US President Barack Obama asks voters to stick with him 4 more years
US president aims his appeal at disillusioned middle-class swing voters to stay in office
Barack Obama went into his speech at the US Democratic National Convention with twin tasks - mobilising the base and reassuring those in the middle.
The US president threw red meat to the party faithful at the convention in Charlotte. But he also appealed beyond the cameras to a vast television audience to patch up the coalition that got him there, especially women, young people and middle-class swing voters caught up in his historic achievement four years ago but since disillusioned.
In a significant way, both Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are appealing to the same sliver of the electorate.
In Tampa, Florida, last week, Romney gave "the disappointed" permission to vote against a president he said was out of his depth and incapable of mending the economy as promised.
This week, Obama asked people to stick with him four more years by reassuring that he can make things right.
"Know this, America: our problems can be solved. 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," he said.
Obama has acknowledged that he should have done a better job convincing people during his first four years in office that his policies have begun putting the country back on a path to prosperity. On Thursday, he wanted Americans to feel confident that he will "finish what we started" if returned to the White House.
"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," he said. Obama promised not just to fix the economy, but also to do it in a fair way that he says is lacking in the Republican prescription of trickle-down economics in which incentives for the wealthy will eventually benefit everybody.
"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.
Obama's pitch about creating economic opportunity for all was designed, in part, to appeal to a politically potent middle class struggling with lost savings and precarious job security.
However, his task was made more difficult yesterday, with the latest unemployment report showing employers created only 96,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 per cent from 8.3 per cent in July, largely because more people stopped looking for work.
Romney said Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention gave no confidence that he could create jobs or get the economy moving. Asked about Bill Clinton's comment that no one could have turned the economy around in four years, Romney said he could have done "a heck of a better job than this president has".