PHILADELPHIA -- When Barack Obama spoke at his final Democratic convention as president Wednesday night, it was impossible not to remember the night in 2004 when his first speech to the DNC in Boston launched him onto a lightening-fast path to the White House.

He was just a state senator then, but convention speeches can do that for a person who is able to match his rhetoric to the moment. It happened for Sen. Marco Rubio after he spoke to the Republican National Convention four years ago, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who can trace his spot on the short list for vice president this year to the speech he delivered as the mayor of San Antonio to the 2012 DNC.

So as the Republican and Democratic conventions wrapped up this week and last, I was curious to hear who party members and attendees thought had popped out as their parties' rising stars. But instead of long lists of new names, I almost universally got blank stares or extended silences.

"Um, nobody?" one Democrat said to me. Republicans had just about the same answer.

[ Daddy Issues Blow Up the GOP in Cleveland ]

For very different reasons, the conventions featured the faces of the past and present for each party, but the obvious stars of the future were harder to find.

For the Republicans in Cleveland, there were so many no-shows at the convention to nominate Donald Trump that the event became a huge missed opportunity to showcase their best and brightest talents. Neither South Carolina Gov, Nikki Haley nor Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval spoke last week at what could be their last moment on the national stage.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez stayed away and so did every member of the Bush family, including George P. Bush, Jeb's son and the land commissioner of Texas who is widely assumed to be the next Bush likely to be a breakout star.

I followed up with several delegates who went to the RNC to see who they remembered best. No one really stood out, one delegate said to me. Another agreed and added, "I'm sad for our country."

Others worried that if Trump fares poorly in November, he could take out dozens of the party's future leaders with him, whether they went to the Cleveland convention or not.

Democrats in Philadelphia seemed to have the opposite problem. With so many of the party's current generation of leaders and superstars in prime time spots, from Michelle Obama to Bill Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Barack Obama, there was simply too little light or oxygen left over for still-growing talent.

"There just wasn't room for anyone else," a delegate told me. When I asked another who might have emerged as the next Obama, the answer I got back was a shoulder shrug. "There's not much of a bench."

[ Michelle Obama: Star of the RNC and, Perhaps, the DNC ]

Together, the conventions seemed to both reflect and presage a potential lost generation of political leaders. The Trump factor may already be wiping out opportunities for young Republican leaders, who either don't want to be associated with him or won't have their jobs if he causes major losses down-ballot.

On the Democratic side, the two Obama terms were remembered in Philadelphia as eight years of moving forward on progressive promises, but they also cost Democrats control of the House and Senate and took out dozens of potential stars in the process. Would one of those defeated Democrats have risen to prominence at the DNC? We'll never know.

Of the conventions speakers who got the most buzz, Ivanka Trump and first lady Michelle Obama stood out as two of the very best. But they were deliberately apolitical speeches from two women who appear to have no interest in going into politics. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker's performance stood out for some Democrats, but even he couldn't mail down one of the highest profile, late-in-the week slots with so many others getting the time.

We don't know yet how November will turn out, but it was easy enough to see this week that we'll have to wait four more years to see what the future is really going to look like for Democrats and Republicans, because we definitely didn't see it at the parties' conventions.

Roll Call columnist Patricia Murphy covers national politics for The Daily Beast. Previously, she was the Capitol Hill bureau chief for Politics Daily and founder and editor of Citizen Jane Politics. Follow her on Twitter @1PatriciaMurphy.

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Bill Clinton tweeted last night that watching his daughter Chelsea introduce her mother at the Democratic National Convention was one of the greatest moments of his life. It seems that he came down from that emotional high pretty quickly. Tuesday I said Chelsea’s birth was the greatest moment of my life. Seeing her introduce her mother tonight is right up there! #DemsinPhilly — Bill Clinton (@billclinton) July 29, 2016

While Hillary Clinton was giving her acceptance speech, video appears to show the former president falling asleep. Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's running mate, appears to glance over at the former president, whose eyes are closed, then looks off camera to his left before leaning forward as if to block the camera's view.

It didn't take long for some people to have a little fun at his expense. I'm w/ Bill re @hillaryclinton speech: #snoozeaway — Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) July 29, 2016

"Honest to God Bill, one time, one freakin' time, all you have to do is pretend to care and you fall freakin' asleep and it's everywhere!" — Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) July 29, 2016

Gotta love Bill Clinton falling asleep at the Democratic National Convention  — Logan Brookins (@BR00KS___) July 29, 2016

Is @billclinton falling asleep?? #DemsInPhilly lol I think he is — Chris (@ChrisTakedown) July 29, 2016

BILL CLINTON IS FALLING ASLEEP IM DYING  — Emma ☕️ (@EmmaWalker99) July 29, 2016

Maybe Bill Clinton was trying to make the power nap great again.

