TAMPA, Fla. (CBSNewYork) — It’s the grand finale of the Republican National Convention. Mitt Romney will accept his party’s nomination Thursday night. Earlier in the day, the presidential nominee took the stage for a final walk through in preparation to deliver the biggest speech of his life.
Romney was set to go for the whole enchilada on Thursday night. The speech marked his big opportunity to reintroduce himself to the American people, counteract the negative ads that have filled the air waves and convince people he can fix what ails this country. And as CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported, just about everyone in Tampa had advice on how he should do it.
They wore their hopes on their sleeves and on their heads, wacky hats, Abraham Lincoln costumes, political buttons and glittery elephant paraphernalia, some going back decades to the glory days of Ronald Reagan. But it was all the run-up to the big event: Romney’s pitch to the nation that he’s the right man for the job.
“Let them see the true person that he is and I think that Americans are going realize that he can lead this country from the brink. People are scared right now,” Rep. Michael Grimm said.
“Mitt Romney has to say ‘Mr. Obama, you have failed the American people. Your promises have not been kept. The unemployment rate hasn’t gone down. The deficit has increased,’” former U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato said.
“I think he just has to be himself. I think he has to tell the country what his plan is, that he’s turned around really awful situations many, many times before in his life,” RNC delegate and President of the New York Yankees Randy Levine added.
Concern about the Mitt speech didn’t stop on the convention floor. They talked about it when they partied and when they ate. What many like is Romney’s call for tax cuts.
“Somebody has to step up to the plate and create the jobs and it’s not going to be government. A job created by government is a tax on everybody else,” delegate John Catsimatidis said.
“When we have the worst recovery since World War II we desperately need to have the incentives in place for people to invest and grow this economy. Who cares how much people are making at the top if people at the bottom are getting good jobs and making good money,” Rick Lazio added.
Political experts looked at it another way.
“He has to put something on the table that people can get their arms around and touch. Taxes are a good thing to talk about. You’re trying to reach middle class suburban voters,” Hofstra University professor Larry Levy said.
Some New Yorkers said they have far simpler demands.
“I’m more excited tonight because we will meet the future president of the United States of America,” said Myma Littlewort of Elmhurst.
“I want to hear him. I never really heard him speak. I want to see his personality,” added Margaret Ognibene of Middle Village, Queens.
And so does the rest of the country.
Before Romney even takes the stage, his big night in the national spotlight could be overshadowed by a mystery guest slated to speak ahead of the presidential candidate.
Rumors had been swirling since Monday about the identity of the mystery speaker — who is listed as “To Be Announced” on the official RNC schedule. The surprise guest is expected to be Clint Eastwood.
Earlier a long list of potential speakers had been thrown around by various media outlets. Included on that list were Sarah Palin, Nancy Reagan and even Capt. Chesley ”Sully” Sullenberger, among many others.
Tim Tebow was also named as a contender, but according to a New York Daily News reporter, Tebow was to be at the Jets-Eagles game Thursday night.
Before the convention comes to a close, Cardinal Timothy Dolan will deliver the benediction.
He said he’s honored and looking forward to it.
“I’m speaking to God, of course, on behalf of America and on behalf of the Republican [National] Convention as I will with the Democrats,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Rich Lamb.
Dolan will also be giving the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
If history is a guide, viewership of Romney’s speech Thursday and President Obama’s address to his Democratic convention next week will be surpassed only by the audience for their coming debates.
Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …