President Obama to Sell Status Quo, Not ‘Change’ in DNC Speech
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Four years ago Barack Obama preached a message of change, but Thursday night he'll tell voters that the country's economic salvation lies in maintaining the status quo.
The economy is on the mend, he is expected to tell voters from the Democratic National Convention in a speech that targets the middle class, but a real recovery requires time and patience.
"I'm looking forward to laying out what's at stake in this election," Obama said in an afternoon conference call to supporters.
The president's enthusiasm may have been bolstered by a Wall Street rally. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed to four-year highs Thursday after the European Central Bank announced a plan that may provide some long-term assistance to struggling European markets.
Nevertheless, Obama's message will be starkly different and strikingly narrow in scope compared to the lofty promises he made in 2008. Then, before he was left to contend with the realities of the White House, Obama promised to usher in a new era of bipartisanship, get unemployment below eight percent, open negotiations with Iran, and bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians.
Already, Obama campaign officials are tempering expectations, setting voters up not to expect Obama to set the bar quite so high this time around.
Moreover, advisers are not promising that Obama's speech, following a rousing address by former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday, will say anything to convince undecided voters or widen his lead in a tightly contested election.
"Listen, this is a very tight race," David Plouffe, architect of Obama's 2008 campaign and a White House adviser, told Good Morning America Thursday.
"We've always believed that there's very little elasticity in this election. I don't think you should expect a big bounce. I think this is a race where we've got a small but important lead into battleground states," he said.
Plouffe hinted that Obama would continue to strike the theme nearly every DNC speaker this week has hit, that the Democrats are the best choice for reviving a struggling middle class.
"It's going to be very, very close all the way out, but I think the Republicans had an opportunity last week to lay out for the American people what they would do for the middle class. Our sense is that they missed the mark, so we think we're making a lot of progress this week. But again, you're not going to see big bounces in this election. I think for the next 61 days it's going to remain tight as a tick," he said.
Thursday night's primetime schedule kicks off with Vice President Joe Biden, who will introduce the president.
Traditionally, the running mate speaks the night before, but last night the campaign bet on Bill Clinton to remind voters of the prosperity the country experienced the last time Democrats were in office.
The former president delivered with a speech that both reminded voters of what Obama has accomplished -- passing health care reform, adding new jobs and killing Osama bin Laden -- and what he still has left to do.
"I understand the challenge we face. I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. Though employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend and even housing prices are picking up a bit, too many people don't feel it," he said.
"No president -- not me or any of my predecessors -- could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving and if you'll renew the president's contract you will feel it," he said.
Obama was slated to speak at the Bank of America Stadium, which seats nearly 75,000 people. Due to storms over Charlotte, the campaign moved his speech to the smaller Time Warner Cable Arena, where the rest of this week's convention has taken place.
Republicans pounced on the change of venue, accusing Obama of abandoning the larger stadium because he would be unable to fill all of the seats there.
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