Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • Rep. John Lewis says GOP looking to ‘suppress the vote’

    Democratic Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights movement leader, bluntly accused Republicans on Thursday of trying to "suppress the vote" of those who support President Barack Obama. In a passionate speech to the Democratic National Convention, Lewis compared that effort to "unjust laws and customs" in the past that were designed to make African-Americans second-class citizens.

    "In 2008, we showed the world the true promise of America when we elected President Barack Obama," Lewis declared. "Brothers and sisters, do you want to go back? Or do you want to keep America moving forward? My dear friends, your vote is precious, almost sacred.

    "Today it is unbelievable that there are Republican officials still trying to stop some people from voting," he thundered. "They are changing the rules, cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the vote."

    Republicans who champion measures like requirements that voters show picture ID before they can cast their ballots say that such laws are necessary to curb voter fraud. And they say it is easy to obtain government-issued picture ID. But studies show that voter fraud is rare and that these kinds of requirements could disproportionately affect poor, elderly and African-American voters in November.

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  • Barney Frank mocks ‘Myth Romney’ on jobs

    Rep. Barney Frank (Jason Reed/Reuters)

    Tart-tongued Democratic Rep. Barney Frank mocked Mitt Romney's claims that his private-sector success makes him the better candidate to revive the economy, deriding the Republican candidate as "Myth Romney" in a speech to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday.

    Frank joked that Romney, who served as governor of Frank's home state of Massachusetts, was portraying himself as a "superhero of job creation" and a "wizard of private-sector financial engineering."

    "What we should have had as governor was Myth Romney. Myth Romney is a wonderful private-sector executive" who successfully harnessed his skills to foster job growth in Massachusetts, Frank said.

    "We would have seen that in Massachusetts, [but] in fact the record is that during his term our job growth was only about 1.4 percent, which was a quarter of the national average," Frank said, adding that the state ranked 47th in job growth nationally.

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  • James Taylor: ‘I’m an old white guy and I love Barack Obama’

    Musician James Taylor helped to open the final night of the Democratic National Convention while offering a critique of campaign coverage.

    "I've been watching the coverage," Taylor told the crowd after performing "Carolina in My Mind," a song that had delegates swaying and singing along on the floor of the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. "I don't get it. I mean: I'm an old white guy and I love Barack Obama. They must have got that one wrong."

    Taylor then played "You've Got a Friend."

  • Obama: ‘Safety issue’ prompted speech venue shift

    A woman wears an Obama hat under her poncho as people run for cover from the pouring rain during the final day of the Democratic National Convention outside the Time Warner Cable Arena. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    CHARLOTTE, N.C.—President Barack Obama told disappointed campaign volunteers shut out of his prime-time acceptance speech by a venue change in Charlotte that he did not want to expose them to "thunder and lightning."

    "I just want to begin by saying how much I regret that we're not all gathering together in one place to deliver my acceptance speech tonight," Obama said in a conference call.

    The Democrat's campaign moved his speech from the Bank of America Stadium (seating capacity 74,000) to the Time Warner Cable Arena (seating capacity 20,000) on Wednesday, citing weather concerns. Republicans charged the shift had more to do with Democratic concerns that Obama would fail to fill the larger space. Democrats countered that they had 65,000 ticket holders, with several thousand more on a waiting list, not to mention reporters and other people eager to cram into the stadium. And some Democrats noted that Obama could hardly want to disappoint or anger his army of volunteers, whom the incumbent hopes will make the difference in hotly contested states. Just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, the skies opened up and dumped heavy rains on the arena.

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  • Obama’s DNC speech assignment: Spell out his vision for a second term

    Michelle Obama talked him up, Bill Clinton talked Republicans down, and now it's up to President Barack Obama to try to talk his way into a second term with a prime-time speech to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday.

    He faces enormous hurdles. Oh, voters think he's likable enough, to borrow a phrase. They like him personally quite a bit more than they do Mitt Romney, according to recent polls. But his job approval ratings haven't been above the 50 percent mark seen as critical for incumbents facing re-election. And the sputtering economy, burdened with 8.3 percent unemployment, weighs down his hopes for a second term.

    Gone are the Greek columns of the Denver convention of 2008, awkward props that drew mocking fire from Republicans from the minute they were glimpsed on television. And on Wednesday organizers announced they were moving the speech from Bank of America Stadium, which seats 74,000, to Time Warner Cable Arena, which seats 20,000, citing the risk of thunderstorms.

