WASHINGTON — Presidents seeking a second term can't run on "change." They've got records to defend and complaints to answer.
Here's a look at what several chief executives of the past — some winners, some losers — told voters when they accepted their parties' nominations for four more years in the White House:
Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936:
In the depths of the Great Depression, Roosevelt rails against "economic royalists" — the wealthy who he says are repressing working people. He calls on Americans to a fight against "economic demoralization" and for the very survival of democracy. He wins (and again in 1940 and 1944, too).
"There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny."
Democrat Harry Truman, 1948:
Elevated to the presidency by Roosevelt's death in office, Truman seeks a full term by running aggressively against Republicans controlling what he calls the "do-nothing Congress." He wins the nation's most famous upset.
"I will win this election and make these Republicans like it — don't you forget that."
Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1956:
The popular president, presiding over a time of prosperity and post-Korean War peace, strikes a confident, optimistic tone. He declares the Republicans "the Party of the Future." And wins easily.
"Out of our time there can, with incessant work and with God's help, emerge a new era of good life, good will and good hope for all men."
Democrat Lyndon Johnson, 1964:
Johnson, who assumed the presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, seeks a full term with a promise to finish what Kennedy had started and to take on more — "the kind of laws that he would have us write." He wins.
"This nation — this generation — in this hour, has man's first chance to build the Great Society — a place where the meaning of man's life matches the marvels of man's labor."
Republican Richard Nixon, 1972:
Assailing his Democratic opponent George McGovern as too extreme, Nixon urges disaffected Democrats to embrace his plan for "change that works" and join him in building a "new majority." They do — Nixon wins in a landslide.
"To those millions who have been driven out of their home in the Democratic Party, we say come home. We say come home not to another party, but we say come home to the great principles we Americans believe in together."
Republican Gerald Ford, 1976:
Whisked into office when Watergate forced Nixon to resign, Ford reminds voters that he guided the nation through a time of crisis and promises to "hold to the steady course we have begun." He loses.
"I come before you with a 2-year record of performance without your mandate. I offer you a 4-year pledge of greater performance with your mandate."
Democrat Jimmy Carter, 1980:
Challenged by affable former movie star Ronald Reagan, Carter goes on the attack. He accuses Republicans of trying to distract Americans from the nation's tough problems with "tinsel and make-believe." Reagan crushes him on Election Day.
"This election is a stark choice between two men, two parties, two sharply different pictures of what America is and what the world is, but it's more than that, it's a choice between two futures."
Republican Ronald Reagan, 1984:
His popularity high, Reagan gives a sunny address promising to finish his work of reforming government along conservative lines and accuses Democrats of preferring a "government of pessimism, fear and limits." Another Reagan landslide.
"With our beloved nation at peace, we're in the midst of a springtime of hope for America. Greatness lies ahead of us."
Republican George H.W. Bush, 1992:
Bush apologizes for breaking his "no new taxes" pledge and promises an across-the-board tax cut if re-elected. He says his rival Bill Clinton would fall back on failed economic strategies of the past. Voters, unhappy with the economy, oust him.
"Who do you trust in this election? The candidate who raised taxes one time and regrets it, or the other candidate, who raised taxes and fees 128 times, and enjoyed it every time?"
Democrat Bill Clinton, 1996:
Clinton talks for more than an hour in a speech that echoes the optimistic styles of Eisenhower and Reagan. He promises to continue pursuing a moderate agenda and to "build a bridge to the 21st century." He wins.
"My fellow Americans, after these four good years, I still believe in a place called Hope, a place called America."
Republican George W. Bush, 2004:
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Bush devotes much of his address to national security. He promises to "build a safer world" and defends the way he took America to war in Iraq. He wins.
"Generations will know if we seized this moment and used it to build a future of safety and peace. The freedom of many and the future security of our nation now depend on us."
Associated Press researcher Susan James in New York contributed to this report.
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