CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Oklahoma Democrats say they're ready to counter Republican attacks as they gather for their party's national convention here, where President Barack Obama will be nominated this week for a second term.
“We're all excited and anxious to get going and have our turn,” Wallace Collins, chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, said Friday.
He said the Republican National Convention last week in Tampa was “full of hate and fear” and untruths.
Democrats will stress the economic progress made under the president in the past four years and remind Americans that Obama deserves credit for many things, including the survival of the U.S. auto industry, he said.
Marguerite McGuffin, chairman of the Oklahoma County Democratic Party, said Saturday that she's “frightened” by the prospect of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney winning on Nov. 6.
She said she hopes the president, who is scheduled to speak Thursday, “just talks about what he's accomplished, because there's been a lot.”
Lorenzo Allen Thompson, of Spencer, who works on the state party's affirmative action committee, said Democrats need to “assert the principles of the Democratic Party: the party that stands for rights for everybody.”
Tom Guild, a delegate attending the convention from Edmond, said, “Democrats have brought the economy they inherited from the George W. Bush Administration back from a near total meltdown, liquidated Osama bin Laden, fought for civil rights, saved the American auto industry, fought for the middle class and brought a sense of balance and realism in the area of foreign policy.”
Billy Coyle, a delegate from Nichols Hills, added, “The Republicans have gone so far to the right in (their) convention that the moderates and independents are Obama's for the taking.”
Coyle said the president must make clear that he is worried about the nation's debt.
Coyle, who ran for Congress in 2010, and Guild, who is running against U.S. Rep. James Lankford this year, mentioned a theme that is likely to be repeated often during the convention in Charlotte this week: The GOP-controlled House has thwarted the president's attempts to create jobs and reduce deficits.
Oklahoma has 50 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, and only Obama qualified for their support. Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, and perennial candidate Jim Rogers, of Midwest City, won enough votes in the March 6 presidential primary to qualify for delegates, but neither followed party procedures for securing them, and the party ruled that Terry was not a bona fide Democrat.
That should make for a more unified delegation than that of Oklahoma Republicans, who had some tension in Tampa between the supporters of presidential candidate Mitt Romney and those of Rep. Ron Paul. Six of the state Republican delegates voted for Paul, and two of the state's other votes were voided when delegates who had committed to Romney tried also to vote for Paul.
Unlike in 2008 in Denver, where former Gov. Brad Henry watched Obama's first nomination, the Oklahoma Democrats will be in Charlotte without any statewide elected officials in their ranks. Former state Attorney General Drew Edmondson will be a delegate.
However, there will be an Oklahoma native with a key speaking role: Elizabeth Warren, who grew up in Oklahoma City and is now running for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, is scheduled to speak Wednesday, just before former President Bill Clinton.
While the Republicans in Tampa had their convention cut short by a day because of Tropical Storm Isaac, Democrats are doing a three-day show by design. On Monday, the Oklahoma delegates will participate in a Labor Day parade, and the city is hosting a festival downtown featuring food, live music and other activities. The convention gets its official start on Tuesday.
Oklahoma City attorney and state higher education regent Mike Turpen, who has attended the last several Democratic conventions, must miss this one because of a regents meeting. But he offered this convention advice to Democrats: “Hammer home your successes and strengths again and again — GM's alive and Bin Laden is dead. And reiterate again and again that the Obama administration will — first, last and always — protect Social Security, Medicare and women's rights.”