Republicans crowned Mitt Romney their presidential nominee as his wife Ann sold their wholesome family and sweetheart love story to US voters in a prime-time convention speech.
Romney took to the stage on Tuesday at a packed convention center in Tampa, Florida, to proffer a polite thank-you kiss as part of a carefully choreographed attempt to reintroduce the sometimes awkward candidate as a loving family man.
The 65-year-old multimillionaire businessman will formally take up the nomination with his all-important acceptance speech today, the climax of three days of rousing convention addresses by party grandees and rising stars.
Romney lies neck-and-neck with Democratic candidate US President Barack Obama in national polls ahead of a November election that should be the challenger’s for the taking, given the sour economy and stubbornly high unemployment.
Romney’s campaign has been eager to promote the gregarious, 63-year-old Ann as a conveyer of the family story, a mission intended to humanize a candidate who trails Obama badly in terms of likability and can come across as stiff.
She delivered her side of the bargain, blending a targeted pitch to vital women voters with a personal narrative about Mitt Romney that dwelt largely on their all-American love story, their wholesome family and his winning attitude.
“This man will not fail,” Ann Romney said in an address beamed live into US living rooms just 10 weeks before voters go to the polls. “This man will not let us down. This man will lift up America.”
After a series of wealth-related gaffes during the campaign, she invoked their love story as high-school sweethearts as she sought to portray them as an everyday couple who shared hardships just like other Americans.
“It has been 47 years since that tall, kind of charming young man brought me home from our first dance. Not every day since has been easy, but he still makes me laugh,” she said. “You can trust Mitt ... He loves America. He will take us to a better place, just as he took me home safely from that dance.”
Earlier, in a state-by-state roll call of delegates on the convention floor that reflected the results of the Republican primary elections, Romney soared past the 1,144 threshold to formally earn the nomination, but an ABC NewsWashington Post poll released late on Tuesday found that Romney still lags in favorability, with 40 percent viewing him “favorably overall,” while 51 percent view him as unfavorable.