J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — His re-election in doubt, President Barack Obama conceded only halting progress Thursday night toward fixing the nation's stubborn economic woes, but vowed in a Democratic National Convention finale, "Our problems can be solved, our challenges can be met."
"The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place," Obama declared in advance excerpts of a prime-time speech to delegates and the nation.
The president'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 Republican rival Mitt Romney. The contest is close for the White House in a dreary season of economic struggle for millions.
In the run-up to Obama's speech, delegates erupted in tumultuous cheers when former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, grievously wounded in a 2011 assassination attempt, walked onstage to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. The cheers grew louder when she blew kisses to the crowd.
And louder still when huge video screens inside the hall showed the face of Osama bin Laden, the terrorist mastermind killed in a daring raid on his Pakistani hideout by U.S. special operations forces — on a mission approved by the current commander in chief.
With unemployment at 8.3 percent, Obama said the task of recovering from the economic disaster of 2008 is exceeded in American history only by the challenge Franklin Delano Roosevelt faced when he took office in the Great Depression in 1933.
"It will require common effort, shared responsibility and the kind of bold persistent experimentation" that FDR employed, Obama said.
In an appeal to independent voters who might be considering a vote for Romney, he added that those who carry on Roosevelt's legacy "should remember that not every problem can be remedied with another government program or dictate from Washington."
His campaign said the president would ask the country to rally around a "real achievable plan that will create jobs, expand opportunity and ensure an economy built to last."
He added, "The truth is it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over a decade."
The evening also included a nomination acceptance speech from Vice President Joe Biden, whose appeal to blue collar voters rivals or even exceeds Obama's own. Delegates approved his nomination to a new term by acclamation as he and his family watched from VIP seats above the convention floor.
Biden told the convention in his own speech that he had watched as Obama "made one gutsy decision after another" to stop an economic free-fall after they took office in 2009.
Now, he said, "we're on a mission to move this nation forward — from doubt and downturn to promise and prosperity."
With Obama in the hall listening, Biden jabbed at the president's challenger, as well.
"I found it fascinating last week — when Governor Romney said that as President he'd take a jobs tour. Well with all his support for outsourcing — it's going to have to be a foreign trip."
First lady Michelle Obama, popular with the public, was ready to introduce her husband, two nights after she delivered her own speech in the convention's opening session.
Delegates who packed into their convention hall were serenaded by singer James Taylor and rocked by R&B blues artist Mary J. Blige as they awaited Obama's speech.
There was no end to the jabs aimed at Romney and the Republicans.
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