Oh yes, the moment we’ve all been waiting for finally ended a few minutes ago. Mitt Romney, to a throng of screaming Republican Party loyalists, formally accepted the nomination to be his party’s standard bearer this fall. Now we can finally remove the “presumptive” tag from Mitt Romney.
Before we get to Mitt Romney’s speech, let’s examine the highlights from the last night of the 2012 Republican National Convention. We heard from party stalwarts such as Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich, rising star Marco Rubio and former members of the Mitt Romney’s gubernatorial cabinet such as Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey and Jane Edmonds.
But the most anticipated speech, sans Romney, was the unveiling of the much-talked about “mystery speaker” which was widely thought to be actor Clint Eastwood and that was confirmed when the 82-year old took the stage alongside an empty chair. If the mystery speaker was supposed to rile the crowd up, well it definitely failed. Eastwood ambled through an awkward, clearly improvised, rambling in which he had a mock conversation with President Barack Obama. It was clearly the worst speech of the entire convention in terms of seriousness and usefulness. Whoever signed off on the Eastwood speech is more than certainly going to be looking for a new job in a post-Whose Line Is It Anyway? world.
As the audience tried to get its bearings back following the Eastwood disaster, it was time for Marco Rubio to open up for Mitt Romney which you can view here. Rubio, who was widely thought to be a frontrunner for the vice presidential slot since his election to the Senate in 2010, largely focused on his story as he compared it to Romney’s. The topic of immigration was clearly on display as Rubio mentioned why his family left Cuba and how they felt their potential was limitless because of being in America.
Still Rubio’s speech was mostly biographical with various red meat applause lines sprinkled throughout. Then the moment we were all waiting for came and I noticed the anticipation was equal to the unveiling of the final vote on a season of Survivor.
Mitt Romney took the stage and immediately accepted the nomination to be the Republican choice for President of the United States. The crowd erupted for the man that most of them likely wished wouldn’t have been here. Let’s not forget that at the turn of the year, the hope of a “white knight” coming along in the form of Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie was still casting a shadow over the Republican primaries.
Romney, who clearly showcased the most emotion he has had since he became a national name in politics, largely did a pretty good job in terms of communicating with the audience. He really emoted well when it came to his exuberant cheerleading of American exceptionalism that bordered upon jingoism.
Romney criticized President Obama’s foreign policy and the now-nominee of the Republican Party mentioned his ardent support for Israel, voiced his distrust over Russia as well as his anger over the President lifting sanctions against Cuba which all earned vociferous applause. The attacks on Russia is not new territory for Romney, as he once called the Vladimir Putin-led nation “America’s number one geopolitical foe” in the early going of the race. But you couldn’t help that after hearing Cuba’s mention that the speech was tailor-made for Hispanics or was at least a “shoutout” to Marco Rubio’s speech right beforehand.
But the highlight of the speech, the one that might gain the press coverage that Ryan’s Janesville GM plant “error” did, was Romney’s joke on the subject of climate change:
President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. MY promise … is to help you and your family.
The crowd LOVED the line as it was probably the only joke of the speech, sans some awkward ribbing between Romney and Paul Ryan over their music choices, yet it did show what the new Republican Party is like. While Romney didn’t talk about his faith as much as some pundits thought beforehand, the seemingly anti-science remark did make an impact on the delegation. In a way, it was almost “coding” against those liberal tree-huggers that want to save the world.
As the speech grew, Romney continued to levy attacks against the President while contrasting his jabs with anecdotes about his childhood growing up which actually saw Romney’s composure slightly slip up as he reminisced about his parents. Romney did maintain his composure, but you couldn’t help but feel genuine about his love for his parents which really put the “robotic” candidate in a different light for a brief moment.
But it was full speed ahead for Romney afterwards as he continued to ding the President and mentioned repealing the Affordable Care Act, a quip that he has mentioned numerous times as he tries to distance himself from the bill he championed as Governor of Massachusetts. Yet while Romney’s speech was high on rhetoric, it was low on new ideas and failed to preview what a Romney Presidency would look like. He did mention that he would “unlike President Obama, lower taxes on the middle classes of America” which might make the factcheckers heads spin.
As he concluded and the balloons fell upon the throng of supporters, delegates and well-wishers for the Romney campaign; Romney’s voice raised a few more octaves as he shouted why he loved America. The theme of this speech was clearly an Ode to America with a few excerpts from Mitt Romney’s Wikipedia page sprinkled within. In terms of great political speeches, it will not stand out as we continue to examine it; but it did get a point across. The point being that America will always be great, but Romney will restore it back to greatness.
However, will it work for undecided voters who are still seemingly sour on Mitt Romney? Unlikely. But it might’ve finally made conservatives fully embrace the candidate that they are now stuck with.
(No tax returns were harmed during the making of his speech).