"I look forward to him fighting much harder," said Arshad Hasan, executive director of Democracy for America, a group founded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.
But, like many liberals here, Hasan offered a mixed review of the president. He said Obama's decision to support gay marriage was "a huge accomplishment for progressives." He also was hopeful that Obama might shift further to the left should he win a second term.
"There's also a strain of thought among progressives that he's waiting until after the election to come out and be more boldly progressive," Hasan said. "I don't know which way that's going to go, but I know that either way, we get a much better deal than if Mitt Romney is elected."
Indeed, instead of hope and change, Democrats are trying to rally around their dislike for Romney, a man whom many are still getting to know.
Massachusetts-based liberal radio host Jeff Santos held the first stop of "the Real Romney tour" at the conference. The event was designed to highlight perceived weaknesses in the former Massachusetts governor's job-creation record and private-sector experience at Bain Capital, the Boston-based private equity firm he co-founded.
"He has no soul," Santos said of Romney.
Romney's association with reality television host Donald Trump drew some of the most heated criticism, especially given Romney's unwillingness to condemn Trump's repeated questioning of Obama's birthplace.
"If Mitt Romney can't stand up to a birther who's putting out racist conspiracy theories, how can he lead on other issues?" asked Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, a liberal group that promotes African-American political influence.
Robinson said some blacks now have less enthusiasm for Obama.
"President Obama hasn't done everything we wanted. But we know what Romney would do," he said. "Mitt Romney has said things like he doesn't really care about the very poor. And for a community that is facing unemployment levels the black community is facing, we may not be going to the polls with hope, but that doesn't mean we won't be turning out."
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