Democrats Pitched a Really Big Tent at Their Convention

Jul 28, 2016

If you made a bingo card for groups that Democrats could reach out to during their convention, every square would be filled.

Over the course of four days, organizers of the Democratic national convention found time to highlight just about every group of voters you could think of: Hispanics, independents, people with disabilities, veterans, to name a few.

The goal was not just to spur engagement with those groups for November, but also to define the Democratic Party as a big tent. And it was a way to criticize Republican nominee Donald Trump, both implicitly and explicitly, for comments that have alienated those groups, many of which were played in brief clips shown on video screens between speakers.

President Obama summed up the theme of the convention in a line during his keynote speech Wednesday.

"I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together–black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young and old; gay, straight, men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love," he said.

To be fair, the Republican convention featured its share of diversity and both conventions' opening and closing prayers drew from a wide range of religious faiths. And Democratic conventions have always made an effort to reach different voters, but the effort this year was thorough.

Here's a look at some of the groups Democrats reached out to.

Hispanics. Several speakers at the convention, including vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, added Spanish phrases to their remarks. Speakers included U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva and Linda Sanchez, immigration activist Astrid Silva and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta.

LGBT voters. The convention included an all-gender bathroom. Speakers included the mother of a gay man killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting and the first openly transgender person to address a convention.

Law enforcement. President Obama spoke about the fears of police families. Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the "kid with the most courage" who grew up to become a cop. Families of fallen law enforcement officers were honored.

Asians and Pacific Islanders. Ima Matul, an Indonesian-American who was a victim of human trafficking, spoke about the issue. A presentation honored the history of Asian-American lawmakers. Speakers included Reps. Judy Chu and Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Mazie Hirono.

Republicans. Rear Adm. (Ret.) John Hutson said Trump isn't "fit to polish John McCain's boots." Kaine referenced his father-in-law, a former Republican governor. The head of Republican Women for Hillary spoke.

Women. Clinton's status as the first female major party nominee was a constant refrain, including a memorable section of First Lady Michelle Obama's speech. Female lawmakers, mothers, a little girl, and actresses spoke. A Clinton video began with a "glass ceiling" shattering.

People with disabilities. The anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act was celebrated. Former Sen. Tom Harkin taught the crowd sign language. Speakers included two disability rights advocates and a man with a form of dwarfism.

Unions. The heads of the Service Employees International Union, the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association spoke.

Native Americans. Delegates highlighted their state's Native American reservations during the roll call vote, with some speaking a few words in their language. Speakers included a Minnesota state lawmaker who is a member of the Ojibwe tribe.

Bernie Sanders supporters. Sanders' brother cast a vote for him during the roll call, while he formally nominated Clinton and later spoke to the convention. Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine called him a "spectacular senator." President Obama praised his supporters as "organized" and "persistent."

African-Americans. First Lady Michelle Obama noted that she wakes up every morning "in a house that was built by slaves." Speakers included mothers of African-Americans who died of gun violence, at the hands of police or in police custody, and survivors of the Charleston church shooting.

Veterans. Kaine wore a lapel pin for Blue Star Families and spoke about his son's service in the Marines. Speakers included Duckworth, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the wife of an Army pilot who died in Iraq, a former Marine Corps captain and the mother of an Army colonel killed in Afghanistan.

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