"I will offer you what I believe is a better path forward," he said, "a path that will grow this economy and create more good jobs, and strengthen our idle class and create ladders for everybody who's working hard to get into the middle class. And the good news is you're going to get to choose."
Aides said the president's moment in the spotlight would also be an opportunity for to energize the base, with grassroots supporters planning hundreds of watch parties around the country. Democrats have also heavily promoted a free live stream of Obama's speech on smartphones and online, with pre- and post-speech conversation hosted by actor Kal Penn.
Obama will be preceded Thursday night by speeches from 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden.
First lady Michelle Obama, who addressed delegates on Tuesday, will watch her husband's speech from inside a VIP suite at the arena. She will be joined by daughters Sasha and Malia, whom aides said would make a day trip to Charlotte after school.
Ahead of the president, attendees will be treated to a star-studded concert featuring performances by the Foo Fighters, Mary J. Blige, Earth, Wind & Fire, James Taylor, and Marc Anthony, among others.