Republican Convention Showcased Mitt Romney's Character

At the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney came across as both compassionate and competent.

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Mitt Romney delivers his nomination acceptance speech during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

In his acceptance address Thursday night, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney came across as everything Barack Obama is not: humble, plain-spoken, and not interested in personal attacks. No American who watched Thursday night could possibly come away from Romney's speech believing that he is an "extremist," as the Obama campaign would have liked, and no one who heard the Oparowskis, who told of losing their son to cancer shortly after Mitt Romney helped the teenager write his will, could come away believing that Romney is "out of touch" with the struggles of everyday Americans. Every part of Romney's speech last night reinforced that he is a competent, genuine, decent, and compassionate man.

Same with the biographical video of Romney that was shown just before prime time—a terrific telling of Romney's life story through home movies and very moving interviews with people whose lives he has changed for the better—and which should have taken the place of the unscripted Clint Eastwood. The Olympic athletes who spoke earlier in the evening were one of the highlights of the whole week. If the campaign is smart, they'll figure out a way to get that video—as well as Olympians like Rowdy Gaines, Scott Hamilton, Mike Eruzione, and Kim Rhode—in front of as many voters as possible before November. Women like Gov. Susana Martinez, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Kim Rhode were some of the best speakers of the week; I'd get them out on the campaign trail pronto, too.

[See a Slideshow of the 11 Most Memorable Political Convention Speeches.]

Overall, the convention did a great job of setting up the central contrast of this election: that the Democrats may have the rhetoric, but Republicans produce results. Those results in so many Republican-led states are coming from a governing philosophy that is pro-family, pro-small business, and pro-fiscal responsibility. Democrats don't have results they can talk about, and they don't have a governing philosophy with which most voters agree. Barack Obama and Joe Biden have a tough act to follow next week in Charlotte. I don't think voters want to hear any more class warfare rhetoric or character assassination, and that's about all the Democrats have these days.

Clearly the Romney campaign made a decision to focus Thursday night's speech on introducing Romney as a likable person to voters—there were some good lines and charming stories in the address—rather than promoting his vision for the future of our country. That was the biggest missed opportunity of the night. But there's still plenty of time to contrast the Republican agenda for growing the economy with the administration's zeal for growing the government. That's why we have debates.

  • Read Susan Milligan: How the Republican Convention Worked Against Mitt Romney
  • Read Mary Kate Cary: Ann Romney Wins Hearts, Chris Christie Wins Minds
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