- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. — Mitt Romney on Thursday accepted the nod to lead an ever-more conservative Republican Party against a powerful but politically vulnerable incumbent, telling a national audience that this year’s election comes down to jobs and President Obama’s failure to create enough of them.

In an evening filled with pomp — including chants of “U-S-A” for a host of famous American Olympians, a surprise visit and endorsement by legendary actor and director Clint Eastwood, and a moving introduction by Sen. Marco Rubio, who said his first-generation American success story is the hopeful story of a nation — the GOP sent Mr. Romney forward as the man they said is the steady leader the country needs in troubled economic times.

From the stage in Tampa Mr. Romney urged voters to take a harder look at the past four years under Mr. Obama. He said he and his fellow Republicans offer voters the chance to make a dramatic change of course.

“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,” Mr. Romney said. “But this president cannot tell us that you are better off today than when he took office.”

He was preceded by Mr. Eastwood, who mocked Mr. Obama by holding an imaginary conversation with the president, represented by an empty chair.

“When somebody does not do the job, you’ve got to let him go,” Mr. Eastwood said.

Next came Mr. Rubio, who told of living the American immigrant dream story as the son of a man, a refugee from Cuba, who used to tend a portable bar in banquet halls in order to support his family.

“He was grateful for the work he had, but that’s not the life he wanted for us,” Mr. Rubio said. “He stood behind a bar in the back of the room all those years so one day I could stand behind a podium in the front of a room.”

Republicans have made the self-made American story the dominant theme of their convention, pushing back against what they say is Mr. Obama’s philosophy that success comes from government.

The nomination marks the end of a six-year quest for Mr. Romney that included a failed 2008 bid and several touch-and-go moments in this year’s primary season. But with the exception of supporters of Rep. Ron Paul, a rival in the primaries, Mr. Romney leads an increasingly united party.

Despite that six-year campaign, however, Mr. Romney remains an unknown to many voters, and he used his address to begin to answer those questions.

He and his wife, Ann, appeared in a video talking about their life as a young dating couple, as new parents and in their more recent life. His friends, and even his children, portrayed him as “cheap” — willing to go out of his way to save pennies on paper clips — and dedicated to details, whether in family or as governor of Massachusetts.

Mr. Eastwood, who was the only person to speak without prepared remarks, called Mr. Romney a “stellar businessman.”

Mr. Romney is the first Mormon to win the nomination of either party, though that issue appears to be receding in the minds of voters. Mr. Romney minimized it in his remarks Thursday, saying his neighbors growing up in Michigan cared more about the sports teams he followed than what church he prayed at.

In his speech, he spoke of his parents, who he said were “true partners,” and talked of starting the business, Bain Capital, that helped make his personal fortune — and has become the chief point of attack for Democrats.

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