Mitt Romney makes case to ‘disappointed’ voters in RNC speech
By: Ginger Gibson
August 31, 2012 12:34 AM EST
TAMPA, Fla. — Mitt Romney sought to reset public perception of himself while also attacking President Barack Obama in a nomination acceptance speech that also expanded on his biography and résumé.
“I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future,” Romney said. “That future is our destiny. That future is out there. It is waiting for us. Our children deserve it, our nation depends upon it, the peace and freedom of the world require it. And with your help we will deliver it.”
He wasted no time in criticizing his opponent, launching into an attack on Obama early in his speech.
“I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed,” Romney said. “But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn’t something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we can do something.”
Avoiding his more recent harshly worded criticisms of the incumbent, Romney stuck mostly to talking abut Obama as a bad economic steward, reaching out to voters who may have supported the president in 2008 but are now not so certain about him.
“The president hasn’t disappointed you because he wanted to,” Romney said. “The president has disappointed America because he hasn’t led America in the right direction. He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government.”
He jabbed at Obama for promising to improve the environment.
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet,” Romney said, a line twice interrupted by laughter. “My promise is to help you and your family.”
Romney spoke for about 40 minutes, painting a picture of the type of economic situation people had hoped for when electing Obama versus the reality of current conditions.
There weren’t any new themes for Romney, who talked about the economy, jobs and a desire to create a more united America.
“That America, that united America, can unleash an economy that will put Americans back to work, that will once again lead the world with innovation and productivity, and that will restore every father and mother’s confidence that their children’s future is brighter even than the past,” Romney said.
He spoke at length for the first time about his job helping found Bain Capital, the venture capital firm that has been the source of some of the most brutal attacks on him from Democrats.
“So we started a new business called Bain Capital,” Romney said. “The only problem was, while we believed in ourselves, nobody else did. We were young and had never done this before, and we almost didn’t get off the ground.”
Romney offered one of the most coherent explanations he’s provided yet of what the venture capital industry does.
“Some of us had this idea that if we really believed our advice was helping companies, we should invest in companies,” he said. “We should bet on ourselves and on our advice.”
He named some of the successful companies that Bain invested in, including Staples and The Sports Authority. He also talked about an Indiana steel mill in which Bain invested.
“At a time when nobody thought we’d ever see a new steel mill built in America, we took a chance and built one in a cornfield in Indiana,” Romney said. “Today, Steel Dynamics is one of the largest steel producers in the United States.”
Romney also sought to show a more personal side, talking about the role his mother and father played in his life.
“My mom and dad gave their kids the greatest gift of all, the gift of unconditional love,” Romney said. “They cared deeply about who we would be and much less about what we would do.”
Before the prime-time hour that was carried live by the major networks, which included his speech, a video was played for the convention attendees showing Romney playing with his young sons.
Romney also spoke about raising his children.
“Those weren’t the easiest of days — too many long hours and weekends working, five young sons who seemed to have this need to re-enact a different world war every night,” Romney said. “But if you ask Ann and I what we’d give, to break up just one more fight between the boys, or wake up in the morning and discover a pile of kids asleep in our room. Well, every mom and dad knows the answer to that.”
Romney also used that portion of the speech to speak highly of his wife, extolling her role as a mother.
“Those days were toughest on Ann, of course. She was heroic,” Romney said.
“I knew that her job as a mom was harder than mine,” he added, prompting big cheers from the crowd.
Romney also spoke a little about his religion, mostly referring to the community that built up around his church when he was in Massachusetts, far from his family, which still mainly resided in Michigan, where both he and his wife were born and raised.
“Like a lot of families in a new place with no family, we found kinship with a wide circle of friends through our church,” Romney said.
He also joked about his religion when talking about his time at Bain.
“I had thought about asking my church’s pension fund to invest, but I didn’t,” Romney said. “I figured it was bad enough that I might lose my investors’ money, but I didn’t want to go to hell too.”
The crowd chuckled.
“Shows what I know,” he continued. “Another of my partners got the Episcopal Church pension fund to invest. Today, there are a lot of happy retired priests who should thank him.”
Romney also sought to appeal to women — a voting demographic he has struggled with — in discussing his mother.
“When my mom ran for the Senate, my dad was there for her every step of the way,” Romney said. “I can still hear her saying in her beautiful voice, ‘Why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?’”
He played up that he selected a woman as his running mate as governor of Massachusetts, that his chief of staff was a woman and that half of his Cabinet was made up of women.
“Today, women are more likely than men to start a business,” he said, repeating a regular stump-speech line. “They need a president who respects and understands what they do.”
Romney also ventured into foreign affairs, an issue that has remained a weak spot for the GOP nominee.
“President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus, even as he has relaxed sanctions on Castro’s Cuba,” Romney said. “He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments but is eager to give Russia’s President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election. Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty, and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone.”