Maryann Tobin

When Newark Mayor Cory Booker took the stage on Tuesday night at the DNC in Charlotte, N.C., no one expected him to shine like the next big star of the Democratic Party. But shine he did.

Booker had the crowd of delegates on their feet as he powerfully reminded Democrats what their party stood for and why America needed to keep Barack Obama in the White House for four more years.

"Our platform, crafted by Democrats, is not about partisanship but pragmatism; not about left or right, but about moving America and our economy forward," Booker said. "Our platform and our president make it clear that the most critical investment we can make in a 21st-century, knowledge-based economy is education."

The comments were both a subtle stab at the deep cuts to essential programs imbedded in the Mitt Romney campaign message and a call for unity among a sharply divided electorate.

But Booker did not stop at the importance of education. The mayor highlighted the stark contrast between Romney and the Republicans' plans, and what four more years of an Obama presidency would mean to Americans. He spoke in specific terms, and defended the democratic principals of inclusion that the Romney-Ryan ticket is against, mostly in the form of personal rights and preserving the role of government in creating opportunity for working-class families.

Free choice for women, the right to marry for same sex couples, the long-term value of investing in teachers and education, children, immigrants, and tax fairness topped the list of priorities that Republicans would cut in order to expand Bush-era tax policies and subsidies that favor the rich.

While stating the Democratic platform, Booker was interrupted by cheers from the hall as he reminded Americans that favoring the "fortunate few" and shrinking the government to the point where it is powerless to support growth for the next generation, is not the path to prosperity.

As the messages went throughout the night, Booker emphasized the fundamental differences between how Republicans and Democrats view the functions of government. Democrats believe that the government can and should play a role in providing opportunity for the less privileged by birth. Moreover, that opportunity should not be limited by skin color, sexual orientation, gender, or religious beliefs.

"This is our platform. This is our American mission. These are the dreams of our fathers and mothers. This is the demand from the next generation, who call to our conscience in a chorus of conviction, in classrooms from north to south, from sea to shining sea, when they proudly proclaim with those sacred words from our most profound pledge, that we are a nation with liberty and justice for all."

There was an obvious air of enthusiasm at the DNC that was conspicuously absent at last week's Republican National Convention. Perhaps it was because the issues that concern Democrats resonate with more Americans, or perhaps the crowd in Charlotte just liked what they were hearing better than the GOP supporters that gathered in Tampa, liked the message they heard.

Regardless, both party's have made it clear that voters will be offered a clear choice in November.

The message from Republicans merged the role of government with strict religious beliefs about religion and women's rights and separated Americans in groups that were defined as the cause of the countries' problems. The message was negative, which in in tune with the anti-Obama sentiment Republicans have stirred since the president took office.

Moreover, the Republican path leads to cutting off America's safety nets and more deeply dividing the economic rift between rich and poor.

Booker outlined a very different path for an America led by Democrats. It fosters governments' role as a key player in helping turn the poor into the middle-class. It does not demonize government spending, as the Republicans do, because democrats fundamentally believe that America does best socially and economically when more people have more money and more free choices, instead of funneling money to the top and letting everyone else fend for themselves.

Read the full transcript of Cory Booker's DNC speech on Politico.

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