President Barack Obama took the stage on Thursday night in North Carolina to accept his party's nomination and ask voters to make a choice.
He had the tough job of following former President Bill Clinton, who roused the crowds on Wednesday, and made a strong point-by-point case for re-electing Obama.
Early in his speech, Obama began drawing a stark contrast between his view and his opponent's, saying, "On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future." according to The Washington Post.
"You didn't elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth," Obama said, making the case for shared responsibility and working together. He asked voters to choose his plan for the economic future, which included a focus on American manufacturing, small businesses and the auto industry's continued recovery.
In fact, 'choice' was a prominent word in Obama's speech. He told Americans they could choose to cut oil imports in half and create 600,000 natural gas jobs by 2020. They could choose to boost education and choose leadership that was "tested and proven."
Obama set the goal of creating 1 million new manufacturing jobs over the next four years, and reducing the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next 10 years, according to CNN.
Obama also paid special attention to veterans and national security. He told veterans, "When you take off the uniform, we will serve you as well as you’ve served us – because no one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, or a roof over their head, or the care that they need when they come home," according to The New York Times.
Taking aim at Mitt Romney's national security policies, Obama said, "After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy – and not al Qaeda – unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War time warp."
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Turning to the economy and the issue of tax cuts, Obama got a fierce response from the crowd when he said, "I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly, or disabled — all so those with the most can pay less."
He called on voters to embrace a sense of citizenship and responsibility, calling it "a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations."
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Obama paraphrased former President John F. Kennedy's speech, saying, "As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government." During his inauguration in 1961, Kennedy famously said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country," according to the Guardian.
Near the end of his speech, Obama drew emotional responses from the crowd as he told the audience, "So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens, you were the change."
He implored voters, "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. If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are making it harder for you to vote"
"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, according to The Post.
The crowd roared as he said, "We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up."
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