September 7, 2012 11:49:11 AM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- President Barack Obama's convention evolution is complete.
Eight years ago, the little-known Democrat rocketed into the political spotlight with a soaring convention keynote address. Four years later, he accepted the Democratic Party's nomination and became its standard bearer.
On Thursday and now the president, Obama took the stage fighting for his job.
"I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention," Obama said. "The times have changed, and so have I."
"I'm no longer just a candidate. I'm the president," he said, drawing cheers from the crowd of 15,000.
It was a telling transformation for Obama, locked in a tight re-election battle with Republican Mitt Romney. After taking office with sky-high hopes in 2008, Obama now is hampered by a shaky economy and dampened enthusiasm among his supporters.
His prime-time convention speech, delivered two months from Election Day, was meant to set the tone for the campaign's final stretch.
So, with thousands in the audience and millions watching from elsewhere, the president asked for more time. Obama urged voters to stay patient even though his economic policies have failed to fully fix the American economy. Once the candidate of hope, Obama's message was hang in there.
"America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now," he said, "Yes, our path is harder -- but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer, but we travel it together."
In 2008, Obama ran for office on a platform of lofty ideas, many of which have gone unfulfilled during his years in the White House. This time around, Obama acknowledged that the campaign sometimes seems small, even silly.
"Trivial things become big distractions. Serious issues become sound bites," he said. "And the truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising."
Obama never mentioned his own role in the 2012 campaign's increasingly nasty tone. The president's campaign has hammered Romney, a successful businessman, as a corporate raider who sought profits at all cost. A Democratic super PAC supporting Obama ran an ad linking him to the cancer death of a man who worked for a company Romney's private equity firm controlled. And the president never asked his allies to take it down, despite questions about its accuracy.