it. At his convention in 2008 he said, "For the sake of security, for our economy, I will set a clear goal as president: in ten years we'll end our dependence on oil in the Middle East." That was four years ago.

BEGALA: Excuse me. Can I interject a fact, though?

FLEISCHER: Four years later... BEGALA: Can I interject a fact?

FLEISCHER: Four years later, he hasn't done it. He's got six years to go. He's just resetting the goalpost and not accomplishing any of the promises that he's been making.

BEGALA: For the first time since 1997, this year, America is importing less than 50 percent of its energy. So, so far so good.

FLEISCHER: That's because...


BEGALA: Production...

FLEISCHER: It has nothing to do with that.

BEGALA: Excuse me for talking about something I actually know something about.

FLEISCHER: Is that right?

BEGALA: Domestic production is at an all-time high or higher than when an oil man was president of the United States.

FLEISCHER: Paul, the issue is we have reliance -- the national economy is so weak, we don't have the need for it the way we did in the past.

BEGALA: I say he did it, and then you say, "Well, it's not -- because we didn't need it."

FLEISCHER: He made a series of promises that he has not fulfilled. He did the same four years ago.

COOPER: David, what do you think?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We're obviously going to have a squabble, aren't we?

I think the most interesting thing about the speech that we've seen so far is that he clearly wants to make this an election about a choice about the future, what path do you want to take into the future. He wants to avoid making this election a referendum on the past, on the last four years. He wants to make it about the next four years.

That's smart. It's smart politics, but the Republicans will not accept that as being what this election is fully about. It is also about making a judgment about his performance in office.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But here's the thing that -- Romney left him a real opening, because Mitt Romney's speech at his convention was not full of specifics. So if you want to talk about the future, there is a vacuum there that the president can now fill. Because Bill Clinton talked about the past. Obviously, the Obama campaign wants to make this a choice election, not a referendum on the economy. So if it's a choice and you didn't get a lot of specifics from Mitt Romney because he was busy introducing himself, right, you didn't get a lot of specifics, so the president can now come out and say, "I want to do these things."

By the way, the deficit issue is something he said before. It's essentially adopting Simpson-Bowles, which he didn't adopt in the first place.

GERGEN: And he hasn't adopted yet.

BORGER: He hasn't adopted yet. But it is saying reduce the deficit by more than 4 trillion over the next decade, which is effectively what Simpson-Bowles said.

FLEISCHER: He promised he would cut it in half by the end of his first term. That's my point.

BORGER: Right. Right. I'm not saying he's adopting Simpson- Bowles, but I'm saying he has said this before.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is he believable? Is he credible when he makes promises? Will people listen to his promises? It's a big challenge. And that's part of the message.

I find the big arc of this fascinating. Four years ago he was the face and the voice for change. Now he has to come in and ask the American people don't change. Give me more time. But he can't say stay the course, which is why he has to give some different -- some specifics.

When you look at these things, his supporters out there as we go through these are going to criticize us for doing this, but Gloria is right. Four trillion dollar deficit cut, that's what he was trying to negotiate with John Boehner. So it's not a new target. For him to restate it tonight, that's fine.

He says create 1 million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016. The Democrats panned Mitt Romney's promise of 12 million new jobs in four years by saying the Congressional Budget Office says if we just get slightly better growth, that's what the economy will produce naturally. So it's good, I think -- the voters deserve some specifics from their political leaders in both parties. That is not a gang buster pledge in the sense that if any president can get decent economic growth, those are the numbers we follow.

FLEISCHER: Here is the task Republicans have to accomplish after tonight's speech. They have to remind people of all the previous promises. There were so many in the 2008 convention, including, "I'm going to lower your premiums for those of you who have health insurance." No one's having their premiums lowered who has health insurance.

He promised -- he promised he would renew diplomacy with Iran four years ago. Thankfully, that's one promise he was not able to fulfill.

He said he'd eliminate capital gains for small businesses four years ago. This president has a long track record of making specific promises that he cannot and does not fulfill.

BEGALA: When he does, Republicans claim he didn't. All across America, consumers are getting refunds back from their health- insurance companies because of President Obama's Obama care, and health inflation is at its lowest level in at least 10 or 20 years because of Obama care. So he made that pledge; he's kept that promise.

GERGEN: I would suggest some of this on the specifics, we ought to wait to see the rest of the speech. We don't know. He's promising to reduce the deficit.

COOPER: The bar was set pretty high last night in terms of specifics delivered in a folksy way. It's a tough act for him to follow.

GERGEN: Sure. I think the bar has been raised by the previous two nights, but he's also been set up better than any candidate I've ever seen come in on a nomination. I mean, Michelle Obama sort of gave people a sense of heart about him. And Bill Clinton appealed to their heads. And now he really -- he's in a position, if he delivers a great speech today, he's very, very strong.

