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Five Takeaways From Tuesday At The Democratic Convention

First lady Michelle Obama waves after addressing the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday.
Jae C. Hong
First lady Michelle Obama waves after addressing the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday.

If you missed the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., we live blogged it here.

We've also compiled five things that struck us about the night:

'Mom In Chief' Takes A Stand: There is no question that the first night of the convention belonged to first lady Michelle Obama, who delivered a sweeping, personal and dramatic endorsement of her husband, President Obama.

Her message was personal and steered clear of politics. She didn't mention Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney once, though she drew a clear distinction between the personal experiences of both candidates. In the end, the first lady tried to make the case that President Obama is uniquely equipped to deliver the promise of the American dream.

She said:

"Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it. And he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love.

"And he believes that when you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed."

Ted Kennedy Is Still Battling Mitt Romney: One of the best-received lines in the hall was uttered in 1994.

Avideo tribute to Ted Kennedy, who died in 2009, showcased his 1994 Senate race against Romney.

The Obama campaign used the opportunity to illustrate how Romney has changed his position on issues like abortion. It also allowed the campaign to highlight Kennedy's swift swipes at Romney.

"Now he's for family leave," Kennedy was seen saying in the video. "Now he's for minimum wage; now he's for education reform. If we give him two more weeks, he may even vote for me."

Both Parties Are Courting Hispanics: San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro became the first Latino keynote speaker at a Democratic National Convention. He introduced himself to the nation as a product of the American dream: His grandmother, he said, didn't make it past fourth grade. She never owned a home. But Castro's mother was the first to graduate from college.

And, now, here he was on one of the biggest stages in national politics.

Castro was among several speakers — including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — who spoke Spanish from the podium.

This comes hard on the heels of the Republican convention last week, which gave prominent speaking slots to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Texas Senate hopeful Ted Cruz and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

Democratic Delegates Are Proud Of Obama's Record: The first thing you may have noticed is that at the convention, the Democrats embraced Obamacare.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick delivered the most strident defense of that policy and all of Obama's record. In fact, he even chastised Democrats for being coy with their support of his policies.

"If we want to win elections in November and keep our country moving forward, if we want to earn the privilege to lead, it's time for Democrats to stiffen our backbone and stand up for what we believe," he said.

He added:

"This is the president who delivered the security of affordable health care to every single American after 90 years of trying. This is the president who brought Osama bin Laden to justice, who ended the war in Iraq and is ending the war in Afghanistan. This is the president who ended 'don't ask, don't tell' so that love of country, not love of another, determines fitness for military service. Who made equal pay for equal work the law of the land. This is the president who saved the American auto industry from extinction, the American financial industry from self-destruction, and the American economy from depression. Who added over 4.5 million private sector jobs in the last two-plus years, more jobs than George W. Bush added in eight.

"The list of accomplishments is long, impressive and barely told — even more so when you consider that congressional Republicans have made obstruction itself the centerpiece of their governing strategy. With a record and a vision like that, I will not stand by and let him be bullied out of office — and neither should you, and neither should you and neither should you."

Democrats Say Romney Is A Flip-Flopper Who Doesn't Get It: There were two clear lines of attack against Romney: The first is that he has flip-flopped. The other is that Romney just doesn't understand how the trajectory of the American dream works. This is how Castro described it:

"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?"

Our "five takeaways" posts from both conventions are collected here.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.