CHARLOTTE, N.C. – President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney have chosen their weapons – a laser beam for Romney, and a shotgun for Obama.
In Tampa, Fla., last week, Republicans focused sharply on the message that Obama has failed to rescue the economy.
On Thursday’s closing night of the Democratic National Convention, Obama and his allies blasted out reasons why he should win another term – among them a successful auto bailout, the death of Osama bin Laden, increasing gay rights and reducing the country’s oil imports.
“Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known,” Obama said.
His speech was a mix of celebration of his accomplishments, criticism of his opponents and a plea for patience.
“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have,” Obama said. “And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.”
The president mocked Republican plans for the economy as nothing more than calls for more tax cuts no matter what the situation.
“Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations and call us in the morning,” Obama said.
He portrayed Romney as a foreign-policy amateur and noted a gaffe the Republican made on the eve of the Olympics by questioning how ready London was for the Games.
“You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally,” he said.
Obama mixed his attacks on Romney with an expression of humility.
“The times have changed, and so have I,” he said. “And while I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings.”
Obama also touted his energy policies that rely on wind, solar, biofuels, advanced coal-burning technologies and natural-gas drilling.
“If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone,” he said.
Republicans set up shop in the NASCAR museum in downtown Charlotte and offered a pre-emptive rebuttal Thursday afternoon to Obama.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said he expected to hear an eloquent speech. But he and other Republicans, such as Texas state Rep. Stefani Carter, turned the message back to the economy.
“It will be an evening when people finally realize, I think, that hope and opportunity have come to an end,” Carter said. “If you do not have jobs, you do not have hope. We’ve lost hope.”
Inside the Time Warner Cable Arena, the mood was anything but glum. Musical acts James Taylor, Mary J. Blige and the Foo Fighters warmed up the crowd, but it came alive when former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head nearly two years ago, delivered the Pledge of Allegiance.
The evening also featured the last of seven Coloradans to speak at the convention, retired U.S. Army Capt. Jason Crow.
Crow fought in Iraq and supported Obama’s repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay and lesbian troops.
“It was wrong that men and women I served with could be told they weren’t good enough just because of their sexual orientation. Soldiers who I trusted with my life, and fought alongside with, could be discharged because of who they loved,” Crow said.
Vice President Joe Biden also spoke, portraying Obama as a president who makes courageous decisions, such as the choice to send a special forces mission to kill bin Laden.
“Bravery resides in the heart of Barack Obama, and time and time again I’ve witnessed him summon it. This man has courage in his soul and a spine of steel,” Biden said.
A few hours before he spoke, Obama’s campaign announced he will return to Colorado next Thursday for a campaign event in the Denver area.