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THE MAIN EVENT: The DNC wraps up tonight in Charlotte with President Obama addressing the nation from the relatively cosy confines of the Time Warner Cable Arena. The president couldn't have asked for a better lead-in: Julian Castro and Michelle Obama got high marks from most observers Tuesday night, and Bill Clinton's instant classic of a speech brought the partisan crowd to a fever pitch last night. Now, it's up to Obama to convince Americans to give him another four years as commander-in-chief.
A PREVIEW: "The president now has an opportunity to talk about how we lift the country, how we rebuild the middle class, the things we have to do together to achieve the kind of future that people are looking for," Obama advisor David Axelrod told MSNBC.
EXPECTATIONS: Given the nearly-orgasmic reaction that Clinton's speech drew from his party's faithful, the bar is clearly set mighty high for Obama. Slate's John Dickerson tells it like it is: "Clinton is a tough act to follow. It wasn't supposed to be that way. Obama was going to speak in the vast Bank of America stadium outdoors, but the bad weather changed things. The sweeping plans to follow Bill Clinton were not to be. Obama will have to settle with a less grand result than he’d once envisioned. It’s an outcome not unlike the Obama presidency itself."
DOES OBAMA KNOW TOMORROW'S JOBS NUMBERS TODAY?: We ask, New York magazine answers: "[B]y tonight, the president will know how many jobs the U.S. economy added in August, a day before the rest of the country. The all-important non-farm payrolls report, which is released on the first Friday of every month, is available to the president the day before, provided he can find a secured line to call in to his economic advisors."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The New York Times has a rundown. A snippet: "This convention has been notable for the repeated focus, every night, on social issues: There has been talk about abortion rights, contraception, same-sex marriage and the lifting of the ban on gays serving openly in the military. The issues play well inside the convention; but perhaps not as well across the country. Will Mr. Obama feel a need to spend much time talking about these issues, or has that box already been checked?"
WHAT TEAM OBAMA WILL BE WATCHING FOR: Slate's Sasha Issenberg: "The metric of the day for Barack Obama’s field team is 'flake rate': the percentage of supporters who had registered to attend his open-air stadium speech but won’t show up for one of the replacement events the campaign is scrambling to arrange in its place after moving tonight’s convention session indoors."
WHAT YOU SHOULDN'T WATCH FOR: Balloons. CNN explains: "The balloon drop that traditionally concludes a presidential convention will not happen following President Obama's acceptance speech. A Democratic official confirmed to CNN that 'there will be a festive conclusion to Thursday night's session, but no balloons.'"
Happy Thursday and welcome to the Slatest PM, where, if we squint, we can see the weekend from here. Follow the entire @slatest team and @JoshVoorhees on Twitter, or fill your host's inbox with whatever's on your mind at firstname.lastname@example.org.
REALLY, ALREADY?: Politico proves that it can spin a story forward like none other in the business: "The calendar may read 2012, but at the Iowa delegation’s breakfast here Wednesday the trio of ambitious Democrats were already making introductions and grasping for local connections that could serve them well when the caucuses come around in four years. And Warner, Klobuchar and O’Malley—respectively senators from Virginia and Minnesota and the governor of Maryland—were hardly alone among the ranks of 2016-minded Democrats making the trek to a tent in the parking lot of a modest suburban hotel well away from the swanky convention scene in this city’s 'uptown' hub."
REWIND: Before we all start dreaming of 2016, let's take a quick look back at the most surprising piece of economic data wielded as a talking point last night: Bill Clinton's "jobs score." Here's what he said: "Well since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!" And the judge rules: Correct answer.
IT WASN'T A FLUKE: XX Factor's Amanda Marcotte on the DNC's decision to move Sandra Fluke to a more visible slot last night: "After decades of playing along with conservatives who dress up their hostility to female sexuality as nothing more than an interest in 'life,' Democrats have finally realized that baiting the anti-choice right into showing its misogynist, sex-phobic side may just be a winning strategy."
IN NON-CONVENTION NEWS—
POP QUIZ: If you thought Obama would have an overwhelming advantage over Mitt Romney in a debate of the top American science questions, you’d be wrong. Slate's Laura Helmuth explains: "On Tuesday, the candidates submitted answers to the 14 'most important science policy questions facing the United States.' The Q-and-A session was organized by Science Debate, a grassroots, nonpartisan, do-gooder group that has been trying since 2008 to get the presidential candidates to engage in a live debate about science and science policy. ... If you scroll through [the answers] quickly, one thing is immediately apparent: Mitt Romney’s team took this very seriously."
YOU REMEMBER TODD AKIN, RIGHT?: Well, he's successfully clawed himself back into his Senate race, despite the battering he's taken from both sides of the aisle.
ACADEMIC GRUDGE MATCH, CONT.: The feud between James Franco and one of his old New York University professors continues. The latest: José Angel Santana is suing his former student for defamation.
DREW PETERSON VERDICT: Guilty. AP: "Peterson, the swaggering former suburban Chicago police officer who generated a media storm after his much-younger fourth wife vanished in 2007, was convicted Thursday of murdering his third wife in a case based mainly on secondhand hearsay statements from the two women."
CHECKING THE TRAPS—
NYT: "The European Central bank took its most ambitious step yet toward easing the euro zone crisis, assuming sweeping new powers to throw its unlimited financial clout behind an effort to protect Spain and Italy from financial collapse."
WSJ: "Amazon unveiled new versions of its Kindle Fire tablet as it ratchets up competition in the tablet market. The new Kindle Fire HD will come in a larger 8.9-inch screen for $299, and the price on the original Kindle Fire will drop to $159."
WaPo: "Western spy agencies suspect the Syrian government has dispersed several hundred tons of chemical weapons and precursor components across as many as 20 sites across the country, heightening anxieties over the ability to secure the arsenals in the event of a complete breakdown of authority in the war-torn nation, U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say."
AP: "Laboratory tests show that globs of oil found on two Louisiana beaches after Hurricane Isaac came from the 2010 BP spill."
Reuters: "A human rights organization says it has collected evidence of two previously unreported cases in which U.S. agents used waterboarding or a similar harsh interrogation technique on Libyan militants held by American forces in Afghanistan."
ALL REPORTING JOBS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL: Need proof? Check out Leon Neyfakh's awesome "I Ate Every Variety of Pepperidge Farm Cookie" completist.
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