CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Democratic National Convention kicks off tonight in Charlotte, N.C., with first lady Michelle Obama headlining the night.
Mrs. Obama will make the case that her husband cares about American families and deserves four more years to work on the economy.
On Monday, the Democratic Party released its platform. It begins with a focus on the economy and calls for a tax increase on Americans making more than $250,000 a year.
The platform also backs abortion rights and falls in line with President Obama's stance in favor of same-sex marriage.
It's a sharp contrast to the Republican platform as Democrats are eager to highlight the differences between the two parties.
The DNC begins with the presidential race locked in a dead heat. It's been 150 years since a political convention was held in the Carolinas and Democratic Party officials say their choice of Charlotte shows that they're fighting for the South this November.
Party leaders also believe success in North Carolina will spill over into Virginia, another key battleground state
Along with the pageantry and celebration of the convention, Democrats have a clear purpose: register voters and sign up scores of volunteers to help get out the vote in November.
That mission is evident as you walk the halls and Charlotte streets. North Carolina is important to team Obama. in 2008, even with the wind at his back, the president only won the state by 15,000 votes.
"North Carolina was tight in 2008, it will be tight this year," Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said. "I don't think it's going to be an easy state to win, but it is a state the president absolutely can win."
"He's got a ground force in North Carolina that is unrivaled and Mitt Romney has spent millions and millions and millions of dollars in North Carolina and can't seen to get any distance," he continued. "And I think that's an indication that this race is going to go all the way down to the wire."
Obama campaign officials say every speaker to take this stage will address how President Obama will build the economy from the middle class out.
Democrats also want to tell the story of where the president has been. They want to remind voters of the economic crisis he inherited.
That's the first lady's job. When Mrs. Obama speaks tonight she'll serve as the president's character witness and describe the personal side of how he's made the decisions that now make up the record he's running on.