Republican delegates on Tuesday nominated Mitt Romney as their pick to unseat President Barack Obama, formalizing their choice of a candidate who is widely perceived as the one best suited to restore the economy, the top issue for voters.
The result of the roll call of states was not a surprise: Romney locked up the nomination in May following a series of state-by-state primary elections and caucuses. Still, it finally gave him the prize that eluded him four years ago. Romney is scheduled to accept his party's nomination in a speech Thursday night.
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Conventions are among the most closely watched events in the campaign, allowing the candidates to lay out their visions directly to millions of television viewers and marking the start of the final stretch in the marathon presidential race.
Texas delegation in Tampa, Florida (Photo: EPA)
The Republican gathering, followed by next week's Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, comes as opinion polls show the presidential race about even, with each candidate possessing distinct and important advantages: Obama is the more likable or empathetic leader; Romney is a former businessman more highly regarded as the candidate who can fix the economy.
Polls have shown that the election will probably be decided by a razor-thin margin, with voters casting ballots primarily on their views of which candidate can create more jobs and boost the slow US economic recovery.
The convention, originally scheduled over four days, was cut down to a three-day affair because of the threat from what is now Hurricane Isaac. Monday's planned opening was symbolic and over in minutes.
The highlights of Tuesday's session were the keynote address by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a star of the party seen as a likely future presidential candidate, and the speech by Romney's wife, Ann. Both spoke during prime television time when all the major networks were airing the convention live.
"Leadership matters," Christie said. "It's time to end this era of absentee leadership in the Oval Office and send real leaders to the White House."
Ann Romney. 'He won't let us down.' (Photo: AFP)
Ann Romney's speech was meant to cast her husband, lampooned by comedians as robotic and denounced by Democrats as lacking compassion, in a soft and likable light. Romney was in the hall for her speech.
She lovingly talked of her 43-year marriage, noting her own experiences battling muscular sclerosis and breast cancer. She described her husband as a man who wakes up every day determined to solve the problems that others say can't be solved.
"This man will not fail," she said. "This man will not let us down."
Republicans have been increasingly energized and influenced by the anti-tax, small-government tea party movement, whose members tend to see political moderation and compromise as akin to betrayal.
Romney thrilled conservatives by naming one of their favorites, congressman Paul Ryan, as his vice presidential running mate.
Romney's acceptance speech Thursday night will be the highlight of the convention. Ryan delivers his acceptance speech Wednesday.
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