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Charlotte (written by William M. Welch/USA Today) -- President Obama is framing his case for re-election against Mitt Romney as "the clearest choice of any time in a generation" and counseling patience for a stronger economy that still may be years away.

His formal nomination in hand, Obama sets off with Vice President Biden and their wives for the battleground states of Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida today after proclaiming before delegates to the Democratic convention that the road to economic recovery will be challenging.

"I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or easy. I never have," Obama declared Thursday night. "You didn't elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades."

In his acceptance speech, Obama set a second-term goal of putting the country on a course for $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. Also: a million new manufacturing jobs, 100,000 new math and science teachers, and a 50% reduction in net oil imports by 2020.

"When you pick up that ballot to vote, you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation," Obama said.

Recalling his 2008 theme, Obama declared: "You were the change. ... You did that.''

"We don't turn back," he said.

Romney issued a statement calling on Obama "not to start restating new promises, but to report on the promises he made."

Obama said the nation faces big decisions on the economy, jobs, taxes, energy and education that "will have a huge impact on our lives and our children's lives for decades to come."

He directly criticized Romney and Republican economic policies, saying more tax breaks for millionaires won't bring good jobs. "We've been there, we've tried that, and we're not going back. We're moving forward," Obama said.

He depicted the GOP team as newcomers to foreign policy and touted his national security record. "Al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead," he said.

Invoking President Franklin Roosevelt, who lifted the nation out of the Great Depression with New Deal programs, Obama said current times call for similar "bold, persistent experimentation" and shared effort to "rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation."

Obama's address ended a convention that excited party faithful with an endorsement by Bill Clinton and an appearance by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

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