CHARLOTTE — Invoking Franklin D. Roosevelt, who presided over the only economic period in U.S. history worse than his own, President Obama made his case Thursday for America not to turn from the course it set four years ago before its journey is done as he accepted his party's nomination for a second term.
"I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or easy. I never have," he said. "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," Mr. Obama said. "And by the way, those of us who carry on his party's legacy should remember that not every problem can be remedied with another government program or dictate from Washington."
But he added that government also should not be blamed for every ill.
For three days, Democrats made their case in Charlotte. On the final day of their national convention, it fell to Mr. Obama to seal the deal, reminding supporters why they voted for him four years ago and convincing them that, despite setbacks along the way, the "hope" and "change" they were looking for is a work in progress that ultimately will pay off. Those two words were sprinkled frequently throughout his speech.
If nothing else, the convention had the job of convincing skeptics that Republican nominee Mitt Romney is an unacceptable alternative who would turn back the clock and lead to a return to policies that led to the economic crisis that greeted this administration.
In their speeches Thursday night, both Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden presented the election as a historic moment in the country's direction. They acknowledged the country's problems but preferred to talk optimistically about a resilient America fixing itself only if it makes the right choice now.
"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," Mr. Obama said. "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."
With the Ohio delegation seated to his left and Michigan to his right, he turned to the taxpayer-fueled bailout of the auto industry.
"I've met workers in Detroit and Toledo who feared they'd never build another American car," he said. "Today they can't build them fast enough, because we reinvented a dying auto industry that's back on top of the world."
He mentioned Mr. Romney rarely by name, but he mocked what he said he heard in last week's GOP national convention in Tampa.
"Have a surplus? Try a tax cut," Mr. Obama said. "Deficit too high? Try another. Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning. Now I've cut taxes for those who need it — middle-class families and small businesses. But I don't believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores or pay down our deficit."
Many of his proposals have been heard before — reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil in part by investing in renewables and natural gas and using savings from ending two wars to at least partly reduce the budget deficit. A week after Mr. Romney mocked the President for focusing on the Earth and oceans, Mr. Obama embraced global warming and vowed to continue steps to reduce carbon pollution.
Mr. Romney characterized the Obama presidency as one of broken promises.
"Tonight President Obama laid out the choice in this election, making the case for more of the same policies that haven't worked for the past four years," he said. "He offered more promises, but he hasn't kept the promises he made four years ago.
"Americans will hold President Obama accountable for his record," Mr. Romney said. "They know they're not better off and that it's time to change direction. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will restore America's promise and deliver a better future for our country."
Some of the biggest cheers came when the Democratic convention highlighted the killing of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks who evaded U.S. forces until after former President George W. Bush, a Republican, had left office.
Mr. Biden described the days leading up to Mr. Obama's decision to approve the mission to go after bid Laden.
"This man has courage in his soul, compassion in his heart, and a spine of steel, and because of all the actions he took, because of the calls he made, and because of the grit and determination of American workers, and the unparalleled bravery of our Special Forces, we can now proudly say, Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive," he said.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.