Democrats set for bumpy road

Democrats set for bumpy road

Democrats set for bumpy road

US President Barack Obama waves as he arrives on stage for a campaign event at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. Obama will speak at the Democrat convention on Sept. 6 in Charlotte. AFP photo

resident Barack Obama took a detour from the presidential campaign’s competitive states ahead of the Democrats’ convention this week to travel to the Deep South to offer promises of help to those flooded out by Hurricane Isaac. Upon his return, however, Obama will need to negotiate the tricky, obstacle-filled campaign trail ahead amid the rising popularity of Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Obama met with local officials in Louisiana yesterday, toured storm damage and viewed response-and-recovery efforts before addressing reporters at Saint John Parish. Romney visited the state last week. The trip comes a day after Obama and Vice President Joe Biden campaigned separately across three battleground states and as delegates descended on the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, for two days of partying before their first official meeting today in the Time Warner Cable Arena.

Obama and his supporters at the convention will seek to convince voters to stick with the president they know rather than gamble on Romney, who looks set to pose a fierce challenge as most Americans say the country is heading in the wrong direction. The convention opens today with First Lady Michelle Obama, whose popularity far surpasses her husband’s, as a featured speaker. Former President Bill Clinton, who is emerging as one of the campaign’s most effective surrogates, will headline the convention tomorrow and formally nominate Obama. Biden and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry will address the large stadium crowd on Sept. 6 night before Obama speaks.

Kerry, seen as a potential second-term secretary of state under Obama, will try to capitalize on the Democratic Party’s rare advantage on national security issues. He is expected to trumpet Obama’s decision to order the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the president’s plan to end the Afghanistan war.

Mormons thank Romney

Meanwhile, Mormon churchgoers thanked Romney on Sept. 2 for raising the church’s profile in his race for the White House and praised the Republican candidate’s acceptance speech at a nominating convention in Tampa, Florida, last week.

Romney, who would be the first Mormon president if he wins the Nov. 6 election, sat smiling with his wife, Ann, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, spoke about their faith and lauded the former Massachusetts governor’s performance at the Republican National Convention (RNC).

Romney, who was a Mormon missionary in France and later became a local pastor in Massachusetts, lives nearby and worships in the church. J.W. Marriott spoke to the small congregation, noting that as Romney’s profile has risen, the church has enjoyed increased and more positive media coverage.

 “Today we see the church coming out of obscurity, and we see that 90 percent of what has been written and said, including an hour on NBC, an hour-and-a-half on CNN, two front-page articles in the Washington Post [and] many [other] articles in the national news about the church, … has been favorable,” Marriott said. The church has an estimated 7 million members in the United States.