Charlotte: Marking the magnificent finale of three-day Democratic National Convention, US President Barack Obama on Thursday night accepted his party`s nomination for a second term.
Addressing enthusiastic Democrats, Obama said that the presidential polls on November 06 against his Republican challenger Mitt Romney will be a choice between two "fundamentally different visions for the future".
"When all is said and done - when you pick up that ballot to vote - you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation," said Obama to a raucously cheering crowd waving signs with his campaign slogan "Forward" on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina broadcast live to the nation.
"On every issue, the choice you face won`t be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future," Obama said.
Dressed in a dark blue suit with striped blue tie, the Democratic colour, Obama came out after a brief introduction from first lady Michelle Obama to slowly but surely warming up to his theme that while "hope has been tested, by the cost of war; by one of the worst economic crises in history; and by political gridlock", more time was needed to fix the nation`s problems.
Widely viewed as reserved, even aloof, Obama acknowledged "my own failings" as he asked for a second term, four years after taking office as the nation`s first black President.
He conceded that the path he is offering is neither quick nor easy.
"I never have. You didn`t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades," he said in his 38-minute acceptance speech.
"It will require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one. And by the way, those of us who carry on his party`s legacy should remember that not every problem can be remedied with another government programme or dictate from Washington," Obama said.
"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," Obama said.
Making a passionate plea for his re-election, Obama urged his countrymen to rally around a set of goals.
"I`m asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country, goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit; a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation," he said.
"That`s what we can do in the next four years, and that`s why I`m running for a second term as President of the United States," he said in his speech in front of thousands of cheering Democratic Party delegates and supporters inside the jam packed Time Warner Cable Arena, having a capacity of 20,000.
Nearly 5,000 watch parties were held across the nation yesterday where his speech was being watched and debated with interest.
On manufacturing, he promised to create one million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016 and double exports by the end of 2014; while in the energy sector, his plan vowed to cut net oil imports in half by 2020 and support 600,000 natural gas jobs by the end of the decade.
His ambitious plan on education cuts the growth of college tuition in half over the next 10 years, recruits 100,000 Math and Science teachers over the next 10 years and train two million workers for real jobs at community colleges.
He called for investing in the economy with the money that was no longer being spent on war.
Obama promised to reduce the deficit by more than USD 4 trillion over the next decade.
"Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington, on jobs and the economy; taxes and deficits; energy and education; war and peace, decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children`s lives for decades to come," Obama added.
Hitting hard at the economic policies of his Romney, Obama also said that this November Presidential Elections, Americans have a choice either reward companies which ships jobs overseas or provide tax incentives to those who bring jobs back home.
Asserting that the US under his leadership had blunted the Taliban`s momentum in Afghanistan, Obama said that the country`s longest war would be over in 2014.
He also said that under him, America had revived its global leadership, as the country strengthened old alliances and forged new coalitions during his term.
"We`ve strengthened old alliances and forged new coalitions to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. We`ve reasserted our power across the Pacific and stood up to China on behalf of our workers," Obama said in his address.
"From Burma to Libya to South Sudan, we have advanced the rights and dignity of all human beings, men and women; Christians and Muslims and Jews," Obama said, adding but for all the progress we`ve made, challenges remain.
"Terrorist plots must be disrupted. Europe`s crisis must be contained. Our commitment to Israel`s security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace," he said.
"The Iranian government must face a world that stays united against its nuclear ambitions. The historic change sweeping across the Arab World must be defined not by the iron fist of a dictator or the hate of extremists, but by the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people who are reaching for the same rights that we celebrate today," Obama said.
"We`ve blunted the Taliban`s momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over. A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead," Obama said in his address to the Democratic National Convention.
Obama used the occasion to hit hard on the foreign policy of his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, alleging that the latter still appears to be living in a cold war era and charging that such policies would cost America dearly.
"So now we face a choice. 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.
"After all, you don`t call Russia our number one enemy, and not al Qaeda, unless you`re still stuck in a Cold War time warp," he said.
"You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can`t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally. My opponent said it was `tragic` to end the war in Iraq, and he won`t tell us how he`ll end the war in Afghanistan," Obama said.
"I have, and I will," he added.
"And while my opponent would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don`t even want, I`ll use the money we`re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work, rebuilding roads and bridges; schools and runways," Obama said.
Obama pointed out that after two wars that have cost US thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it`s time to do some nation-building at home.
"After a decade of decline, this country created over half a million manufacturing jobs in the last two and a half years. And now you have a choice: we can give more tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, or we can start rewarding companies that open new plants and train new workers and create new jobs here, in the United States of America," Obama said.
"We can help big factories and small businesses double their exports, and if we choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years. You can make that happen. You can choose that future," Obama added.
"Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place," he said.
"We can choose a future where we export more products and outsource fewer jobs. After a decade that was defined by what we bought and borrowed, we`re getting back to basics, and doing what America has always done best: We`re making things again," he said.
Obama said he has met workers in Detroit and Toledo who feared they`d never build another American car.
"Today, they can`t build them fast enough, because we reinvented a dying auto industry that`s back on top of the world," he said, adding that he has signed trade agreements that are helping US companies sell more goods to millions of new customers, goods that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America.”
Defending his energy policy which supports renewable and alternative sources of energy, Obama said that he would continue with his plan as climate change is not a hoax.
"And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They`re a threat to our children`s future," Obama pointed out.
"And in this election, you can do something about it," Obama said, adding that Americans can choose the path where they control more of their own energy.
"After thirty years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas," he noted.
Obama pointed out that the US has doubled use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries.
"In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by one million barrels a day, more than any administration in recent history. And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in nearly two decades," he argued.
Americans, he said, now have a choice, between a strategy that reverses this progress, or one that builds on it. "We`ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration in the last three years, and we`ll open more," Obama promised.
"But unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country`s energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another USD 4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers," Obama asserted.
"We`re offering a better path, a future where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new bio fuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy; where we develop a hundred year supply of natural gas that`s right beneath our feet," he said.
"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," Obama added.
First Lady Michelle Obama and the couple`s daughters, Malia and Sasha, joined the President on stage in the moments after the speech, followed by other family members and Vice President Joe Biden and his wife. Strains of "Only in America" filled the hall as confetti filled the air.
As Obama finished with confetti guns shooting into the air and the video screens displaying images of fireworks, Democrats already energised by former president Bill Clinton`s speech on Wednesday evening appeared fired up to face what appears to be a close race with renewed confidence.
Obama`s speech was the final act of a pair of highly scripted national political conventions in as many weeks, and the opening salvo of a two-month drive toward Election Day that pits Obama against Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.
Biden preceded Obama at the convention podium and proclaimed, "America has turned the corner" after experiencing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
The Romney campaign was dismissive as Democrats completed their convention.
"Americans will hold President Obama accountable for his record — they know they`re not better off and that it`s time to change direction," Matt Rhoades, the challenger`s campaign manager, said in a statement.
(With Agency inputs)