CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The thousands of die-hard Democrats in the arena Thursday sounded just as fired up and ready to go as they were for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.
But now they have to leave behind the friendly confines of their national convention and head home to persuade friends and neighbors that their guy deserves another four years.
Convention delegates traditionally make up the party's core supporters. They are the ones who man the phone banks and walk their neighborhoods on behalf of national candidates.
Democrats like Maureen Monahan of Omaha promised to work hard for Obama's re-election. Her pitch to voters?
No going back.
“The job is not finished. We're halfway there. If we change course now, we're going back to the failed policies of George W. Bush,” Monahan said.
But, like others, she acknowledged that the task will be tougher than in 2008, when Obama was a fresh face whose message of a new kind of politics energized waves of supporters, excited young people and motivated the Democratic base.
“2008 was a once-in-a-lifetime election for the campaign and volunteers,” she said. “That energy level will be very, very difficult to match by anyone.”
Obama's Thursday night speech capped a three-day Democratic party that followed the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
The conventions fulfilled their purpose of providing the parties' ground troops the rhetorical ammunition they need for the 60-day ground battle ahead.
Iowa is so hotly contested that both Republican Mitt Romney and Obama have major appearances scheduled today in the state, on the heels of visits before the conventions.
Nebraska Democrats are less likely to see the same excitement as 2008. Obama has scaled back the Omaha campaign operation that helped him win an electoral vote from the 2nd Congressional District. He has only one office and one paid staffer, down from three offices and more than a dozen staffers. This time around, the Republicans aren't taking Omaha for granted. Unlike John McCain, Romney has opened and staffed an Omaha office.
Still, from the job numbers set to be released today to the final gun, it will be a fight.
In Tampa, Republicans stressed the idea that Obama's policies have stifled businesses with too much regulation and that his economic policies have failed to create enough jobs.
Nebraska and Iowa's delegates in Charlotte said their convention helped showcase how Americans are better off than they were four years ago. They pointed in particular to former President Bill Clinton's speech.
Some Nebraskans don't know all the things Obama has accomplished in his four years in office, said Jane Erdenberger, the national committeewoman for the Nebraska Democratic Party.
The job for Democrats is to let people know about his record, including his health care law and his success in ending the United States' combat mission in Iraq, Erdenberger said.
“We're not where we want to be, but we're better off than we were four years ago,” Erdenberger said.
One western Nebraska delegate acknowledged he would have a tough time selling Obama back home — a bastion for Republicans. But Jeff Leanna of Scottsbluff argued that farmers should be in Obama's corner because of his support for agricultural programs and policies.
“A Romney administration is not going to be very responsive to farmers and ranchers in western Nebraska,” Leanna said.
Today, partisan gridlock is stronger than ever in Washington, and the country struggles with a stubbornly anemic economy.
“Let's face it, he does have a harder sales job,” Iowa Democrats' National Committeeman Scott Brennan said of Obama. “If we were at 3 percent unemployment, we wouldn't even be talking. It would be a coronation.”
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Tweets from the Democratic National Convention