CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee who famously opened his nominating speech with "I am John Kerry and I am reporting for duty," will lead the charge for President Obama here this week against Mitt Romney's lack of foreign policy experience and reluctance to talk about the war in his convention speech in Tampa last week.
Democratic officials said that Kerry will accuse Romney of a "go-it-alone" foreign policy that will make America more dangerous than under Obama.
Previewing Kerry's Thursday night speech, an Obama campaign official said, "He will contrast the president's strong leadership in this area with Mitt Romney, who has embraced the go-it-alone, reckless policies of the past that weakened America's place in the world and made us less secure here at home."
The Obama campaign sees an opening in Romney's lack of foreign policy experience as a way to reach out to veterans and military voters. But the Romney campaign doesn't think that foreign policy is driving the election this year which is dominated by economic issues.
Obama himself faced similar questions when he ran for president, but his choice of Joe Biden, then a foreign policy thought leader in the Senate, quieted those worries. And in office he has generally followed former President Bush's policy map.
Ever since Romney's speech last week, the Obama campaign has been distributing critical news stories about the lack of war or foreign policy talk in the address.
"At a time when tens of thousands of American troops are fighting in Afghanistan, Mitt Romney didn't find a moment to mention Afghanistan in his almost 45-minute acceptance speech. Maybe it's because he has failed to outline a plan to end the war there and bring our troops home. But the American people - and our men and women in uniform - deserve more from someone running to be Commander-in-Chief," said the Obama official.
For Kerry the speech is more than just a spotlight to show off his foreign policy creds as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. For many observers, it will also be an audition to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. She plans to retire at the end of Obama's first term in January.
Kerry will also put his Vietnam Veteran cap on and give a tribute to those in the military, said the campaign official.
"The American people understand that President Obama has been a strong commander-in-chief, and we're looking forward to highlighting these important issues at the convention. Senator Kerry will speak to how the President has restored America's leadership in the world, has taken the fight to our enemies, and has a plan to bring our troops home from Afghanistan just like he did from Iraq," said the official.