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Utah Democrats far less prominent than Utah GOP at respective conventions

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CHARLOTTE — The Democratic National Convention gets under way this week in the Southern swing state of North Carolina.

The city: Charlotte. The headliner: President Barack Obama, fighting for reelection in a contest that couldn't be closer. The goal: Part pep rally for party faithful, part rebuttal to the Republicans.

The DNC four years ago was a historic moment for Obama, the man who wowed his party before a national audience and would soon become the nation's first African-American president.

"And then you and I together, we'll change the country and change the world," Obama said in that address.

Fast forward four years, his opponent is now Mitt Romney, not John McCain, and he's grappling with a still sluggish economy. Likely take away this week will "be a combination of hope and ‘I need more time,'" according to Tim Chambliss

Utah Republicans Like Mia Love and Jason Chaffetz were all over the events in Tampa, even landing coveted speaking spots.

ON the other hand, Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker is in Charlotte, but most top Utah Democrats are staying away.

"Locally, Democrats are very different than we are nationally," Becker said.

Jim Matheson, the lone Utah Democrat in Congress, now facing election opponent Mia Love, is skipping the convention to campaign and be with his family in Utah. He has never attended any DNC.

"I've always thought it's better to be home than be at a political convention where nothing's really going on with substance," Matheson said. "It's all decided already."

Republican lawmaker Jason Chaffetz says he'll be in Charlotte to dog the Democrats for Romney.

"We have a plan, President Obama doesn't have a plan," Chaffetz said. "It's that simple."

Utah Democrats say they have their own counterpoint to Romney, an event kicking off a new national LDS Democrats group.

"It's an opportunity for Democrats to get together and recharge," said Utah Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis.

The national LDS Democrats group holds that event Tuesday. The President speaks Thursday.

Democrats are likely to try to do three things to counter Republicans this week: Reenergize the base, reach out to swing voters and offer a rebuttal by explaining explain why the Romney, Ryan and the Republicans are wrong.

Democrats strategically choose North Carolina for this convention, similar to the choice of Colorado last time, hoping to pick up a swing state. In the past, North Carolina has gone GOP. In 2008, NC went to Obama, but recent polls show Obama narrowly trailing here.

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John Daley


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