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TAMPA — Shaking off the gloom of a hurricane, the Republican National Convention embraced former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as its nominee on Tuesday night.
Mr. Romney’s wife of 43 years, Ann, then tried to introduce America to a more sympathetic picture of her husband than has emerged so far in a brutal and negative campaign for the presidency.
“No one will work harder. No one will care more and no one will move heaven and Earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live,” Mrs. Romney said. “He still makes me laugh and never once did I have single moment of doubt that I was the luckiest woman in the world.”
Wearing a red dress, and speaking with animated gestures, Mrs. Romney praised the women of the country as working a little harder than the men to help their children.
She said she and Mr. Romney married before they were really ready to, but “we didn’t care.” She portrayed their early life as one of eating tuna and pasta, living with makeshift furniture, and working hard and worryng about whether his business — the future venture investment firm Bain Captial — would succeed, while raising five sons.
Transcripts of key note speakers:
She suggested Mr. Romney is being attacked for his business success because of the lack of success of the current administration.
“And let’s be honest. If the last four years had been more successful, do we really think there would be this attack on Mitt Romney’s success?”
“You can trust Mitt,” she said. “He will take us to a better place, just as he took me home safely from that dance.”
The convention completed its formal business of voting to nominate Mr. Romney and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for president and vice president in an afternoon session on Tuesday, setting the stage for Mr. Romney’s acceptance speech on Thursday.
The convention was under Florida sunshine after days of high winds and rain produced by Tropical Storm and then Hurricane Isaac barreling toward the north Gulf Coast that had delegates stuck in their hotels.
Mr. Romney, and his budget hawk running mate, Mr. Ryan of Wisconsin, will take on Democratic incumbents President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who will get their convention nomination next week in Charlotte, N.C.
Mr. Romney arrived in Tampa on Tuesday, but stayed out of sight for a long time, letting Mrs. Romney have the spotlight in the convention hall that was filled with delegates and journalists. At the end of her speech, Mr. Romney came out and escorted her off the stage.
The convention officially got under way Tuesday, with the theme “We Built It,” and speakers attacked what they saw as burdensome regulations and a dangerous growing national debt.
Delegates responded with roars to each jab at President Obama and each reference to the party’s new nominee — even though a loyal contingent of U.S. Rep Ron Paul contingents cheered just as hard as minority chunks of votes were announced for him.
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Ohio Gov. John Kasich spoke for Ohio, casting all 66 of its delegates for Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan.
Mr. Kasich used his moment during the “Roll Call of the States” to brag about Ohio as home of eight presidents, inventors Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers, and astronauts John Glenn and “the incredible Neil Armstrong,” who died on Saturday.
Mr. Armstrong was a registered Republican, while Mr. Glenn was a Democratic U.S. senator from Ohio.
Mr. Kasich said Ohio leads the Midwest in job creation and is fourth in America — points he elaborated in his speech to the convention about two hours later.
Mr. Romney’s brother, G. Scott Romney, of Michigan, announced Michigan’s delegate count of 24 for Mr. Romney and six for Rick Santorum, in a speech that highlighted Mr. Romney’s birth and their father, George Romney’s service as governor.
“We take great pride in being the home state of Governor Romney and the Romney family,” G. Scott Romney said, just moments after Massachusetts boasted of being the home state of Mr. Romney. Mr. Romney lives in Massachusetts where he was governor one term, 2003 to 2007.
Mr. Romney’s count was 2,061 out of 2,286 votes, well over the 1,144 needed to secure the nomination.
After the roll call, Mr. Ryan, a Congressman from Wisconsin, was nominated by acclamation.
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Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who also spoke, said the lessons he learned about honest talk and hard work from his tough Italian-born mother prepared him to turn around his state’s economy and face down public employee unions in the process.
“Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to put us back on the path to growth and create good-paying private sector jobs again in America,” Mr. Christie said. “It’s time to end this era of absentee leadership in the Oval Office and send real leaders to the White House.”
Mr. Kasich later spoke to the convention, his third such opportunity, bragging of Ohio’s economic growth since he said he inherited a rainy day fund of 89 cents in 2011.
“In Ohio, instead of credit going down the drain, our credit outlook has been improved because it has been recognized that we are managing our finances and creating jobs. Over those last four years we lost 400,000 jobs, In Ohio today we have grown new jobs by 122,000,” Mr. Kasich said.
He said the success of those families is threatened by the policies of President Obama and rising national debt.
“His regulations have had a smothering effect on businesses, and it has paralyzed the job creators. Folks, this is the wrong philosophy, these are the wrong policies, and we need a new leader,” Mr. Kasich said.
He lauded Mr. Romney as a great governor, a successful business creator, and a “natural leader.”
The Ohio Democratic Party responded to Mr. Kasich’s speech by saying the economic recovery started under his Democratic predecessor, Ted Strickland, and that it was due in large part to the 2009 auto industry rescue that Mr. Kasich didn’t support.
“The American auto industry is helping to spur growth across Ohio because President Obama and Senator Sherrod Brown [D., Ohio] ignored the pundits and politicians like Mitt Romney and John Kasich and invested in American workers,” said state Democratic chairman Chris Redfern.
Also attacking the Kasich speech was Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, a likely Democratic candidate for governor in 2014.
“Like many states in our great nation, Ohio was hit hard by the recession and financial crisis,” Mr. FitzGerald said, “President Obama threw Ohio a lifeline, while Governor Kasich made a tough situation even tougher.”
Douglas Laumann, 70, of Maumee, one of Ohio’s delegates, said he was chosen as a Rick Santorum delegate but was happy his vote went to Mr. Romney.
“He released us. Romney’s a good second,” said Mr. Laumann, a retired Jeep assembly plant supervisor.
“This is my last chance to get one of these in,” Mr. Laumann said about his first trip to a convention as he munched a hot dog on convention floor almost directly under the dais where all the speeches were taking place.
The two choicest sets of seats in the Tampa Bay Times Forum belonged to the Michigan and Ohio delegations, highlighting the Romney campaign’s fervent wish to carry his native state and the necessity of carrying Ohio, which has been won by every successful Republican presidential candidate.
The convention’s first night showcased some of the party’s stars and a number of popular entertainers as well.
The stage featured more ethnic and racial diversity than appeared to be the case of the overwhelmingly white delegations. Among those speaking was Ludmya “Mia” Love, an African American Republican candidate for Congress from Utah, and Sher Valenzuela, Delaware candidate for lieutenant governor whose husband, Eli, is Latino.
Entertainers included country singers Oak Ridge Boys, who performed “Amazing Grace,” and actress Janine Turner. Guitarist G.E. Smith, formerly musical director of Saturday Night Live, led a band in a rocking sound track to the patriotic and pro-business content of the speeches and videos.
Contact Tom Troy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.