- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

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.”

Jeanie Falcone, a delegate from Brockton, Mass., blamed the media for part of the reason many Americans have been slow to warm up to Mr. Romney. But she said that since he emerged in recent months as the presidential nominee, the country is beginning to better appreciate his credentials.

“The media has not been letting [the country] know the real Mitt,” she said. “He is not a big politician. He is a businessman who can take our country and run with it and bring us back from where it is right now, which is the poverty level.”

Crystal Berg, a delegate from Erin, Wis., said momentum for Mr. Romney is building within the party, and she doesn’t understand why some delegates resisted his nomination during Tuesday’s roll call.

“Where else are they going to go?” she said. “Where are they going to get [their issues] solved? Where are they going to move [them] forward?”

“He had addressed everything so well. As his wife said, he will not fail, and I believe that.”

Rep. Dennis Ross, a Florida delegate, said the Republican Party is determined to avoid the mistake it made in 2008 by not totally unifying behind its 2008 presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain.

“Now we realize how important it is to coalesce in order to win the presidency,” he said. “This is my fourth convention, and it’s the most inclusive convention that I’ve attended.”

“We’re showing that everybody has room inside this convention center. [But] the important thing is to gain the presidency, win the Senate and maintain our majority in the House if we’re ever going to have the opportunity to prove ourselves.”