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'Tested, proven' Obama asks for 2nd term

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- President Barack Obama implored Americans to grant him a second term, warning Thursday that Republican rival Mitt Romney would kill the economic recovery and is not cut out to lead.

Four years after he claimed power on a euphoric tide of hope, Obama bluntly warned the United States faced its most stark choice between rival political visions in a generation, and said he never said change would be quick or easy.

“The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place and I'm asking you to choose that future,” he said, warning that his Republican rival would gut the middle class and return to “blustering and blundering” abroad.

Sketching an agenda to create millions of jobs, cut US$4 trillion from the deficit and revolutionize energy policy, Obama refused to abandon the hope of 2008, saying: “know this, America: our problems can be solved.”

The president spoke at the Democratic National Convention, exactly two months before the election, hoping to break open a knife-edge race with Romney, who paints him as out of ideas to nurse the sickly economy back to health.

Obama, 51, directly confronted the deflated hopes spawned when he became America's first black president amid expectations he would lead an era of transformation.

“The election four years ago wasn't about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens — you were the change,” Obama said, citing his ending of the Iraq war, more rights for gays and lesbians and near universal health care.

“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.”

As 20,000 supporters packed into a sports arena chanted “four more years,” Obama launched a blistering critique of Romney and potential vice president Paul Ryan, candidates he said would lead America into dangerous waters abroad.

“My opponent and his running mate 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.

“After all, you don't call Russia our number one enemy — and not al-Qaida — unless you're still stuck in a Cold War time warp.

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