Voters wanted specifics, Democrats wanted harder attacks on John McCain, and campaign aides wanted to reveal a fuller picture of their candidate.
Democratic nominee Barack Obama delivered all three with a newly combative tone in an acceptance speech delivered before a huge throng under a clear Colorado sky.
“Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and independents across this great land — enough,” Obama declared.
“This moment, this election, is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight.”
Obama said in recent days he would model his speech after those delivered by past Democratic nominees, including Bill Clinton, whose speeches were chock-full of concrete issues and the specifics about what he planned to do to help working Americans.
Obama delivered on that promise, outlining a half-dozen plans he would embark on if elected president, including a tax cut for “95 percent of all working families.” Obama also vowed to end tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas, eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses, and stop dependence on oil from the Middle East in a decade.
Obama’s speech included one of his longest sustained attacks on McCain, who he characterized as a Bush ally disconnected from the struggles of hard-working Americans.
“The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives — on health care and education and the economy — Senator McCain has been anything but independent,” Obama told the cheering crowd.
“... The record is clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time,” he said.
Obama said that the Iraqi government and even the Bush administration now agreed with his time frame for removing U.S. troops from Iraq. “John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war,” he said.
“If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next commander in chief, that’s a debate I’m willing to have,” he said to resounding cheers.
The Democratic nominee spoke movingly of the sacrifices made by his grandmother and mother.
“I don’t know what kind of lives John McCain thinks celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes,” Obama said, deflecting a central Republican criticism of his campaign.
Obama’s speech marked the beginning of the most important 36 hours in the campaign, with McCain preparing to announce his vice presidential pick and the GOP’s own weeklong convention about to begin on Monday.
The next few days will reveal whether his speech pushes him out of his stalemate in the polls with McCain. The two have been tied for weeks, despite the fact that other polling indicates a majority of voters want a Democratic candidate.