Democratic convention: Obama lays out election choice

US President Barack Obama accepts the Democratic presidential nomination 6 September 2012 Barack Obama said the hope he spoke of in 2004 and 2008 had been tested since by the great difficulties and uncertainty

US President Barack Obama has told voters they face a generational choice in November's election, as he accepted the nomination of the Democratic party.

He highlighted the differences between his aims and Republican policies, and reprised his 2008 theme of "hope".

"I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now," Mr Obama told the Democratic convention.

Republican Mitt Romney is challenging Mr Obama for the White House, with polls showing a tight race.

The two rivals now face two months of campaigning before US voters go to the polls on 6 November.

Mr Obama told delegates in the hall and voters watching at home that the nation's problems had built up over decades and could not be fixed in a flash.

"But when you pick up that ballot to vote - you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation.

"Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington: on jobs and the economy; taxes and deficits; energy and education; war and peace - decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children's lives for decades to come," he said.

Venue change

Mr Obama took to the stage not in a huge arena in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, as organisers had hoped, but inside the convention centre after Thursday's speech was moved because of weather concerns.

He followed a rousing speech by Vice-President Joe Biden, who praised Mr Obama for his bravery in bailing out the auto industry and ordering the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

The president offered a string of critiques of Republican policies, describing his opponents as "happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America" without offering suggestions on how to make things right.

"That's because all they have to offer is the same prescription they've had for the last 30 years," he said.

"Have a surplus? Try a tax cut. Deficit too high? Try another. Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!"

But there was no mention of his own healthcare law, a signature achievement that remains unpopular with many Americans, and little explicit talk of the stimulus enacted in his first months in office.

The speech prompted a response from Mr Romney's camp: "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," his campaign said in a statement after the speech.

"He offered more promises, but he hasn't kept the promises he made four years ago."

Fired-up Biden

Mr Obama also spoke about his energy strategy, saying the US had opened "millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration... and we'll open more".

Start Quote

This was no game changer”

End Quote

"But unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country's energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4bn in corporate welfare from our taxpayers."

On international issues, the president described Mr Romney and running-mate Paul Ryan as "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, highlighting his success with Bin Laden and his withdrawal of troops from Iraq and planned drawdown from Afghanistan.

As Mr Obama finished the speech, he roused the crowd by telling them their votes had helped make the changes of his presidency.

"Only you have the power to move us forward," he said. "I recognise that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention. The times have changed - and so have I. I'm no longer just a candidate. I'm the president."

Earlier, Vice-President Biden accepted his own re-nomination in an emotional speech that focused on family and national security.

"Folks, I've watched him," he said of the president. "He never wavers. He steps up.

Barack Obama - press reaction

David Brooks, in the New York Times, said "the speech was dominated by unexplained goals that were often worthy, but also familiar and incommensurate with the problems at hand".

According to the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, Obama's focus on citizenship and shared responsibility was "a gamble that voters will not cast their vote on the current economy alone".

Politico's Glenn Thrush said the president offered "a hybrid of gritted-teeth optimism, hammer-blow attacks on Romney's foreign policy inexperience, and relatively modest policy goals".

Writing in USA Today, Richard Wolf and David Jackson said "rather than propose new initiatives, the goals were mostly retreads and the means of achieving them elusive".

"He asks the same thing over and over again: How is this going to work for ordinary families? Will it help them?"

Mr Biden also criticised Mr Romney for not backing the US auto industry bailout, referring to the former Massachusetts governor's time leading private equity firm Bain Capital.

"I just don't think he understood what saving the automobile industry meant, to all of America. I think he saw it the Bain way, in terms of balance sheets and write-offs," he said.

"The Bain way may bring your firm the highest profit. But it's not the way to lead your country from its highest office."

The third and final night of speeches in Charlotte also saw former Florida Governor Charlie Crist - who was previously a Republican - and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry address the convention.

Mr Kerry criticised Mitt Romney for surrounding himself with "neo-conservative advisers who know all the wrong things about foreign policy".

"This is not the time to outsource the job of commander in chief," the Massachusetts senator said.

Former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, still recovering from a near-fatal shooting on a meeting with her constituents in 2011, appeared on stage to lead the convention in the pledge of allegiance.

Walking slowly and steadying herself to recite the pledge, Ms Giffords left many in the crowd dewy-eyed as she smiled through her recital.

Thursday's speeches brought an end to the Democratic convention, which also headlined speeches from Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton.


More on This Story

US Presidential Election 2012

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    America needs republican leadership imo
    they always appear to falter when they have democrats in power,
    pretty much like the UK when labour gets in on a majority the country starts to fall apart and get into debt,
    Obama appears to have done nothing of any merit in his term in office so why would you want an underachiever back in power is beyond me,

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    337. LUFC_FR
    "Have you noticed that most of the comments with negatives are the most truthful, logical responses?"

