Romney’s address was the highlight of a storm-shortened Republican National Convention week in Tampa. The gathering opened a day late because of the threat of a hurricane and it began with low energy at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It built to an emotional peak Thursday night with a program that took the audience through many phases of the nominee’s life and included powerful and sometimes poignant testimony about a Romney rarely seen on the campaign trail.
A night after Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the vice-presidential nominee, offered sharp and sometimes sarcastic criticism of Obama’s record, Romney played on the expectant feelings that accompanied Obama into office 31
2 years ago. “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,” he said.
Romney sought to contrast himself and his agenda with some of the grandiose rhetoric of Obama’s 2008 campaign, presenting himself as a more grounded, focused and modest leader. “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet,” he said. “My promise is to help you and your family.”
He pledged that his singular focus as president would be employment and said he would create 12 million new jobs through a program that includes tax cuts, domestic energy independence, deficit reduction and the repeal of Obama’s health-care law. Although short on details, Romney’s speech set up a campaign that will offer voters two dramatically different philosophies about how to fix the economy and the role government should play in the economy and in Americans’ lives.
Romney used the speech to address some of the issues that have dogged his candidacy, both those created by the Obama campaign’s attacks and those that are the result of his sometimes uneven performance as a candidate.
Facing a gender gap, he focused attention on women. Attacked by Obama for his record in business, he said Obama doesn’t understand capitalism. Criticized for his wealth, he said, “In America, we celebrate success, we don’t apologize for it.” Criticized for not showing his human side, he talked about his family and faith.
Republicans arrived in Tampa at the beginning of the week with Romney and Obama locked in a dead-heat race that has changed little over the summer. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars in mostly negative ads and intensive campaigning by both candidates, neither Obama nor Romney has been able to seize the advantage.