President Obama had some big shoes to fill when he took the stage at the Democratic National Convention tonight—he had to follow his own 2004 and 2008 convention speeches.
The consensus? "What a home run that was," said Chris Matthews after the speech Thursday night.
"The profound thing he accomplished tonight was to turn the tables on those who thought the incumbency would be a problem and [that] the challenger would have it easy," Matthews said.
The Hardball host noted that the strongest, perhaps most well-received statement was actually a simple one: "I am the president," and you're not.
Ed Schultz and the Rev. Al Sharpton observed that Obama did an admirable job of reclaiming his hope and change catchphrase, ideals that have long been ridiculed by Republicans. He "elevated hope and change, he didn't give it up," said Sharpton. "I think Barack Obama won the election tonight."
MSNBC contributor Steve Schmidt, who helped run John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, was struck by Obama's humility and his "acknowledgement that government isn't always the answer"—a favored conservative critique of Democratic politics.
"I don't think Democrats could have possibly done a better job this week in building a case for the President's re-election," said Schmidt.
Obama's speech followed Wednesday night's headline address by Bill Clinton, a 45-minute opus that directly addressed several Romney/Ryan claims about the administration's record. MSNBC's Chris Hayes said the "division of labor" between Clinton's "backward-looking" defense of that record and Obama's speech "focusing the electorate forward" was an effective way of making the election "a choice, not a referendum."
Some of Obama's toughest lines referenced his foreign policy accomplishments and Mitt Romney's foreign campaign blunders. The Republican candidate's lack of clear direction on the war in Afghanistan, military families and foreign policy in general are a "big miss for Romney," said MSNBC's Chuck Todd. "[It was] a giant response to what Mitt Romney didn't do in his speech ... and it really provided the President an opportunity to play a commander-in-chief card."