Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney needed to give the speech of his life at the Republican National Convention tonight, and managed to work the crowd into a frenzy with a balanced mix of policy and the personal.
“I wish President Obama had succeeded, because I want America to succeed,” Romney said after accepting the party’s presidential nomination. “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 that debt, division, and unemployment were not the hope and change America voted for — “not just what we wanted,” but “what Americans deserved.”
“You deserved it because during these years, you worked harder than ever before. You deserved it because when it cost more to fill up your car, you cut out movie nights and put in longer hours,” he said. “Or when you lost that job that paid $22.50 an hour with benefits, you took two jobs at 9 bucks an hour and fewer benefits. You did it because your family depended on you. You did it because you’re an American and you don’t quit. You did it because it was what you had to do.”
“Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, ‘I’m an American. I make my destiny. And we deserve better! My children deserve better! My family deserves better. My country deserves better!’”
His speech capped off a night that touched on his Mormon faith more than at any other point in the campaign, when fellow church members came before the audience to talk about kindnesses he had done for their families as a congregational leader.
“We were Mormons and growing up in Michigan; that might have seemed unusual or out of place but I really don’t remember it that way. My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church we went to,” Romney said.
He also addressed the Democrats’ war on women meme with a familial reference. “When my mom ran for the Senate, my dad was there for her every step of the way. I can still hear her saying in her beautiful voice, ‘Why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?’”
The evening also addressed the Bain Capital controversy by explaining the business, how it was built, and what it has done for its employees.
“When I was 37, I helped start a small company. My partners and I had been working for a company that was in the business of helping other businesses,” Romney said. “…So we started a new business called Bain Capital. The only problem was, while WE believed in ourselves, nobody else did. We were young and had never done this before and we almost didn’t get off the ground. In those days, sometimes I wondered if I had made a really big mistake. I had thought about asking my church’s pension fund to invest, but I didn’t. I figured it was bad enough that I might lose my investors’ money, but I didn’t want to go to hell too. Shows what I know. Another of my partners got the Episcopal Church pension fund to invest. Today there are a lot of happy retired priests who should thank him.”
Romney also laid out policy specifics. “Unlike the president, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs. It has 5 steps,” he said. “First, by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables. Second, we will give our fellow citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow. When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance.”
“Third, we will make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements. And when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences,” he continued. “Fourth, to assure every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in America will not vanish as have those in Greece, we will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget. And fifth, we will champion small businesses, America’s engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small business the most. And it means that we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of healthcare by repealing and replacing Obamacare.”
And the governor gave a nod to social conservatives. “As president, I will protect the sanctity of life. I will honor the institution of marriage. And I will guarantee America’s first liberty: the freedom of religion,” he said.
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”