Delegates differ, but unify behind Romney

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As Mitt Romney formally emerges from the Republican National Convention this week as the party’s presidential nominee, many delegates on Wednesday cited his pro-business experience as their main attraction to the former Massachusetts governor.

Others said his selection of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate was what tipped the scale in Mr. Romney’s favor.

Some said his strong religious convictions was what impressed them the most.

And still more pointed to the prime-time speech by the candidate’s wife, Ann, the evening before, as justification they were backing the right candidate.

But whatever the specific reason, nearly all delegates — with the exception of a vocal handful of loyal supporters of Rep. Ron Paul’s campaign — say they’re fully behind Mr. Romney as the race to the White House amps up.

“I’m sold on him as a conservative across the board, and I think he is the right man at the right time for our country,” said Jennie Frederick, a delegate from Jackson, Wis.

Ms. Frederick said her conservative position on social issues initially attracted her to former Sen. Rick Santorum’s presidential bid, but that the more she learned about Mr. Romney’s business background and his economic plan, the more she was convinced he was the right choice to lead the party — and nation.

“While he probably isn’t as conservative as Santorum on social issues … if we don’t fix the fiscal crisis, nothing else is going to matter,” she said. “We can’t go down the path of Europe, so I’m totally onboard with him.”

Jimmy Lane, a delegate from Ocean Springs, Miss., initially identified with Mr. Santorum’s social conservative views. But he said he and others in Mississippi may have jumped on the Romney bandwagon earlier if the former Massachusetts governor had campaigned more in their state.

If “we had time to gather the information on Romney’s faith and some of the things that he had done, I believe he would’ve been as deeply as appealing to me at the point,” he said. “But I thought either one of them would be a great representative to the country.”

Kathy Kiernan, a delegate from Richfield, Wis., said Mr. Ryan’s experience as the House Budget Committee chairman would serve as invaluable experience in a Romney administration.

Mr. Romney “will surround himself with wonderful people who are problem-solvers and not czars who wave a magic wand,” she said.

Georgia delegate Ginger Howard added that Mr. Ryan’s inclusion on the ticket was a “brilliant” move.

The Atlanta resident initially supported Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the Republican nomination, while many in the Georgia delegation were staunch backers of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But she said her state’s delegation — like the rest of the party — realized unification behind Mr. Romney was crucial to a GOP takeover of the White House.

“The more I’ve researched him and the more I know him, I think he will do a wonderful job,” she said. “The people have spoken. Mitt Romney is the choice, and I’m more than 100 percent behind him.”

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