Washington: President Barack Obama implored black voters to restock the passion they felt for his groundbreaking campaign two years ago and turn out in force this fall to repel Republicans who are ready to "turn back the clock”.
In a fiery speech to the Congressional Black Caucus, Obama warned on Saturday that Republicans hoping to seize control of Congress want "to do what`s right politically, instead of what`s right – period”.
"I need everybody here to go back to your neighbourhoods, to go back to your workplaces, to go to the churches, and go to the barbershops and go to the beauty shops. And tell them we`ve got more work to do," Obama said to cheers from a black-tie audience at the Washington Convention Centre.
"Tell them we can`t wait to organise. Tell them that the time for action is now."
His speech acknowledged what pollsters have been warning Democrats for months - that blacks are among the key Democratic groups who right now seem unlikely to turn out in large numbers in November.
"It`s not surprising given the hardships that we`re seeing across the land that a lot of people may not be feeling very energised, very engaged right now," Obama said.
"A lot of folks may be feeling like politics is something that they get involved with every four years when there`s a Presidential Election, but they don`t see why they should bother the rest of the time."
But he said he`s just begun rolling back a devastating recession that`s come down "with a vengeance" on African-American neighbourhoods that were already suffering.
"We have to finish the plan you elected me to put in place," Obama said.
Summoning the joy many blacks felt at the election of the first African-American president, and recalling the words of actor and activist Ossie Davis, he declared, "It`s not the man, it`s the plan."
Obama was treated to several standing ovations in the darkened cavernous Convention Centre. Joining the applause: first lady Michelle Obama, dressed in a floor-length burgundy cocktail dress.
But the hall grew quiet as Obama warned, "Remember, the other side has a plan too. It`s a plan to turn back the clock on every bit of progress we`ve made."
Obama never spoke the name of the Republican party, but repeatedly invoked its policies - and did name its House leader, Rep John Boehner, a favourite Obama target in recent days.