Challenged by Republicans to prove that the country is better off now than it was four years ago, President Barack Obama offered a “better path forward” as he accepted the Democratic nomination for president Thursday night.

In a speech that lasted about 40 minutes, Obama cast the presidential election as a decision between two critically different ideologies for how to tackle America’s most challenging issues. While acknowledging that progress has been sluggish, he promised that with more time vast change will be made.

“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy,” Obama said. “I never have. You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.”

He vowed, however, to solve those challenges — to grow the economy and restore the promise of the middle class, end foreign wars and energy dependence, while improving all levels of education.

“But know this, America, our problems can be solved,” Obama said. “Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I’m asking you to choose that future.”

The plan Obama presented in his speech included the creation of 1 million manufacturing jobs by 2016, the reduction of net oil imports by half by 2020 and decreasing the growing rate college tuition in the next decade.

Obama spoke little of the youth vote or on higher education, but emphasized his experience in foreign policy and with the economy. Obama called voting for him over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney “the clearest choice of any time in a generation,” directing his most pointed language to Romney’s record of outsourcing jobs.

“After a decade of decline, this country created over half a million manufacturing jobs in the last two-and-a-half years,” Obama said. “And now you have a choice. We can give more tax breaks to corporations that shift jobs overseas or we can start rewarding companies that open new plants and train new workers and create new jobs here in the United States of America.”

Obama continued to tout his experience and his accomplishments in office, contrasting himself with Romney. He responded to Romney’s charges against him at the Republican National Convention last week, saying the Republicans failed to offer solutions to the nation’s challenges.

“Now, our friends at the Republican convention were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t have much to say about how they’d make it right,” Obama said. “And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last thirty years.”

Obama’s focus on solutions stemmed, in part, from his desire to frame the election as a choice between him and Romney rather than as a judgment of his economic record, Political Science Prof. Michael Traugott said.

“He is vulnerable when the campaign centers on the referendum, and he’s vulnerable if the Republicans get the focus on the current state of the economy,” Traugott said. “But he’s at an advantage when he compares his experience as an incumbent against Romney’s relative lack of experience, and he’s at an advantage because he has a vision of the future that’s more optimistic and detailed than Mitt Romney’s.”

Traugott and Aaron Kall, director of the University’s Debate Program and Debate Institute, both noted that Obama directed many reminders of his first term’s progress to women. Kall called the final evening of the convention “a night of a dozen female pronouns.”

In assessing whether Obama hit his mark with the speech, Traugott added that Obama lived up to expectations as a great orator and followed former President Bill Clinton’s and Vice President Joe Biden’s addresses well.

“There was some concern about whether or not he would be able to deliver in light of the quality that preceded him,” Traugott said. “But I thought he met or exceeded everybody’s expectations.”

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