The 2004 Presidential Election was one of the most politically divisive moments in recent American history. What should have been a time for critical debate degenerated into a battle of mudslinging media campaigns. Economic issues took a back seat to "gay marriage," Iraq and the war on terrorism. Amidst the division, the Republican Party held its first ever convention in New York City, a potent symbol for both President Bush and the local progressives energized to defeat him. Using the convention and the animated reaction of New Yorkers as its backdrop, "August in the Empire State" delves into the forgotten debate over the growth of poverty in America. The film follows two characters in the months leading up to the convention: Paul Rodriguez, a conservative Republican Congressional candidate, and Cheri Honkala, the National Spokesperson for the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, the largest grassroots organization of poor people in the United States. The film takes the viewer behind the scenes and exposes the people and the very personal stakes at the heart of what divides us as a country.