President Barack Obama headlined an emotional evening at the Democratic National Convention Thursday, a program which saw former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords lead the Pledge of Allegiance a year and a half after she was shot in the head by a gunman and nearly died.
After a tearful speech from Vice President Joe Biden, the President took the stage and first tipped his hat to DNC stand-out, his wife Michelle Obama. "Michelle, I love you. The other night, I think the entire country saw just how lucky I am," he told the crowd after being introduced by the FLOTUS. The President's moving address was preceded by famous faces including Kerry Washington, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Longoria.
Throughout his speech, the President emphasized his ambitions about education, tax reform and keeping big government alive while also returning to cornerstones of his inaguaral run — hope and change. "If you turn away now, if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn't possible...well, change will not happen," he said. "But as I stand here tonight, I have never been more hopeful about America. ... I'm hopeful because of you."
The President went into depth about his goals for his next term. "I want to reform the tax code so that it's simple, fair, and asks the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on incomes over $250,000 — the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was president; the same rate we had when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest surplus in history, and a lot of millionaires to boot," he said. "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. I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, elderly, or disabled — all so those with the most can pay less."
However, the President was honest that he wasn't offering simple quick fixes for the nation's problems. "I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or 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. 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."
While looking ahead to the future, the President also closely examined the experience, or in his opinion, lack thereof, of his opponent Mitt Romney, as well as Paul Ryan, particularly saying, "my opponent and his running mate are new" to foreign policy and also taking aim at Romney's well-publicized financial plans.
"Over and over, we have been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way; that since government can't do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can't afford health insurance, hope that you don't get sick. If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that's just the price of progress," he said. "You know what? That's not who we are. That's not what this country's about."
The President, however, also addressed his own negative reviews from the past four years. "If the critics are right that I've made all my decisions based on polls, then I must not be very good at reading them," he said. "And while I'm proud of what we've achieved together, I'm far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, 'I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.'"
In the end, the President embraced his past four years in office for better or for worse. "The times have changed — and so have I," he said, referring to his first DNC appearance in 2004. "I'm no longer just a candidate. I'm the President. I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn't return. I've shared the pain of families who've lost their homes, and the frustration of workers who've lost their jobs."
Flanked by his wife and their two daughters — and later Joe and Jill Biden — Obama waved to the crowd to the tune of Bruce Springsteen's 'We Take Care of Our Own."
What did you think of the President's speech?