Although he isn’t yet the official nominee, Mitt Romney kicked off his presidential campaign in earnest today, effectively accepting the Republican nomination for president this evening after easily winning all five GOP primary contests over Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul as he said, “A better America begins tonight”.
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Romney looked like a new man… a man to beat, not a man catching-up with an incumbent. “It is still about the economy and we’re not stupid” Romney said with the sound and look of a solid presidential candidate to the cheers from visibly encouraged supporters. Ann Romney did the introductions for her husband, as has become customary before his speeches and she also looked confident as she shared how grateful she was for the support and prayers of so many she has heard from. She also looked ready for the journey; and looking and sounding like someone who loves and is proud of America instead of someone, like Michelle Obama, who stated in the 2008 campaign the election of her husband was the first time in her life that she was proud of America.
Romney added that “tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years” . He urged everyone to hang on just a little longer… until he was elected.
After sweeping all five primaries tonight and no longer having a serious opponent after Santorum dropped out, Romney’s shift to focus on the general election makes sense. Since Santorum exited the contest earlier this month, Romney has assumed the mantle of presumptive GOP nominee. Santorum’s endorsement is considered imminent by most.
Rep. Ron Paul (TX) will hang in to the end. He is $2 million in the black and continuing to collect delegates. Former Speaker Gingrich (GA) is barely hanging on with a near $5 million debt looking for a way to make a graceful exit and still try to have some input at the GOP convention. The former Massachusetts governor made clear in his address this evening that he is embracing victory, even if some of his opponents refuse to concede defeat.
From the sound of Romney’s speech tonight he intends to run a campaign on real hope and change and focus on the positives of his vision and experience for America and the negative details of Obama’s abysmal record, while Team Obama has already shown their hand and plan to run a negative campaign using Alinsky-style mud-slinging since President Obama can’t run on his record or his former slogan of hope and change.
Tonight’s speech and shift to the general election was expected when earlier this week Mitt Romney began to pivot to swing voters — ever so slightly as he campaigned with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at stops like Mustang Expediting on April 23, 2012 in Aston, Pennsylvania, where he said he was open to “studying” Marco Rubio’s DREAM Act alternative as an option. But, he has endorsed Paul Ryans’s budget plan and is reaching out to the tea party as well as American’s of all affiliations and walks of life for their input.
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Romney also sharpened his attack on Obama saying the past few years were the best Obama can do but not the best America can do. A line Juan Williams seized on during the after-speech quarterbacking on Fox News.
Here are some highlight from Romney’s ‘A Better America’ Speech:
The address included the unveiling for a number of themes likely to re-emerge throughout the campaign against Obama. Romney attempted to turn the president’s “fairness” message against him, arguing that the commander in chief’s dismal record has led to a condition of “unfairness” for millions of Americans.
Among the more memorable lines from Romney’s speech were “A better America begins tonight” and “It’s still about the economy, and we’re not stupid.” as mentioned above.
The Obama campaign quickly responded with a statement charging that Romney wants to return the country “to the same policies that got us into the economic crisis in the first place.”
“Tonight is the start of a new campaign to unite every American who knows in their heart that we can do better,” Romney said. “The last few years have been the best that Barack Obama can do, but it’s not the best America can do. Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years and the start of a new and better chapter that we will write together.”
“In the days ahead, I look forward to spending time with many of you personally,” Romney continued. “I want to hear what’s on your mind, hear about your concerns and learn about your families. I want to know what you think we can do to make this country better and what you expect from your next president. And I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I’ll probably start out talking about my wonderful wife, Ann — I usually do — and I’ll probably bore you with stories about our kids and grandkids.”
The Obama campaign, meanwhile, moved to their favorite trick in an attempt to tie Romney to President George W. Bush and charged Romney with misrepresenting the president’s record.
“The title for Gov. Romney’s speech tonight should have been ‘Back to the Future,’ because he has proposed a return to the same policies that got us into the economic crisis in the first place,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “We have tried those policies before. They didn’t unleash growth, they didn’t spur job creation and they didn’t boost the middle class. And while Mitt Romney praised those policies in 2004, they led to a recovery that produced seven times fewer private sector jobs than the president’s policies, despite a significantly milder recession compared to the one the president faced coming into office.”
I’ll get a transcript of the speech up when I find it; it’s not yet up on Mitt Romney’s campaign site.
We now have the candidates for the 2012 Election and we have a clear choice of candidates and for America’s future. This election will be a choice between two candidates, two records and two visions for our country!