“The truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades,” he said. “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.”
Obama’s speech wrapped up a Democratic National Convention that combined a withering critique of Romney with a defense of the president’s record that Obama’s campaign team hopes will tip a closely fought election in their direction by November. Obama was aided immensely by the other two major speakers, first lady Michelle Obama and former president Bill Clinton.
The president spoke directly to the disappointment among some who supported him, and to the criticism from Republicans that his presidency has fallen far short of the promises he made in 2008.
“If you turn away now,” he said, “if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn’t possible, well, change will not happen. . . . Only you can make sure that doesn’t happen. Only you have the power to move us forward.”
Pointing to last week’s Republican convention in Tampa, Obama said the speakers there talked more about the country’s problems than about how they would fix them: “They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan. And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last 30 years.”
Obama’s convention played out against the backdrop of a country still mired in problems caused by the huge financial and housing collapse four years ago this month. The economy’s weakness and the public’s dissatisfaction with Obama’s handling of it pose the greatest threat to his prospects for reelection.
Obama spoke with the jobless rate at 8.3 percent — the 42nd consecutive month it has been above 8 percent — and with the economy adding jobs at a slow pace for months. The latest monthly jobs report will be issued early Friday morning, but economists have forecast little dramatic change in the jobless rate between now and Election Day in November.
He spoke to criticism that his policies have led to a bigger role for government in the economy and people’s lives: “We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems — any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.”