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Convention opening night spotlight on first lady

Wednesday, September 05, 2012    

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NORTH CAROLINA, USA (AP) — In a tight race for the White House, President Barack Obama exhorted college students not to forget him despite difficult times yesterday as Democrats shone the spotlight on his wife at the opening of their national convention.

Republicans weren't alone in pointing out the economic troubles in an election year shadowed by a sluggish recovery and unemployment of 8.3 per cent. "It's tough out there" for many Americans, conceded Elizabeth Warren, running for a Senate seat now in Republican hands in Massachusetts.

Obama, campaigning at Norfolk State University in Virginia, said things will only get worse if Republican Mitt Romney wins the White House this fall, and he told his college-age audience that Election Day apathy was his enemy - and theirs.

Republicans are "counting on you, maybe not to vote for Romney, but they're counting on you to feel discouraged," he said. "And they figure if you don't vote, then big oil will write our energy future, and insurance companies will write our health care plans, and politicians will dictate what a woman can or can't do when it comes to her own health."

"They're counting on you just to accept their version of things," he said at the final stop of a pre-convention campaign circuit of several of the battleground states likely to settle the race.

Hundreds of miles distant, in another swing state, the Time Warner Cable Arena's conversion to the Democrats' made-for-television convention hall was complete. The lectern rested on a blue-carpeted stage, inside a circle of white stars suggestive of the presidential seal.

Opening night speakers included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who claimed without any proof last month that Republican challenger Romney may not have paid income taxes for years despite his wealth.

Romney denied it, and Reid refused to say who had told him otherwise.

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