President Barack Obama spoke Thursday on the final night of the Democratic National Convention to accept the party's nomination for the presidency and to make his own case for his re-election. The speech had a distinctly more serious tone than that he delivered in 2008, and he spoke candidly about the challenges facing the country.
Democrats have spent the week highlighting the president's accomplishments despite the stuttering economy that has persisted during his first term. The president told voters that no matter what he did, the economy could not be repaired overnight:
I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or easy; I never have. 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."
Obama said he was "mindful of his own failings," but if voters choose him, the country will have a brighter future:
But know this, America: Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I'm asking you to choose that future.
The president made some specific promises for his second term, including reducing the deficit, increasing manufacturing jobs, and cutting oil imports in half, but largely made the case that the foundation for these developments was laid in his first term, and more time was needed for the effects to be felt.
He also continued the Democrats' theme of painting their party as being the one aligned with hard working Americans. U.S. News's Robert Schelsinger says this is one of the things Obama did right in the speech:
For 20 years, winning Democrats have focused on the values of hard work and playing by the rules. They appeal to swing voters and they help inoculate the party of activist government from charges that they want to give hand outs to the undeserving poor at the cost of the suffering middle class. Obama repeatedly emphasized the formulation of hard work and equal opportunity, defining the American dream as "the promise that hard work will pay off; that responsibility will be rewarded; that everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules."
Writing for U.S. News's Debate Club, Jamie Chandler said voters have come to mistrust promises made by Obama, and his speech Thursday didn't necessarily convince them he would be able to follow through:
Voters continue have little confidence in the president's promise to deliver. And this is not necessarily because of a high unemployment and recession, but because of his damaged credibility. The president sets soaring expectations, but doesn't meet them. His broken promises, failed veto threats, and reversals of course mollify Republicans but don't agitate change. Voters will remember this on November 6.
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- Read the U.S. News Debate: Was the Democratic National Convention a Success for Barack Obama?
- Photos: Mitt Romney Accepts GOP Nomination
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