Barack Obama

President Obama tells Democratic convention to keep believing

President calls on America to give him another four years to solve country's problems amid scenes of jubilation at Democratic convention

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 September, 2012, 4:00am


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Thousands of chanting Democrats went wild with delight as beleaguered President Barack Obama asked a struggling nation for four more years.

After hours of warm-up acts and political speeches, the 15,000 delegates and guests at the Democratic National Convention were more than ready to cheer their hero as red, white and blue confetti flew.

"If you believe in a country where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules, then I need you to vote this November," he said.

The roar from the loyal crowd was so loud that it drowned out the final words of his near hour-long speech.

As Obama prepared to take the stage, Roberta Skok, a delegate from the battleground state of Ohio, said she expected to be inspired.

"I think this is going to push us through to the election, give us the momentum we need to push us over the edge and move us forward for another four years.

"We're going to do it. We're going to go back with enthusiasm, educate our neighbours, and our friends and coworkers and we're going to win this thing and push Barack forward."

Thursday's event was held at a basketball arena which seats some 20,000, rather than the near-by American football stadium which could have hosted 65,000, a similar amphitheatre to the one that served Obama so well in 2008.

The convention committee decided to move the event to the smaller, indoor venue under threat of thunderstorms - an unnecessary precaution as it turned out as the sky was clear while Obama spoke.

The move left tens of thousands of supporters with "community credentials" unable to attend. Many went to so-called "watch parties" instead.

The final night of the three-day convention was a seven-hour parade of celebrities and political heavy-hitters, punctuated with slick, high production films and musical numbers.

Actresses Kerry Washington, Scarlett Johansson and campaign co-chair Eva Longoria took the stage to add Hollywood glamour to Obama's re-election bid.

There were also performances by James Taylor, R&B singer Mary J. Blige and Foo Fighters.

Obama was swept into office in 2008 on a wave of enthusiasm for his message of hope and change. But now, hit with financial crisis and lagging economic recovery, he has struggled to ignite the same spark with voters.

None of that struggle was evident at the convention, though, as tears streamed down the faces of delegates chanting: "Four more years."

Obama said: "We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories. And we learn from our mistakes.

"But we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon knowing that providence is with us and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on earth."

If Obama beats Republican Mitt Romney in November and secures four more years in the White House, it will have little to do with his speech on Thursday.

Unusually, Obama did not deliver the best speech of his convention. In fact it was overshadowed both by the emotional testimony of his wife on Tuesday and ex-president Bill Clinton's masterly political tutorial the next day.

The consensus of many pundits and experts after the speech was underwhelming and probably did not change the trajectory of what is shaping up as a close election.

"I think it was a very good speech, but I don't think it was his best speech," said Costas Panagopoulos, an expert in campaigns and elections at Fordham University in New York.

But Panagopoulos said it was unlikely a wavering swing voter would have watched Obama's meditations on fighting for change and suddenly made up his mind.

"I don't think there was enough to drive anyone off the fence," Panagopoulos said.

He added that the presidential debates between Obama and Romney next month would be crucial in deciding the result of the November 6 election.