Obama at DNC: ‘You are the change’
President Barack Obama offered a strong defense of his first term and liberal values in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte Thursday night.
The speech was designed to hit back at Republican criticisms of his presidency and draw a stark contrast between himself and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
“On every issue, the choice you face won’t just be between two candidates or two parties,” Obama said. “It will be a choice between two different paths for America — a choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.”
Obama slammed Republicans for not being specific with their plans for the future.
“Our friends at the Republican convention were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t have much to say about how they’d make it right,” Obama said. “They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan.”
The president portrayed Republican policies like deregulation and tax cuts for the rich as failed experiments.
“We have been there, we’ve tried that, and we’re not going back,” Obama said.
The president acknowledged that the nation still has plenty of challenges ahead of it.
“Our problems can be solved,” he said. “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.”
Though short on specifics, Obama laid out several goals for the country in a second term.
“I’m asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country — goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security and the deficit; real, achievable plans that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation,” he said. “That’s what we can do in the next four years.”
Obama spent a portion of his speech focusing on college education.
“Help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next 10 years,” Obama said. “We can meet that goal together. You can choose that future for America.”
He expressed optimism about the future and echoed the populist themes that carried him to the White House in 2008.
“But as I stand here tonight, I have never been more hopeful about America,” Obama said. “Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because I’m naïve about the magnitude of our challenges. I’m hopeful because of you.”
Obama tried to appeal to his supporters in 2008 and rally them.
“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,” Obama said. “Only you can make sure that doesn’t happen. Only you have the power to move us forward.”
Political science professor Chris Owens said Obama did what he had to do in his speech.
“He hit on all the points he needed to hit on,” Owens said. “He took what Republicans said about him last week and responded point-by-point.”
Owens said the Democrats were more focused on a singular message — fairness, women’s rights, veterans programs, an American comeback — while Republicans were more scattered at their convention, giving the Democrats an upper edge on messaging.
“The Republican Party has to try to change the theme,” Owens said.
The opportunity to do that will come with the presidential debates in October, specifically the town hall debate. If Romney is unable to be quick on his feet, the election may get out of hand, according to Owens.
“That’s the one that will determine if it will be a close election or a blowout,” Owens said.
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