Mitt Romney reintroduced himself to the country Thursday night in Tampa, delivering a deeply personal nomination acceptance address that balanced pledges to fix the economy and critiques of President Obama with stories about his own life and where he comes from.
The Republican presidential nominee made a clear effort on the closing night of the GOP national convention to let voters know a little more about Romney the man -- not just Romney the businessman or former governor. He flashed his humorous side, at one moment an emotional side, as he told the story of his parents, his children, his wife and his early days in business.
And before the balloons and confetti rained down, he drew the address back to the message that has driven his campaign: Obama has not lived up to the lofty promise of his 2008 run, he said, and does not have what it takes to fix the economy.
“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,” Romney said. “What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs.”
Romney called on voters to put the “disappointment” and the “divisiveness” of the last four years behind them, and “turn the page” with him.
“This president can ask us to be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else’s fault. … But this president cannot tell us that you’re better off today than when he took office,” Romney said. “Now is the time to restore the promise of America.”
Romney tried to cast himself as the more level-headed, and less lofty, choice.
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet,” Romney said. “My promise is to help you and your family.”
Before he dove into the critiques against the current Oval Office occupant, Romney appeared to answer calls from some in the GOP that he tell America more about his personal story. He said he understands people “need to know more about me” to make a choice in November.
The nominee appeared to get emotional when he told a story about how his dad used to give his mother a rose every day – and that she knew something was wrong on the day he died because there was no rose.
Going off script, Romney said: “Don’t you wish she could have been here at this convention?”
The nominee showed a light-hearted side, at one point ribbing running mate Paul Ryan for teasing him over his musical preferences a night earlier.
“Paul,” he said, “I still like the playlist on my iPod better than yours.”
Romney touched on his Mormon faith, as other speakers have this week. And he spoke directly to women in the audience, and watching on TV, highlighting the female officials who were speaking at the convention and who had served in his administration in Massachusetts. It was not lost on the crowd. Kansas delegate Chad Bettes said the importance of women, particularly in the workforce, “was a huge theme.” Bettes said Romney’s record “has proven that he values women.”
Romney, though, returned to the dominant message that the “excitement” of Obama’s election has subsided, replaced by doubt and uncertainty about the economy and the federal budget.
“If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, you should feel that way now that he’s President Obama,” Romney said. “You know, there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you’ve had was the day you voted for him.”
Romney pointed to the president’s resume as the problem. “He had almost no experience working in a business,” he said. “Jobs to him are about government.”