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Obama's 'Forward' message at Democratic convention: Has hope vanished?

Suhasini: Hello and welcome to World View with me, Suhasini Haidar. As you saw there, that call, let the race begin. President Obama formally accepting the Democratic nomination. Now that the presidential contest in the US has now been kicked off, we'll get to the highlights of that Democrat convention tonight on World View and the road ahead for Obama and the next few weeks. With us here in the studio, Jonathan Shainin, Sr. Editor of the Caravan. He has been on the World View before so, welcome back. We'll also bring in Toby Chaudhuri. He was an Obama campaign strategist in 2008 and he is back and he joins us from Charlotte, North Carolina from the democrat convention centre. Also CNN's Stacy Cohen with her analysis there in Washington DC. As we ask that big question tonight on World View with Obama's forward message coming in after democratic convention: has hope vanished or at least dimmed a little bit? But first, let's take you through the highlights of the past few days. President Obama may have sounded a little less than confident at parts as he asks the American public for patience so he can deliver in the next four years. But the endorsement he wants from Democrat leaders was rousing; Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton literally raising the roof with their speeches.

Suhasini: In fact, Democrats are hoping that their voters do go out and vote. In fact Jonathan, there is a contrast between 2008 and 2012 in terms of even the magical presentation. We saw in 2008 - Obama in front of the live audience, outdoors with the acropolis behind him. Compare that to a smaller down size convention hall because of the weather but as you were listening to President Obama, not candidate Obama as he himself said last night, what did you think?

Jonathan: well I think that the consensus has been and I would agree with this, that it was a good speech but not a great speech, I think that there are few subtle things that I think he did well. One of them you ask this question. Has hope vanished? I think one of the things he was trying to do was a sort of redefinition of what that hope means, so he began for example by invoking his famous 2004 convention speech which really thrust him into the national spotlight. He said I was a young man and I was full of hope then but he said this hope wasn't a blind optimism, It was a hope against struggle, so I think he is trying to keep up that tone although he knows that one of the main attacks that has come from the Romney campaign is that, Look Obama is a nice guy, He had some pretty words for us in 2008 but he hasn't delivered. So Obama I think is saying in some ways. Look I need more time to finish the job. The three big points I think he made are, first of all we are making some progress, its not the kind of progress that anyone would like to see but it is progress and I thing that's got to be the part of the pitch for patience, give me more time. I think the second point he made that was an important one, was the idea that there are stark choices here; I think the Obama campaign wants to make this a choice about the future and not the referendum of the last 4 years.

Suhasini: Alright, very important points and lets also get a word in from Washington, Stacy Cohen, with CNN over there Stacy its the morning after that convention and now that the democratic convention has closed, what's the response really been? How have the papers reacted to Obama's speech there?

Stacy: Well I can tell you that everybody knew that he really needed to deliver a powerful speech, obviously this is a very tight election race, and I think what you are hearing is that the president came out very firmly standing for what he has believed in all along. He said he knows that many Americans have not seen the recovery that they had hoped but he asked for patience promising that if they stuck with him that his course would prove to be the right one. he appeared to be confident, he was calm when he delivered his speech, he got a lot of applause which is what he was looking for, so was certainly the chrysander of the democratic national convention that has had an often lot of energy and I guess we will see him in the latest poll numbers come out, how well Americans responded to it.

Suhasini: Alright, great applause back from his own committed voters amongst them Toby Chaudhuri, Toby what's the message really with the word hope being replaced by the word forward in essence, Is Obama essentially saying give me another 4 years because I haven't been able to keep the promises I made 4 years ago?

Stacy: Well, what he is saying is this is a time to march forward and the choice is pretty clear, what Mitt Romney and our opponents are basically saying is that because the change hasn't come fast enough that this is the time that we need to go back to the failed policies that it got us into the mess, to begin with.

