- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 2, 2012

Four years after the “hope and change” euphoria of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, party leaders said Sunday to expect a more sober gathering in Charlotte, N.C., this week.

“This is not the time to wave pompoms,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It is a time to dig deep and move forward and not go back to those disastrous policies that landed us in this economic problem to begin with.”

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, chairman of the convention, said the three-day gathering would be a “working convention.”

“That’s what this convention will be about,” he said. “We have 65,000 people coming to the football stadium on Thursday. We are going to ask every one of them: Can you knock on the doors? Can you call voters?”

Answering questions on the same program about polls that show an “enthusiasm gap” that favors Republicans, Obama senior campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said, “Nobody is sitting up here saying this is 2008.”

The 2012 election is going to be close, Mr. Gibbs said, because “we live in a very closely divided electorate, and we have for quite some time, and this election was quite frankly always going to be close, but it is an important fundamental choice about where we go from here.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, brushed aside concerns that the Obama campaign is avoiding the president’s record.

“If people want to know about the first term, very simple. General Motors is alive and well and Osama bin Laden is not. And that’s what got done,” Mr. Emanuel told host David Gregory.

On “Fox News Sunday,” David Axelrod, the Obama campaign’s senior strategist, hammered home the point that the economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month when the president took over, and the administration has turned that around to now 28 straight months of job growth.

“We’re in a better position than four years ago in our economy,” Mr. Axelrod said.

Republicans have criticized Mr. Obama for not putting forth a specific plan to improve jobs and the economy, but Mr. Axelrod threw the argument back at critics.

Of last week’s Republican National Convention, he said, “For three days, they never offered anybody a plausible alternative, never offered any ideas for how to move the economy forward,” he said. “People walked away, those voters who were trying to decide, asking, ‘What alternatives is [Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney] offering?’ “

“What you’re going to hear this week in Charlotte is a president who is going to talk about a clear plan for the future,” Mr. Axelrod said.

But Democrats also acknowledged the public’s impatience with the less-than-robust recovery of the American economy.

“It is not moving fast enough, but I do believe the American people don’t want to go back to the very policies that created the economic mess,” Mr. Emanuel said.

“I am not surprised that this is a longer bit of work than many of us would have hoped,” said Mr. O’Malley, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. “It is not where any of us would have hoped it is. And I think we need to give credit to the Republicans in Congress who have done everything they can to defeat every jobs bill and slow down the economy.”

“The average American recognizes that it took years to create the crisis,” Mr. Axelrod said, “and it’s going to take years to work through it.”

Mr. Villaraigosa, who appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” also criticized Republicans for a plan to deport 11 million illegal immigrants to Mexico, which makes them “scapegoats and demonizes them.”

He said winning in 2012 will be tougher for Democrats than it was in 2008.

“It’s going to be a tough re-election,” he said. “We had a banner year in 2008; obviously, we’re not going to have that kind of year this time around. We’re going to have our work cut out for us, and, in the end, I think we’re going to win.”

• Tim Devaney can be reached at tdevaney@washingtontimes.com.

• David Eldridge can be reached at deldridge@washingtontimes.com.

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