Michelle Obama leads opening night of DNC

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Georgians inside the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday heard from former President Jimmy Carter and first lady Michelle Obama as waves of heavy rain soaked traffic filled streets outside.

Day one of the convention included a video with remarks by Carter and a keynote address from San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. The night ended with a speech from Obama. Party officials said there were no plans for President Barack Obama to attend on Tuesday.

"From President Obama's first day in office, I watched him, as I know you have, face tough decisions and always put the interest of middle class Americans above those who, often with the larger wallets, have a louder voice," Carter said in a videotaped message.

Carter then went on to praise Obama's economic policies.

"Because President Obama sits behind that desk, everyday people from Plains, Georgia to Pittsburgh, have someone on their side, thinking about them, working to give them an equal chance in life. In just four short years, he has worked to avert economic calamity, brought a dignified end to the ill-conceived war in Iraq and signed into law historic health care reform," Carter said.

Michelle Obama spoke after a keynote address delivered by Castro.

"While I believed deeply in my husband's vision for this country… and I was certain he would make an extraordinary president…like any mother, I was worried about what it would mean for our girls if he got that chance," Obama said.
Obama then spoke of her family and the president's family, and how each family struggled.

"Like so many American families, our families weren't asking for much. They didn't begrudge anyone else's success or care that others had much more than they did...in fact, they admired it," she said.

"They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don't start out with much, if you work hard and do what you're supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids," Obama said.

Nakima Williams, vice chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said Michelle Obama's speech is critical with such a focus on women's issues.

"I think she does an excellent job of connecting with everyday women and making sure people know who our president is and what he's done," Williams said.

Williams said Michelle Obama is the epitome of the working mom, "the everyday mom who's able to connect with people from all different walks of life and I think she's so genuine that she's going to connect with Democrats, Republicans and moderates."

The Georgia delegation held a breakfast on Tuesday morning at its hotel with guest speakers eager to begin the business at hand.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2009, said excitement is growing.

"Some people have been concerned because there didn't seem to be a high level of excitement about the election, and I wasn't worried about it," Lowery said.

"We're going to react to what we saw in Tampa. It hasn't set in yet. The desperation that came out of Clint Eastwood coming out hasn't surfaced yet. They (Republicans) had to be desperate to do something like that," Lowery told Channel 2 Action News.

Lowery said the Democrats have to make their case that America would be better off with Obama in the White House another four years.

"We've got to convince them, if Barack Obama had not been in the White House, considering the economic crisis that came, God knows where we'd be now," Lowery said.

Outside the convention on Tuesday afternoon, protestors drew a huge police presence on Stonewall Street outside the Charlotte Convention Center, where delegates and media working. Marchers made it past a declared demonstration area and blocked all bus routes to the convention center, an official told Channel 2 Action News.

Protesters told WSOC-TV they are marching for Pfc. Bradley Manning. Manning is the soldier accused of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks.

Dozens of officers, some armed with guns that had rubber bullets watched the crowd which started to disperse as heavy rains soaked the city.

Stay with Channel 2 Action News and WSBTV.com for continuing coverage of the Democratic National Convention. Channel 2's Justin Farmer and Lori Geary will report from the convention all week. You can also get live updates on Twitter from @WSBTV and @WSBVOTE.