Suhasini: Alright, that's certainly the point Jonathan was making as well, Stacy in a sense we all know that the democratic nomination was the easy part. What are democrats most worried about in the weeks ahead? We know the economy is part of it but what really worries them the most?

Stacy: Well, certainly the economy is the number one issue, I mean we here in America do not re-elect presidents when they have high unemployment numbers historically, when you have unemployment above 8% that spells disaster for president. president Obama must overcome that if he hopes to beat Mitt Romney and so I think what you'll see campaign drill is often lot of him trying to reinforce the positive things that he has achieved and trying to talk about for example the audio auto industry he has pointed out is some thing that has been saved under his administration that we were losing lots of jobs when he took office that we are now gaining jobs although not as many jobs as most Americans would like.

Suhasini: Alright, Stacy there pointing out unemployment is slightly low, in fact of today's numbers, its down to 8.1%, Jonathan I do want to ask you, we have seen the pole numbers Obama vs. Romney neck and neck. According to the average of all polls, Obama's job approval not so good for him but I do want to bring up this statistics which came off real clear politics, average of several polls. And that's the statistics on which way has the US headed. How do Americans who are polled feel about that? And when we look at those numbers about 32% feel in fact that the America is on the right track and nearly double that 62.8% feel that America is headed in the wrong direction. Now here in India it may be inconceivable for most of us to even believe Mitt Romney can pose any kind of challenge to President Obama. But do you think president Obama was losing a bit of confidence there in the speech.

Jonathan: Well, no, I think that each of these candidates has their own tough liabilities to overcome. I think Obama's liability is these numbers that we are looking at. The job approval is low; this poll right track vs. wrong track is low. I think what you see in Obama's favor is a high favorability rating, you see when people are polled then they are asked who better understands the problem, of people like you. Obama does better than Romney unusually for a democrat Obama polls better on foreign policy than Romney but when you ask people who is going to be better steward of the economy. I think in part of because how has the economy been doing for the past 4 years, that's something that is in Romney's advantage. I would say Romney's liability by contrasts is more about his biography about the way that the Obama administration or the Obama Campaign rather has been able to attack him on what would previously considered to be his strong suits.

Suhasini: Basically who he is.

Jonathan: Yes, he came in saying I was a successful business leader, I turned around failing companies, I saved the sort leg city Olympics. I was a successful governor, and these things have been neutralize to a degree.

Suhasini: But how seriously should we, in the world be looking at these polls, that right now shows them both neck and neck

Jonathan: I think, what I would say is that you got to dig a little deeper into the data and look at the polling in competitive swing states, so I think when you look at the national polls, there is a lot of noise but you are basically looking at a tie. One day Obama might be up one or two points, Another day Romney might be up one or two points but I think if you look at some of the key states and there I would say Michigan or Hawaii or Pennsylvania, Florida, Obama is maintaining a narrow lead in all of those places and that something where if the race is very close that electoral college is going to start to play a factor

Suhasini: It's going to be exciting few weeks ahead for what you are saying?

Jonathan: Yeah, but I would say that Obama right now, has a narrow upper hand so if the ball is in Romney's court particularly because I think the democrats have had a stronger convention than the republicans did.

Suhasini: Alright, Stacy if you speak to democrats, what's their big initiative now going to be? Is it more about trying to fix the economy make it look good or is it really about getting that democrat voter out to vote on Election Day?

Stacy: Well, certainly it's going to be impossible to fix the economy in a few weeks but I think what they are hoping is to get message out that, we are fixing the economy despite what a lot of Americans think and that it will get better if you give us another 4 years and yes you are absolutely right, they need to rekindle some of that fire that they had in 2008. Some of them which really have may be not extinguished but perhaps dowsed a little bit over some disappointments over the last 4 years. They need to get that base out to vote in a close election. Every vote counts and they need some of that energy which they haven't quite mustered yet but they have got another 2 months to do it and they need to get to work. They are out on the campaign trail in big numbers right now.

