CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin took the Democratic National Convention stage Thursday night as one of President Barack Obama's biggest and earliest political backers, introducing his fellow Illinois Democrat to a Charlotte crowd and asking them to re-elect the man he mentored.
"President Obama, your values, your courage, your vision for justice are still worth fighting for," Durbin told the crowd.
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Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, went after Republicans, echoing the attacks repeated by a litany of speakers all week and trying to assuage voters who might not be satisfied with the pace of economic recovery under Obama.
He focused on the auto industry bailout, saying Republican Mitt Romney wanted to let the U.S. car industries fails and name-checking the Chrysler plant in Belvidere that recently added jobs.
"Barack Obama said, 'Let them go back to work,'" Durbin said. "And they did."
The Springfield Democrat feted Obama on a night that marks the beginning of the two-month final battle for the White House -- a campaign whose winner for president could sweep other Illinois candidates of the same party to victory both in Washington, D.C., and Springfield.
Durbin has made this pitch every four years for 12 years, introducing Obama to the Denver convention in 2008 for his first nomination and in 2004 in Boston, when Obama's keynote address thrust him onto the national political stage.
Thursday in Charlotte was perhaps Durbin's last chance to introduce Obama on such a prominent political stage.
Now, Durbin will go back to Illinois, where he's known for lending staff and other help to fellow Democrats running for Congress. He is leaning toward running for re-election in 2014, having served in the U.S. Senate and House since 1983.
Speaking to Illinois delegates earlier in the day, Durbin highlighted hotly contested suburban races in the 8th, 10th and 11th congressional districts. He exhorted delegates to keep working hard and pushed the idea that Obama's success, if he gets a second term, could depend on whether his party can deliver control of Congress, too.
"We have to do it locally," Durbin said.