THE RACE: Long hard road to GOP nomination ending

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By TOM RAUM, Associated Press

The road to the GOP presidential nomination has been long and winding.

But it was ending Tuesday as delegates formally nominate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to challenge President Barack Obama.

It's hard to remember that little over a year ago, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll and appeared to cement her status as the Iowa frontrunner.

But a rotation of frontrunners followed until Romney finally clinched the nomination in the spring and began working to unify a fragmented party.

If the Tampa gathering was the end of one road, it was also a busy intersection where prospective future party leaders and candidates crossed paths with those from the past.

On the hurricane-shortened convention's first full day, Ann Romney was offering a personal, close-up look at her husband while rising GOP star New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was delivering the keynote address.

"This has basically got to be a 20-minute version of the Gettysburg Address or I'm in trouble," Christie joked beforehand.

Rick Santorum, Romney's last serious challenger, had a speaking role, as did Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. John McCain, the 2008 nominee.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and wife Callista had a brief speaking slot Thursday.

Ron Paul was not among the speakers — his choice, he said — nor were Bachmann, Herman Cain or Texas Gov. Rick Perry. But Bachmann and Cain posed for a photo at the convention center.

The caption? "We ain't mad. We support Mitt and Ryan," Cain joked.

Obama mixed campaigning in Iowa and Colorado with warning Gulf Coast residents to heed local authorities as Hurricane Isaac neared land.

"When disaster strikes, we're not Democrats or Republicans first, we are Americans first," he said at Iowa State University.

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Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum. For more AP political coverage, look for the 2012 Presidential Race in AP Mobile's Big Stories section. Also follow https://twitter.com/APCampaign and AP journalists covering the campaign: https://twitter.com/AP/ap-campaign-2012

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