Obama's 2008 convention words hang over Charlotte speech

Obama campaign press secretary previews DNC speech


As President Obama prepares to deliver his nomination acceptance address Thursday night in Charlotte, several passages from his last nomination speech could come back to haunt him. 

In that address, delivered to thousands at what was then Invesco Field in Denver, Obama spoke of employing high-road politics and slammed the Bush administration for presiding over an economic slide. Republicans, though, are contrasting that speech against the 2012 backdrop -- with both sides running a tough campaign and the economy suffering from many of the same problems it did before the Denver address. 

Here are a few lines from that 2008 speech that stand out, four years later: 

"You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country. We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage, whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was president, when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of go down $2,000, like it has under George Bush." 

Obama walked into office while the economy was in freefall, and the economy has stopped bleeding jobs since then. In fact, it is adding them. But median income is dropping. According to 2011 Census numbers, the median household income was $49,445 in 2011, down 2.3 percent compared with 2009. And according to the July labor report, 12.8 million people are still unemployed in America, while more than 23 million are either unemployed or underemployed. 

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"We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty." 

Poverty has not abated since Obama took office, at least based on the latest available figures. According to the 2011 Census report, more Americans were living in poverty than at any time in the last half-century in 2010. The poverty rate rose to 15.1 percent in 2010, up from 13.2 percent in 2008. The government also reported that a record 46.7 million people were enrolled in the food stamp program in June. 

"Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit cards, bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach." 

Home values were in a bad way when Obama took office. And they haven't improved much since. According to the Zillow Home Value Index, median home values went from $179,500 in mid-2008 to $163,700 in mid-2009. They rose in 2010, before sliding back to $151,600 as of July 2012. 

"When one of (John McCain's) chief advisers, the man who wrote his economic plan, was talking about the anxieties that Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a mental recession and that we've become, and I quote, 'a nation of whiners.' A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud autoworkers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third, or fourth, or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners."

The "nation of whiners" gaffe was not a high point for former Sen. Phil Gramm in 2008. But within weeks of the Obama administration coming into office, Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder made a similar remark. Speaking about the country's alleged reluctance to address matters of race, Holder called America a "nation of cowards."

"But what I will not do is suggest that the [McCain] takes his positions for political purposes, because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and each other's patriotism. .... If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things."

For sure, Obama's been called a lot of things by Republicans. But the president hardly turned the other cheek. In the course of the 2012 campaign, the Obama campaign has suggested Romney may have committed a felony by misrepresenting his role at Bain Capital. The pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA also ran a controversial ad that linked Romney to the death of an ex-steelworker's wife. The Republican National Committee, in response to the speeches critical of Romney during the opening day of the Democratic convention, cited the above passage and accused Obama's team of opening their convention by contrast with "petty, partisan attacks." 

Obama also made several campaign promises during the 2008 speech that remain unfulfilled. 

He said: "In ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East." In fact, Persian Gulf oil imports increased in each of the last three years. 

He said: "Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it." NASCAR, the tuna industry and Wall Street lobbyists continue to win tax breaks. 

He said: "Many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime." The president's most recent budget projects a $1.3 trillion deficit. 

He said: "I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons." Inspectors say Iran is closer to producing nuclear fuel than ever before.

Fox News' William LaJeunesse contributed to this report.