The schedule will highlight leaders who can speak to Obama's decisions on health care, the auto bailout, foreign policy, and pick apart Romney’s tenure.
The slate of speaker’s will also showcase the party’s emerging bench of leaders across the country, in statewide offices and in local government.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former White House chief of staff, is among the high profile Democrats who will address the convention, which begins Sept. 4 in Charlotte. Emanuel served for two years in the White House as Obama made key decisions on the the economic stimulus package, auto bailout and the health care bill. He acknowledged that he initially opposed the push for health care and has since said that Obama displayed leadership and courage on the issue.
Also scheduled to speak is Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), who tapped Obama for the 2004 convention keynote that catapulted him into the national spotlight.
Kerry knows the GOP challenger’s record in his home state and is a leading White House surrogate on foreign policy and national security.
The White House tapped him to play Romney in debate preparation and in his convention role he will likely touch on Obama’s approach to global affairs and focus on Romney’s tenure as governor.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who succeeded Romney and is the second black governor ever elected, will also address delegates and likely focus on Romney’s record as well. Patrick has called Romney a “smooth salesman” who did not make good on his promises to create jobs.
Former Virginia governor Tim Kaine, who is locked in a tight race for the U.S. Senate, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Ohio governor Ted Strickland will represent a trio of swing states that are key to Obama’s chances for reelection.
And representing the new guard of next-in-line leaders will be California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is African and Asian American, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley who is frequently mentioned as a possible 2016 candidate for the White House.
“This convention will define the election as a choice between two very different paths for our nation: an economy built to last for middle class Americans or a return to the failed policies of budget-busting tax breaks for the wealthy, outsourcing and risky financial deals,” a campaign official said. “Every speaker was carefully chosen for how they can personally define that choice.”
With Strickland, who narrowly lost his reelection bid in 2010, Democrats get a vocal advocate of the auto bailout who has said that the president deserves credit for that state’s economic success. Current Ohio Gov. Josh Kasich is among the featured speakers at the Republican’s Tampa convention, and Strickland will likely offer a strong rebuttal.
As Catholics, Kaine and O’Malley represent a demographic that Obama has struggled with because of his decisions on the health care act, contraception and Catholic institutions. Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, is Roman Catholic and has energized antiabortion Catholics, but he has turned off some social justice Catholics because of his budget proposals and approach to entitlement programs.
Harris, a longtime Obama supporter who was elected in 2010, has earned plaudits from progressives for her work on the mortgage meltdown. She was part of a team of officials across the country that forced big banks to pay $25 billion in settlement money to states hit hard by mortgage crises.
Campaign officials did not give details on what days the speakers will be featured or what they would talk about.
Already, the Democratic National Convention announced that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro
will deliver the keynote address on Tuesday, the first day of the convention.
In Democratic circles he is seen as a rising star, often referred to as the “Latino Obama,” because of his humble roots and Harvard education.
First lady Michelle Obama will also have a prime-time speaking role on Tuesday, and former president Bill Clinton will put Obama’s name into nomination in a prime-time speech on Wednesday.
Obama is set to speak on Sept 5, the final night of the convention in Bank of America Stadium, a 75,000 seat venue that is home to the Carolina Panthers.