Romney makes his case: ‘Need jobs, lots of jobs’
By DAVID ESPO and ROBERT FURLOW Associated Press August 30, 2012 8:48PM
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, right, and Republican vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan laugh with their campaign staff as they gather for a group picture at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Updated: October 30, 2012 2:00AM
TAMPA, Fla. — Mitt Romney launched his fall campaign for the White House in a Republican National Convention finale Thursday night, declaring “what America needs is jobs, lots of jobs” and promising he has a plan to create 12 million of them.
“Now is the time to restore the promise of America,” Romney said in excerpts released in advance of his prime-time speech to a nation struggling with 8.3 percent unemployment and the slowest economic recovery in decades.
“Many Americans have given up on this president, but they haven’t ever thought about giving up. Not on themselves, Not on each other. And not on America,” Romney said.
He muted his criticism in the advance excerpts of President Barack Obama, his quarry in a close and unpredictable race for the White House.
“I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed,” he said. “But his promises gave way to disappointment and division.”
“This isn’t something we have to accept ,” he said, appealing to millions of voters who say they are disappointed in the president yet haven’t yet decided to cast their votes for his Republican challenger.
“Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, ‘I’m an American. I make my destiny. And we deserve better! My children deserve better! My family deserves better! My country deserves better!”
More than the political hoopla, the evening marked one of a very few opportunities any presidential challenger is granted to appeal to millions of voters in a single night.
The two-month campaign to come includes other big moments — principally a series of one-on-one debates with Democrat Obama — in a race for the White House that has been close for months. In excess of $500 million has been spent on campaign television commercials so far, almost all of it in the battleground states of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.
Romney holds a fundraising advantage over Obama, and his high command hopes to expand the electoral map soon if post-convention polls in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and perhaps elsewhere indicate it’s worth the investment.In a speech that blended the political and the personal, Romney talked in his excerpts of the importance of the love he felt from his parents and that he and his wife Ann have sought to give their children and grandchildren.
“All the laws and legislation in the world will never heal this world like the loving hearts and arms of mothers and fathers,” he said.
The economy is issue No. 1 in the race for the White House, and Romney presented his credentials as the man better equipped than the president to help create jobs.
“When I was 37, I helped start a small company,” he said. “That business we stated with 10 people has now grown into a great American success story.”
Romney’s aides scripted a closing night convention night program that included a video tribute to Ronald Reagan, the two-term president revered still by conservatives. Delegates cheered when his voice filled the hall.
It was designed, as well to fill out a portrait of the GOP nominee as a successful businessman, last-minute savior for a troubled 2002 Olympics and a man of family and faith. A portion of the convention podium was rebuilt overnight so he would appear surrounded by delegates rather than speaking from a distance, an attempt to soften his image as a stiff and distant candidate.
Romney knows the value of dollar, delegates were assured.
“When I told him about Staples, he really got excited at the idea of saving a few cents on paper clips,” businessman Tom Stemberg said of the office supply store chain he founded with backing from Bain Capital, the private equity firm the presidential nominee co-founded.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, sharing the stage with his wife, Callista, said Obama was a president in the Jimmy Carter mold. Both “took our nation down a path that in four years weakened America’s confidence in itself and our hope for a better future,” he said.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said that “in the fourth year of a presidency, a real leader would accept responsibility” for failed policies. “President Obama hasn’t done that.”
Romney’s aides did not say whether he would offer any new information on what has so far been a short-on-details pledge to reduce federal deficits and create 12 million jobs in a country where unemployment stands at 8.3 percent.
Romney has called for extension of tax cuts due to expire at all income levels at the end of the year, and has proposed an additional 20 percent cut in tax rates across the board. But he has yet to sketch out the retrenchment in tax breaks that he promises to prevent deficits from rising.
Nor has he been forthcoming about the trillions in spending cuts that would be needed to redeem his pledge of major deficit reduction, or about his promise to rein in Medicare or other government benefit programs before they go broke.
His vice presidential running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has called for remaking Medicare into a program in which the government would send seniors checks to be used to purchase health care insurance.
Under the current approach, beneficiaries pay premiums to the government, which then pays a part of all of their medical bills, and Democrats say the GOP alternative would expose seniors to ever-rising out-of-pocket costs.
Romney said in his fundraising email, as he often does in his speeches, “We believe in America, even though President Barack Obama’s failed policies have left us with record high unemployment, lower take-home pay and the weakest economy since the great Depression.”
Associated Press writers Kasie Hunt, Steve Peoples, Philip Elliott, Beth Fouhy, Thomas Beaumont and Julie Mazziotta in Tampa and Jennifer Agiesta in Washington contributed to this story.