CHARLOTTE, N.C. - President Barack Obama accepted his party's nomination for a second term Thursday, asking the American people to trust in his leadership in the face of difficult economic times.
Four years after he ran on a lofty message of hope and change, Obama appeared more subdued, more serious and with a sharper edge on a scaled-down convention stage after weather forced a late venue change. He acknowledged times are still difficult for millions of Americans, saying that he was "mindful of my own failings" and that the country has not yet fully recovered from the recession.
"That hope has been tested - by the cost of war, by one of the worst economic crises in history and by political gridlock that's left us wondering whether it's still possible to tackle the challenges of our time," he said before invoking President Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression. "But 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."
In a speech that lasted 38 minutes, the president made only a passing reference to the signature accomplishment of his first term: passing health care reform legislation.
Obama also only mentioned GOP nominee Mitt Romney once by name in the speech, although he offered a general indictment of Republicans as unwilling to say what their plans are to fix the economy and as unable to suggest new ideas.
He said Republicans are offering nothing but more tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
"Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations and call us in the morning!" he quipped.
He zinged Romney as unready to lead.
"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," he said. "You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can't visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally. "
The president made the case that he has repeatedly made the tough choices - from taking out Osama bin Laden to ending the war in Iraq.
"Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11," he said. "A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al-Qaida is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead."
He made the case for an activist government both at home and abroad, one that invests in energy, education and manufacturing - while also reducing the deficit.
Many of Obama's policy proposals were recycled from earlier ones that have been rejected by Republicans in Congress, including higher taxes on people earning a yearly income of more than $250,000.