"We're not going back," President Obama said Thursday night, "we are moving forward, America." Obama used his acceptance speech to draw a stark difference between himself and the Republicans. To a crowd fired up and ready to go, Obama said that Democrats and Americans respect and support hard work and small-business risk takers. But, he said, "We also believe in something called citizenship — a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy. The idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations." He said Americans recognize that our destinies are tied together and freedom requires a commitment to others.
The president said the 2008 election wasn't about him, it was about everyday Americans. "My fellow citizens," he said, "you were the change." He then said his supporters are to thank for health care reform, support for the DREAM Act, and the end of the war in Iraq. Now, he said, "I have never been more hopeful about America. Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because I'm naive about the magnitude of our challenges. I'm hopeful because of you."
"Michelle, I love you," President Obama said Thursday when he took the stage at the DNC. Michelle, whose speech was a hit on Tuesday, introduced her husband and then watched with a smile from the audience with their two daughters.
Scarlett Johansson addressed the DNC on Thursday not as a representative of young Hollywood, she said, "but as a representative of the many millions of young Americans, particularly young women, who depend on public and nonprofit programs to help them survive." Scarlett pointed to how government made a positive difference in her own life. She talked about growing up in New York City with a father who barely made enough to get by.
"We moved every year, and we finally settled in a housing development for lower middle income families. We went to public schools and depended on programs for school transport and lunches, as did most of my friends." And today, according to Scarlett, her girlfriends from high school still depend on Planned Parenthood and often Medicaid for important health care services.
Dr. Jill Biden told Americans about her husband's character and heart on Thursday. She told the audience, which was on the edge of their seats, "When I first met him, Joe had already seen just how fragile life could be. When he was 29 years old, Joe lost his first wife and baby daughter in a tragic car accident while they were out getting their Christmas tree, and the boys were critically injured. Joe's life was shattered." She continued, "But through his strong Catholic faith and his fierce love for our boys, Joe found the strength to get back up."
Vice President Joe Biden took a sentimental and serious tone on Thursday night. First, he thanked his wife, "Jilly," joking he had no idea what he would have done if she turned down his fifth marriage proposal. But then Joe turned his attention to President Obama, recounting tough decisions he's witnessed the president make over the past four years. "Folks, I've watched him. He never wavers. He steps up. He asks the same thing over and over again: 'How is this going to affect the average American?'" He proclaimed to loud applause: "There is only one choice. That choice is to move forward, boldly forward. And finish the job and reelect President Barack Obama."
"I'm here not just as an actress but as a woman, an African-American, a granddaughter of Ellis Island immigrants, a person who could not have afforded college without the help of student loans, and as one of millions of volunteers working to reelect President Obama," Kerry Washington told the pumped-up crowd on Thursday. During her speech, she implored people to get involved and speak up about the issues that impact them. "Today there are people trying to take away rights that our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers fought for." She continued, "The other side wants to take away our voice and render us invisible. But we are not invisible."
"The Eva Longoria who worked at Wendy's flipping burgers — she needed a tax break. But the Eva Longoria who works on movie sets does not," said actress and campaign cochair Eva Longoria, who shared her story of working through college and achieving the American dream. Eva touted Obama's record, including tax cuts for small businesses, equal pay for women, and support of the DREAM Act.
Gabby Giffords inspired everyone in the arena when she walked out on stage and led us in the pledge of allegiance. The brave former congressman had a big smile and blew a sweet kiss to the crowd who cheered "Gabby! Gabby!"
James Taylor took the stage around 5 p.m., declaring, "I am an old white man and I love Barack Obama." As the delegates swayed back and forth, he sang a few of his easy-listening hits, including "Carolina in My Mind." One young convention goer sitting next to me here in Charlotte, NC, asked, "Did he write this song for the convention?" Obviously, not a James Taylor fan. But he enjoyed the show nonetheless with everyone else.
Mary J. Blige brought some soul to the convention stage earlier in the night, covering U2's "One" and belting out her 2001 hit "Family Affair." Everyone sang along.