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Barack Obama and a key aide try to lower the Denver bar

August 24, 2008 |  6:28 am

DENVER -- Expect more of this as the Democratic convention week kicks into gear: Republicans heightening expectations for what will transpire (hoping they can then crow about their rivals falling short); Barack Obama and his team lowering expectations (hoping they will then exceed them). Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama speaks at the rally where he unveiled Joe Biden as his running mate

The Ticket took note previously of the outrageously over-the-top public memo from the John McCain camp predicting a conclave where harmony will reign (among Democrats?), Obama will deliver an acceptance speech for the ages and he'll get the biggest post-convention "bounce" in the polls witnessed since 1992.

On Saturday, efforts by the almost official Democratic presidential nominee and one of his top aides were in full swing to tamp down such talk and minimize what the convention will achieve.

In an interview published in the Chicago Tribune, Obama discussed the inevitable comparison that will be made between his upcoming speech and the keynote address he delivered at the 2004 convention -- which wowed his listeners and established a national presence for him.

"In some ways, four years ago was special because I didn't know any better," Obama told the Tribune's John McCormick. "I just sat in a hotel room watching a basketball game and wrote it up, most of it, sort of in one sitting."

He continued: "People have now heard me speak for the last four years and very intensely for the last two. In some ways, they've seen it and heard it before.... This is much more a yeoman-like task of making the case for my presidency and the need to move America in a fundamentally different direction."

But if "yeoman-like" rhetoric is what Obama has in mind, he did himself no favors by agreeing to deliver his speech in a stadium setting, rather than the more comfy (and much smaller) confines of a convention hall.

Weighing in with The Times' Mark Barabak, meanwhile, was top Obama strategist Anita Dunn.

"We don't look for a huge bounce" in the polls, she insisted. "The story of this race is more of a cumulative effect.... People need to get a sense of Barack Obama. Who he is, where he wants to lead the nation. This doesn't happen from one event. There's not going to be a single 'ah-ha' moment. The convention is part of a cumulative narrative of the campaign."

Yes, but it is a very, very important chapter -- one that is key to pushing along a storyline that has a happy ending for Democrats in November.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: EPA

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