One speaker after another mocked Romney’s wealth, his past inconsistencies on issues such as abortion, and his party’s dedication to policies that would shrink government and benefit the richest Americans. Romney was ridiculed even in a video paying tribute to the late senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who beat him decisively in a 1994 Senate race.
As the night’s most celebrated speaker, Michelle Obama took aim, obliquely, at Romney’s argument that success in the business world translates into skills for guiding the country through a difficult economic time.
“I’ve seen how the issues that come across a president’s desk are always the hard ones — the problems where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer,” Obama said. “At the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as president, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.”
Julian Castro, the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio and the convention’s keynote speaker, was more direct in his attack on the Republican nominee: “Mitt Romney, quite simply, doesn’t get it.”
“What we don’t accept is the idea that some folks won’t even get a chance,” Castro said. “And the thing is, Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are perfectly comfortable with that America. In fact, that’s exactly what they’re promising us.”
Some of the harshest criticism of Romney came from past and present Democratic governors, who painted a dire picture of how the nation would look in a Romney presidency.
Maryland’s Martin O’Malley, who is being talked about as a presidential prospect in 2016, warned that Republicans would offer “a country of less.”
“How much less do you really think would be good for our country,” O’Malley asked. “How much less education would be good for our children? How many hungry American kids can we no longer afford to feed? How many fewer college degrees would make us more competitive as a nation?”
The atmosphere was a contrast both from last week’s tightly focused Republican convention in Tampa and from the optimism and idealism of the 2008 Democratic convention.
On the stage in Denver four years ago, Obama introduced her family to a national audience as a quintessential American story, and herself as a devoted sister, daughter, mother and wife.
Her speech Tuesday reprised many of those themes but also updated them, giving a perspective from four years in the White House. Obama, one of the most highly regarded figures in American political life, delivered her speech with an assurance that had delegates cheering and at some points weeping.