DNC Recap: Obama's Big Speech

President Barack Obama will give a speech formally accepting the nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention Thursday, and The Atlantic Wire will live-GIF it.

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President Barack Obama will give a speech formally accepting the nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention Thursday, and The Atlantic Wire will live-GIF it. Obama has to follow the very well-received speeches from Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton, but he has some practice at convention speeches. His 2004 keynote is what made him famous in the first place. We'll be liveblogging tonight's event. With GIFs, of course.


12:00a.m.: Highlights: Gabby Giffords led the pledge of allegiance, and smiled a lot, and made people cry. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm manically fist-pumped. John Kerry smiled as he reclaimed "for it before he was against it." Sarah Palin thinks saying her name out loud sullies the speaker. Sasha Obama sassed her dad when he said she had to go to school tomorrow. Obama made fun of Mitt Romney's foreign policy credentials. He made ladies cry. But he seemed a little sad.

11:51p.m.: The emerging consensus is that Obama was not as happy as he usually is.

  • "So Obama wasn't as ebullient as usual. Why? My theory: he's internalized the tough tenure more than we realize. Can't fake the false cheer," The New Republic's Alec MacGillis tweets. 
  • "It wasn't Obama's best speech, but it took advantage of the openings Romney left for Obama in Tampa (on natl security, the future)," NBC News' Mark Murray says.
  • "Finally hit his stride in last 10 mins, but it's a good thing bar is Romney, not Clinton or Michelle. Speechwriting by committee, it seems," New York's Frank Rich tweets.

Here are some of his sad lines:

  • "And while I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, 'I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.'"
  • "I don’t know what party these men and women belong to.  I don’t know if they’ll vote for me.  But I know that their spirit defines us."
  • "America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now."

11:43p.m.: Obama's speech drives 52,757 tweets per minute, which Twitter says is "a new record political moment on Twitter." Michelle Obama got 28,000 per minute, Bill Clinton 22,000, and Mitt Romney 14,000.

11:35p.m.: Obama tells himself a joke.

11:25p.m.: And now for the standard convention finale. The stand and point:

The unexpected (totally expected) family arrival:

The particles falling from the sky:

11:19p.m.: As Obama finishes his speech, some attendees just sort of freak out.

11:12p.m.: "If you share that faith with me – if you share that hope with me – I ask you tonight for your vote."

10:59p.m.: And here is a lesson in why it's so good to have  the last word. After the Republican National Convention was themed "We Built It" -- a shot at Obama's "you didn't build that speech" -- Obama picks up a new slogan: "You did that."

My fellow citizens – you were the change. 

You’re the reason there’s a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who’ll get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can’t limit her coverage.  You did that....

You’re the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she’s ever called home; why selfless soldiers won’t be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love; why thousands of families have finally been able to say to the loved ones who served us so bravely: “Welcome home.” 

10:52p.m.: Obama calls Mitt Romney a foreign policy n00b. "After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy – and not al Qaeda – unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War time warp," he says.

"You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally," he says. A tall-hatted woman, perhaps a big fan of the Olympics, really likes that line.

10:42p.m.: All Republicans have to offer, Obama says, "is the same prescription they’ve had for the last thirty years." It is:

'Have a surplus? Try a tax cut.'

'Deficit too high? Try another.'

'Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!'"

10:35p.m.: Michelle Obama, coach.

10:29p.m.: Obama tells his daughters, "Yes, you do have to go to school in the morning." Sasha sasses.

10:21p.m.: "I think he diminished himself by even mentioning my name," Sarah Palin says of John Kerry's speech on Fox Business Network. We are awaiting reports on whether this self-deprecation is intentional.

10:08p.m.: What is this species that looks out on something like this...

...and, instead of feeling nausea and panic, thinks, oh yes, that looks like a fun job?

9:55p.m: Biden says his signature slogan: "Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive." Huge cheers from the crowd. People never get tired of hearing that bin Laden is dead.

9:50p.m: Biden is selling Obama as a decider with behind-the-scenes details. On the auto bailout, he says:

"We listened to Senators, Congressmen, outside advisors, even some of our own advisors say--we shouldn’t step in, the risks were too high, the outcome too uncertain. The President patiently listened. But he didn’t see it their way. He understood something they didn’t. He understood that this wasn’t just about cars. It was about the Americans who built those cars and the America they built."

On Osama bin Laden, Biden says:

"We sat for days in the Situation Room. He listened to the risks and reservations about the raid. And he asked the tough questions. But when Admiral McRaven looked him in the eye and said-- “Sir, we can get this done,” I knew at that moment Barack had made his decision. His response was decisive. He said do it. And justice was done."

