Obama seeks a personal touch within a huge stadium
Denver (AP) — Barack Obama was unveiling a delicate balancing act Thursday, trying to get personal with 75,000 supporters in a massive stadium and millions more at home while explaining how as president he would make a difference in their lives.
The sweep of history could be overwhelming in itself: The previous evening Obama became the first black man to be a major political party's presidential candidate, his acceptance of the Democratic nomination coming on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
Still, Obama planned to talk about problems facing Americans today, from health care and education to international threats, campaign manager David Plouffe said Thursday.
"I think what Sen. Obama wants to do is make sure everyone watching at home is going to have a clear sense of where he wants to take the country, that we're on the wrong path and Barack Obama is going to put us back on the right track both here at home and overseas," Plouffe told ABC's "Good Morning America."
Republicans, keeping up a theme they first used when Obama drew tens of thousands for an appearance in Berlin, derided the acceptance speech's stage at Invesco Field at Mile High as befitting a celebrity with little actual accomplishment.
"This Roman-like facade, a facade with Roman columns, is a perfect metaphor or icon for the point that it's an interesting production, but behind it there's not much there," Minnesota Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty told ABC.
"My goodness, it's amazing that we're three days into the Democratic convention and 60 or so days from the actual election and they're still trying to plead with the American people and convince us that Barack Obama is ready to be president," said Pawlenty, who is widely thought to be a finalist for GOP candidate John McCain's running mate.
"The fact of the matter, he is not."
The drama of his long, emotional primary struggle against Hillary Rodham Clinton behind him at last, Obama's convention speech will propel him into a tough sprint to Election Day.
A modern-day technological effort was under way to get most of those packed into the stadium to form the world's largest phone bank - text-messaging thousands more to boost voter registration for the fall.
Obama accepts his party's nod on a day few could ever imagine decades ago, when King fought for civil rights.
"This is a monumental moment in our nation's history," Martin Luther King III, the civil rights icon's oldest son, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
"And it becomes obviously an even greater moment in November if he's elected."
Obama was just 2 years old when King addressed a sea of people on the National Mall in Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. The civil rights leader proclaimed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, "I have a dream, that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed - 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."'
Adding a touch of celebrity to the convention's final night, singers Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder and will.i.am were scheduled to perform, with Academy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson singing the national anthem.
After days of suspense over whether Clinton supporters would fall in line behind Obama when the roll call of the states was called, it all fell into place in the end for Obama.
Delegates in dozens of states were allowed to apportion their votes between Obama and the former first lady before Clinton herself stepped forward to propose that Obama be declared the nominee by acclamation.
Obama himself paid a late-night visit to the Pepsi Center, home for the first three nights of the convention, where he embraced Biden and implored the delegates to help him "take back America" in the fall campaign.
"Change in America doesn't start from the top down," he told the adoring crowd, "it starts from the bottom up."
Former President Clinton did his part to bring about unity too, delivering a strong pitch for the man who outmaneuvered his wife for the nomination, and going through a litany of GOP policies the former president said were hurting the country.
"My fellow Democrats, America can do better than that. And Barack Obama will do better than that," Clinton said.
Clinton and Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, who accepted the vice presidential nomination by acclamation Wednesday night, brought Democratic jabs at McCain and President Bush into prime time as Democrats sharpened their attacks after two days of largely feel-good rhetoric.
"These times require more than a good soldier. They require a wise leader," Biden said. "A leader who can change ... the change that everybody knows we need."
Biden's attacks on McCain were a big hit among delegates eager to put aside their intraparty squabble so they can start going after Republicans.
The reconciliation was taking place, delegate by delegate.
"I was a Clinton delegate," said Darlene Ewing, a delegate from Texas.
"I'm an Obama person now."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)