Romney enters home stretch for presidency

Romney enters home stretch for presidency

TAMPA, Florida
Romney enters home stretch for presidency

Republican Mitt Romney (3rd L) and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and their families wave from the stage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida. AFP photo

Republican Mitt Romney, in the most important speech of his presidential campaign, told a television audience of millions that Barack Obama had failed to deliver on his soaring promises of hope and change and that it is time for new leadership during tough times in America.

Romney accepted the Republican presidential nomination on Aug. 30, casting himself as the best hope to lift the struggling U.S. economy and “restore the promise of America.” He outlined lofty goals, making the U.S. energy independent, slashing the deficit, and creating 12 million jobs, though said little about how he would achieve them.

“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,” he said. “I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed.”

His speech marked the climax of the three-day Republican National Convention and a milestone in his long, often-rocky quest for the presidency. Four years ago, he was defeated by John McCain in his bid for the nomination. This year, he had to fend off a series of Republican challengers, questions about his shifting positions and mutterings about his Mormon religion.

The ultimate prize, the White House, will be determined in a November vote. Polls show Romney and Obama in a dead heat with the economy the biggest issue in the campaign. The United States is struggling with 8.3 percent unemployment and the slowest economic recovery in decades.

Romney noted excitement over Obama’s promises from his campaign four years ago “gave way to disappointment and division.”

Israel, Russia criticism

“You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him,” he said.

While polls show voters view Romney, a multimillionaire former businessman, as more capable of fixing the economy, they find Obama to be more honest and likable. Romney offered details of his family life, recounting his youth as a Mormon, the son of parents devoted to one another, then a married man with five rambunctious sons. He choked up at least twice, including when he recalled how he and wife Ann would awake to find “a pile of kids asleep in our room.”

Before Romney’s speech, church members warmly presented Romney as a compassionate man who lives his Mormon faith of service. Romney is the first Mormon nominee of a major U.S. political party.
Veering from the speech’s focus on domestic affairs, Romney said Obama had failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat, abandoned Poland by changing missile defense plans, and has “thrown allies like Israel under the bus.” He said Obama is “eager to give Russia’s President [Vladimir] 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,” he said.

Eastwood lectures empty chair

TAMPA, Florida - Agence France-Presse

Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood made a bizarre cameo at the Republican convention, veering into a surreal conversation with an imaginary President Barack Obama represented by an empty chair.

Eastwood looked down several times at the empty chair, as if he was listening to Obama criticize Republican presidential nominee Romney, whom Eastwood has endorsed. “He can’t do that to himself. You’re absolutely crazy!” the actor/director responded.

Eastwood spoke about how he had been moved by Obama’s message of hope and change in 2008, but then grew disillusioned by failed policies and Obama’s inability to reduce the unemployment rate below eight percent.

Obama himself got into the act, tweeting “This seat’s taken” to his 19 million followers and attaching a link to a fundraising web page.