In a stirring but sober speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, an emphatic President Obama cast himself as a determined leader who kept his promises to Americans, but who needs four more years to finish the job and to stop Mitt Romney from taking the country backwards.
“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have," Obama told a packed audience in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he officially accepted the nod for a second presidential term. "You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It will require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one."
Obama, introduced by his wife Michelle Obama, stressed that Americans are faced with a choice—"two different paths for America"—rather than the election being a referendum on his presidency so far.
Obama painted a picture of what a second term would look like.
He promised to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next decade and laid out specific goals on manufacturing, energy, education, national security. His plan includes creating one million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2012, cutting the growth of college tuition in half over the next decade, recruiting 100,000 new teachers and investing in the economy with the money the government is no longer spending on war.
He touted what he's done in the last four years, including cutting taxes for the middle class and small businesses, reviving the auto industry, creating half a million manufacturing jobs, ending the war in Iraq and winding down the war in Afghanistan. And of course, killing Osama bin Laden.
The president, who is in a tight race with Romney in national polls, joined Vice President Joe Biden in blasting his opponent as weak on foreign policy, an ally of Wall Street, and a man who wants to gut education, turn Medicare into a voucher system and eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, disabled or elderly.
He dinged Romney for not releasing concrete plans on how he'd fix America. At the RNC in Tampa, he said, GOPers were "more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn't have much to say about how they'd make it right. They want your vote but they don't want you to know their plan."
The president argued that his plan, on the other hand, "may be harder, but it leads to a better place." He continued: "And I’m asking you to choose that future. I’m asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country—goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit; a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation. That’s what we can do in the next four years, and that is why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.”
He ended his speech by reemphasizing that Americans have a choice.
"If you turn away now—if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn’t possible … well, change will not happen. If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should make for themselves."
"Only you can make sure that doesn’t happen. Only you have the power to move us forward."