Democrats kick off National Convention with speech from first lady

By Gwenn Barney

First Lady Michelle Obama took the podium on the first night of the Democratic National…First Lady Michelle Obama took the podium on the first night of the Democratic National Convention Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., to remind voters of how much her husband cares about the country.

“Because for Barack, it’s not about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives,” she said.

The first day of the convention included dozens of speeches from important political players in the Democratic party, including keynote speaker and San Antonio, Texas, mayor Julián Castro, former White House Chief of Staff and current mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel and first lady Michelle Obama.

President Barack Obama is expected to be selected for and to accept the Democratic presidential nomination over the next two days to face off against Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the presidential election slated to take place Nov. 6.

Michelle Obama served as the day’s final speaker. She focused her speech on her husband’s personal character — his family history and role as a father — as well as his political stances on everything from health care to the economy.

The first lady also devoted a portion of her oration to discuss her husband’s position on higher education.

“Believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage. We were so young, so in love, and so in debt.” she said. “That’s why Barack has fought so hard to increase student aid and keep interest rates down, because he wants every young person to fulfill their promise and be able to attend college without a mountain of debt.”

The first lady concluded the final speech of day one with a simple directive.

“We must once again come together and stand together for the man we can trust to keep moving this great country forward — my husband, our president, President Barack Obama.”

In the keynote address last night, Castro emphasized President Obama’s connection to the middle class, what he called “the engine of our economic road.”

He described this as a connection the Republican party doesn’t share.

“Mitt Romney, quite simply, doesn’t get it,” he said. “A few months ago, he visited a university in Ohio and gave the students there a little entrepreneurial advice. ‘Start a business,’ he said. But how? ‘Borrow money if you have to from your parents,’ he told them. Gee — why didn’t I think of that?”

Rahm Emanuel preceded the first lady’s speech. He spent a significant portion of his offering describing Barack Obama’s efforts to resurrect the auto industry, bringing the president’s opponent in the upcoming election into the discussion.

“Where Mitt Romney was willing to turn his back on Akron, Dayton and Toledo, Ohio, the president said, ‘I’ve got your back,’” he said.

Emanuel also presented to the audience President Obama’s work to bring home American troops in Iraq and his “Race to the Top” initiative for school reform as more of the president’s achievements.

He punctuated his recounting of each of the president’s accomplishments in office with the saying, “That was the change we believed in. That was the change we fought for. That was the change President Obama delivered.”

On Wednesday, delegates from across the U.S. and their related districts and territories will officially vote for which candidate they would like to represent the Democratic party in the upcoming election. A candidate must earn 2,778 votes to be declared the party candidate. Running unopposed in most states, Barack Obama is expected to handily win the necessary votes.