After walking down an aisle where delegates and well-wishers at the Republican National Convention regaled him with handshakes, greetings and hugs, a smiling Mitt Romney ascended the podium and said with some emotion, “I accept your nomination for President of the United States of America.”
It was a history-making night for Latter-day Saints who have never seen one of their own in such a powerful position. The route to get here has seen the LDS Church spotlighted and sometimes misconstrued for the sake of politics, but it also has opened avenues for Latter-day Saints to speak up about who they are. Many of us muse about what a Mormon in the White House might mean from the mundane to the profound. Who will get to be Romney’s home teachers? What will it mean to have a former bishop and stake president guide the nation not only from his desk in the Oval Office but also from his knees?
Mitt with his good deeds to neighbors, his early morning bishopric meetings and his large family is someone whose impulses we comprehend. But apparently everyone doesn’t see him so readily.
Where his critics have called him cold, unconnected with his audience and unlikeable (since they could not call him corrupt or incompetent), Mitt’s job at the convention was to demonstrate that he was someone they could trust, someone with a warm, human side, and most of all someone with the competence to rescue a nation that many see as heading in a disastrously wrong direction.
In his speech, which was interrupted several times with applause and chants of “USA, USA” Mitt appealed to a nation that has seen rough times in the last four years with an emotional pledge that he would restore the promise of America.
In this it seems he succeeded. Certainly the delegates loved him, but the surest measurement will be if there is a bump in the polls in his direction in the next few days. (According to Reuters: “Romney and Obama have been running close in polls ahead of the election, but the convention so far has given Romney a boost. The latest Reuters/Ipsos online poll showed him moving into a narrow lead over Obama -- 44 percent to 42 percent among likely voters. The Republican had entered the week trailing Obama by four percentage points.”).
Pundits called his speech solid, well-delivered and well-received. Fox News’ reporter Chris Wallace said,"There's an old saying that you campaign in poetry, you govern in prose. I'm not sure it ever soared into poetry . . . but it was a workmanlike job, and it certainly got the job done." Though he intended to analyze the speech for its strong and weak points, in the high emotion at the end, with 100,000 balloons and 500 pounds of confetti raining on the auditorium, and a stage filled with Romney family, he said that you see these beautiful grandchildren and an analysis just seems silly.
Michael Reagan tweeted, “When Dad died, we lost America’s cheerleader. Now we have another one.”
Romney came across as someone out to fix things that have been broken, as a patriot who believes in America and its people and as someone who sees the strength of America being in its families, its founding and the God that endowed us with liberties.
Rather than attacking Obama, he said, “I wish President 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…”
Romney said that for too many Americans good days are harder to come by than before and gave a litany of things that have changed negatively for us in the last four years—from the price of food to the doubling of gas prices.
“How many days have you woken up feeling that something really special was happening in America? “ he asked.
In an obvious appeal to the swing voters he said, “Many of you felt that way on Election Day four years ago. Hope and Change had a powerful appeal. But tonight I’d ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama? 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.”
Romney said, “This president can ask us to be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else’s fault. This president can tell us that the next four years he’ll get it right. But this president cannot tell us that YOU are better off today than when he took office.”
Romney’s appeal was not ideological so much as personal, a reaching out with help and a new plan to those who have suffered in a terrible economy.
He said: “Today, four years from the excitement of the last election, for the first time, the majority of Americans now doubt that our children will have a better future.
“It is not what we were promised.
“Every family in America wanted this to be a time when they could get ahead a little more, put aside a little more for college, do more for their elderly mom who’s living alone now or give a little more to their church or charity.
“Every small business wanted these to be their best years ever, when they could hire more, do more for those who had stuck with them through the hard times, open a new store or sponsor that Little League team.
“Every new college graduate thought they’d have a good job by now, a place of their own, and that they could start paying back some of their loans and build for the future.
“This is when our nation was supposed to start paying down the national debt and rolling back those massive deficits.
“This was the hope and change America voted for.
“It’s not just what we wanted. It’s not just what we expected.
“It’s what Americans deserved.”
Why, he said, did we deserve better? Because we are working harder than ever before and getting so much less. We keep holding on because we are Americans and we don’t quit.
He said, “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 promise was practical. While President Barack Obama in his 2008 victory speech said the poetic but overblown:“This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”, Mitt answered, “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”
What America needs “is not complicated or profound. It doesn’t take a special government commission to tell us what America needs. What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs.”
His message that he is a doer who can get things done was portrayed in his history. At 37 he started Bain Capital and from that original group of 10 came some of America’s great companies like Staples and Sports Authority. He was portrayed not only as smart and team-building, but also frugal. In the film that introduced him, a son mentioned that they always went to Mom for money, because Dad watched every penny. It is well-known that when he headed the Olympics, the lunches of the board went from an expensive catered affair to pizza slices they purchased themselves.
Looking to make headway with the constituents he has to have, he appealed to Hispanics and women in his speech.
“My mom and dad were true partners, a life lesson that shaped me by everyday example.