Democratic Party heavyweights descended on Charlotte, North Carolina, heading into Day Two of the National Convention even as delegates and speakers alike caucused to squeeze out an affirmative reply to the question: “Are we better off than we were four years ago?”

Top-slotted speakers at the Charlotte Convention Centre podium on Tuesday evening included First Lady Michelle Obama and two rising stars – and potential 2016 election nominees – Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and the Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julian Castro.

Core issue

The plans for the evening were firmed up as the delegates and panels continued to focus on the core question of how to improve the economic situation for middle-class Americans — an issue that is likely to remain front and centre until the November elections at least.

Social issues such as gay rights, abortion, women’s rights and immigration will be a close second, though Republicans tended to avoid giving the latter as much attention as jobs creation.

Several prominent Indian-Americans also featured as official speakers addressing gathered delegates, including Kal Penn, former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and Kamala Harris, State Attorney General of California.

Mr. Penn, a star from the ‘Harold and Kumar’ hit movie series, also featured in a humorous Obama campaign video reminding voters that they could watch the event unfold via the convention’s online coverage, “an apparent appeal for young voters”.

The stellar line-up for Tuesday was announced even as President Barack Obama, close on the heels of a flattering documentary on his first term released by CNN news channel, gave his governance during the last four years an “incomplete” grade.

However, he added, “But what I would say is the steps that we have taken in saving the auto industry, in making sure that college is more affordable and investing in clean energy and science and technology and research, those are all the things that we are going to need to grow over the long term.”

Recent polls have placed him either marginally ahead of or on par with Republican contender and former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney. Mr. Obama is said to be hoping for a “poll bump” after the convention.

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