For decades, national political conventions have been mostly scripted pep rallies, with little in the way of real news. That’s why the TV networks have stopped covering them live.
So what would it take next year to make Charlotte’s show – the 2012 Democratic National Convention – that rare exception: a TV-worthy convention?
Here are 5 possibilities. We’re not saying they will happen. But they could.
Clearly, President Barack Obama needs to do something to energize his re-election campaign. If his poll numbers keep sliding, the convention in Charlotte could be more wake than party.
One solution that some Democrats have fantasized about: Obama makes a switcheroo, announcing that Vice President Joe Biden will be his new Secretary of State and Hillary Clinton, now the country’s chief diplomat, is his choice to be his 2012 running mate.
It’s a win-win-win.
Biden, who used to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is on a first-name basis with many foreign heads of state, would get to end his career on a distinguished, globe-trotting note.
Clinton would get a head-start on her 2016 run for president.
And Obama would recapture some of the excitement that fueled his historic 2008 campaign.
“Barrack & Hillary” – it definitely has a TV show sound to it.
2. Preemptive GOP move: Burr for veep.
Meeting in Tampa the week before the Democrats gather in Charlotte, the Republicans up the ante in the battle to win North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes.
They do it by nominating Richard Burr, the Tar Heel State’s senior senator, for vice president.
Suddenly, all over Charlotte, there are banners proclaiming “Romney-Burr” or – take your pick – “Perry-Burr” or “Cain-Burr” or “Gingrich-Burr.”
Not since the hanging chads of 2000 put Florida in the international spotlight has a purple state gotten so much attention, as even the TV networks turn their attention to North Carolina. Pre-empting their cheesy reality shows, the networks go live to this ultimate swing state, doing man- and woman-in-the-street interviews with every voter from Murphy to Manteo.
3. A bipartisan TV moment.
During most national political conventions, a parade of senators and House members go to the podium and give speeches that are forgotten before they leave the stage.
But in September 2012, the one member of Congress still considered a courageous public servant is given a prime-time spot.
U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., who has made a remarkable recovery since the shooting that nearly ended her life, does not speak about politics.
Her message is bipartisan, as are the tears shed all over the country at her call for Americans to stop fighting among themselves and come together for the greater good.
4. A third party. And a fourth.
Just as they did during the Republican convention in Tampa, two other presidential candidates – and their dedicated followers – converge on Charlotte during the Democrats’ meeting.
And once again, they steal away some of the major parties’ monopoly on news coverage by staging their own debate, this time under the stars at Freedom Park – a venue named for a worthy idea, as opposed to Bank of America Stadium, where rumor has it President Obama will give his acceptance speech.
The two debaters: From the right, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, 2012 nominee of the Libertarian Party. And from the left: A real Socialist, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
5. Occupy Time Warner Cable Arena.
In hopes of keeping the TV cameras inside the convention instead of outside on Charlotte’s streets, the Democrats invite a young, scruffy-looking Occupy Wall Street rep to address the delegates in prime time.
Some pundits suggest the Democrats are merely taking a page from the Republicans, who let an angry Tea Partier dressed in Revolutionary War garb address their delegates.
But both speeches make front page news – and get ratings worthy of “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol.” Tim Funk