TAMPA, Fla. — It’s a moment only a few dozen Republicans have ever been given — a chance to stand at your party’s convention, and before the nation, and make the case why you should be the next president. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had that rare opportunity Thursday night as he accepted the Republican nomination here in Tampa.
Romney’s appearance was not the most electrifying one of the convention. Paul Ryan generated more energy in the hall with his address Wednesday night. But the delegates from New Hampshire and Massachusetts felt that Romney’s address did what it had to do.
Standing in the aisle next to the “Massachusetts” sign was the youngest delegate from the state, 18-year-old Evan Kenney, a Ron Paul supporter. He said the address makes him feel better about Romney’s chances of beating President Obama.
“He was very energizing, and I think he might have swung some moderates,” Kenney said.
And swinging moderates is, of course, the key task for Romney now.
-Republican National Convention-
Select WBUR coverage from the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa:
- Mass. Delegates Are Front And Center At The GOP Convention
- In Fla., Medicare Could Swing The Vote
- Meet The Youngest Mass. Delegates
- Former Gov. Weld, A Big Personality, Steps Out For Romney
- Romney: From Social Moderate To All-Around Conservative
- Romney’s Mormon Faith Takes Center Stage
- Updates From The Conventions
- Storify: The RNC’s Mass. Delegation
- Commentaries: Payne & Domke
- Scenes From The Republican Convention
Romney’s former lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey, called Romney’s speech a wonderful kickoff for the general election.
“I think America is going to really know Mitt Romney after tonight,” Healey said. “They’ll really know Mitt Romney the man, and that’s going to make a difference.”
Romney spent much of his speech introducing himself to a national audience, many of whom might have been paying attention to him for the first time.
“My mom and dad were married for 64 years, and if you wondered what their secret was, you could have asked the local florist, because every day, Dad gave Mom a rose, which he put on her bedside table,” Romney said. “That’s how she found out what happened on the day my father died. She went looking for him because that morning, there was no rose.”
As the balloons dropped and people popped them all around him, state Sen. Robert Hedlund, of Weymouth, thought Romney came off well.
“Anyone that watched that certainly belies the image that’s kind of been portrayed by some elements in the media and certainly by the Obama people in their talking points of what Mitt’s about, and I think the whole narrative tonight, the whole explanation of his business history, his family history, is perfect and dead on,” Hedlund said.
Romney spoke of his family’s early days when he was getting started at Bain.
“Those weren’t the easiest of days,” Romney said. “Many long hours and weekends working, five young sons who seemed to have this need to reenact a different world war every night. But if you ask Ann and I, what we’d give to break up just one more fight between the boys, or wake up in the morning with a pile of kids asleep in our room. Every mom and dad knows the answer to that.”
For Jim Merrill, the highlight was when Romney spoke movingly of his family. As Romney’s senior New Hampshire adviser, it’s Merrill’s job to help Romney win that swing state.
“As a father of young children, I have to say that it really struck me to hear about his experiences as a father and raising his children, and how moving it was to hear that,” Merrill said. “It really brought a tear to my eye to see how much that meant to him.”
With his low-key speech, much of it talking about his life, Romney seems to have persuaded the crowd in the hall that he can lead them to victory in November. Now the rest of the country has to weigh in.