Democrats defend Obama economic record at convention

September 5, 2012

(Reuters) – Democrats defended President Barack Obama’s handling of the struggling U.S. economy on Tuesday and urged voters to give him four more years as they opened their national convention with sharp criticism of Republican Mitt Romney.

A speech by first lady Michelle Obama is the main event at the start of the three-day gathering in Charlotte, which concludes with Obama’s acceptance of the nomination in an address on Thursday in a 74,000-seat downtown football stadium.

The convention gives Obama a chance to seize the political spotlight from Romney and Republicans, who used their gathering last week to repeatedly attack Obama’s economic leadership.

In a fiery speech, Newark Mayor Cory Booker fought back against Republican complaints about Obama’s plans to raise taxes on the richest Americans.

“Being asked to pay your fair share isn’t class warfare. It’s patriotism,” said Booker, a rising star in the party.

Obama enters the convention vulnerable over his handling of the economy, which is struggling under the weight of an 8.3 percent jobless rate.

Democratic speakers argued Obama has done well in bringing the country back from a possible depression when he took over in January 2009 and deserves another chance.

“Four years ago, America stood on the brink of a depression,” Julian Castro, mayor of the Texas city of San Antonio, will say, according to excerpts of his speech due to be delivered later in the evening.

“Despite incredible odds and united Republican opposition, our president took action. And now we’ve seen 4.5 million new jobs. He knows better than anyone that there’s more hard work to do. But we’re making progress,” he will say in the keynote speech.

Republicans stayed on the offensive, criticizing Obama for telling a Colorado television reporter that he would give himself a grade of “incomplete” for his first term.

“Four years into a presidency and it’s incomplete? The president is asking people just to be patient with him?” Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said on CBS’s “This Morning.”

“The kind of recession we had, we should be bouncing out of it,” Ryan said. “We’re not creating jobs at near the pace we could. That’s why we’re offering big solutions for the big problems we have today.”

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