* Casts election as stark choice between different visions
* Hits Romney as inexperienced, uncaring
* "I never said this journey would be easy"
By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept 6 President Barack Obama
asked Americans on Thursday for patience in rebuilding the weak
economy as he appealed for a new term in office and defiantly
rejected Republican Mitt Romney's proposals for growth as
Accepting the presidential nomination at the Democratic
National Convention, Obama gave a more down-to-earth follow-up
to his 2008 "hope and change" message. Weighed down by wars,
high unemployment and political gridlock, he projected a tone
that was more subdued, less exuberant.
Obama told Americans they face starkly different paths in
choosing between him and Romney in the Nov. 6 election. He said
his way may be hard but will bring economic renewal.
"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."
Locked in the political fight of his life with two months to
go until the election, Obama faces the challenge of recapturing
the magic of his historic campaign of four years ago and
generating enthusiasm among voters who are weary of economic
The convention was Obama's best chance to appeal to the
nation until the presidential debates start in October.
With tight stagecraft, the Democrats introduced speakers
every night of the event in Charlotte to reach out to key parts
of their base of support - promoting women's issues, Obama's
auto bailout, Hispanic voters, gay rights and economic security
for the middle class.
Obama's nationally televised address was more of a
steady-as-you-go message that outlined priorities like creating
1 million new manufacturing jobs but offered few details on how
to achieve them. Early media reaction to the speech was not as
glowing as it was for an address to the convention by former
President Bill Clinton on Wednesday.
Obama argued that his economic measures, like the 2009
bailout of the auto industry, are working and asked Americans to
rally around a set of goals: Expanding manufacturing and energy
jobs and U.S. exports, improving education and trimming $4
trillion from America's $16 trillion debt.
Repeatedly contrasting his own priorities with those he said
were Romney's, Obama cast the Republican as uncaring of
middle-class Americans, pushing a theme that the former
executive is elitist and only interested in helping those like
All Romney wants to do, said Obama, is reward the wealthy
with tax cuts, deregulate banks and let energy companies write a
policy for more oil drilling.
"I don't believe that rolling back regulations on Wall
Street will help the small businesswoman expand, or the laid-off
construction worker keep his home. We've been there, we've tried
that, and we're not going back," he said.
Romney has vowed to cut taxes for Americans by 20 percent,
including the wealthy, and eliminate some popular income tax
deductions to help make up the loss in revenues. He would
sharply ramp up oil production and trade with the aim of
creating 12 million jobs over four years.
MILLIONAIRES' TAX CUTS, MEDICARE
Obama tried to pick Romney's proposals apart.
"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," said Obama.
And he took a shot at Republican vice presidential nominee
Paul Ryan's plan to overhaul the Medicare health insurance plan
by giving seniors a limited amount of money through vouchers.
"I will never turn Medicare into a voucher. No American
should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of
insurance companies," said the president.
Democrats formed "watch parties" in Charlotte to see the
speech on television after convention organizers moved it
indoors from a large outdoor stadium due to the threat of stormy
Joan Crick, 70, a retired teacher from Michigan, drove down
from her home state and joined hundreds of people at a Charlotte
convention center. Obama fans were clapping, cheering, aping
chants on television, jumping up and down.
"People were giving standing ovations even though it was a
TV," she said.
Leading up to Obama's address, convention speakers played up
his record, from ordering the mission that led to the killing of
Osama bin Laden to lifting restrictions that barred gays from
serving openly in the military.
"Ask Osama bin Laden if he's better off now than he was four
years ago," Senator John Kerry said, feeding off Republican
arguments that Americans are not better off under Obama's
Romney professed himself not interested in watching the
speech and his campaign dismissed the address as making the case
for more of the same policies that have not worked for the past
"Americans will hold President Obama accountable for his
record - they know they're not better off and that it's time to
change direction," said Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades.
Obama dismissed Romney and Ryan as "new to foreign policy"
and criticized a comment that Romney made that Russia is
America's biggest geopolitical foe. And he mocked Romney for
criticizing London's handling of the Olympic Games.
Obama likened his cause to that of Depression-era President
Franklin D. Roosevelt in calling for "shared responsibility" and
bold experimentation in bringing the U.S. economy further out of
the worst recession since the Great Depression.
In an attempt to rebut Romney's charge that Obama is too
partial to big government, Obama urged Democrats to "remember
that not every problem can be remedied with another government
program or dictate from Washington."
Both campaigns will be closely watching the Labor
Department's release of its U.S. jobless report for August on
Friday for any change to the 8.3 percent unemployment rate.
Other data on Thursday suggested the economy - by far the
No.1 issue with voters - could be improving.
Vice President Joe Biden, formally nominated for a second
term, gave a boisterous speech before Obama spoke and teared up
at one point while talking about war veterans.
Obama "has courage in his soul, compassion in his heart, and
a spine of steel," Biden said, offering an intimate view of his
There was an emotional moment when the pledge of allegiance
was led by former U.S. Representative Gabriel Giffords, who was
shot through the head in a mass shooting in her home state of
Arizona in 2011.
Obama will be looking for a boost from his convention, but
has not received much of a bounce yet. A Reuters/Ipsos online
poll found Romney had a narrow lead of 45 percent to Obama's 44
percent among likely voters.