When the Democratic National Convention reaches the prime-time airwaves Tuesday evening, the main event -- a speech by First Lady Michelle Obama -- is likely to remind viewers of the first night of telecasts from last week's Republican convention. That's because her task is much the same as Ann Romney's was last Tuesday: to paint a warmer, fuzzier picture of her seemingly distant husband. In Mitt Romney's case, that meant personalizing a man who strikes many voters as robotic; in President Obama's case, that means lending a sense of urgency to a man who appears detached.
That matters, as I noted in a post on Thursday, because the more likable presidential candidate tends to be the winner in November. To my ears, though, the most powerful and endearing commentary about Mitt Romney last week came not from his wife but from the fellow Mormons whom he helped through very trying times. And I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happened this week, in the lower-profile moments outside of prime time, when non-politicians find their way to the microphone.
The Tuesday night speaker lineup in Charlotte, N.C., also includes actor-turned-White-House-aide-turned-actor Kal Penn; Rahm Emanuel, the famously foul-mouthed Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff; and the president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, Nancy Keenan. But the person with the most 'splainin' to do may be Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whose department is responsible for two of the hottest hot buttons in the campaign: requiring even religious-affiliated employers to include free contraceptive care in their employee health insurance, and giving states more flexibility in meeting the work requirements of the 1996 welfare reform law.
My colleagues Jim Newton, Doyle McManus, Michael McGough, Dan Turner, Patt Morrison and David Horsey will be joining me on Twitter to comment about the convention's proceedings Tuesday evening. You can follow our tweets here, starting at 6 p.m.