9:43p.m.: Biden isn't as good an explainer, but he looks sincere. "My dad never failed to remind us that a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It's about you dignity, it's about respect," he says. "It's about being able to look your child in the eye and say 'Honey, it's going to be okay.' And mean it. And know it's true."

9:35p.m.: Joe Biden accepts the Democratic nomination to be vice president.

9:21p.m.: "Did the GOP have vets on stage during RNC praising Romney's vision? If they did, were they excoriated for "politicizing the military,'" conservative radio host Laura Ingraham tweets. She's right. The GOP instead politicized the Olympics. It's big group shot at the Tampa convention was with a whole bunch of athletes.

9:20p.m.: Jill Biden says she wouldn't say yes to Joe Biden until the fifth time he asked her to marry him.

9:12p.m.: Retired Navy Admiral John B. Nathman talks about what the Obama administration has done for veterans.

Michelle Obama, who's made military families one of her causes, is near the stage, and winks as she applauds them.

9:00p.m.: "Folks: Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska; Mitt Romney talks like he's only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV," Kerry says.

8:52p.m.: Kerry takes the bitter lemons of 2004 to make 2012 lemonade:

It isn't fair to say Mitt Romney doesn't have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position.

He was against setting a date for withdrawal—then he said it was right—and then he left the impression that maybe it was wrong to leave this soon. He said it was "tragic" to leave Iraq, and then he said it was fine. He said we should've intervened in Libya sooner. Then he ran down a hallway to duck reporters' questions. Then he said the intervention was too aggressive. Then he said the world was a "better place" because the intervention succeeded.

Talk about being for it before you were against it!

Usually, Kerry is not a warm, charismatic speaker who gets the crowd pumped. But even he cracked a smile with that joke.

His next one -- "Mr. Romney—here's a little advice: Before you debate Barack Obama on foreign policy, you better finish the debate with yourself!" -- he smiled just a teeny bit more.

8:48p.m.: Sen. John Kerry, a man not known for pithy zingers, says, "Ask Osama bin Laden if he's better off now than he was four years ago."

8:32p.m.: Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, the party switcher of this convention, quotes Ronald Reagan, saying, "'I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.' Well listen, I can relate. I didn't leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me."

Crist is the most tanned party switcher this year, and perhaps the one with the most expressive eyebrows.

"Reagan would have been too reasonable for today's GOP," Crist says, explaining about this one time he hugged Obama got him in deep trouble in the Republican Party.

8:19p.m.: Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is very fired up and ready to go. Sure, Mitt Romney likes American cars, she says, so much so that the get their own elevator. "the cars get the elevator and the workers get the shaft." After firing up each state with a tally of jobs saved by the Detroit bailout...

...she does an amazing fist pump.

Who is she going to vote for?

8:14p.m.: Several people cried during Giffords' moment on stage.

8:11p.m.: Video of Giffords' moving recitation of the pledge:

8:00p.m.: Gabby Giffords walked out on the stage with Debbie Wasserman Schultz to recite the pledge of allegiance. Giffords had a wide smile and struggled a bit to walk. While her recovery so far has been incredible, it's clear her recovery has a way to go.

7:52p.m.: Kerry Washington could barely finish her speech. She got the crowd so hot early they were chanting "Obama!" over the last half of her remarks. That's not a bad celebrity speech.

And now, ScarJo:

She's talking about the importance of voting. She framed her endorsement around the importance of exercising your right to vote. Her mom brought her into the booth to teach her how to do it when she was a little girl. "Is that even legal?" she asks.

7:43p.m.: Rep. James Clyburn is not a cheery speaker.

But he got the national security job done, before transitioning into a decent line about Affordable Care. "We should not run from Obamacare. I am glad Obama cares," he said.

7:33p.m.: The Secret Service is shutting down the convention hall. The Weekly Standard's John McCormack spots a very upset Sen. Bob Menendez. Last night Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand couldn't get in before Clinton's speech.

7:28p.m.: I thought perhaps the mild rock of the Foo Fighters would not be able to replicate the emotional intensity among delegates that last night's gospel and tonight's R&B elicited. But I was wrong. As they sang "My Hero"...

Tears streamed down a woman's face:

7:15p.m.: Mary J. Blige sang earlier.

7:02p.m.: Other speakers tonight will be of two types. First, the Hollywood for Ugly People: John Kerry, Joe Biden, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Charlie Crist. Second, the Real Hollywood people: the Foo Fighters, Scarlett Johannson, Kerry Washington, Eva Longoria. Caroline Kennedy is the sole speaker with a foot in each category.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.