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Mitt Romney established his ability to command an audience, convey compassion and – sort-of – go for the jugular.
In his performance, Romney covered all the expected points: He attacked President Barack Obama as a failed leader on the economy and foreign policy, suggested that we should feel aggrieved without saying we should feel entitled and, as predicted, played up the nice-guy, fella-you-can-have-in-your-house image.
His face did seem to do something dark when a ways into the speech female protesters unfurled a banner that said "Democracy is not a Business" -- which was interesting given the nearly proctological security measures in place at the Tampa Times Forum.
He showed no sharp edges that would offend the middle-of-the-road voter, really, but that's like saying after a debate "there were no knockout blows," which is typically the case anyway.
Read the recap below, as it happened.
Here's the windup: "May God bless you, may God bless the American people, and may God bless the United States of America." Balloons are released. Here are the Ryans and the Romneys for the obligatory wave from the stage. Song: "Living in America..." They have the kids and grandkids out; a nice, big, attractive American family.
Romney accuses Obama of throwing Israel "under the bus," talking but not acting on Iran's nukes, etc. Here he echoes Sen. John McCain and cries up "a military so strong no nation would ever dare to test it."
That could produce government-subsidized jobs too, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Romney says he'll respect the sanctity of life and freedom of religion.
Obama helped slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet, he says, but "my promise is to help you and your family."
It sounds vaguely anti-global warming, but leaves just a bit of room. A statement ambiguous enough to mock the climate-change stuff without actually denying it.
Romney whacks Obama on slashing the military, leading to a chorus of boos over trillion-dollar deficits, "Obamacare," etc.
The pessimists will be right if they re-elect Obama, Romney warns. He says he has a plan for 12 million new jobs. We'll take "full advantage of our oil, our coal, our nuclear ..."
Romney also comes out for parental choice, as expected, on schools.
He promotes new trade agreements -- and "when nations cheat ... there will be unmistakable consequences." Assure "job creators" by slashing the deficit and moving toward balanced budgets. And, "we will champion small businesses" by cutting taxes and regulations on them and "repealing and replacing Obamacare."
Romney recalls Jimmy Carter, who lost to Reagan, because we weren't better off than we were four years ago. Romney continues to be the model.
"What America needs is jobs -- lots of jobs."
Not subtle -- but is it effective? Could be.
"In America ... we celebrate success," he says.
"It's the genius of the American enterprise system" to harness capital and people and create prosperity, not try to redistribute today's.
Romney humor: At Bain Capital, he didn't get his church to invest, he says, because he "didn't want to go to hell." Appealing.
Now he launches into Bain's record with Staples, The Sports Authority, etc.
Mitt Romney is shoring up the life story, as one of love and goodness, families and faith. They had a diverse congregation, he said. His eyes move in an interesting way.
He delivers an excellent line: you know there's something wrong when the day you felt best about Obama was when he was elected. "Jobs to him were about government." The contrast is between government man and free-enterprise man. Working with what he has.
He says his mother felt women should lead too. He tells of the roses sent by Dad to Mom, and some in the audience are seen weeping. He talks about the women who have spoken in support of him. He had a female lieutenant governor in Massachusetts, a female chief of staff, etc.
Hear that, women voters? "Ann would have succeeded at anything she wanted to do."
He waxes sentimental about the late George Romney, talks about his dad's being an immigrant supported as refugees by the U.S. government. He remembers it was unusual being a Mormon in Michigan, but he was into football.
He's being spiritual -- hear that, base? -- having spoken of God's love and Armstrong's spirit flying around the flag he planted on the moon.
He reminisces about the late Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, and how we all felt that night watching on TV that America was undoubtedly the greatest country in the world.
Romney urges Americans to say "I deserve better ... our country deserves better."
Romney speaks of the optimism we had four years ago, a uniquely American idea, that people came in search of a better life. It's the biggest cliche so far.
Freedoms include "freedom to build a business with their own hands." There's the better life once again.
"But today ... for the first time the majority of Americans now doubt that our children will have a better future." He emotes sadly of those who can't open a new store, or sponsor that Little League team, or pay back their student loans.
We were supposed to roll back debt. "It's what Americans deserved!"
Chants of "USA" from the hall
Translation: You're suffering, Obama blew it, get past him, I have answers.
"I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed."
