Mitt Romney formally accepted the Republican presidential nomination, telling voters that the Obama era had to end: ?America has been patient. But today the time has come to turn the page.?
The former Massachusetts governor made a persuasive case that President Barack Obama had failed to deliver on the ?hope and change? he promised four years ago and again and again stressed his core message: ?America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs.?
But there was no stand-out moment of eloquence and many might judge that Romney still has to outline his own case for being an alternative. As so often throughout this campaign, he rose to the occasion and did just enough ? but no more.
Romney?s entrance was delayed by a somewhat meandering, unscripted routine that bordered on stand-up comedy. As 11pm ? the time when many local television stations cut away to the news ? approached, Romney appeared to rush his delivery at times.
But the crowd, clearly united by his candidacy despite a fractious primary contest – lapped up his lines about Obama?
?In the richest country in the history of the world, this Obama economy has crushed the middle class,? he said. ?President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet.
There were guffaws as Romney paused for people to remember one of the most overblown phrases of Obama?s 2008 campaign. Then he deadpanned. ?My promise…is to help you and your family.?
Romney directly addressed Obama voters from four years ago, urging them to reflect on how they felt now. ?Hope and change had a powerful appeal.
?But tonight I’d ask a simple question:? If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn?t you feel that way now that he?s President Obama? You know there?s something wrong with the kind of job he?s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.?
Romney?s performance did not match the electrifying speech of his vice-presidential running mate Representative Paul Ryan the previous night or the fine introductory address by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a Tea Party favourite. He did not have the star power of Eastwood, even in his 80s.
The crowd, however, appeared genuinely buoyed by the moment he formally accepted the nomination and entered the two-month home straight. ?What a phenomenal speech!? Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire told the state?s former governor John Sununu, an elder statesman in the Romney campaign.
The notoriously buttoned-up Romney, 65, showed some glimpses of emotion as he briefly choked up as he described his late mother and then when he recalled the days when his five sons were young.
He described his parents? 64-year marriage and how his father left a rose at his mother?s bedside every day. She first noticed something was wrong on the day he died when there was no rose there.
Romney described his own in business as evidence that he can do a better job of turning America around. ?What is needed in our country today is not complicated or profound.
?It doesn?t take a special government commission to tell us what America needs. What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs.?
He made a case against Obama based more on supposed sorrow than anger. ?I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed, but his promises gave way to disappointment and division,? he said. ?This isn?t something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we can do something.?
Romney was often almost gentle in his criticism of Obama.
‘I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed,’ he said. ‘But his promises gave way to disappointment and division.’
‘This isn’t something we have to accept ,’ he said, appealing to millions of voters who say they are disappointed in the president yet haven’t yet decided to cast their votes for his Republican challenger.
‘Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, `I’m an American. I make my destiny. And we deserve better! My children deserve better! My family deserves better! My country deserves better!’
There was a brief interruption when three Code Pink protesters began shouting and heckling before they were unceremoniously bundled out of the arena.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll gave Romney a four-point national lead over Obama ? a sign of a successful convention bounce, though bounces are often temporary. Jim Messina, the Obama campaign manager, insisted that Romney had not improved his prospects in November.
?Much like the entire Republican Convention, Mitt Romney’s speech tonight offered many personal attacks and gauzy platitudes, but no tangible ideas to move the country forward,? Messina said in a statement.
? What he didn’t share were his actual proposals, which would take our country backwards: another $5 trillion in budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy paid for by the middle class; transforming Medicare into a voucher program on the backs of seniors; an end to fuel efficiency standards and tax credits for renewable energy; deep cuts in student grants and loans; and the rollback of Wall Street reforms.
?And in an almost 45-minute speech, Mitt Romney didn’t find a moment to mention Afghanistan. With no new plans and evasion about his real plans, Mitt Romney leaves this convention no stronger than he came.?
The testimony of an array of people from Romney’s life, however, might be more significant in his bid to change the minds of Americans about him following months of negative ads from the Obama campaign portraying the multi-millionaire former venture capitalist as an out-of-touch plutocrat.
Jane Edmonds, who describes herself as a liberal Democrat, is a black civil rights activist who served under Romney in Massachusetts as his Secretary of Workforce.
She told Politico: ‘I’m here to talk about my experiences working for him. My friends have asked me why. I adore the guy. I have seen him behind closed doors in Cabinet meetings.
‘I have seen his compassion. I’m at a point in my life that the character of the human being we entrust to be president is important to me. He would make an excellent president.’
Edmonds remembers Romney’s kindness towards an employee who found out she had a brain tumour and how he always wanted to hear different points of view.
Also among what his eldest son Tagg described as ‘character witnesses’ will be Grant Bennett, who served as a Mormon bishop in Belmont, Massachusetts after the future Republican nominee.
In keeping with a new theme of openness about Romney’s faith, the invocation on the final night of the three-day convention will be given by Kenneth Hutchins, a fellow Mormon and a retired Massachusetts police chief.
The process of ‘humanising’ Romney ? a word the campaign loathes but a concept it is embracing ? at the convention began with his wife Ann on Tuesday night telling delegates: ‘I want to talk to you about the deep and abiding love I have for a man I met at a dance many years ago. And the profound love I have, and I know we share, for this country.’
She described her ‘real marriage’ to the former Massachusetts governor hours after he was officially confirmed as the Republican candidate to take on Obama in November.
‘It has been 47 years since that tall, kind of charming young man brought me home from our first dance,’ she said. ‘Not every day since has been easy.
‘But he still makes me laugh. And never once did I have a single reason to doubt that I was the luckiest woman in the world. I said tonight I wanted to talk to you about love. Look into your hearts.
‘I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a “storybook marriage”. Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once. And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or Breast Cancer.
‘A storybook marriage?? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage. I know this good and decent man for what he is – warm and loving and patient.