CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Four times as many U.S. Democratic House members will have top roles in their party's convention than House Republicans had in theirs, the schedule indicates.
Twenty-seven House Democrats are to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., compared with seven GOP lawmakers who spoke onstage at the Republican gathering in Tampa, Fla., last week, the schedule first reported by Politico indicated.
Speakers at the Democratic convention, to begin Tuesday, are to include Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Assistant Leader Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Democratic congressional campaign committee Chairman Steven Israel of New York and Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut, the schedule says.
In Tampa, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, strongly endorsed by the Tea Party movement, and Whip Kevin McCarthy of California did not speak, Politico notes.
Lower-level and up-and-coming Democratic lawmakers are also to be featured during the Democrats' three-day convention, as will female lawmakers.
But Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois says the national political conventions may be becoming irrelevant.
"I think they're losing their relevance when you don't have a real contest at the convention. I don't think it has the impact on the American public it once had," Durbin told the Chicago Tribune.
"All the suspense is gone. I don't think anyone hangs on the delivery of the platform, the wording of it. I chaired the platform committee at two conventions and nobody even noticed. It really is the most unread document in American political history.
"There isn't much there in the way of excitement. You get to see some old friends and have a little fun together, but no major decisions are being made."
Conventions aren't even drawing many protesters this year. While about 1,000 people marched through Charlotte, N.C., Sunday -- topping the number who protested outside the Republican convention last week in Florida -- the number fell short of the 2,000 to 10,000 police expected, The Charlotte Observer said.
The list of grievances from the largely peaceful marchers included the treatment of illegal immigrants, allegedly unfair home foreclosures and concerns about the environment, gay rights, jobs and President Barack Obama's use of drone aircraft.
Two people were arrested during the 2-hour march. One was a 23-year-old woman who violated a local ordinance by wearing a mask and who was found to be carrying a knife, police said. The other was of a 32-year-old male spectator accused of public intoxication and assault on a government official.
Medics treated two people struggling in the 92-degree heat, the newspaper said.
Among the protesters were illegal immigrants from Phoenix, some wearing T-shirts that read, "Undocumented, Unafraid," and "Arrest Arpaio," referring to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, accused of targeting Hispanic immigrants in Arizona.
Marchers rallied past the towers in Charlotte's city center, known as Uptown, where Bank of America Corp. is headquartered, Wells Fargo & Co. has its East Coast headquarters and Duke Energy Corp., the nation's largest electric utility, is based.
"Banks got bailed out. We got sold out," demonstrators, including from the Occupy movement, chanted. Some waved homemade signs. One sign read, "Bail out People, Not Banks."
Environmental groups blame Duke for using coal, considered a major source of air pollution and greenhouse gases, and for not investing more in renewable energy sources, the Observer said. Those sources include sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat.
The Democratic National Convention begins Tuesday.
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