As Democrats from around the country converge on the party convention in Charlotte, N.C., this week, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy will play a direct role in the proceedings, one in keeping with his new, more elevated profile in the party.
Malloy will deliver a speech at 6 p.m. tonight to the convention hall to rally support for the re-election of President Barack Obama, a task in which he will be joined by numerous other high-profile and up-and-coming Democrats during the three-day event, which began Tuesday.
The 6 p.m. billing comes before prime time and will not be broadcast on television. Nonetheless, Malloy told reporters last Monday that he was “tickled pink” to be speaking at all, and that he did not mind the time slot.
Since then he has offered few clues about the content of the speech. But if his remarks from the last month are any guide, it will feature a sharp critique of the policies embraced by the Republican ticket.
Malloy has been particularly critical of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican of Wisconsin and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate.
“I think Congressman Ryan is the gift that keeps on giving,” he said to reporters last Monday. “If you want to force senior citizens into poverty, if you want to take a gigantic share of their Social Security benefits and dedicate it to their private purchase of an insurance policy, then that’s your ticket,” he said.
Malloy also took aim at Clint Eastwood’s speech to the Republican convention last week, in which Eastwood pretended that Obama was sitting in an empty chair next to the podium.
“I may bring a chair up with me and talk to it,” Malloy joked to the Hartford Courant on Monday. “That was one of the high points of the entire convention — my favorite part of the convention. In a serious conversation, we’re going to talk about what the president has done and what the threats are of the policies of Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan,” he said.
Though Gov. Malloy is not speaking during prime time, his selection as a speaker showcases his rising profile in the party, said Gary Rose, professor of political science at Sacred Heart University.
“He’s been getting some national press, and he travels a lot for a sitting governor,” Rose said. “He has made a name for himself by taking on teachers unions and public employee unions and forcing concessions from them.”
But the governor’s immediate role in the election, said Rose, is a practical one. “Malloy’s task right now has become more refined, which is to deliver Connecticut’s seven electoral votes to President Obama,” he said.
Connecticut, he explained, is less securely Democratic than in recent election cycles. The president carried Connecticut by 22 points in 2008, but an Aug. 28 poll conducted by Quinnipiac University showed Obama ahead of Romney by only seven points among likely voters.
To assist the president’s reelection effort, Malloy has taken to the campaign trail in recent weeks, speaking at two events in New Hampshire on Aug. 25.
Addressing supporters at a community picnic in Hampton, N.H., Malloy said the Romney-Ryan ticket would “take apart America as we know it,” according to Seacoast Online, a regional newspaper.
He also said that the Republican ticket is “worse than Barry Goldwater’s would have been for the United States” and that “anyone who votes for the Romney-Ryan team is out of their mind.”
Although it will not be televised, Gov. Malloy’s speech can be viewed via an online live stream. The Democratic National Convention runs until Thursday, ending with President Obama’s speech accepting the party’s nomination on Thursday night.