Romney: "Mr. chairman and delegates, I accept your nomination for the president of the United States. I do so with humility..." He acknowledges Ryan and says he still likes the playlist on his iPod better.
Rubio introduces Mitt Romney, who walks in and greets delegates in the aisle, hugging and shaking hands, ebullient, just like the president doing the state of the union at the Capitol. He walks a long gauntlet, taking a bit of time. The roar goes up as he steps up on the stage. Finally, the nominee. The music goes on a bit, a buildup.
Rubio cites "the story of a man who was born into an uncertain future in a foreign country." No, he doesn't mean Obama (joke). He means George Romney, Mexican-born, Mitt's dad. The senator has already done his own bootstraps story.
"You want to believe we’re still in that place where anything is possible. But things just don’t seem to be getting better. And you are starting to wonder if things will ever be the same again.
"Yes, we live in a troubled time. But the story of those who came before us, reminds us that America has always been about new beginnings."
The suggestion is that a new president will make things different. Maybe the free-market economy will come back on its own, though, regardless of who's president. Is that possible?
We’ve never made the mistake of believing that we are so smart that we can rely solely on our leaders or our government.
Our national motto “In God We Trust” reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all.
Doing his best to keep evangelicals and movement Christians in the tent.
"Our problem with President Obama isn’t that he’s a bad person. By all accounts, he too is a good husband and a good father … and thanks to lots of practice, a pretty good golfer. Our problem is he’s a bad president."
Clever way of making an attack not sound personal. But again -- is it effective?
"He tells us ... rich people got rich by making other people poor."
Did Obama really say that?
Sen. Marco Rubio is up. He's introducing the man he calls the next president.
"My grandfather understood how different America is from the rest of world.
"Tonight, you’ll hear from another man who understands what makes America exceptional.
"Mitt Romney knows America’s prosperity didn’t happen because our government simply spent more. It happened because our people used their own money to open a business. And when they succeed, they hire more people, who then invest or spend their money in the economy, helping others start a business and create jobs."
Might an undecided voter or two consider this talking down, condescending or insulting? Or is it really that misunderstood a point? Voters will decide.
We don't have to be mental masochists and vote for someone we don't really want just because they seem to be nice guys.
Spontaneous shout: "Say 'Make my day!' "
OK I'll start it, you finish it -- and they all say, "Make my day!"
Clint Eastwood doesn't look great, kind of messy hair.
Eastwood: Obama was elected and "Oprah was crying, I was crying" and now he's crying about all the unemployment -- "a disgrace" that the administration hasn't done enough about. "I think possibly it may be time for someone else to come along and solve the problem."
He turns to "Obama," an empty chair, and asks how he handles the promises he made ... I thought why close Gitmo, we spent so much money ... I just thought somebody would have the idea of trying terrorism in NYC. (Big cheer).
Eastwood takes his Afghanistan shot. "We didn't check with the Russians to see how they did with their 10 years there..." Good line, but was anyone allowed to ask before? He says he can't tell Romney to do that to himself. You're getting as bad as Biden!
"Biden is the intellect of the Democratic Party, kind of a grin with a body behind it."
Attorneys shouldn't be president... Maybe a businessman...
The bit is good, Clint's down to earth. Are they trying to usurp the "Daily Show"?
We just saw an infomercial within the larger infomercial of the convention itself. The format is formulaic.
Romney gushed about Ann and went for the sentimental, the love story, the home movies. the goofy painting scene, in the kitchen kidding around, George Romney from an old film declares, "I know what poverty is. I came up from it."
George was a plasterer. Mitt recalls him. "What's the best car on the road?" Little Mitt giggles. "Rambler!"
Loving employees of companies run out of Bain Capital talk affectionately of how cheap he is with materials. He talks of the people who work for him. People testify about how he cares. Every waking bit our of my energy ... to get America strong again, he vows.
Chants of USA!
“Takin’ it to the Streets,” the 1976 song just performed on stage, wasn’t exactly an anthem for the Ford administration back in the day, if you know what I mean.
Some of the lyrics:
You don't know me but I'm your brother
I was raised here in this living hell
You don't know my kind in your world
Fairly soon the time will tell
You ... telling me the things you're gonna do for me
I ain't blind and I don't like what I think I see
Kind of militant and not in a right way?