TAMPA, FLORIDA - President Barack Obama formally accepted the Democratic Party's presidential nomination Thursday, urging his supporters to rally behind him for the final two months of the U.S. presidential campaign.
It was Obama's most important campaign speech to date, and Democrats gave him a thunderous ovation in the convention hall as he defended his economic record and asked for a second term in the White House.
“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. And I'm asking you to choose that future,” he said.
Obama said this year's election between himself and Republican Mitt Romney offers Americans the clearest choice in a generation, on the economy, taxes, energy and issues of war and peace.
He said his policies would bolster the middle class, unlike the Republican approach, which he said would favor wealthy Americans.
Obama also defended his record on foreign policy, noting the end of the war in Iraq, the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the special forces mission that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
The president closed his speech with a fresh appeal for support built less on partisan differences than national unity.
“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.
Photo Gallery: Democratic National Convention 2012
Obama was introduced by his vice president, Joe Biden, who likely will serve the role of critic-in-chief during the campaign against Mitt Romney and his vice presidential running mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.
Biden described what he said was President Obama's bravery in approving the mission that killed Osama bin Laden and the decision to bail out the U.S. auto industry. And he offered a pithy defense of the president's four years in office.
“We can now proudly say what you have heard me say the last six months. Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive!,” Biden said.
The Romney campaign issued a statement that said the president was making the case for more of the same policies that have not worked over the past four years.
President Obama's speech provided a dramatic climax to a three-day convention where many Democratic delegates said they felt re-energized about the final two months of the campaign.
Nebraska delegate Willie Williams is among those determined to take the energy from the Charlotte convention back home, to stimulate grass roots organizing and fundraising efforts that could help the Democratic ticket in November.
“I mean, we are very confident as Democrats as to what's ahead of us, and we are confident as to what we must do, and we are confident as to what we know is going to happen, so we're happy. I'm excited,” Williams said.
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg says Republican nominee Mitt Romney got little in the way of a post-convention bounce in the polls after last week's Republican convention in Tampa, Florida.
But Greenberg says a unified and energized Democratic Party emerging from Charlotte could propel the president into a stronger position against Romney for the final weeks of the campaign.
“This is the last moment for the Republicans to kind of change where the race is and if he (Obama) comes out of here with a three- or four-point lead like he had coming into it, there aren't many points to turn it around,” Greenberg said.
Polls show the race is still close. Both candidates now hit the campaign trail with renewed intensity and will focus largely on about a dozen closely contested so-called battleground states where the election is likely to be won or lost on November 6.
Storify by John Featherly & Sean Maroney