The gif I've been waiting for: Bill Clinton playing with balloons — Rob Tornoe (@RobTornoe) July 29, 2016

find someone who looks at u the way bill clinton looks at balloons — Taylor Trudon (@taylortrudon) July 29, 2016

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Nothing that a few balloons couldn't cure, though.

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PHILADELPHIA — No issue has elicited greater cheers from inside the convention hall this week than gay rights.

But it hasn't always been that way.

The party only officially embraced same-sex marriage in its platform four years ago, and this year's nominees, Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, came around on the issue after that.

This year, though, speaker after speaker at the Democratic National Convention demanded equal treatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a New York congressman who has led the fight on Capitol Hill, spoke Thursday. And for the first time at any political convention, an openly transgender woman addressed the delegates.

[ Full Coverage of the Republican National Convention ]

The Democratic party has evolved in "an incredibly short period of time," said New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley, the first openly gay vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

"It was hard," he said of the push to include marriage equality in the platform four years ago. "Allowing people to get there is always the answer."

Speakers on the final night of the convention, including Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, underscored that the Democratic Party is the original home of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

"Long before Donald Trump struggled to read the letters 'LGBTQ' off a teleprompter last week, Hillary Clinton stood before the United Nations and boldly declared that gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights," Griffin said.

A night earlier, the Democratic delegates erupted with applause during a video introduction for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. that replayed his 2012 "Meet the Press" interview in which he came out in support of gay marriage.

What was left to history, though, was the reminder that it was Biden who pushed the president forward on the issue, just four years ago, when the Democratic Party was less hospitable to the LGBT community than it is now.

The first openly transgender convention speaker, Sarah McBride, testified to that evolution in her own Thursday night convention speech.

"Four years ago, I came out as transgender while serving as student body president in college. At the time, I was scared. I worried that my dreams and my identity were mutually exclusive," she said.

But times have changed, said McBride, who serves as national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign.

[ The Latest from the Democratic Convention: Day 4 ]

And nowhere is that more visible than in the political evolution of this year's Democratic ticket.

Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, whom the Clinton campaign is touting as a "progressive" addition to the ballot, said he opposed same-sex marriage in a 2005 campaign ad during his successful run for Virginia governor. His position shifted — first toward support of civil unions and then for same-sex marriage — by the time he ran for the Senate in 2012.

Clinton has also had to answer for her husband's legacy on the issue. President Bill Clinton signed both the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for federal purposes as one between a man and a woman, and the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" compromise legislation — which allowed gay men and women to serve in the military only if they didn't tell anyone about their sexual orientation. Obama repealed the stopgap policy in 2011 after nearly two decades on the books.

Hillary Clinton announced her support for same-sex marriage in a March 2013 video . But in 2014, the issue was the focus of a tense interview with public radio's Terry Gross in which Clinton discussed her changing views.

"I think I'm an American," Clinton said. "And I think we have all evolved, and it's been one of the fastest, most sweeping transformations."

The following year, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law of the land . More than 60 percent of Americans now support the idea, according to a July Gallup Poll . In 1996, only 27 percent said same-sex marriage should be legal.

Support for gay rights has also become increasingly bipartisan, with prominent Republicans such as Ohio Sen. Rob Portman embracing it.

[ Proud to Be Gay — A Different Message for the Republican Convention ]

And after last month's shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a few Republicans have spoken about gay rights in the context of national security.

"As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology, believe me," Donald Trump told the crowd at last week's Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

And then the Manhattan billionaire went off script, adding, "And I have to say as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you."

Another GOP convention speaker , venture capitalist Peter Thiel, told the Cleveland crowd last week, "I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all I am proud to be an American."

Still, the GOP's platform continues to define marriage as between one man and one woman and condemns the Supreme Court's recents rulings in favor of marriage equality. Beyond the marriage issues, many conservative Republicans are concerned about allowing transgender people to use bathrooms of their choice. A law in North Carolina, forcing people to use the bathroom assigned to the gender of their birth, has inflamed passions on the issue.

