Four years after the most divisive primary election battle in the party's history, thousands of Democratic delegates -- including 17 from Northwest Indiana -- will stand united this week in Charlotte, N.C., as Barack Obama accepts his party's nomination for a second term as president.
Gone is Obama's rivalry with then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., now the nation's secretary of state. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will officially re-nominate Obama this time around.
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr., a convention delegate and chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party, believes Americans watching convention coverage of a united Democratic Party will embrace the Democrats' message of support for the country's middle class.
"Bill Clinton was magical with independents and soft Democrats and I think that's what they're trying to touch on and bring some of the Clinton magic back into the party," McDermott said.
Public opinion polls show working class white males generally support Republican candidates this year even though most voted for Clinton in 1992 and 1996.
Luring that demographic back into the party could ensure victory for Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other Democrats including U.S. Senate candidate Joe Donnelly, gubernatorial candidate John Gregg and Democrats running for the Indiana House and Senate.
"If you have a strong national ticket, it can overwhelmingly elect Democrats across the country," McDermott said. "I like our ticket."
But the quadrennial party convention is more than just what's shown on television. State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, and Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen Jr., are both looking forward to networking with other Democratic delegates.
"It's a really good time for us to get fired up and realize we're not alone in this fight," Candelaria Reardon said. "Especially in a state like Indiana, where everything is controlled by one party, it feels good to commune with other colleagues of like mind."
Allen said he plans to discuss local government matters with county officials from other states to see how they've dealt with various challenges. He's also eager to help shape the issues Democratic candidates will run on this year and in upcoming elections.
"We'll get a chance to have an exchange of ideas concerning the Democratic platform and what we think the future of America should be," Allen said.
Both McDermott and Candelaria Reardon were first-time delegates to the 2008 convention in Denver. The Charlotte convention will be Allen's first trip to the national party meeting after participating in several state Democratic conventions.
Candelaria Reardon, who also attended the 1996 Chicago convention as a guest, said the convention is a fantastic kick-off to the campaign sprint leading to Election Day.
"It's a good opportunity for everybody to get on the same page with our message of fighting for working-class families," she said.
Looking ahead to 2016, when Obama will be ineligible to seek a third term, McDermott said Biden is likely the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nod due to his position as the incumbent vice president.
Candelaria Reardon and Allen both believe Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination in four years.