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  • Photo: DNC delegate covered in red, white and Obama

    Delegate Audrey Blondin from Litchfield, Conn. (Olivier Knox/Yahoo News)Delegate Audrey Blondin from Litchfield, Conn. (Olivier Knox/Yahoo News)

  • Democrats reinstate ‘God-given’ and Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to party platform

    CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Facing unhappy pro-Israel groups amid a Republican-led outcry, Democrats gathered Wednesday at their presidential nominating convention made 11th-hour changes to the party platform to reinstate a reference to God and a declaration that "undivided" Jerusalem is Israel's capital.

    There was widespread booing on the floor of the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa led delegates in three voice votes that sounded, at best, equally divided on whether to restore language from the party's 2008 document. Observers said the boos were directed at Villaraigosa's decision to skip a formal ballot and declare the platform amended.

    "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths," the amended document read.

    The vote also returned this language to the platform: "We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."

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  • Meet the Democratic convention ‘house band’: DJ Cassidy

    DJ Cassidy (Olivier Knox)

    When former President Bill Clinton takes the stage at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night, it will be to tunes spun by DJ Cassidy. So what's it like to work a political convention? The confident, relaxed 31-year-old New Yorker tosses out words like "high honor," "important" and "surreal." (Do you want a DNC playlist? Read all the way down.)

    "I'm essentially the house band. So it's a big honor, but it's just kind of—kind of crazy to me," he says in an interview in his DJ booth, perched in the back of the 20,000-seat Time Warner Cable Arena where President Barack Obama will star on Thursday. "It's a big club," he says with a smile.

    Has he played bigger? Cassidy takes a look around the arena, taking in the delegates and journalists milling about, and an official doing a mic check on the stage where, a moment earlier, Democratic Sen. John Kerry—the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—stood rehearsing.

    "Probably not bigger. And definitely not more important," he tells Yahoo News.

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  • Obama moves convention speech to smaller, indoor venue

    President Barack Obama speaks to supporters in the rain in July at Walkerton Tavern in Glen Allen, Va. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
    Citing "severe weather forecasts," the Democratic National Convention Committee announced Wednesday that President Barack Obama would move his prime-time acceptance speech from Bank of America Stadium to a smaller, indoor venue nearby.

    "We have been monitoring weather forecasts closely and several reports predict thunderstorms in the area, therefore we have decided to move Thursday's proceedings to Time Warner Cable Arena to ensure the safety and security of our delegates and convention guests," DNCC CEO Steve Kerrigan said in a statement.

    Republicans had questioned whether Obama could fill the stadium's 73,778 seats (and needled Democrats for holding their big event in a venue named for a bank associated with unpopular Wall Street bailouts). Kerrigan's statement said 65,000 people had signed up for "community credentials" to see the president speak.

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  • Bill Clinton’s tightrope: Lend Obama his halo without outshining him

    CHARLOTTE, N.C.—President Barack Obama doesn't want the Bill Clinton of the 1988 Democratic National Convention to show up Wednesday at this year's party gathering in Charlotte. That Clinton got booed when he ran way over his allotted time.

    He probably wouldn't be all that thrilled to see the Clinton from the 2000 convention either. That Clinton spent most of his speech taking a perhaps understandable victory lap for his eight years in office—and only then testifying to Vice President Al Gore's strengths. Check out the "Spinal Tap"-style hallway walk that begins at 8:35 in this video.

    But when the Democratic Party's elder statesman—affectionately dubbed "the Big Dog" by some Democrats—takes the stage Wednesday at the Time Warner Cable Arena, Obama surely hopes the popular former president will help him portray the 2012 race against Mitt Romney as a choice between the policies preferred by Bill Clinton and those embraced by the two-term Republican who succeeded him, George W. Bush.

    That's how Obama cast the choice between himself and Romney at an Aug. 14 stop in Oskaloosa, Iowa, painting the Republican nominee's tax cut plan as a rerun of Bush, who was all but absent from the Republican convention last week.

    "They have tried to sell this kind of trickle-down fairy dust before," Obama said. "They tried it as recently as 2001, 2002, 2003. And what did we get? The most sluggish job growth in generations, incomes and wages going down, jobs going overseas, and a huge economic crisis—and, by the way, the deficits kept on going up so by the time I walked into office we had a trillion-dollar deficit."

    He asked, "Why would we want to try that again?"

    And Obama's economic plan? "We actually have tried that, too. We tried it under Bill Clinton, when we created 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history," he said.

    It's an argument Clinton is happy to make—and has already made repeatedly, as in this Obama campaign ad.

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