TAMPA—Mitt Romney accepted the Republican presidential nomination by making an appeal to Americans disappointed in President Barack Obama's tenure in the White House, arguing he can usher in the change Obama promised in 2008 but has failed to deliver.
"Tonight I'd ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he's President Obama?" Romney said. "You know there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done as president when the best feeling you had, was the day you voted for him."
He said Americans "deserved" the "hope and change" that Obama had promised, but because he has failed to keep his promises, he doesn't deserve a second term.
"This president can ask us to be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else's fault. This president can tell us that the next four years he'll get it right," Romney said. "But this president cannot tell us that you are better off today than when he took office. America has been patient. Americans have supported this president in good faith. But today, the time has come to turn the page."
Romney told voters it's time to "put the disappointments of the last four years behind us" and "forget about what might have been and look ahead to what can be."
"Many Americans have given up on this president but they haven't ever thought about giving up. Not on themselves. Not on each other. And not on America," Romney said. "What is needed in our country today is not complicated or profound. It doesn't take a special government commission to tell us what America needs. What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs."
Romney's speech was a bookend to speeches he's given in the 18 months since he launched his second bid for the presidency. But unlike other remarks, Romney spoke at length about his life and his family—telling voters about the "unconditional love" he received from his parents and has tried to pass on to his own kids and grand kids.
"All the laws and legislation in the world will never heal this world like the loving hearts and arms of mothers and fathers," Romney said. "If every child could drift to sleep feeling wrapped in the love of their family--and God's love--this world would be a far more gentle and better place."
Romney's remarks were aimed at humanizing him with voters, who have been openly skeptical of his candidacy. Before he took the stage, aides sought to tell a different story about Romney by having those who know him speak. Friends of the candidate spoke about his Mormon faith and others, including the founder of Staples--the office supply chain that was started with seed money from Bain Capital, a firm Romney founded--attested to his time as a venture capitalist.
But Romney's speech was somewhat overshadowed by a rambling appearance by the actor and director Clint Eastwood, who ad-libbed a skit featuring him speaking to an invisible Obama on the stage. Romney aides had expected Eastwood, who endorsed the candidate last month, to make a short 5-minute speech; they looked anxious as the Hollywood actor's remarks extended past the 10-minute mark.
But Romney won the audience's attention a few minutes later, as he made an entrance from the back of the convention floor, walking through the delegates who excitedly shook his hand. On stage, a singer sang an acoustic version of "Born Free," the Kid Rock song that has become Romney's anthem.
In his speech, Romney repeated the argument he has made against an Obama second term—insisting the president has simply not turned things around. He repeatedly emphasized that his focus would be on creating jobs—reiterating that adding employment hasn't been Obama's focus.
"President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet," Romney said, a line that prompted laughter on the RNC floor. "My promise is to help you and your family."
If elected, Romney vowed to "unleash an economy that will put Americans back to work" and restore "the America we want for our children."
"That future is our destiny. That future is out there. It is waiting for us. Our children deserve it, our nation depends upon it, the peace and freedom of the world require it. And with your help we will deliver it," Romney said. "Let us begin that future together tonight."