No longer the transformative political figure of 2008 but a struggling incumbent hoping to eke out reelection, President Barack Obama nevertheless promised wary Americans that brighter days are still ahead if voters grant him four more years.
"Know this, America: Our problems can be solved," he told the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. "Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be difficult, but it leads to a better place. I'm asking you to choose that future."
"I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or easy. I never have," Obama told his constituents. "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 a decade."
The President, who is currently in a dead heat with Mitt Romney, wasted little time contrasting the policies of his administration with his challenger's.
"All they have to offer is the same prescriptions they've had for the last 30 years: Have a surplus? Try a tax cut. Deficit too high? Try another."
"Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back regulations, and call us in the morning!" he said to laughter, then pivoted to foreign affairs."My opponent and his running mate (Paul Ryan) are new to foreign policy, but from all that we've seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly," he said.
"After all, you don't call Russia our number one enemy - not al Qaeda, Russia - unless you're still stuck in a Cold War mind warp," Obama said.
"You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can't visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally. My opponent said it was "tragic" to end the war in Iraq, and he won't tell us how he'll end the war in Afghanistan. I have, and I will."
Obama's goal is to convince voters to see this as a choice between competing visions, not merely an up-or-down vote on current economic conditions.
"On every issue, the choice you face won't be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future," he said.
With an unemployment rate at 8.3 percent, and slow growth on the horizon, it remains to be seen if voters will choose his. Obama acknowledged this is no 2008.
"I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention. Times have changed, and so have I," he said. "If you turn away now, if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn't possible, well, change will not happen."
Did he make the sale? You tell us in the comments below.