President Barack Obama formally accepted the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination on Thursday night, heralding the upcoming 2012 election as “the clearest choice of any time in a generation.”
“On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties,” the president said on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, in front of a crowd of about 20,000 at the Time Warner Cable Arena.
“It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.”
The president’s speech lacked the memorable uplifting rhetoric of some of his previous nationally televised addresses or even the inspirational punch his supporters took from convention speeches earlier in the week by both First Lady Michelle Obama and former president Bill Clinton.
In its place was a more realistic delivery, pointing out his administration’s first-term accomplishments in spite of war, a lingering economic recession and consistent Republican obstructionism.
“I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention,” he said “The times have changed – and so have I.
“I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the President. I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn’t return. I’ve shared the pain of families who’ve lost their homes, and the frustration of workers who’ve lost their jobs. If the critics are right that I’ve made all my decisions based on polls, then I must not be very good at reading them. And while I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.’ ”
The president appealed to his supporters to keep up the faith they showed during the 2008 campaign, even as his promises of “hope” and “change” are tested.
“Know this, America: Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met,” he said. “The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. 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.”
He made some of the sharpest contrasts between his policies and Republican rival Mitt Romney’s proposals on the subject of foreign policy.
“Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did,” he said. “I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. We have. We’ve blunted the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over. A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.”
He went on to list off the challenges that remain on the world stage, including terrorist plots, the European debt crisis, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and revolution in the Middle East. The president showed more than a bit of a sarcastic tone in alluding to the foreign policy gaffes Romney made this year.
“My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy, but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly,” he said. “After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy – and not al Qaeda – unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War mind warp. You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.”
His points collectively highlighted the stark philosophical differences between the two candidates and their parties.
Now he hopes that it was enough to warrant him a second term.
“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy,” President Obama said. “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.”