CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — President Barack Obama's convention evolution is complete.
Eight years ago, Obama rocketed into the political spotlight with a soaring convention keynote address. Four years later, he accepted the Democratic Party's nomination and became their standard bearer.
On Thursday, Obama took the convention stage fighting for his job.
"I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention," Obama said. "The times have changed, and so have I."
"I'm no longer just a candidate. I'm the president," he said, drawing cheers from the crowd of 15,000.
Obama urged voters to stay patient even though his economic policies have failed to fully fix the American economy. Once the candidate of hope, Obama's message was hang in there.
"America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now," he said, "Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer, but we travel it together."
In 2008, Obama ran for office on a platform of lofty ideas, many of which have gone unfulfilled during his years in the White House. This time around, Obama acknowledged that the campaign sometimes seems small, even silly.
"Trivial things become big distractions. Serious issues become sound bites," he said. "And the truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising."
Gone was the newness of his two prior convention appearances. And Obama, the graying incumbent, didn't try to recreate it.
Instead, he whittled the election down to a choice, spelling out his vision of how to create economic opportunity for all, and warning that Romney would restore trickle-down ideas that Obama says were quietly gutting the economy for years before crashing it completely.