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'Four more years!': Democrat faithful cheer on Obama

  • President Barack Obama, left, is joined on stage by first lady Michelle Obama, left, their children Sasha and Malia, right, on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina: Dancing, chanting and on their feet, thousands of loyal Democrats greeted a beleaguered President Barack Obama with unbridled joy as he asked a struggling nation for four more years.

After hours of warm-up acts and political speeches, the 15,000 delegates and guests were more than ready to cheer their hero as red, white and blue confetti flew.

"If you believe in a country where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules, then I need you to vote this November," he said.

The roar was so loud that the crowd drowned out the final words of his near hour-long speech.

As Obama prepared to take the stage, Roberta Skok, a delegate from the battleground state of Ohio, said she expected to be inspired.

"I think this is going to push us through to the election, give us the momentum we need to push us over the edge and move us forward for another four years.

"We're going to do it. We're going to go back with enthusiasm, educate our neighbors, and our friends and coworkers and we're going to win this thing and push Barack forward."

Thursday's event was held at a basketball arena, which seats some 20,000, rather than the near-by American football stadium which could have hosted 65,000, a similar amphitheater to the one that served Obama so well in 2008.

The convention committee decided to move the event to the smaller, indoor venue under threat of thunderstorms, an unnecessary precaution as it turned out as the sky was clear while Obama spoke.

The move left tens of thousands of supporters with "community credentials" unable to attend. Many went to so-called "watch parties" instead.

The final night of the three-day Democratic National Convention was a seven-hour parade of celebrities and political heavy-hitters, punctuated with slick, high production films and musical numbers.

A trio of Hollywood actresses, Kerry Washington, Scarlett Johansson and campaign co-chair Eva Longoria, took the stage to add a but of Hollywood glamor to Obama's re-election bid.

Latin superstar Marc Anthony belted the national anthem to the rafters where the cheap seats were full hours before Obama was due to arrive.

Folk icon and North Carolina native James Taylor opened with "Carolina on My Mind," and R&B singer Mary J. Blige had the crowd dancing in the aisles with her rendition of U2's "One." The Foo Fighters played an acoustic version of "There Goes My Hero."

A highlight of the evening for many was when former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords walked hesitantly onto stage to recite the Pledge of Allegiance helped by her colleague and friend Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Giffords resigned her Arizona seat after being shot in the head in an assassination attempt at a constituent event in 2011. She appeared unsteady and did not move her right arm, but her voice was strong as she recited the pledge known to every US school child.

As has become her custom, First Lady Michelle Obama eschewed the traditional red and blue convention-wear, appearing in an eggplant dress with a full skirt and bateau neckline. A flower pin by American jewelry designer Alexis Bittar adorned the neckline.

Both Obama daughters were in the arena, charming the crowd in front row seats. Sasha, 11, was visibly unhappy when her father reminder her that she would be going to school in the morning.

Obama was swept into office in 2008 on a wave of enthusiasm for his message of hope and change. But now, hit with financial crisis and lagging economic recovery, he has struggled to ignite the same spark with voters.

None of that struggle was evident at the convention, though, as tears streamed down the faces of delegates chanting "Four more years!"

"We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories. And we learn from our mistakes," Obama implored.

"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!"

 
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