Salena Zito

Kelly Foote, a waitress at the Moonlight Diner, a classic old-time eatery on Tower Road in Denver, said she had a home, a car and a savings account in 2008 but “lost everything. Every bad economic condition … converged at the same time, and by 2010 I had lost it all.”

The 40-year-old said business dropped by more than half “and I just couldn’t keep up. I tried juggling but, in the end, I had to surrender everything.”

Foote has not given up “on the possibility of what I can achieve” but won’t vote for Obama.

As the president makes his case for four more years, he does so without emphasizing what he has accomplished or what he intends to do. Instead, he concentrates on the culture of personal celebrity.

When backed into a corner, as in Wednesday’s debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, he defaults to class warfare.

If Obama wins re-election, he may claim a mandate to advance a class-based, redistributionist agenda — because that is exactly what he has run on.

Romney sees the country in a different way. In a recent interview with the Trib, he said contending that America is exceptional is simply a matter of extolling its virtues rather than reveling in its defects: “It is to cherish the belief in liberty, equality, constitutionalism and the well-being of ordinary folks.”

Mannie Gentile, a park ranger at Antietam, said he understood why an overwhelming number of people came to honor the battle’s anniversary: They felt a need to connect.

“You could see tangibly that people came because they wanted to honor service and sacrifice and their history,” he said.

“Clearly, Americans still believe we have a unique destiny to fulfill.”

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.