By The Associated Press, Associated Press
Convention Watch shows you the 2012 political conventions through the eyes of Associated Press journalists. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.
NOW THE HARD PART
The balloons are popping, one by one. Just a few white beach balls continue to bop across the floor of the Republican National Convention hall. Delegates are slowly making their way out into the humid Tampa night.
And Mitt Romney — Republican presidential nominee — is heading out on what may be the most challenging 67 days of his life.
In this Florida city, before a national audience, the former Massachusetts governor accomplished quite a bit of what he hoped to do at his convention: He and running mate Paul Ryan focused on the economy and forcefully made the argument that President Barack Obama hasn't been able to fix it. Again and again, they sounded a theme not of anger but of disappointment — disappointment in the way the country is going, disappointment in Obama's performance.
Romney did one other thing: He talked about his life, spoke personally, in front of one of the biggest television audiences he will have for the entire campaign.
He'll get a few other chances — during the debates, especially the first critical one. But whether he managed at this convention to make the elusive but critical connection with voters that he seemed to need remains to be seen.
It's an election that's about the economy, we all tell each other each day. And we're right. But it's also about whom we like the best, trust the most and feel comfortable with.
Now he is a nominee, officially. Out he goes to make his case.
— Sally Buzbee, bureau chief for AP Washington
Mitt Romney says that since the Great Depression, every president seeking a second term — except two — could look back on four years in office and say "you are better off today than you were four years ago."
The two exceptions, says Romney: Democrats Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.
But he left a third name off that list — Republican George H.W. Bush.
Mitt Romney is right that more Americans feel worse off today than feel better off.
In the most recent AP-GfK poll of all adults, 28 percent said they were better off today than four years ago, while 36 percent said they were worse off and 36 percent said they were in about the same financial position.
But the CBS/New York Times poll the October that Bush was seeking re-election found 23 percent of registered voters said they were better off than four years ago, and 36 percent worse off. Forty percent felt about the same.
In August of that year (1992) it was 23 percent better, 34 percent worse, 42 percent about the same, among all adults.
— Jennifer Agiesta — Twitter http://twitter.com/jennagiesta
NO HOLDING BACK
When Hurricane Isaac — now a tropical depression — led Republicans to cancel the convention's first day, many questioned whether it would be smart to tone down the glitz and the glam for the remaining days.
Some even speculated that the GOP might move Mitt Romney's speech to a smaller venue, allowing him to accept his nomination without appearing to party with neighboring states still reeling.
There were no signs that anything was toned down.
Confetti and thousands of balloons rained down on delegates, while images of fireworks appeared behind Romney. Some delegates appeared to be wearing patriotic-themed costumes. Musical performances got the audience riled up.
Although Romney made no mention of Isaac, other speakers did, sending their thoughts and prayers to those suffering. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, in her speech, implored those watching to donate to the Red Cross.
— Josh Lederman — Twitter http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP
THE PLANET, HEALED?
Mitt Romney got a big laugh from his Republican audience when he criticized President Barack Obama for promising Americans that he would "begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet." In contrast, Romney said, "My promise is to help you and your family."