    Which is why you're getting negatives and so will I! The problem is Obama's a cult figure. The fools that support him see him as some sort of messiah, so logic and truth have no meaning in their world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 341.

    324. Trout Mask Replica

    I get your point; how can you have a "free market" created on the backs of those who are not free?

    Have we ever had a "Free Market"? Given its main goal seems to be to create MONOPOLIES through enslaving people through DEBT.
    Like an oligarchical communist state something of a contraindication?

    Corrupt, bankster ECOnomics is the culture of the day, multi or otherwise

  • rate this

    Comment number 340.

    337. LUFC_FR
    Have you noticed that most of the comments with negatives are the most truthful, logical responses?


    No, actually I noticed the opposite. In fact your statement is both illogical and untruthful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    "Yet with no viable alternative"

    Ron Paul is an ideologically viable and compentant/experienced alternative. However, the 'System', and particularly the GOP really -really- didn't want him anywhere near this race, so pulled out all the stops to ensure he wasn't

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    Here's the problem with only two candidates. Neither is universally liked, both are heavily flawed. Yet with no viable alternative Americans are between a rock and a hard place. The two sides are so deeply entrenched so that even if the masses want change, they won't have it presented to them like we do, so the cycle continues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    Have you noticed that most of the comments with negatives are the most truthful, logical responses?

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    3223 Expat Andy

    Except for a brief period in the early industrial revolution in Britain, 'capitalism' has never properly existed - and very rarely in America. You need to learn some economic history. Capitalism rapidly fell back into wealth transfer, not generation. Selling grossly over valued property on commission for instance, which caused the crisis of 2008. That is the real origin of debt!

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    321.Walt78 - "......but a return to the root cause is bonkers"

    The root cause was bailing out the banks who had been given too much freedom through excessive deregulation, Even Adam Smith said whilst the markets were best they needed to be well regulated to counter human greed......fully 80% of debt the Coalition ihnerited here came from bailing out the banks......

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    Though elections are of course important in a democracy. I can't help feeling that we are all arguing over ''puppets on the stage''.

    Perhaps we (on both sides of the Atlantic) aught to be following the strings to see where they lead

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    Bush's failed policies are exaclty what have been expanded by Obama and have been failing him!!! The Republicans praise Bush as the greatest president for doing the same things that Obama has been doing and call him a failure. Obama took the Bush programs and expanded them and his party call Bush a failure and Obama great.

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    I welcome this "generational choice" election. I welcome a debate pitting stark contrasts in policy and philosophy. Rather than the "shades of gray" experienced for most of my life, we have at the forefront two very different views of the role of government. I will vote for the Romney/Ryan view - Obama can take his big, inefficient, morally corrupt government solutions home to Chicago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    Romney/Ryan - another pair of politicians in thrall to the Ziocons. A war with Iran is possible under Obama but certain if Romney gets in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    America needs a long process of repairing, which is what Obama's trying to do. To be even considering voting back in the people that caused the mess just seems like complete madness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    @317.Trout... What a silly comment, however. I would like to return to the ideas of Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and Madison, to name but a few. These men, set their nation on a course that defeated the British & became the wealthiest most free on earth. People fled Europe for USA for the economic freedom! Lincoln could have ended slavery peacefully too but refused.

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    In Obama, the US would have a president that would seek diplomacy rather than conflict and would improve the lives of all Americans. Romney seeks to reinforce America's wealth, by stripping down healthcare/benefits and disrupting China's cheap oil source in Iran. Romney will make the US rich again. It's a shame we can't vote in this election. For US citizens, voting for Romney is a no-brainer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    I know we're supposed to assess politicians based on their record,policies,decisions etc etc,but we all know dependant on global economic cycles,the actions of foreign governments/dictatorships etc that a large proportion of why we vote for who-ever is outside their control and they can merely dictate how they react to it"!
    Personally I believe Obama's character,motives,intellect is far superior!

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    Obama, sounding like a drone, acting like a drone, a deplorer of the drone

    Not much different from Bush then who was also A DRONE PRESIDENT

    Like Bush Obama has taken freedoms under the false guise of protection! ummmmmmmmm though I am greatly encouraged by a significant amount of comments here that seem to get it

    There is no real left and right just if your in with the boys or out I'M OUT

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    When President Obama ran the first time, he changed the focus of the election to "change" from "experience", which he did not have. People bought into it and overlooked his scant experience.

    Now, he's trying to change the focus again. Instead of his 4 years' in office, it's "choice".

    With Obama, it's never about his actual experience.

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    "Expat Andy
    The free market ended in 1861 in USA (under Lincoln)"

    That's one opinion. Being enslaved because of the colour of one's skin is a core attribute of the "free market" then, is it?

    Someone once said, before the civil war the term "United States" was plural. After it, it became singular. US prosperity and influence in the world is far greater now as a result (for better or worse).


Page 12 of 29


More US & Canada stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.