Convention anticipates Romney's moment of truth
MITT ROMNEY will stride on to the stage tonight to deliver the most important speech of his career.
The grand finale of the Republican convention caps Mr Romney’s six-year quest for the party’s nomination, after a three-day warm-up act starring his wife, Ann, and a host of Republican also-rans and ambitious hopefuls.
Despite his reputation for stiffness, Mr Romney has shown in the past an ability to rise to the occasion, especially with a well-written text on the teleprompter.
He is certain to vaunt his successful business career as proof that he can fix the US economy. He will portray Barack Obama as a failed president, and will emphasise his belief in American exceptionalism and the necessity of maintaining the most powerful military in the world.
It’s a narrative well known to the convention delegates, a strong proportion of whom are, like Mr Romney, white, ageing business people. They are certain to give him a rapturous reception, as they did Mrs Romney on Tuesday night.
Mr Romney must strike a delicate balance between pleasing the party’s conservative base and further alienating single women, homosexuals and ethnic minorities.
He needs to reach a wider, prime-time television audience that includes millions of independent or undecided voters. For that reason, he’s likely to avoid divisive issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and immigration.
Mr Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, had only 18 days after his candidacy was announced to prepare for his address to the convention – also billed as the most important of his career. By choosing Mr Ryan, the most hawkish budget hawks and a social conservative renowned for his opposition to abortion, Mr Romney secured the support of many doubters.
“If there’s one thing that’s really jazzed me up over the past couple of weeks, it’s that Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan,” said the failed candidate Rick Santorum, who like Ryan is a conservative Catholic.
“Mitt Romney is running as a conservative . . . And if you had any questions, Paul Ryan puts an exclamation point on that.”
A USA Today/Gallup poll on the eve of the convention showed that 38 per cent of Americans view Mr Ryan favourably, 36 per cent unfavourably, making him the most controversial non-incumbent vice-presidential nominee in a generation.
With his speech last night, Mr Ryan hoped to quell fears that he may be too young, at age 42, or too inexperienced, to serve as president in the event of Mr Romney being elected but not completing his term.