Suhasini: Alright, CNN's Stacy Cohen, thanks so much for joining us, remember the one constituency that is definitely sticking by Obama in this election is Indian-Americans. Upper head we'll talk about Obama's desi connect and as we head into a break there is more of that speech.

Segment 2

Suhasini: Welcome back to World View. As we discussed, not just the election but perhaps the democrats Desi connect. Jonathan Shainin still with us. Also Tobi Chaudhuri, there in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jonathan, Indians traditionally were always seen as sticking to the republican side. Has Obama really changed that? Looking at the numbers of Indian-Americans who now play an important role?

Jonathan: Well, I think, you see the latest number that I have seen is a Pew survey that, I believe, has been taking place in June which says that 65 percent of Indian-American supports the Democratic Party. 18 percent, I believe, is the number for the Republican Party. You have seen pieces that have come out in the past couple of weeks arguing, one of them by Sadanand Dhume, arguing that the natural home for Indian-American voters is the republican party because they have a high, I believe the highest median-income among minority groups and this is an age old argument in American politics, so...

Suhasini: It's changing, Jonathan?

Jonathan: Well, George Bush and Karl rove, for example, argued the Latino-voters who tend to be more culturally conservative were naturally at home in the republican party. I think though that if you look at Indian-Americans along the same demographic axis that white American operate, or the way we analyze white Americans, you see that upper middle-class voters are not naturally necessarily republicans. I think that you see white working-class voters and maybe very wealthy white voters as the backbone of the republican constituency and I think the democrats tend to do better among working-class, minority voters...

Suhasini: And more and more Indians-Americans are really fitting into that middle-class. Ok, I want to bring in Tobi Chaudhuri. Tobi, you were part of what was called the Desi power at the White House some years ago. Just, how big a deal was it for example that Kal Penn was the host of the Democratic Convention that so many Indian-Americans are now standing for on a democratic ticket

Tobi: It is a very big deal. The Indian-American political tiger has sprung. Indian-Americans are on the rise and you are seeing this everywhere. They are gaining political sophistication and strength. There is a new generation of leaders and candidates who are changing the debate here in America and therefore the economic debate around the world. You have activists who are forcing changes that wouldn't otherwise happen. And it's been fascinating, right? Because in this administration alone President Obama had have more Indian-Americans in political positions than ever before in history. He has appointed more federal judges and you can't go into the halls of the White House or even congress now and not see this change. We have a record number of candidates running for congress this cycle. And they could affectively tip the balance of power in Washington DC.

Suhasini: Jonathan, last word to you. Tobi saying that the Indian-American tiger is on the rise in US politics. How soon before we see an Indian-American perhaps run for president?

Jonathan: Well, you have already luck; you got two Indian-American governors. Of course, you got Bobby Jindal in Louisiana...

Suhasini: Both Republicans...

Jonathan: Yes, and Nikki Haley in South Carolina. I think these things take time. I think, you know, I am not sure we are going to see an Indian-American presidential candidate very soon, not within the next 10 or 15 years. But I do think that when you look at where the Indian-American community is positioned, it's not a surprise that, particularly giving the changing tone of the republican party, where a certain less than welcoming sentiment towards immigrants has come in, I mean I wouldn't be surprised if there are some Indian-Americans who have republican meanings, perhaps, because of their wealth or their political positions, feel maybe slightly out of place within the modern republican party.

Suhasini: All right. And you think it's heading the democrat way than?

Jonathan: I would say so, yeah.

Suhasini: All right. Jonathan will certainly be back on the show as we continue to track the US presidential election. Of course, just by being the first non-white man in that job, President Obama has already changed a lot. He also changed the way the world looked at the US and the way the US looked at the world. We will be tracking that race very closely over the next few months. In fact, Fareed Zakaria returns to the show for more analysis next week. But we are going to leave you now with images of that journey so far. From the team of World View, thanks for watching.


Obama\'s \'Forward\' message at the Democratic convention: Has hope vanished?