Winners and losers from the final night of the Democratic National Convention

September 6, 2012

CHARLOTTE -- That's a wrap.


The Democratic National Convention is over and the sprint -- 60 days left as of tomorrow! -- to the November election is on.

But before you start running, rest a while and read our picks for the winners and the losers from the final night of the Democratic convention.

One person you won't see in winners and losers is President Obama. His speech was certainly not among the best he has ever delivered -- the #1 seed in those rankings is his 2007 Iowa Jefferson-Jackson dinner address -- and, at times, it felt more like a State of the Union address than a convention acceptance speech. It was workmanlike more than inspirational.

That said, Obama always faces a very high bar when he speaks since he is rightly regarded as one of the best (if not the best) political orator in the country. The speech will certainly send convention-goers back to their home states excited about the final 60 days of the campaign and there were enough appeals to the political center to make the case that Obama is the right home for them.

In short: It won't be the sort of historically memorable speech that former President Bill Clinton delivered Wednesday night. But neither will it be remembered as a colossal flop.  If we had a category between winning and losing -- we don't -- that's where Obama's speech would fall.

Without further ado, we present our winners and losers. Have picks of your own?  The comments section is open for business.

WINNERS

Gabby Giffords: The former Arizona congresswoman's recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance was an emotional high point at the Democratic convention. Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in January 2011, was aided across the stage by Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz but Giffords spoke the words of the pledge clearly.  It was a moment of genuine emotion -- a rarity in our world of pre-planned politics. (video)

* John Kerry: The Massachusetts senator started off slowly but he certainly amped it up.  Kerry, in what will be cast as a tryout for secretary of state if Obama is elected to a second term, offered a scathing assessment of Mitt Romney's foreign policy credentials (or lack thereof).  "Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago," Kerry boomed in what will be one of the most oft-quoted lines of the convention. Kerry's 2012 speech left many Democrats wondering where that kind of edge and passion was when he was the party's standard-bearer. Fair question. But tonight Kerry shined. (video and transcript)

* John Lewis: The Georgia congressman -- and civil rights pioneer -- is among the best speakers Democrats have in the party. On Thursday Lewis delivered a stirring speech connecting the civil rights fight to the fight over voter ID laws. Our issue? Lewis spoke very early in the night, before almost anyone except people like the Fix were watching. Why not put him a little later in the schedule?

U2: First, Mary J. Blige sang "One." Then Obama came out to give his acceptance speech to "City of Blinding Lights." Not bad for four guys from Dublin.

* Foo Fighters: The Fix has never been a huge Dave Grohl fan. But the Foo was very good tonight with its acoustic-y set. (video)

* "Literally": Has the word ever been uttered more in a single convention speech than it was by Vice President Biden tonight? We think not. "Literally" had a coming out party tonight in Charlotte!

LOSERS

* Brian Schweitzer: The governor of Montana was one of the breakout stars of the 2008 Democratic National Convention with a speech that lit up the Denver hall. But tonight Schweitzer seemed too folksy by half (or maybe more) -- like he was playing a character named "Brian Schweitzer."  And his "that dog won't hunt" refrain, well, it just didn't hunt.

* Charlie Crist: Party switching convention speakers are rarely well received since the partisans in the audience tend to see the switcher as a wolf in sheep's clothing. That's especially true for Crist who was the REPUBLICAN governor of Florida when President Obama was elected in 2008.  Crist's speech was a transparent attempt to get right with the party that he wants to represent when he runs for future office. Even in the room, it was only politely received. At best. (video)

* Caroline Kennedy: Yes, we know that the daughter of John F. Kennedy is a private person who doesn't like the spotlight. But her speech at the convention tonight was incredibly flat, taking the energy out of an emotionally charged room following Giffords' recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. (video)

* Osama bin Laden: If you didn't know it before tonight, you know it now: He's dead. Big time.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Chris Cillizza · September 6, 2012