The last night, at the close of the 2012 Republican National Convention, was an extremely good night for Mitt Romney.  He connected.  He was emotional.  He seemed real – a guy that average Americans can relate to.  He showcased his resume so to speak by offering up his personal references.  The most compelling for me were the speeches from members of the LDS church where he served as an elder (or bishop).  Those listening to their personal testimonies heard about a side of Romney that his campaign rarely talks about – his compassion and service to others.  They shared about the hospital visits, raking the elderly’s lawns, and helping people who were in need.  They also shared about the tears that were shed with friends over loss they experienced.

While I certainly don’t agree with his theology.  I came away with a greater respect for him as a person.  It increased his likability in my eyes.  Tonight did much to chip away at the media’s narrative of Romney as a rich, uncaring, stiff corporate raider.

Where was this Mitt Romney before?  Why didn’t they talk about this earlier?

He didn’t run away from his record at Bain Capital either  He highlighted his successes at the company he helped to found.  He had a former partner at Bain speak.  We also were given a greater glimpse of the work he did turning the Olympics around and heard first hand accounts from people who witnessed Mitt Romney in action.  He had two people reference his work as Governor – his former Lt. Governor, and a former member of his cabinet who is a self-identified liberal.  She sasid that Romney was the real deal.

I could have done without Clint Eastwood’s speech performance art as it was quirky and he seemed unprepared (we were later told it was ad lib), but they made a fabulous decision to have Senator Marco Rubio of Florida introduce him.  Mitt Romney last night, however, gave what I thought was his best speech.  He connected with the everyday financial strain that many middle class families face.

You deserved it because you worked harder than ever before during these years.  You deserved it because, when it cost more to fill up your car, you cut out movie nights, and put in longer hours.  Or when you lost that job that paid $22.50 an hour, with benefits, you took two jobs at $9 an hour.

You deserve it because your family depended on you.  And you did it because you are an American, and you don’t quit.  You did it because that was what you had to do.  The driving home late from that second job, or standing there and watching the gas pump hit $50 and still going.  When the realtor told you that to sell your house you’d have to take a big loss on your house.  In those moments, you knew that this just was not right.  But what could you do except work harder, do with less, try to stay optimistic, hug your kids a little longer, maybe spend more time praying tomorrow would be a better day.

I wish President Obama had succeeded, because I want America to succeed.

I said earlier he was emotional and we saw him choke up describing his mom and dad, and how his dad would leave a rose for his dad every day for his mother.  He shared that is how she discovered that he passed away when there was no rose on her bedside table.  I appreciate how he described the work that his wife, Ann, has done raising their children when he was just starting out.

Those weren’t the easiest of days.  Many long hours, and weekends working.  Five young sons who seemed to have a need to reenact a different world war every night, 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.  Those days were the were tough days on Ann, particularly.  She was heroic through it all.  Five boys with our families a long way away.  I had to travel a lot for my job then, and I’d call and try to offer support.  But  every mom knows that that does not help to get the homework done or get the kids out the door to school.  I knew that her job as a mom was harder than mine.  I knew without question that her job as a mom was a lot more important than mine.

Romney, in his speech cast a vision of America’s exceptionalism, and he turned to talk to those disgruntled who voted for Obama:

How many days have you woken up feeling that something really special was happening in America?  Many of you thought the way on election day four years ago.  Hope and change had a powerful appeal.  But tonight I would ask a simple question: if you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t feel that way now, that he is President Obama?  You know there is something wrong with the kind of job he has done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.

He talked about the success that Bain Capital had starting off as a company of 10 employees by helping Staples, Sports Authority and Steel Dynamics.  He contrasted that with President Obama, “These are American success stories, and yet the centerpiece of the president’s entire reelection campaign is attacking success.  Is it any wonder that someone who attacks success has led the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression?  In America, we celebrate success.  We don’t apologize for success.”

He attacked Obama’s record on job creation citing numerous policies like his energy policy and Obamacare that impact jobs.  “His policies have not helped create jobs.  They’ve depressed them.”  In this speech he didn’t talk about lofty ideals, but shared his ideas as well. He went through his five point plan that has been part of his standard stump speech: Energy independence, school choice, new trade agreements, cutting the deficit and working toward balancing the budget, and championing small businesses.

He also promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, not raise taxes, to respect the sanctity of life, to honor the institution of marriage and guarantee our first freedom, religious liberty.  He said, “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans, and to heal the planet.  My promise is to help you and your family.”

Romney pointedly attacked President Obama’s failed foreign policy:

On another front, every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat.  In his first TV interview as president, he said we should talk to Iran.  We are still talking, and Iran’s centrifuges are still spinning.

President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus even as he has relaxed sanctions on Castro’s Cuba.  He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from missile defense commitments, but he’s eager to give Russia’s President Putin the flexibility he desires after the election.

Under my presidency our friends will see more loyalty and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone.

He then had an energetic conclusion:

Everywhere I go there are monuments for those who have given their lives for America.  There is no mention of their race, their party affiliation, or what they did for a living. They lived and died under a single flag, fighting for a single purpose.  They’ve pledge allegiance to the United States of 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 will restore every father and mother’s confidence that their children’s future is brighter even than the past.  That America, that united America will preserve a military that’s so strong no nation will ever dare to test it.

That America, that America, that united America will of uphold the consolation of rights that were endowed by our creator and codified in our Constitution.

That united America will care for the poor and sick, will honor and respect the elderly and will giving a helping hand to those in need.  That America is the best within each of us. That America we want for our children.  If I am elected president of these United States I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future.  That future is our destiny.  That future is out there. It is waiting for us.  Our children deserve it.  Our nation depends on it. The peace and freedom of the world require it.  And with your help we will deliver it.  Let us the begin that future for America tonight.

It was certainly Mitt Romney’s night, and I hope this Mitt Romney sticks around for the rest of the campaign.

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