CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA —
The Democratic National Convention officially begins Tuesday in the southern U.S. state of North Carolina. Monday was a holiday in the US - Labor Day - a time to celebrate jobs and working people. But unemployment in America has remained high throughout the Obama administration, and public opinion polls show the issue is a drag on his candidacy.
The day before the convention, Democrats highlighted this state, which they need to win in November, and celebrated just being Democrats.
Democrats have come to town on Labor Day, as North Carolina’s unemployment rate hovers well above the rest of the country - a rate that remains high nationally at more than 8 percent. Many here blame big corporations.
"They are taking companies that were here, factories that were here and moving them to Mexico. Moving them to India. Doing things like that, basically destroying those middle class jobs," said James Hoffa, Jr., the head of the largest labor union in the United States.
The point people here make is that rightward leaning conservative Republicans got the country into economic trouble.
"President Barack, he inherits an 800,000 a month job loss - three and a-half million job loss - gushing out of the bottom of our economy. That hemorrhaging of our economy stopped," said civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.
"I've been downsized about five times in the last five years," said Reginald Purcell, a victim of the economy.
He has steady work this week as a floral designer only because the convention is in town. But he adds he's still voting for President Obama. "I really think we are at the cusp of the economy turning around," he said.
The Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, and his running mate Paul Ryan blame Democrats, even harkening back to a president of 30 years ago. Paul Ryan also campaigned here in North Carolina Monday.
"Every president since the Great Depression who asked Americans to send them into a second term could say that you're better off today than you were four years ago except for Jimmy Carter and for President Barack Obama," he said.
Democrats and the president will spend three days making their case.
This empty arena fills with 6,000 delegates and thousands of volunteers and supporters each day the convention gavels in. The main speeches air on TV networks. And, there are 4,000 Democratic parties taking place across the country, watching what happens here at the Democratic National Convention.