CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Protests have been little more than rumors at the two conventions - until Tuesday, when a group of about 50 people blocked a downtown intersection for about two hours, attracting hundreds of police officers.
It was the most tense demonstration yet outside either political convention.
Officers took two protesters away in handcuffs, other demonstrators got into shouting matches with delegates, and their standoff blocked a route used by delegate buses.
Still, no violence or significant damage occurred even after the protesters were eventually allowed to march into the heart of the central business district.
The group of about 50 protesters disrupted traffic by sitting down in the middle of an intersection about five blocks from where the convention hall. They were surrounded by officers, some in riot gear, and warned to disperse or be arrested.
The impasse was broken after two protesters spoke to the police chief and said they were told they could continue to walk as a group on sidewalks.
The stated goal of the demonstrators had been to talk to convention delegates, and the two groups came close to each other at the edge of the convention center. Some were seen shouting at each other through a line of police officers who were separating them with mountain bikes.
At one point, a group of delegates shouted, "Four more years!" The marchers responded, "No more years!"
If there is one phrase that dominated Sen. Charles E. Schumer's rah-rah speech before the New York delegation to the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, it was "middle class."
The senator made the case for President Obama's re-election by pointing out that middle-class incomes have declined for the first time since World War II and that hopes for the American dream could even be further reduced if Mitt Romney were to become president.
"This election will be decided by .who can convince the middle class that their programs, policies and vision can get them out of the rut they're in," he said.
"Perhaps the greatest sin of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party is one of narrowness - narrowness of experience, narrowness of perspective and narrowness of vision. Mitt Romney seems to believe that if you help him and people like him, that's all you need to do to help the middle class."
The senator defended Obama policies that stimulated infrastructure investment and poured money into education, and he blasted Romney for proposing looser business regulations that Schumer said would hurt "workers, the environment and the middle class."
Indeed, the theme of New York's delegation is plastered all over its posters and buttons in an apparent appeal to middle-class voters: "New York State - Progressive Capital of the Nation."
You might think that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would lie low here, or even stay away - far, far away.
But despite the controversy over the secret payment he authorized to settle a sexual-harassment case against Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez of Brooklyn, Silver sauntered through Charlotte as if nothing had happened.
He bowled a strike at the upscale lanes where the New York delegation was holding a party, and he received a warm reception at the delegation breakfast.
Afterward, he posed at the podium for photos with several people, including Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo.
With all respect to Clint Eastwood, some Democrats want Betty White to make their day.
Some Democrats are leading an effort to bring in the actress to speak at this week's convention . essentially to serve as a counter to the role that Eastwood played last week in helping to introduce Romney at the Republican convention.
A petition at the website says that Eastwood "gave a bad name to older Americans everywhere with his absurd and awkward-to-watch introduction of Governor Romney."
"Governor Romney can have Clint Eastwood and his improvisational skills because President Obama has the one and only Betty White!" the petition said.
Backers of the effort are encouraged to go to the Facebook page "Bring Betty White to the DNC." More than 33,000 people have liked the page so far.
- Staff and wire reports