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This Week In Politics: Convention Speakers, Romney's Gaffes Abroad...

Leading up to next month's Democratic National Convention and to the November election, most Fridays, Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer is joining Morning Edition host Duncan McFadyen to talk politics. MCFADYEN: Professor Bitzer, good morning. BITZER: Good morning. MCFADYEN: So the big news out of the Charlotte area in politics this week: the Democratic National Convention Committee announced the speakers' line up for next month. Were there any surprises there? What stands out to you? BITZER: The Democrats and the Obama campaign have really lined up three constituent groups they're going to have to have in their back pocket in this campaign. The first was Elizabeth Warren, the senate candidate in Massachusetts trying to reclaim Ted Kennedy's seat from incumbent Republican Scott Brown. They're going after the women's vote and have even used campaign ads to focus in on women's issues. That's a big name coming in to appeal to that group. The other speaker---the keynote speaker---is San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro who is going to appeal to the Latino vote. And that is going to be critical in a couple of key battleground swing states: New Mexico and Nevada. But really the third one that was kind of surprising was former President Bill Clinton. And he's going to be focused on rallying the base of the Democratic party. He's a rock star in Democratic party politics. He's got 90 percent approval rating among democrats. Well over two-thirds of Americans have a high approval rating of him. So this trifecta of key groups are crucial voting blocks that Democrats are going to need in the general election. MCFADYEN: Why was former President Clinton a surprise? BITZER: Certainly bringing back a former president is something that might trample on a current president. It appears that President Obama is comfortable enough with the past president. He wants to use his high approval ratings and to kind of make a claim back to the Clinton years of "look how good we had it," in comparison to what was going on with the subsequent president, George W. Bush. So it's a play in between recalling the past glory days of the Clinton administration as well as approving it to fire up the base. MCFADYEN: Aside from his 90 percent approval rating among Democrats, Bill Clinton is from Arkansas---he's a Southerner. Do you think there's an attempt to appeal to the Southern vote by asking him to speak? BITZER: I certainly think so. I think the big issue is he's probably not going to play very well in his old home state. That's a pretty red Republican state right now. But certainly in states like North Carolina and Virginia, Bill Clinton could be another one of those key weapons in an already toss-up state. MCFADYEN: And we should point out here that the RNC, which is a week before the DNC in Tampa, Fla., has not released their list of speakers yet. Is it weird that the Democrats got a jump on Republicans? BITZER: It kind of is, because typically the tradition has been the party out of power holds their convention first. We're coming up on the Republicans' convention. We haven't heard about Romney's vice presidential nominee. We haven't heard about the major speakers. There are some rumors that perhaps New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. It's kind odd that we haven't really heard much from the Republicans yet. It's kind of a missed oportynity that Democrats have jumped on and taken advantage of. MCFADYEN: Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney made a trip abroad last week. And he got some bad press for some gaffes he made; when he was in London, he made some remarks about the city maybe not being ready for the Olympics. When he was in Israel, he referred to Jerusalem as the capital of that country. BITZER: These are really gaffes-du-jour, just bumps in the road. But his campaign has got to have a much smoother operation. He should know that these are unforced errors that he does not need to make. These are unintended negative stories coming out, and granted we're probably not going to remember this come October. But these are things that really are unsettling for a general campaign that has been basically running for the last four years for the presidency. MCFADYEN: Professor Bitzer, thanks for your time. BITZER: Thank you, my pleasure.