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 also said the "excitement" of President Obama's election has given way to serious doubt about the future.
"For the first time, the majority of Americans now doubt that our children will have a better future," he said.
Romney went on to say he wished Obama had succeeded, "because I want America to succeed."
"But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn't something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we can do something. And with your help we will do something," Romney said.
The address was to serve as Republicans' closing argument before Democrats fire back with their rebuttal at their convention next week in Charlotte, N.C. The Romney campaign's attention will immediately pivot to countering the message out of North Carolina, just as the Obama campaign tried to draw attention this week away from the Republicans' gala in Tampa.
The lead-up to Romney's speech Thursday was made up of speeches, videos and tributes aimed at filling out the Mitt Romney story and personalizing the candidate. One couple, in a touching story, told of how Romney helped draft a will for their terminally ill son so he could pass down his treasured belongings to his friends and brother. Olympians from the 2002 Salt Lake City games which Romney led later took the stage to vouch for the nominee.
Other segments of the program highlighted his record at Bain Capital, stressing the jobs created via the private equity firm in a bid to counter Democratic ads that highlight Bain-tied businesses that failed.
The one deviation from the theme came toward the end, when Clint Eastwood strolled on stage – proving true the rumors that he was the convention's "surprise" speaker – and engaged in a wicked debate with an empty chair that was supposed to represent Obama.
He concluded: "When somebody does not do the job, we gotta let ‘em go."