Asked at the Republican convention whether she feared that position would turn off LGBT voters, North Carolina Republican and House Rules Committee member Virginia Foxx said, "We are not."

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PHILADELPHIA — Any doubts that Republicans would swing hard at Hillary Clinton could be dispelled by the Republican National Committee’s choice of venue for its counterprogramming here during the Democratic National Convention: 2300 Arena, an old bingo hall formerly the home of professional wrestling’s ECW, a violent, upstart rival to the more mainstream WWE.

Taking the stage to the sounds of “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps, GOP surrogates on Thursday went through their talking points savaging the Democratic presidential standard-bearer on a stage draped with American flags and underneath banners for wrestlers in the “Hardcore Hall of Fame” like 2 Cold Scorpio, Tommy Dreamer and Blue Meanie.

“So here we are on Day Four of the fantasy convention,” said former New York City Mayor and current Greenberg Traurig/Giuliani Partners superconsultant Rudy Giuliani.

“It was all happy talk,” he said of the sunny outlook espoused the previous night by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and others. “They never talked about Benghazi, about Libya,” the pugnacious former presidential candidate fulminated. “I can go on and on.”

Perhaps oddly for someone vouching for Trump, who speaks warmly of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Giuliani criticized Clinton’s “re-set” of relations with Russian when she was secretary of state. “Since then, Putin has been pushing us around all over the world.”

[ The Latest From Day 4 at the DNC ]

He also quoted Pope Francis’ recent comments about the dangers of terrorism, again weird for someone vouching for Trump, who has famously feuded with the head of the Catholic Church.

Giuliani coupled his criticism of Clinton by smacking down most of the attendees at the former wrestling site.

“The reason you don’t get answers is Hillary Clinton doesn’t have press conferences,” he said, referring to the fact that it has been several months since the Democrat held one. Trump challenged her to hold one on Wednesday as well, during a press conference in Florida where he also encouraged Russian hackers to dig up any missing emails from Clinton’s time as secretary of state.

“You, the press, should be ashamed of yourselves,” the former Gotham mayor scolded.

Giuliani was followed by other familiar Trump backers: Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, former Secret Service agent Gary Byrne, who guarded the Clintons and is the author of a book denouncing them, and Rick Grenell, a former spokesman for U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations.

Grenell finished up with an earthy dig at the “Bring Back Our Girls” social media campaign to pressure the terrorist group Boko Haram to release kidnapped schoolchildren.

“It’s time we bring back our balls,” Grenell said.

The venue was a stark contrast to the digs the Democrats camped out in for their own counterprogramming last week at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

[ Democrats Deride Trump's Foreign Policy Credentials ]

While Democrats were direct in their criticism of Trump — House Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Joseph Crowley referred to the GOP nominee as “Con Man Don,” for instance — the fourth floor office space just a short walk from the convention venue in Cleveland was a drab and confined space.

Not so 2300 Arena, which provided the Republicans with a knock-around platform based in violent entertainment, complete with a boxing ring, and one which was used to film scenes from the Darren Aronofsky movie “The Wrestler.” That’s a dark story about a broken-down performer played by Mickey Rourke who tries to recapture old glory and falls far short in a variety of shabby environs.

As the event wrapped, RNC spokesman Sean Spicer made one last plug — for T-shirts.

“I know we’ve got a lot of attention for our ‘Enough’ T-shirts,” he said, holding one up, and turning it over to show off a GOP litany of Clinton-era sins.

“They’re available on,” he said.

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Much has been made about the fact that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has remained in the public eye for a quarter century.

Many of her closest allies — and a few of her fiercest antagonists — have followed similarly storied paths through modern political history.

A brief recap of what key figures in this presidential contest were up to the first time a Clinton appeared at the top of a presidential ticket.

1992 : The career politician was already in his fourth term in the Senate, having survived the loss of his first wife and daughter in a car accident, a failed presidential bid (1988) and a bout with a near-fatal aneurysm.

2016: After deciding last fall against a presidential run, the former senior senator from Delaware/current two-term vice president Wednesday delivered a feisty farewell to the nation.

1992: The five-term governor of Arkansas was crisscrossing the country trying to convince voters that the ongoing recession (“It’s the economy, stupid!”) meant it was time fresh blood in the Oval Office. He would go on to defeat incumbent Republican President George H. W. Bush, securing his spot as the 42nd president of the United States.

2016: During his eighth prime time address at a Democratic convention — a streak dating back to 1988 — the former president trumpeted his wife’s resilience, political savvy and passion for public service.

