CHARLOTTE — Barack Obama came to the last Democratic National Convention and told America it was time to say yes to a new vision for politics. The Obama who came to the convention Thursday night in Charlotte urged voters to say no — no to going backward, no to the notion that “hope” was naive and no to what he cast as an extreme Republican agenda.
Obama painted a picture of Republican Party eager to make sweeping changes he said would halt the progress of his administration. Again and again, he called on voters to stand with him to continue on the path he’s charted the past four years.
“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,” Obama said. “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.”
The two sides of those decisions couldn’t be clearer, Obama said.
“On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties,” he said. “It will be a choice between two different paths for America.”
Obama drew a line in the sand on a wide array of issues, and said Romney and the Republicans were on the other side of each one.
• “Unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country’s energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers,” Obama said.
• “When Gov. Romney and his allies in Congress tell us we can somehow lower our deficit by spending trillions more on new tax breaks for the wealthy — well, how did President Clinton put it? You do the arithmetic.” Obama said. “I refuse to go along with that. And as long as I’m president, I never will.”
• “I will never turn Medicare into a voucher,” Obama said. “No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies.”
The Romney campaign agreed that the election is a stark choice. It released a statement while Obama was speaking charging that the president “hasn’t kept the promises he made four years ago.”
Obama focused like a laser on Romney — referring to him as “my opponent” — using his experience as commander-in-chief to attack Romney as untested and unready to lead on the international stage.
“You don’t call Russia our No. 1 enemy — and not al Qaeda — unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War time warp,” he said. “You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.”
Despite occasional distractions, the campaign has been centered on issues surrounding the economy. But Obama opened up a new line of attack Thursday night, telling the crowd in Charlotte that he refused to go Romney’s way on foreign policy.
“My opponent and his running mate are … new to foreign policy. But from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly,” Obama said.
Faced with Republicans who have cast the election as a choice between opponents of free enterprise and supporters of it, Obama said the choice was really between people who support expanding opportunity and those who oppose it.
“We’re not entitled to success. We have to earn it. We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk-takers who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system — the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known,” Obama said. “But we also believe in something called citizenship — 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.”
Romney, Obama said, is on the wrong side of that line. And he urged the American people to say no.
“If you reject the notion that this nation’s promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election,” he said. “If you reject the notion that our government is forever beholden to the highest bidder, you need to stand up in this election.”
“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,” Obama said.
To close, Obama tied in the convention’s theme of inclusivity.
“America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now,” he said. “Yes, our path is harder - but it leads to a better place. Yes, our road is longer - but we travel it together.”