What to look for at the Democratic National Convention

Here is your Fox News Channel viewing guide for the 2012 Democratic National Convention from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Everything happening on the TV stage is bracketed by two stars, the Democratic titans – President Clinton and President Obama.

But between the Clinton and Obama speeches there are plots, sub-plots, characters and rivalries. Here is what to watch for as you tune into Fox for DNC coverage.

First, look for who you do not see at the convention.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill will be staying home. So will Montana Senate Candidate Jon Tester. In fact there will be a lot of Democrats from conservative leaning states and congressional districts who will be excusing themselves from Charlotte.

Another face you won’t see is former Vice President Al Gore. You won’t see former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, either. Much as former Vice President Cheney was absent in Tampa, along with ’08 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, the vice presidential class won’t be on camera from this year’s conventions.

This brand of reality television comes once every four years.

As for what will be visible on the TV screen – the first speech worth watching will come from San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.

The convention's Day One key note speaker will be the 37-year-old Castro. His goal is to extend President Obama's commanding lead with Latino voters. The President leads Romney by 35 points among Latino voters.

Castro will be compared with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican of Cuban descent, who gave a rousing speech introducing Mitt Romney last week. Unlike Rubio, however, Castro is not well-known in national political circles. First impressions count and this is Mayor Castro’s moment.

Castro sets the stage for the big event of the first night. The big pay-off will come from First Lady Michelle Obama.

Her stated goal is to appeal to women voters – a critical vote in this year’s election. Winning support from all women but especially suburban women is the number one theme of the convention. It will continue on Day Two with a must-see TV speech from Sandra Fluke, the student who testified in Congress in favor of contraceptives being covered by health care plans, even those with religious affiliation.

Mrs. Obama also has a special power in black America with Chicago roots that make her much more familiar a character than her husband who grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia. When it comes to stirring the black vote she is second only to the president. Watch for signals.

On a personal level Mrs. Obama is very popular with most Americans. She has a 66 personal approval rating, according to Gallup.

In addition to Mrs. Obama, two other women who have been the targets for Republicans this past year will be on your TV on Wednesday.

First, will be Fluke. Obscured by the attacks on Ms. Fluke by Rush Limbaugh and others is her personal story. She saw a fellow student suffering from cancer denied the contraceptives she needed because religious institutions prohibited coverage of medicine that also has a birth control application. Ms. Fluke's friend nearly died and had to have one of her ovaries removed because she couldn't get the medicine she needed.

Fluke is a key symbol of what the Democrats call the "War on Women." It is not the strength of her words that count at the convention but whether she is able to moderate her message so as to win over women who may be pro-life.

The second female speaker to look out for is Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who is running for US Senate against Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Brown has mocked Warren as "Queen Elizabeth" and Republicans have criticized her as a critic of business and all capitalism.

Don’t look to Warren for a moderate message. Her job is to throw red meat at the GOP for refusing to raise taxes on upper-income Americans.

Warren was one of the first national Democrats to raise income inequality and tax fairness as issues in the campaign. Polls show that most Americans agree with President Obama's proposal to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to what they were during the Clinton administration.

Look for Bill Clinton to pick up where Warren leaves off in her critique.

But the main event at this convention will be the dynamic between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary but later appointed her as his Secretary of State. She presently enjoys higher favorability ratings than President Obama.

Don’t forget that Bill Clinton came to Mitt Romney's defense earlier this summer over the attacks on his record at Bain Capital. Clinton said Romney had a "sterling business career" and even suggested extending the Bush tax cut in their entirety for a while longer.

Yet, Clinton has come to the President Obama's defense over the false charge made by Republicans in ads that President Obama wants to end the work requirements in Clinton’s welfare reform legislation.

Clinton has said this is a false claim.

Watch carefully to see how Clinton portrays Obama in his speech. Will he cast him as being like he was - a centrist who tried to move to the right in his second term to forge compromise with Republicans in Congress for the good of the country?

Or will he endorse Obama for making a different decision by becoming a populist opponent of the GOP - a tribune of the people fighting for the poor and working class against parasitic big business, banks, and insurance companies?

The convention will close with President Obama exercising his one great advantage over Mitt Romney -- his spectacular ability as a political orator.

Look for him to cast Romney as an agent of the failed policies of the Bush administration. Obama joked last week that the GOP convention might as well have been broadcast in Black and White television -- with the speakers dredging up old, discredited ideas from the past.

Also, look for Obama to do what Mitt Romney did not do -- praise the troops fighting overseas and discuss U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Expect him to talk about how his administration killed Usama bin Laden, escalated drone attacks in Afghanistan and ended the unpopular war in Iraq. He has to do this carefully or risk being accused of taking too much credit.

So, there you have it. This brand of reality television comes once every four years.