Ann Romney waves with her husband Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.Ann Romney, the wife of the Republican Party’s new candidate, Mitt, stole the heart of the Republican National Convention in Florida by telling the audience she wanted to talk about love, not politics.
Appearing on stage in a dress in a bold shade of red, so popular among Republican women, to a roar and chants of “We love you!” Mrs Romney began by saying: “Tonight I want to talk to you about love.
“I want to talk to you about the deep and abiding love I have for a man I met at a dance many years ago. And the profound love I have, and I know we share, for this country.
“I want to talk to you about that love so deep only a mother can fathom it – the love we have for our children and our children’s children.”
It was immediately clear that the party, sections of which had to be cajoled – or even bullied – into backing Mr Romney, has readily embraced his wife.
Mrs Romney spoke about how hard mothers worked to sustain families.
“It’s the moms of this nation – single, married, widowed – who really hold this country together.
“We’re the mothers, we’re the wives, we’re the grandmothers, we’re the big sisters, we’re the little sisters, we’re the daughters.
“You are the best of America,” she said. “You are the hope of America.”
It was an effective if not subtle appeal to American women, many of whom have been disaffected by the growing hardline stance on women’s health issues within the GOP.
Crucially she celebrated rather than avoided Mr Romney’s record as the head and founder of private equity firm Bain Capital, which has been the subject of sustained attacks by the Democrats, whose ads describe it as a vessel of pirate capitalism.
She won another when she invoked the campaign’s unofficial slogan: “As his partner on this amazing journey, I can tell you Mitt Romney was not handed success. He. Built. It.”
All day, speakers had repeated the phrase, based on a very selective quote from off-the-cuff remarks by the President, who said of successful people, “you didn’t build that”, before detailing how society aids its members.In conclusion she reassured America that, “You can trust Mitt. He loves America. He will take us to a better place, just as he took me home safely from that dance.”
Some have already compared her speech to the address that propelled President Obama to fame in 2004.As the house band struck up a rendition of My Girl, Mr Romney appeared on stage behind her with a dewy-eyed smile, thrilling an audience that had not expected to see him until later in the convention.
The convention’s tough-talking keynote speaker, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, took another tack.He all but denounced love as a stumbling block on the path to establishing a new US century.
Governor Christie scowled as he finished his half-hour speech about how America must learn the importance of respect over love if it is going to stake out a second American century.
“The greatest lesson Mom ever taught me, though, was this one: she told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected,” he said.
“I have learnt over time that it applies just as much to leadership. In fact, I think that advice applies to America today more than ever.
“I believe we have become paralysed by our desire to be loved.”
A great cheer.
He described the fights he had won against the teacher’s union.
Eventually he turned to Mr Romney’s role in rebuilding America.
“Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to put us back on the path to growth and create good paying private sector jobs again in America,” he said to an ovation of the 20,000 strong crowd in the Tampa sports arena.
“Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the torrent of debt that is compromising our future and burying our economy.
“Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the debacle of putting the world’s greatest healthcare system in the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.”
Throughout the afternoon speakers from across the new spectrum of the Republican Party – fiscal conservative through to social conservative – had addressed the increasingly excited audience.
Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Governor famed for surviving an election after a bruising battle against unions, received the first spontaneous ovation from the stands.
Later Rick Santorum, the fierce Catholic conservative who had been the last to concede defeat to Mr Romney, won another sustained ovation when he raised the social issues that have become so important to the Republican base, but an awkward wedge issue to its establishment.
He declared that the GOP was the one party that lifts up all children – “born and unborn”.
“I thank God that America still has one party that reaches out their hands in love to lift up all of God’s children – born and unborn, and says that each of us has dignity and all of us have the right to live the American Dream.”
Among addresses by the Republican tough guys, other women appeared on stage including governors of South Carolina Nikki Haley and the Governor of New Mexico Susana Martinez. Mrs Romney was introduced by Luce Fortuno, the Governor of Puerto Rico.
Not everything went to plan throughout the afternoon. Stubborn and vocal supporters of the libertarian Ron Paul chanted and booed during the early afternoon session when the Republican Party adopted rule changes that would make their sort of internal party insurgency more difficult.
And later during the day, as their colleagues hectored arriving delegates in the street with megaphones, Paul’s delegates refused to direct their votes to Romney, prompting more chanting and jeering during the roll-call of the states, an event the organisers had hoped would be a unanimous surge for Mr Romney.
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