1992: Appearing on NBC's "Today Show," the Yale-educated lawyer cum political spouse plays down expectations of serving in any official capacity in husband Bill’s prospective administration — “I’m not interested in any kind of paid position or cabinet position,” she told Katie Couric — but does highlight her experience advancing various policy priorities (children’s issues, health care, public education) while in the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.

2016: The former first lady/junior senator from New York/secretary of state becomes the first female presidential nominee put forward by a major political party.

1992: The combative Georgia Republican had already helped topple Democratic Speaker Jim Wright and quickly developed a taste for authority as House Minority Whip. He was still months away from unveiling his definitive power play, the “Contract with America.”

2016: The former speaker/architect of the divisive impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton became a Republican presidential hopeful in 2012 and actively campaigned until just a few weeks ago to become Trump’s vice presidential pick.

1992: The Palmetto State native graduated from the University of South Carolina Law School three years earlier. He was working at a prominent law firm.

2016: The third-term lawmaker/tea party favorite devoted the past two years of his life to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. An inconclusive 800-page report drew fire from all sides.

1992: The Army veteran turned businessman was reaping the rewards of his iconic car alarm (“Viper”).

2016: The eight-term lawmaker and former chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform spearheaded a congressional investigation into Hillary Clinton’s involvement in Benghazi. He continues to hammer the former cabinet secretary about her private email server.

1992: The Harvard Law grad was splitting his time between teaching legal ethics at the University of Richmond law school and litigating cases concerning housing issues and disability-based discrimination. He was still two years away from entering public life on the Richmond City Council.

2016: The former governor of Virginia and the Democratic National Committee chairman, and the current junior senator from Virginia Wednesday accepted the nomination to be the Democrat's vice presidential candidate.

1992: The former chief executive of Jefferson County was well into his second term in the Senate.

2016: The six-term lawmaker failed to make Obama a “one-term president” (the goal he laid out in 2010) but he did become Senate majority leader in 2014 after Republicans reclaimed control of the chamber.

1992: One year out of Harvard Law School, the Hawaiian native was pursuing teaching opportunities (constitutional law) in Chicago.

2016: The former community organizer and junior senator from Illinois, and the first black president in U.S. history Wednesday heaped praise on Democratic presidential nominee: “There has never been a man or woman more qualified — not Bill, not me, not anyone — than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America,” 44 assured the nation . She unsuccessfully challenged him for the Democratic nomination in 2008 and later served in his administration.

1992 : Following two unsuccessful congressional bids (1988, 1990), Pence put politics on the back burner and presided over the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a conservative think tank.

2016: The former six-term House lawmaker and current governor of Indiana on July 20 accepted the nomination to be the Republican vice presidential candidate

1992 : The two-term House lawmaker was finishing up his first term in the Senate and facing re-election.

2016: The retiring Nevada Democrat on Wednesday chastised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for lining up behind “hateful con man Donald Trump.”

1992: The 20-something Wisconsin native had just earned a political science degree from Miami University in Ohio.

2016: The 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee has continued to climb the ranks on Capitol Hill, reluctantly accepting the role of speaker in late 2015 after conservative hardliners rebelled against embattled leader John A. Boehner.

1992: Following his four-term stint as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, the unapologetic socialist unsuccessfully ran for Congress once (1988) before clinching the state's lone House seat the following election cycle.

2016: The junior senator from Vermont challenged Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to the very end, sparking a populist revolution that threatened to derail the Democratic convention and forced DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz from power.

1992: The real estate scion had sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for two struggling Atlantic City ventures, made a cameo appearance (as himself, of course) in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” and had filed a lawsuit against his former wife, Ivana, for violating a gag clause in their divorce settlement.

2016: The political newcomer soundly defeats 16 GOP challengers during a bruising primary. He became the party's official standard-bearer July 21 in Cleveland.

Contact Rojas at and follow him on Twitter at @WARojas .

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Former Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland said he still has strong union support even after two major unions in his state backed his Senate race opponent.

The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police and the Ohio Conference of Teamsters this week both backed Strickland's opponent Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

The two unions that just endorsed Portman previously had backed Strickland in both his successful run as governor in 2006 and his unsuccessful bid for re-election in 2010.

But Strickland announced the backing of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters this week as well, and his campaign has said he has the backing of labor organizations like the AFL-CIO, AFSCME and the United Auto Workers.

