"We're moving America forward," he said, remarks that he's made many times before. "When we've come this far we can't afford to slide backward ... [to] failed policies that got us into this mess."
The president, suffering among this crowd for not being as progressive as they'd hoped, said that he wants the netroots to "keep making your voices heard, to keep holding me accountable, to keep up the fight."
Obama said "change is hard ... change is possible," and ended with, "let's finish what we've started."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, there to face questions from the crowd, introduced Obama as the surprise guest. He made a similar surprise-by-video appearance in 2008 when the group met in Austin after he'd captured the presidential nomination. In 2007, he appeared at a presidential debate when the gathering was held in Chicago. Even though he earned a friendly reception (and the crowd sang him "Happy Birthday"), that year John Edwards won the presidential straw poll as the progressive favorite.
The only member of the Obama administration to appear at the convention so far was Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican who avoided providing any partisan red meat during his panel Thursday morning.