Political analysts had been harping for so long on Mitt Romney’s speech last night that you couldn’t help but feel apprehensive for him. As they usually do, the politerati’s strident voices insisted that this was make or break for Mitt. He had to show his human side to the nation. He had to succeed. This was his once in a lifetime moment. This was what he had prepared for his whole life.
Well, things are rarely that cut and dried. There are months left to campaign in which anything can happen; some beyond a leader’s control and some he causes himself.
In Romney’s case last night, he met all expectations. He fulfilled every requirement for the presidency.
First, he looked presidential. His entry through the convention crowd was worth every minute spent. It resembled the president’s entrance when he makes the State of the Union address to Congress. That was no accident. At least subconsciously it made you see him in that role.
Then he felt like one of us. He was the husband who recognizes that his wife’s parenting skills outweigh whatever work title he has. He was the son who misses his mom and dad. He was the father who repairs things around the house (I loved the film clip of the too big bulb he replaced over the stove, then blocked with duct tape and paper). He was the breadwinner who wants to make sure his family thrives. He was the man of faith who knows he must live it out as a believer. He was the citizen, outraged at the condition the United States now finds itself in. He was the leader who seeks to change it.
Brilliantly, he contrasted four years ago with today. Romney said he wished Obama had succeeded; that was another riff on Ryan’s portrayal of Obama as a has been who didn’t know what to do. Romney tied Obama to Jimmy Carter, which sets himself up as the Reagan antidote.
One of his best lines quoted Obama’s convention promise to stop the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. As Romney said, let that sink in. No one but a delusional egotist could spit those words out of his mouth. Romney paused and said he just wanted to help Americans. There is nothing better in speeches than using your opponents words to hang him.
Romney went on to sketch his ideas.
First: Get the U.S. energy independent by 2020 by opening up our assets in North America, including the pipeline.
Second: Make sure Americans have the skills they need to get jobs. School choice, he said, is the way.
Third: New trade agreements in which cheaters (like China) would not be tolerated.
Fourth: Cut the deficit and balance the budget.
Fifth: Champion small business by reducing taxes, cutting regulations and repealing Obamacare.
Critics have been quick to say these are all too vague. For many of them, though, hope and change were all they need to know to vote for Obama. In a 40 minute speech details necessarily are limited.
Did Mitt seal the deal? Probably not. I doubt any speech would do that. He moved us a lot closer to victory, though.