BORGER: Here is one other thing, that Bill Clinton opened the door to bipartisanship, talking about it an awful lot last night. Will President Obama walk through and say, "You know what? I can work with Republicans over the next four years"?

COOPER: I was just looking out at this hall. It is packed already in here. Earlier, we're told the doors were shut down; the lines are long for folks trying to still get in. A lot of anticipation about this speech. We're going to bring you more details ahead.

Also, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will be speaking live next. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Let's go right to Kate Bolduan. I think Kate can fairly say you've got a friend with you. Who's with you?

BOLDUAN: Well, Wolf, I do. I am here with James Taylor, recording artist, obviously well known to all of our viewers. He is going to come over to join me for a couple of questions.

You performed earlier today. You are also a longtime and vocal supporter of President Obama. There's a lot of talk of kind of the high bar set for him this evening in his -- in this big speech. What do you think is the test set forth for the president tonight?

JAMES TAYLOR, MUSICIAN: I think he has to bring us together. He has to -- he has to outline the mission that we Democrats who want to see him in office for a second term, what we need to do to help him stay in office. I think he has to communicate with the American people about what he plans to do.

BOLDUAN: And you're going to be campaigning for the president the next two months as well -- as you told me, as well as the Massachusetts Senate candidate.

When you are out there campaigning for him, performing in front of crowds for him, how do you make the case for another four years for President Obama? People are -- the economy is rough, people are still hurting out there.

TAYLOR: I know, and that's -- my main message is just a positive one. I, in my experience -- and it's a deep one, goes back to 1956, my experience of presidential elections and politics -- this is my favorite president, bar none. I think he's an intelligent public servant. He's focused. He's level-headed. He's a cool hand on the helm, and I think that he is a deeply compassionate man. I just -- I really am fiercely proud of my country for electing this man.

BOLDUAN: Real quickly, I hear that you are sitting with the first lady in the VIP box this evening. Has she given any hints on what the president is going to be talking about tonight?

TAYLOR: No. None whatsoever. We haven't spoken up until now. We -- we've done a couple of events together, some rallies together, but I haven't seen her since we got here to Charlotte.

BOLDUAN: James Taylor, thank you very much.

TAYLOR: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Wolf, I know you are very jealous, because this is one of your favorite musicians -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He is, "How Sweet It Is." All right. Thanks very much.

I want to go right to the podium. The mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, is the new chairman of the -- new president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER, PHILADELPHIA: It matters to Olivia. It matters to our classmates. It matters to all of our public school students in Philadelphia. And that's what matters.

To Mitt Romney, education is a luxury. As governor, he vetoed universal pre-K. In his first year, K-12 schools saw dramatic cuts that led to teacher layoffs. He failed his students. What has he learned from all this? All the wrong lessons. He failed the education test and now wants a promotion.

His budget would mean fewer teachers and bigger class sizes. It would mean fewer Pell Grants, costing our country millions of college graduates. And he wants to put big banks back in the student loan business.

And just ask him about affording college, like one high schooler did in Ohio. Romney's answer? Shop around.

Here are some wiser words from a great Philadelphian, Ben Franklin. He said, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." Sounds like Mitt Romney could stand to learn a thing or two about investing.

Our economy grows from the middle out, not the top down. We're all in this together. I learned that lesson growing up in West Philly. When I shoveled the sidewalk, my parents didn't let me stop with our house. They told me to keep shoveling all the way to the corner. I had a responsibility to my community, and that's what being mayor is all about. We take care of our own. We keep our neighbors safe, clear the snow from their streets, educate their kids. We get stuff done.

And for Barack Obama, that's what being president is all about. He knows coming together as a nation starts by coming together as neighbors. That's why, after graduating, Barack Obama went to a Chicago neighborhood to help jobless workers in the shadow of a closed-down steel mill.

After Mitt Romney graduated, he became a corporate buyout specialist who closed down steel mills. Whose values do you want in the Oval Office? Well, I know who I want, and I know who Philly wants. And I know who Pennsylvania wants, and I know who you want. And I know who the middle class needs: President Barack Obama!


GRAPHIC: Gay Marriage.

GRAPHIC: President Obama repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could not be prouder of the work we have done on behalf of the LGBT community.

GRAPHIC: Affirmed his personal support for marriage equality.

OBAMA: It's no secret that progress has been incredibly difficult. It's about our capacity to love and commit to one another. It's about whether or not we value as a society that love and commitment. It's about our common humanity and our willingness to walk in someone else's shoes.

