, Salem, MA


September 1, 2012

Pluses, minuses for Romney's convention


In many ways, the convention succeeded.

Romney, whose image has been battered by a barrage of Obama campaign ads depicting him as a corporate raider and plutocrat, delivered a heartfelt acceptance speech that mixed biography with moments of emotion. The former Massachusetts governor teared up when speaking of his late parents and reminiscing about his five sons growing up.

Romney also made a passionate appeal to voters who once supported Obama but are now disillusioned, acknowledging the excitement they’d felt four years ago for Obama’s candidacy but telling them it’s safe to switch sides now.

“The president hasn’t disappointed you because he wanted to. The president has disappointed America because he hasn’t led America in the right direction,” Romney said.

But the speech lacked many memorable phrases or laugh lines, and opened only the narrowest new window into how Romney would govern if elected president. He promised to create 12 million new jobs but offered little new detail into how he would do so, and he resisted entreaties to get more specific about the spending cuts he’d make to bring the nation’s debt and deficits under control.

The convention did help refresh the Republican brand with a diverse group of prime-time speakers who belied the party’s image as a largely older, white and male party out of step with the nation’s changing demographics.

Speakers including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez both had star-making turns, while the high-profile presence of 42-year-old vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and 41-year-old Florida Sen. Marco Rubio signaled an impending generational shift for the GOP.

Many Republican activists saw the lineup as relief after comments about rape and abortion by Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin overshadowed the run-up to the convention. Romney and other party leaders repudiated Akin for suggesting victims of “legitimate” rape could physically thwart pregnancy, but the dustup over Akin’s remarks caused headaches for GOP strategists hoping to close a large gender gap among women voters.

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