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Avlon's 5 questions the DNC must answer

By John Avlon, CNN Contributor
updated 5:29 PM EDT, Wed September 5, 2012
The Obama family takes to the stage as the gathering draws to a close on Thursday, September 6, the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/27/politics/gallery/best-of-rnc/index.html' target='_blank'>See the best photos from the Republican National Convention. </a> The Obama family takes to the stage as the gathering draws to a close on Thursday, September 6, the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. See the best photos from the Republican National Convention.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Weather concerns have shifted the venue for President Obama's speech on Thursday
  • The DNC and President Obama need to resolve several looming issues this week
  • Enthusiasm, the Blue Dogs, a deep bench and a second-term agenda are among questions they face

Editor's note: Now that the 2012 Democratic National Convention is underway in Charlotte, CNN contributor John Avlon offers his Top 5 questions President Obama and the DNC must resolve during the rest of the week.

1) Where is Obama's Second Term Agenda? -- President Barack Obama's Thursday night nomination speech, now being held in the tight Time Warner Cable Arena due to weather concerns, needs to lay out a specific second-term agenda. For Obama, simply promising more of the same isn't enough to earn re-election. He's got to lay out a specific contrasting plan with some new details, because the curse of being Barack Obama is that giving a great speech isn't good enough anymore.

2) How Deep is the Bench? -- Nobody doubts Obama's star power, but the question is his effectiveness as a party builder. The Republican convention gave a clear look at their future stars: Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio. Who do Democrats have on the bench? San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro gave a very impressive keynote speech -- but can he win statewide in Texas?

3) Are Blue Dogs Still Alive? -- When Bill Clinton brought Democrats back from three consecutive elections losing more than 40 states apiece, it was because he was able to re-center the party -- winning over moderates and the middle class, particularly in the South. The Party of Obama has seen an erosion of those voters, largely due to greater polarization. Bill Clinton's speech on Wednesday will be a key test of whether those Blue Dogs can still hunt, and whether a state like North Carolina is still within reach.

4) Can they bridge the Enthusiasm Gap? -- This has been a relentlessly negative election, playing to the base of both parties with ads attacking the opposition rather than building up their own side. Republicans tried to praise their nominee rather than attack the president at their convention, but their energy is more anti-Obama than pro-Romney. The questions is whether the energy in the Charlotte convention hall is pro-Obama or anti-Romney. The positive always beats the negative, if it is of equal intensity,

5) Is there life outside the arena? --Get out and enjoy the city of Charlotte and the entire convention experience. Pay attention to the big speeches and pick your favorite panels -- but this is a time for reconnection and conversation and exploring the host city, one of the great cities of the South. Sleep can come later. Make sure you take advantage of every moment here in North Carolina.

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