“Our problems can be solved,” Obama declared as he laid out a set of goals aimed to bolster the American manufacturing and energy sectors, improve education, invest resources formerly spent on warfare, and reduce the deficit. In accepting the Democratic Party nomination for reelection to the Presidency of the United States, President Obama made an honest and compelling argument for not only the successes of his first term, but the promise of his second.
The stakes have never been higher, he told the approximately 20,000 supporters in Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena during his acceptance speech. “When all is said and done – 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.
Among the goals he laid out for the next four years, based on the evidence of his first term in office: Create one million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016; double exports by the end of 2014; and reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next decade.
“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy,” he said. “I never have. You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear,” he said. “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.”
President Obama also set goals including cutting the growth of college tuition in half and recruiting 100,000 new math and science teachers over the next 10 years. In reelecting him, he said, “you can choose a future where all Americans have the skills they need to compete, no matter how much money they have,” he said. He also committed to the goals of cutting net oil imports in half by 2020; and supporting 600,000 natural gas jobs by the end of the decade.
He touched on the first-term accomplishments touted by many of the various introductory speeches over the week, including the resurrection of the U.S. auto industry despite a staggering economy, the successful decision to kill Osama bin Laden during a moment of uncertainty, and the expansion of health care to Americans in the face of severe political opposition.
His presence evoked emotional reactions from many of the assembled delegates. “How could you not be excited to see this President?” said Sarah Bigler of Charleston, Illinois. “Especially one who cares about us as much as we care about each other. I lost my health care when I was 22…Luckily, [the Affordable Care Act] passed when I was 24 and I got it back. This is personal for me and others. President Obama has changed people’s lives.”
North Carolinians, meanwhile, celebrated the historic re-nomination on their home turf. “I’m excited…I’m thrilled that the convention is in North Carolina,” said Thomasine Moore, a North Carolina delegate. “It will be fun to go back to the different counties to discuss the issues and to get people ready to vote.” Added fellow Tarheel Jeanette Whitaker, still joyous from the President’s acceptance: “My heart comes out to all the volunteers who couldn’t join us.”
Delegates and guests waved signs President Obama’s campaign motto, “Forward,” and chanted “four more years!” throughout the speech.
“It’s not about what can be done for us, but what can be done by us, together,” the President said. “The election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you, my fellow citizens. You were the change.
“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. That’s what we can do in the next four years, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.”
To begin his speech and accept his re-nomination to the Presidency, Barack Obama reminded his fellow Democrats and the Americans watching from home just how much really has changed in the past four years. To end it, he reminded them of the possibilities now open in the next four.
(Mario B. Cabrera/Rick Recard/Vision Fotos)