In his speech to the Democratic National Convention Thursday night, President Barack Obama said the Nov. 6 election boils down to a choice between his leadership and that of Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Limestone County Democrats who attended the festivities in Charlotte, N.C., said for them, Obama is the clear choice over the former Massachusetts governor and business mogul.
“We’re fired up and ready to go,” said Ron Gatlin, chairman of the Limestone County Democratic Executive Committee. “All the speeches were flawless, but Obama really tied it all together. I think he said everything he needed to say to get re-elected.”
Limestone resident Pam Wallace, who was also at the convention, described the speeches from the Tuesday through Thursday event as “flawless,” and praised the oratory of Obama and former President Bill Clinton, who spoke Wednesday night.
“When (Clinton) speaks, he brings electricity,” she said.
One of the more touching moments for the Democrats at the convention was the presence of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is still recuperating after being shot in January at a public meet and greet in Tucson. With the help of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Giffords led the convention in the Pledge of Allegiance Thursday evening.
“Everybody was in tears, I’m not going to lie,” Wallace said. “She really had to struggle to get out there and say the pledge, but it was a magic moment.”
Another speaker who fired up the Democratic faithful was Lilly Ledbetter, a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. retiree from Gadsden who sued the company over disparities between salaries for male and female employees. Her plight helped lead Congress to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Obama signed it into law shortly after taking office in January 2009.
“She was really a big hit,” Wallace said. “That’s an important (law) for a lot of women.”
Despite glowing reviews from Democrats on the convention speeches, Republicans have chastised Obama’s speech because it presented no immediate roadmap for stabilizing the economy.
“America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now,” he said during his speech accepting the Democratic nomination. “Yes, our path is harder — but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer, but we travel it together.”
Obama’s critics have also pointed out few of the speeches at the convention made mention of stimulus dollars and bailouts for the auto industry. A central question the convention sought to address was posed by Republicans: Are Americans better off than they were four years ago?
After initially stumbling, the Democratic consensus was a resounding yes, that Obama had taken steps to halt the recession and put the economy on a slow but rising path.
Clinton made the case Wednesday night: “He put a floor under the crash. He began the long, hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good, new jobs, vibrant new businesses and lots of new wealth for innovators.”
When asked if he thought Obama made his case for economic recovery, Gatlin said no president would have been able to pull the country out of the recession any quicker.
“Obama has us focused on a slow and steady path,” he said, though he added the most recent jobs report was not as positive as Democrats hoped it would be. “When he took over as president, we were losing 8,000 jobs per month. He’s slowly been adding jobs, and the stock market was up 245 points (on Friday). So apparently, investors have hope in our economy.”
When asked if he thought Obama had the Nov. 6 election in the bag, Gatlin was hesitant to call it a sure thing.
“Anything can happen between now and November,” he said. “But our base is definitely fired up.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.