By Matt Fleming, Capital News Service
CHARLOTTE, NC—It's official—Barack Obama is this year's Democratic presidential candidate.
Following last night's state roll call, there was nothing left for the president to do but take the stage and accept the party's nomination, while touting the past term's accomplishments and promising future prosperity.
"America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now," said Obama. "Yes, our path is harder, but it leads to a better place. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth."
The speech was light on policy and heavy on emotional appeals. Obama promoted citizenship for undocumented immigrants, advocated low taxes for the poor and higher taxes for those with incomes greater than $250,000. He also highlighted marriage equality, jobs for veterans and Medicare protection.
Obama did make several promises, such as ending the Afghanistan occupation by 2014, cutting oil imports in half by 2020, devoting the savings from Afghanistan to fix Medicare, and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in energy, education and manufacturing.
"It was inspirational," said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-MD. "I think he laid it out very clearly the choice Americans must make in November, and if you really are concerned about the priorities for our children, and fairness in this country, and opportunity, the choice is clear, Barack Obama."
Maryland's delegation was delighted with the speech.
"It was the highlight of my life," said David Carey, 48, of Bel Air, a delegate from the 1st Congressional District. "At the end of that speech, it just made me proud of my country."
District 3 delegate Sarah Flynn, 62, of Annapolis agreed, saying, "I thought he said everything that needed to be said. ... If the American people don't vote for him, they're out of their minds."
The Democrats moved the president's speech from the Bank of America Stadium to the much smaller Time Warner Cable Arena because of expected inclement weather, leaving thousands of people to watch the speech on TV's in the convention center, at local bars, or in homes.
The Maryland Democratic Party estimated that as many as 500 of its guests could have been affected by the change, and so it sponsored a viewing party at Hartigan's Irish Pub in uptown Charlotte.
Karen Queen, 40, a Maryland guest, watched at Hartigan's, and said Obama's speech hit all the right notes.
"He hit all the major points. He made the point that he needs the vote and what he will do for us in the next four years."
Queen and her father had tickets for the stadium and were disappointed not to be in the arena, but said that one cannot control the weather.
"They made the right decision. They sort of put it together at the last minute and made the best of it," she said.
Editor's Note: Capital News Service reporters Maria-Pia Negro, Julie Baughman and David Gutman contributed to this report.