He laid out a series of goals he said would guide a second term, including boosting manufacturing in the U.S., slowing the growth of college tuition and cutting the deficit — goals he has laid out before, with mixed results.
The federal government this week topped $16 trillion in gross debt and has run trillion-dollar deficits every year Mr. Obama has been in office as he and congressional Republicans have combined to boost spending and cut taxes, all meant to bring the country out of its economic slump.
While notching major legislative victories, including his health care initiative that was upheld by the Supreme Court earlier this year, Mr. Obama has repeatedly clashed with Congress over the government’s fiscal health, reflecting an uncertainty among voters themselves about the size and scope of government that they want to see.
Mr. Obama, though, said it’s time for voters to take sides.
He cast this year’s election as a referendum on his vision of an active federal government seeking to use its powers to boost middle-class Americans while demanding “shared responsibility” in higher taxes on the wealthy and tighter rules of the road on businesses, and stacked that up against Mr. Romney, who Democrats have used their convention to portray as out of touch with average Americans’ needs.
Mr. Obama did not, however, defend — or even mention — his two biggest legislative achievements of his term: an overhaul of health care, and the $831 billion stimulus that he had promised would rescue the economy.
The final day of the convention was held indoors at Time Warner Cable Arena after Mr. Obama’s campaign on Wednesday canceled the outdoor stadium speech they had planned.
They cited weather for the move — and indeed a rainstorm drenched Charlotte in the afternoon, seemingly justifying the decision, though it did little to quell the questions about why the campaign took the chance on scheduling the stadium speech in the first place.
Rain has been a constant much of the week, including on Saturday when a pelting rain, buffeted by severe winds, ate away the elbow on a Mount Rushmore-style sand sculpture of Mr. Obama.
On Thursday afternoon, Mr. Obama held a conference call with many of those who traveled to Charlotte to sit in the stadium, but who were left out when the night’s events were moved inside the arena.
He said he is still counting on them to do the legwork to get him re-elected.
“This is still going to be a really close election, and the other side is preparing to unleash just a barrage of negative ads, they’re getting massive checks from wealthy donors,” he told them. “The good thing is, I’ve got you. I really need your help, guys.”
Mr. Obama spoke a day ahead of the August jobs report from the Labor Department. A good jobs number could help him gain momentum as he leaves the convention, while a bad number could undo whatever progress he and his party may have made with voters.
ADP, a payroll company, released its own numbers Thursday suggesting that companies added more than 200,000 jobs in August, which would be the best number in more than half a year.