Did you think President Barack Obama's speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention was unexciting? It turns out that's the tone his re-election campaign was going for.
Obama received lukewarm reviews as he accepted his party's nomination for president in Charlotte, N.C. Thursday night, but Obama's campaign said the address scored high among focus groups when they tested the convention speech, Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast exclusively reported.
By design, Obama's speech was not supposed to be the rousing remarks given by former President Bill Clinton or even the words given by Michelle Obama, which also received high marks among pundits.
Obama "deliberately dialed it down, stopping well short of the altitudes he is capable of reaching," Kurtz wrote. "Perhaps that will prove to be a mistake, but the decision to go with a less rousing approach was carefully considered."
Obama's oratory skills are what landed him on the national stage. In 2004, he was the keynote speaker when Democrats nominated U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., for president.
That speech in part attempted to break down the red state, blue state stereotypes, including the lines, "We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States."
The tone of Obama's speech was contrasted by the one given last week by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who blasted the president in his address. Obama criticized his opponent for not offering solutions to the country's problems.
The Obama campaign was concerned that the president would be criticized if he only used his speech to attack Romney.
"Strategists felt they were in a box, unable to meet the twin goals of style and substance at once," Kurtz wrote. "To be sure, Obama wanted to excite the party's liberal base. But his brain trust was convinced that they would have gotten killed by going with a red-meat speech that simply bashed Republicans without detailing what Obama would do in the next four years."
Pundits described Obama's speech as solid, but not the type of home-run style oration he's capable of, as evidenced by his 2004 keynote address and 2008 nomination speech.
James Carville of CNN, hardly a non-partisan observer (Carville ran President Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign), said Obama's speech "was probably not the best speech of the convention."
NBC Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd noted it appeared Obama was going for substance over style in his 2012 convention speech.
"I'm in the workmanlike camp ... it seemed at times they were methodically playing the notes instead of lyrically playing the notes," he said.
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