- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Making up for lost time, Republicans streamed into their storm-delayed national convention Monday to certify Mitt Romney’s nomination for the White House and tear into President Barack Obama in a close race for the White House in dreary economic times.

Delegates cheered every mention of Romney’s name in a ritual roll call of the states certain to seal the results of last winter’s brutal primaries and caucuses.

The mocking of Obama began almost instantly from the podium at a convention postponed once and dogged still by Hurricane Isaac. The Democratic president has “never run a company. He hasn’t even run a garage sale or seen the inside of a lemonade stand,” declared Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican Party.

To propel Romney and ticketmate Paul Ryan into the fall campaign, the convention quickly approved a conservative platform that calls for tax cuts — not government spending — to stimulate the economy at a time of sluggish growth and 8.3 percent unemployment.

Ann Romney’s speech was scripted as a prime-time highlight, an appearance meant to cast her multimillionaire-businessman-turned-politician husband in a soft and likable light before a national TV audience.

The celebration begins as New Jersey puts Mitt Romney over the 1,144 delegates needed to give him the presidential nomination during the Roll Call for Nomination at the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (Rod Lamkey, Jr./The Washington Times)
The celebration begins as New Jersey puts Mitt Romney over the 1,144 ... more >

Aides said Romney would be in the hall when she spoke.

The former Massachusetts governor was in his hotel suite across the street from the red, white and blue-themed convention hall as delegates affirmed his nomination. Aides said he watched the proceedings on television.

Marring his hope for a seamless convention, the residue of a heated campaign for the nomination was evident inside the hall.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who never won a primary or caucus, drew several dozen delegate votes. Earlier, his supporters chanted and booed after the convention adopted rules they opposed, but were powerless to block, to prevent those votes from being officially registered.

Opinion polls made the race a close one as the Republicans’ days of pageantry and speechmaking began in earnest, and the man tapped to deliver the keynote address set the stakes.

“Conventions are always huge for a challenger, because they’re the ones introducing themselves” to the voters, said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Convention planners squeezed two days of speeches and other convention business into one after scrapping Monday’s scheduled opener because of fears that Isaac would make a direct hit on the Florida Gulf Coast.

That threat fizzled, but it was instantly replaced by another — that Republicans would wind up holding a political celebration at the same time the storm turned its fury on New Orleans, devastated almost exactly seven years ago by Hurricane Katrina.

Romney’s convention planners said they were in frequent contact with weather forecasters, but they declined to discuss what contingency plans, if any, they had to accelerate plans for him to deliver a formal acceptance speech Thursday night.

“This is obviously the biggest speech of my life,” Mrs. Romney said as she visited the custom-made podium to prepare for her remarks.

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