Clout: Obama's Philly landmines

Street vendor Mark Evans shows off his hand puppets during Charlotte's Carolina Fest on Monday, the day before the Democratic National Convention begins in that city.
Street vendor Mark Evans shows off his hand puppets during Charlotte's Carolina Fest on Monday, the day before the Democratic National Convention begins in that city. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: September 05, 2012

AT THE Democratic Party's national convention in Charlotte, N.C., this week, President Obama and the delegates who will nominate him need to find a positive tone in a heavily negative campaign season, while rebutting Republican nominee Mitt Romney's claims from his party's convention last week.

Here in Pennsylvania, and especially in Philadelphia, Obama has three festering issues that should concern his campaign.

Labor unrest - Organized labor is still ticked off that the convention is being held in a very union-unfriendly city. Several unions are sitting this one out.

Vice President Joe Biden was in Detroit on Monday touting Obama's efforts in the bailout of the auto industry, and United Auto Workers President Bob King will address the convention.

In Philadelphia, Pete Matthews, head of the blue-collar municipal-workers' union, is threatening to withhold political support in the Nov. 6 general election unless the city comes up with a new contract. Mayor Nutter, who skipped Monday's Labor Day parade to prepare for Charlotte, called that a bad idea.

"Union members certainly know that a vote for Mitt Romney or any lack of a vote for President Obama is not in their interest," Nutter told reporters Monday.

Street money - Local Democrats rely on so-called street money from statewide and national candidates to pay for meals, transportation and other Election Day worker expenses.

Obama broke with tradition in 2008 and didn't pay up, despite a strong warning from then- Gov. Ed Rendell that street money was the "single most important thing you can do to get elected."

Obama chief strategist David Axelrod in April acknowledged that he expected another disagreement on the subject.

Obama's campaign four years ago carried a strong sense of history and hope. It's unlikely that the rough economic times that followed that victory will create a similar sense of enthusiasm.

Voter ID - Republicans who support the new legislation requiring state-approved identification to vote insist that they are trying to prevent fraud at the polling place (while admitting they have little evidence of fraud).

Democrats say this is part of a national effort to disenfranchise voters who support their party. The state Supreme Court will hear arguments on a challenge to the law next week. Win or lose, Democrats may find voter ID to be an unexpected political benefit.

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, co-chairwoman of the state's convention delegation, on Monday said 30 people showed up at her campaign office to volunteer to make phone calls to voters about the legislation. It was more than her office could handle.

"There are a lot of people who are so outraged by this law," Schwartz said, suggesting that a backlash could help Democrats.

Vote for Betty White!

If Obama loses his bid for a second term, he should hit the road with actress Betty White for a comedy tour. We haven't seen this type of chemistry since Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

A petition on since Friday asks the Democrats to invite White to introduce Obama at the convention Thursday.

The petition says that actor Clint Eastwood, "the Republicans' 'mystery guest' at the RNC, gave a bad name to older Americans everywhere with his absurd and awkward-to-watch introduction of Gov. Romney" last Thursday.

Eastwood ad-libbed a rambling interrogation of an empty stool and an imaginary Obama.

Obama recorded a video in January, congratulating White on turning 90 years old, saying she looks "so fantastic and full of energy" that he didn't believe her age and wanted to see her long-form birth certificate. Cue the birthers with their conspiracy theories along with the Republicans who complain that they get criticized for joking about Obama's birth certificate while he gets away with it. White visited the White House in June and met with Obama.


" Simply put, the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days compared to where we are right now." - U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president, speaking Monday in Greenville, N.C. Former President Jimmy Carter will address the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C., via video this week.

Contact Chris Brennan at or 215-854-5973. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN. Read his blog at

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