CHARLOTTE, N.C.—When he accepts the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night, Barack Obama will try to rekindle the fire of his inspirational 2008 campaign and persuade a skeptical country that his promises of hope, change and economic recovery will be converted, finally, to jobs, prosperity and political healing in a second term.
Democratic strategists expect Obama to use his address to pivot away from harsh attacks on Republican challenger Mitt Romney and to minimize the negative approach that has dominated the speeches of other Democratic leaders at the Charlotte convention this week. Instead, the strategists say Obama will emphasize a positive agenda for the next four years.
"People want to have a feel for where he would take the country," Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg told U.S. News. "They are looking for a plan."
This is a common assessment of political professionals of both major parties.
Speakers at the Democratic National Convention have attacked Romney for being out of touch, too eager to protect the rich and the powerful, and willing to let the middle class and the poor fend for themselves.
Former President Bill Clinton set the stage for Obama to turn positive with his rousing speech to the delegates Wednesday night. Clinton criticized Romney as an overly zealous conservative who would re-adopt the same policies that failed during George W. Bush's presidency from 2001 to 2009 and that helped to create an imminent economic collapse for Obama to deal with from the moment he took office.
Clinton also weaved together a narrative showing the historical pattern of the Democrats and the Republicans over the past half century. Clinton argued that the Democrats created many more jobs and were far more interested in helping everyday people. He said the Republicans preferred a "winner-take-all, you're-on-your own society" while the Democrats sought a "we're-all-in-this-together society."
Now it's up to Obama to describe how he would carry this narrative into the next four years, if the voters re-hire him for another term. He has admitted recently that one flaw in his first term was his inability to develop a compelling story line that explained what he was trying to do and where he was trying to take the country. He will get his chance to do just that Thursday night.