"If you compare my union endorsements to his, there's no comparison," Strickland said in an interview at the Democratic National Convention.

In addition, last month the United Mine Workers endorsed Portman, saying Strickland "turned his back" on the coal communities.

Strickland also has had trouble in fundraising compared to Portman.

His most recent quarterly reports showed that his campaign raised $1.9 million in total contributions and had $3.7 million in cash on hand.

That compares to Portman raising $2.9 million, with $13 million in cash on hand.

But Strickland said he would not raise as much money as Portman — and that he wouldn't need to. He also said despite the amount of money spent by outside groups, the race is still a tossup.

"I am proud of the fact that in the face of such massive spending, mostly negative TV ads, that basically it's a tossup race," he said. "So I feel very good about that. "I wonder how many other candidates could endure such withering attacks and still maintain a tossup position," he said. Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.

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Get the latest from the convention floor

By Roll Call Staff

This wasn’t supposed to be Joe Biden’s night, at least not in the mind of the two-term vice president and former chairman of two major congressional committees.

Biden was supposed to be speaking tomorrow night, accepting the presidential nomination of a party grateful for his service to its goals and to President Barack Obama.

If anyone was in line for the Democratic presidential nomination, it was Biden. If anyone paid his or her dues, it was Biden. If anyone figured out how to roll with the evolution of the Democratic Party, from moderate to liberal to third way to progressive, it was Biden. If there’s anyone still eligible for the presidency who is best suited to rally Democrats on the campaign trail and cut deals with Republicans on Capitol Hill, it’s Biden. And if there’s anyone to whom President Obama owes unflinching loyalty, it’s Biden.

It’s not hard to imagine Biden accepting the Democratic nomination for president here in Philadelphia, less than an hour’s drive from his house in Delaware and not too far from his native Scranton, Pennsylvania. He would have been a returning prodigal son. What a story that would have been, from the hardscrabble upbringing to a lifetime of public service representing Delaware in Congress to a major party’s presidential nomination. It would be hard avoid getting caught up in the sentimentality of a Biden nomination — especially because virtually everyone who knows him roots for him.

He’s the antithesis of Hillary Clinton as a politician: Smooth, charming and oppressively likable. If he stretches the truth, no one cares. But, for a variety of reasons, he never gained traction in his presidential campaigns.

[ Joe Biden and Others Who Coulda Been a Contender ]

There are few things Biden wanted more than the presidency. And there can be little doubt that he still thinks he should be the one accepting the party’s nomination on Thursday night. But he also knows that he had a much better chance of playing spoiler — of splintering Clinton’s coalition — than of defeating both her and Bernie Sanders. The threat of that was real enough to keep Clintonworld up at night last fall and to factor into Biden’s decision not to run.

By the time he sat down to take a hard look at the 2016 campaign, Clinton had already locked up so much support within the party that it would have been hard for him to build a credible operation. Part of that was the suspension of Biden’s decision-making when his son Beau died, but part of it was simply Clinton’s preparation and hard work in assuming command of the party machinery. (It's been reported that Beau Biden wanted him to run.)

So, Biden did what was best for Clinton, best for himself and best for the party. He didn’t complain publicly that the White House, including Obama, refused to help position him for the presidency. There was no visible sulking when White House officials declined to identify him as a favorite of the president or even push back hard on the idea that Obama had twice told the nation Biden was the next-best person to be president and didn’t feel that way heading into 2016.

He conducted himself with honor and redefined loyalty, even in the face of Obama’s tacit betrayal. A two-term vice president has every right to feel entitled to the support of the president — however tepid — when the administration is coming to an end. Not Biden. He had been cut out by the marriage of the Obama and Clinton political worlds.

Despite all his years of service and loyalty, Biden drew the short straw this year — a Wednesday night speaking slot in which he’s sure to make the case for Clinton, even though he certainly believes he’d make a better president.

[ One Last Hurrah for Joe Biden? ]

Democrats will cheer him heartily, handing him the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award rather than a shot at the presidency. They will recognize his service as they put a capstone on a political rise that began the year that Richard Nixon was re-elected to the presidency.

Their applause will be bittersweet for Biden. But he should bask in it. He did what Clinton always says she wants to do: all the good he could, by all the means he could, at all the times he could and in all the places he could.

Roll Call columnist Jonathan Allen is co-author of the New York Times-bestselling Clinton biography “HRC” and has covered Congress, the White House and elections over the past 15 years.

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