Republican convention: Mitt Romney avoids pitfalls to leave Tampa on a high

Republican survives acceptance speech and sets out on trail hoping for a poll boost in race that remains as tight as ever


Mitt Romney flew out of Tampa yesterday – hours after delivering a competent and sometimes emotional acceptance speech at the close of his party's convention – to resume campaigning in a presidential race that remains wide open, with neither he nor Barack Obama yet thrilling the voters whose trust they must win.

A convention that at its start risked being thrown off course by Hurricane Isaac ended with nothing major having gone wrong (save perhaps for some bizarre stand-up on Thursday night by Clint Eastwood) and a speech by Mr Romney that served to introduce him to the nation and to make the case that Mr Obama has been a dud. "Now is the time to restore the promise of America," Mr Romney declared. As he headed first to a rally in Lakeland, Florida, and thereafter to inspect the damage from Isaac in coastal Louisiana, Mr Romney was buoyed not just by the balloons that fell from the ceilings of the Tampa arena but also by a sense of his party finally having united behind him and panting for the chance to oust Mr Obama. Now officially anointed as the nominee, he has access to a giant war chest of funds reserved for the election.

While Mr Romney was criticised by some for omitting any mention of America's soldiers in Afghanistan and for still not quite breaking the bonds of his reserve, the reviews of his speech were polite if not ecstatic. "I think it humanised him. I think it introduced him on a personal level," David Gergen, a CNN commentator said. "This speech had lots of heart, but it needed more soul. It needed more poetry."

Some among the delegates expressed relief when it was done, like Faith Marcke from Kansas who admitted she had watched him struggle as a speaker on the campaign trail this year. "Sometimes I want to say to him, 'Come on, fight!'" she admitted. "Well, he did tonight. I think he finally delivered."

Mr Romney threw down a gauntlet to the Democrats – who will host their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, next week – when he asserted here that Mr Obama had been a let-down, notably on the economy, and should be shown the door.

"I wish President Obama had succeeded, because I want America to succeed," he said, taking an 'in-sorrow' approach. "But his promises gave way to disappointment and division... We deserve better."

The convention mostly avoided public conversation on divisive social issues like abortion and gay marriage. But while their message on the economy and on the shortfall of Mr Obama's promise is honed, the Republicans have difficult demographic gaps, notably in appealing to women and minorities. Yesterday Ann Romney attempted to argue that when it comes to women the obstacles will be overcome.

"I'm hearing from so many women who may not have considered voting for a Republican before, but said, 'It's time for the grown-up to come, the man who is going to take this seriously, who is going to take the future of our children very, very seriously'," she told CNN. Addressing his faith for the first time was a gamble for Mr Romney, the fruits of which are uncertain. "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," he said. "My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church we went to."

Mr Obama, who will visit storm-damaged areas of Louisiana on Monday, will end his own convention next Thursday as he did in Denver four years ago, with a speech in a sports stadium able to seat 74,000.

Mr Romney was at his most devastating here when he suggested Americans were excited most about Mr Obama on the day they elected him and it has been downhill ever since. How Mr Obama overcomes that slight is not easy to see.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back