Patrick and Warren will have the spotlight to make arguments like that next week. Current plans call for Patrick to speak on Tuesday night, and Warren on Wednesday.

Both figure to be particularly well-received among the Democratic party's base, including some demographics — African-Americans, working women, and younger progressives — whose enthusiasm may be the key to Obama's re-election.

Patrick has been stumping for Obama nationally, with a fiery defense of liberalism and the Obama record. Warren is a national progressive icon, skilled at delivering the counter-argument to Romney's "We Did Build This" theme. Just as important, Warren embodies the Democrats' aim to favor the interests of the everyday financial consumer against rapacious appetites of Wall Street's mega-institutions.

The big question on the minds of on some Democrats is whether Patrick and Warren are up to the job of savaging Romney. Scorching Romney's reputation is vital to winning over independent voters.

Patrick, as successor to Romney, should be the ideal spokesperson for such a task.

But local Democrats have wanted Patrick to criticize Romney from the first days of the 2007 corner office transition, and he has usually proven to be either unwilling or unable to do it.

Don't expect a huge change in his convention speech. Although it was still being written at press time, it will likely "include similar themes relative to keeping the American dream within reach," says Alex Goldstein, executive director of Patrick's Together PAC committee.

"I think you'll hear references to Mitt Romney in the governor's speech, and contrasts [between Romney and Obama]," Goldstein says. But it will mostly be "a defense of what it means to be a Democrat — what's right with us."

That's a theme that stretches back, through Patrick's recent e-book, and to his 2008 convention address in Denver — an appeal to the party's vision of governance that included the line: "Democrats don't deserve to win just because Republicans deserve to lose." It included only a few direct shots at that year's GOP nominee, John McCain.

As for Warren, on the stump she more commonly directs her criticism at congressional Republicans, the George W. Bush administration, and unnamed Wall Street lords of finance than at Romney — a formula that didn't change all that much when she introduced Obama at a large Boston fundraiser earlier this year.

MEDIA FOCUS

Direct, sustained assaults on Romney from his Bay State critics may come not from those featured speakers, but from others in the delegation.

Kerry, for instance, is expected by many to use his speech to take swings at that Romney piñata.

And then there are the rank-and-file delegates, who will be happy to talk off-stage about their former governor, to a rapt media horde looking for conflict to enliven what is in reality a made-for-television special.

"[Massachusetts delegates] get to be major players, not only in the convention hall but for the national press corps looking for stories about Mitt Romney," says Massachusetts Democratic consultant Michael Goldman.

Ironically, some of the best potential spokespeople on that topic are the same diehard Hillary Clinton supporters who caused trouble at the 2008 Democratic National Convention with their unwillingness to embrace Obama. Massachusetts was one of the very few states where large numbers of delegates refused to cast their nomination votes for Obama, even after Clinton released them.

Back then, the Obama campaign was desperate to keep those delegates away from the media spotlight. This time, it will be pushing them, and everyone else from Massachusetts, to the foreground.

David S. Bernstein can be reached at dbernstein@phx.com. Follow him on Twitter @dbernstein. 

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