TAMPA, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Lifted by a show of Republican unity that once seemed so distant, Mitt Romney plunged into the presidential campaign’s final 67 days focused more than ever on jobs and the economy, and depicting President Barack Obama as a well-meaning but inept man who must be replaced.
“America has been patient,” he told the nation. “Americans have supported this president in good faith. But today, the time has come to turn the page.”
Romney formally accepted the Republican nomination for president Thursday night at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Romney received a standing ovation as he entered the convention hall for the biggest speech of his life and wasted little time making his nomination official.
He capped a high-energy night closing the convention with a spirited and unusually personal speech infused with his family life, touching on his Mormon faith and recounting his youth.
“My mom and dad were true partners,” he said. “A life lesson that shaped me by everyday example.”
The cheers were loud and frequent, surely music to the ears of a candidate who struggled throughout the bruising primary season and beyond to bury doubts among many in his party that he was the authentic conservative in the field.
“Now is the time to restore the promise of America,” Romney declared to a nation struggling with unemployment and the slowest economic recovery in decades.
Romney avoided the topic of terrorism and wars in Islamic countries, which bedeviled President George W. Bush’s final years and helped launch Obama’s career. In his big speech Thursday, Romney did not mention Iraq, Afghanistan or terrorism.
But local delegates who were at the convention gave high marks to presidential nominee’s speech.
“I loved the speech,” delegate Jim McCracken from Freehold told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “Fun night, everybody’s leaving here electrified.”
“It was unbelievable. Totally exceeded my expectations,” said delegate Jen Giatino from Hoboken. “He really brought it home to this country.”
While the delegates cheered for Romney, it was Clint Eastwood’s conversation with an empty chair that got some of the biggest reaction on Twitter.
Eastwood carried on a kooky, long-winded conversation with an imaginary President Obama, telling him that he failed to deliver on his promises, and it’s time for Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, to take over.
Meanwhile, Obama, who will hold his own convention next week, served notice that he will use his powers of incumbency to make Romney’s mission hard.
His campaign issued a morning-after critique of Romney’s speech that faulted the GOP nominee for skipping over failings in his record on job-creation as Massachusetts governor and for not being up-front with voters about details of his economic plans that Obama says would reduce taxes for the wealthy and increase burdens on the middle class.
“Thursday was Mitt Romney’s big night to tell America his plans for moving forward, yet he chose not to,” the Obama campaign’s web video says.
Polls suggest a to-the-wire campaign finish. The two men will spend the next 10 weeks in a handful of competitive states, none more important than Florida and Ohio, and meet in one-on-one debates where the stakes could hardly be any higher.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)