This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 6, 2012 - CHARLOTTE, N.C. – St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says he has spent part of his 48 hours at the Democratic national convention talking to other Democrats and party officials about rethinking President Barack Obama’s chances in Missouri.
“I’d love to see the Obama campaign put money in Missouri and to work hard to try to win the state,’’ said Slay on Thursday, as he left the Missouri delegation’s morning breakfast.
“I wouldn’t give up on Missouri. We have been historically a swing state. It was very close just four years ago.”
Slay went on, “I think it’s doable because we have two really outstanding leaders heading up the Democratic ticket, and that’s (Gov.) Jay Nixon and (Sen.) Claire McCaskill – these are some of the best elected officials in the entire country.
“With their leadership, and with the leadership of a lot of the people you see here in Charlotte, I think we can win this for President Obama,” the mayor added.
Slay based his cautious optimism on what he considers a “very successful” national convention, particularly Wednesday night’s address by former President Bill Clinton.
The mayor said that Clinton offered the best articulation yet of the grave economic situation that the Obama administration faced when it came into office, its response to that crisis, and the contrast with the proposals put forward by Republican nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan.
The convention speakers have been “laying the groundwork for moving forward, rather than moving back,” Slay said. “Growing the economy from the middle class out, rather than from the top, as the Republicans advocate.”
Slay predicted that Obama is “going to address that issue head-on” during his acceptance speech.
"I’ve talked to the president personally…This guy knows what he’s doing, he’s got a good team around him,” Slay concluded.
Slay offered up the most political remarks Wednesday morning to delegates.
Nixon avoids politics in speech, but not at fundraiser
Earlier, Nixon addressed the group without mentioning politics – or Obama – at all.
The governor, who is seeking re-election, primarily presented a nonpartisan description of his efforts to improve the state’s economy since taking office in January 2009.
Nixon cited the state’s “spirit of working hard’’ and his efforts to “bring people together” to improve education and the business climate.
He pointed to the General Assembly’s approval of a jobs package in 2009, which he says has contributed to the decline in Missouri’s unemployment rate, below the national average “for 35 straight months.”
Nixon also pointed to his administration’s success in keeping college tuition costs down and in making the state “one of the Top 10 states for small business growth,” according to some business indicators.
Nixon did offer up a rare jab at opponents, however, when he asserted that he would resist efforts to curb workers’ rights.
“We understood that we needed to stand with working families and their rights,” the governor said. “It’s that simple. Some of our opponents thought the way to grow our economy was to make it easier to discriminate against employees. So, I vetoed that bill.
“Some of our opponents believe the way to grow our economy is to pay workers less, cut benefits, roll back workplace protections,” Nixon went on. “They don’t even believe in things like the minimum wage should exist. You are not going to grow this economy by pushing down the workers.”
Nixon arrived in Charlotte on Wednesday, holding a late-night private fundraising reception on the patio of a nearby hotel after the roll-call vote at the arena formally nominating Obama for president.
Thursday’s breakfast also featured brief remarks by UAW president Bob King, and a cameo appearance by Democratic strategist and pundit Donna Brazile, who had canceled a Tuesday breakfast appearance before the Missouri delegation.
After the breakfast, the last for this Democratic convention, Missouri’s delegates posed for the group picture below.