Imagine worrying about a spouse in the hospital with the added fear that you'll have to produce a legal document just to comfort the person you love.

Imagine the pain of losing a partner of decades, and then discovering that the law treats you like a stranger. We still have a long way to go, but we will get there. My expectation is that when you look back on these years, you will see a time in which we put a stop to discrimination against gays and lesbians. You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognized relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman.

You will see a nation that's valuing and cherishing these families as we build a more perfect union. Where, no matter what you look like or where you come from or who you love, you can dream big dreams.


ANNOUNCER: Please welcome Zach Wahls of Iowa City, Iowa.

ZACH WAHLS, SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ADVOCATE: Thank you, Charlotte. My name is Zach Wahls. Thank you. My name is Zach Wahls. I'm a sixth generation Iowan, an Eagle scout, and I was raised by my two moms, Jackie and Terry.

Now, people always want to know what it's like having lesbian parents. So let you in on a little secret. I'm awesome at putting the seat down.

Otherwise, we're like any other family. We eat dinner. We go to church. We have chores. But some people don't see it that way. When I was 12, watching the 2004 Republican convention, I remember politicians talking about protecting marriage from families like mine.

Now, supporting a view of marriage as between a man and woman isn't radical. For many people, it's a matter of faith. We respect that. Watching that convention on TV, though, I felt confused, frustrated. Why didn't they think my family was a real family?

Governor Romney says he's against same-sex marriage because every child deserves a mother and a father. I think every child deserves a family as loving and as committed as mine. Because the sense of family comes from the commitment we make to each other to work through the hard times so we can enjoy the good ones. It comes from the love that finds us. That's what makes a family. Mr. Romney, my family is just as real as yours.

President Obama understands that. He supports my moms' marriage. President Obama put his political future on the line to do what was right. Without his leadership, we wouldn't be here.

President Obama is fighting for our families. All our families. He has our backs. And, ladies and gentlemen, we have his.

Thank you, Charlotte, and thank you, President Obama.

BLITZER: Getting a huge, rousing round of applause here at the Democratic National Convention. Zach Wahls speaking on behalf of his support for gay marriage. Obviously, a sensitive issue. Gabby Giffords, by the way, Caroline Kennedy, Scarlett Johansson, they are standing by. Much more of our special coverage from the Democratic National Convention right after this.


BLITZER: Some excitement of a different kind at the Democratic National Convention. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just another convention speech. The cameras panned around, looking for interesting shots before cutting back to the speaker. Wait a minute, wasn't that Eva Longoria petting Jessica Alba, petting her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we are coming back, not as fast as we want or need...

MOOS: What we need is to know what that was all about. "I am so turned on right now," tweeted one guy. "It's like I dreamed it and it came true."

Someone tweeting under the name Chloe the dog whined, "I wish she would pet me like that."

And to think that mere moments before Piers Morgan was making Longoria cough up a high heel.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look at the size of these.


MORGAN: Absolutely extraordinary.

LONGORIA: I have to stand taller here. There's a lot of important people.

MOOS: But importance pales compared to what the Web site BuzzFeed called "easily the hottest moment of this year's Democratic convention."

Though it's got competition from this. What Gawker called "a tender bro hug" between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, consisting of a hug accompanied by six back slaps, a rub and one more slap for good measure. Still, that wasn't petting.

Jessica Alba started it by pointing at her arm. Chances are these two were discussing, say, a new skin cream or laser hair removal or maybe a tennis injury.

LONGORIA: The energy here is incredible.

MOOS: Jessica sent out a Twitpic posing with Eva. We got a hold of Jessica's husband, Cash Warren, but neither he nor any P.R. reps got back to us with what instigated the petting. (on camera) Now, Eva Longoria is a political activist. She's an Obama campaign co-chair. The convention is serious business for her. Stop it. Get your minds out of the gutter. If you're that desperate, watch reruns of "Desperate Housewives."

LONGORIA: For God's sakes, was it this? Or was it this?

MOOS (voice-over): This isn't a convention of desperate voyeurs.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: And CNN's coverage of the Democratic National Convention continues right now.


JIMMY CARTER (D), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president is a servant of today, but his true constituency is the future.

WALTER MONDALE (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America is a future that each generation must enlarge.

MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because this election is not about ideology. It's about confidence.

BILL CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I still believe in a place called Hope.

AL GORE (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I stand here tonight as my own man and I want you to know me for who I truly am.

JOHN KERRY (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty.

OBAMA: America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done.


BLITZER: Tonight, President Obama bets his likability against the struggling economy.

COOPER: The pressure is on for specifics about where he'll take the country and his top priorities for a second term.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He rose from childhood struggles to the highest office in the land.