• With: Jason Riley, James Freeman, Kim Strassel, Dan Henninger

    This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," September 8, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," President Obama and the Democrats made their case for four more years. So how convincing were they? We'll look at the best and the worst of the DNC.

    Plus, what would a second Obama term look like? We've got some ideas.

    And with the conventions behinds us, the real fun begins. A look at where the candidates stand as we head into the fall campaign.



    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I'm asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country -- goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security and the deficit -- real achievable plans that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation. That's what we can do in the next four years. And that's why I'm running for a second term as president of the United States.



    GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    That was President Barack Obama on Thursday night, making his case in Charlotte, North Carolina, for a second term in the White House. But with another disappointing jobs report released just hours after his speech, and unemployment above 8 percent for the 43rd month in a row, did the president get the job done?

    Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; Political Diary editor, Jason Riley; assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.

    Jason, let's start with you. How effective was the president's case for reelection?

    JASON RILEY, POLITICAL DIARY EDITOR: I don't think it was very effective. I thought it was a pretty calorie-free performance last night. We got the typical liberal nostrums -- hope, change, shared responsibility. But I think it was more significant for what he didn't talk about, Paul -- Obama-care, not a lot on jobs, not a lot on the stimulus. These are that defined his presidency. He's not using them to make the case for his reelection.

    GIGOT: So he didn't defend, James, some of the core programs in an at least in a vociferous, elaborate way for his first term. What is the case for reelection? What did -- distill it for us. What did he say? Why elect me again?

    JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Well, things were terrible, but could have been worse. But, I think, for me --


    GIGOT: OK. And for the next four years, it could have been worse, is that -- is that really the message?

    FREEMAN: It was a lot about the future. You have to ignore the first term, basically, of the Obama administration. There's a constant look to the future, saying things are going to be better, but I thought it was interesting, it seemed to be a series of very narrowly targeted messages to particular interest groups. And I think, for a worker who doesn't make either solar panels or cars, you're wondering what's in it for me. It was very specifically targeted to the specific industry where you like the favor.

    GIGOT: Kim, were there any real policy differences from the first term that he offered here in the speech? I kept listening for them. Was there anything different?

    KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Not a one. We were waiting. We were waiting. And there wasn't anything. Look, I think what's important here, the Obama campaign did what they think they need to do.


    GIGOT: What was that?

    STRASSEL: Which were two things. One was making the argument that the problems we have were a result of the Republican policies. And that is if you elect Mitt Romney, you go back to that. And, two, to make the argument, go out there and try to gin up enthusiasm among these very specific sub groups of voters -- women, Hispanics and youth vote. That's the strategy to go ahead. Now I think could you argue that maybe this -- especially the lack of specifics in a second term, maybe was lacking, didn't help him with Independents and some of those voters. But that's what they set out to do and they think they did it.


    DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: You know, Paul, for all that, the Friday morning unemployment report was a real reality check for that convention, a real splash of cold water. He's the president of the United States. The next day, he wakes up and 368,000 more people have given up looking for work, in addition to all the other hundreds of thousands that have given up. That's a complete contradiction to the whole mood of this convention -- we've turned the corner, give me two more years, we're on the right track. Those numbers are not on the right track. and that's the reality of the American people have in their heads as they go into this.

    GIGOT: OK. I agree with you on that. Labor force participation rate, the low s since 1981, 65.3 percent.

    But if that's the reality you're dealing with, Jason, then what -- and your case is, if we only do more of the same, then things -- we'll turn the corner. We make progress. We'll turn the corner. Is that persuasive?

    RILEY: Perhaps. The question -- to get back to what Kim said, those arguments were made at the convention. Obama didn't make them in his speech, but they were made by others. And the question is, is that good enough, or do people need to hear it from the president.

    But I think, particularly in the case about, you know, I was -- I inherited this mess. And Clinton, of course, makes the point strongest. I inherited a mess and I haven't had enough time to clean it up. And that's the case that Romney is making for firing me. Clinton said that's holding Obama to an impossibly high standard.

    GIGOT: Not even Bill Clinton could have fixed this --

    RILEY: Not even --


    GIGOT: -- this economy.

    I want to listen to -- Kim, I want to listen to Elizabeth Warren who made a kind of -- offered a kind of message often heard during the convention.



    ELIZABETH WARREN, U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE FOR MASSACHUSETTS: People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here is the painful part. They're right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in profits. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries.