Mitt Romney's National Debut Solid, but Was It Convincing?

Republican Candidate Meets His Party's Expectations at End of Convention

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TAMPA, Fla. -- After a decidedly odd guest appearance by Clint Eastwood last night, Mitt Romney made his big debut as the Republican party's candidate for president.

By the end of his speech, Mr. Romney -- who always seemed the inevitable nominee yet never the favorite choice of many Republican primary voters -- seemed to have accomplished his goal of uniting his party (save for a few Ron Paul holdouts) and introducing himself to the country.

Much was made throughout the week about "humanizing" Mr. Romney. Whether or not that is necessary in an election predominantly about the economy and against an opponent who, while likable, is not exactly affable, the Republicans got the job done with the help of wife Ann Romney, numerous speeches from fellow Mormons who he helped through tough times when he was a pastor, and an introductory documentary that showed the candidate as a relaxed family man.

Trying to channel the spirit of Ronald Reagan's convention speeches while making his own case against President Barack Obama, Mr. Romney dwelled on American optimism, noting that the majority of Americans were still hoping for change -- times that never came under the Obama administration. Mr. Romney asked attendees to walk with him toward a "better future" that Americans "deserved."

"I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed," he said. "But his promises gave way to disappointment."

"Now is the moment when we can stand up," Mr. Romney told the crowd, "and say, 'I'm an American. I make my destiny. And we deserve better! My children deserve better! My family deserves better! My country deserves better!"

Maintaining the GOP's effort to counter the Democratic narrative that the Republicans have "declared a war on women," Mr. Romney made a point to mention the strength of his mother, who ran for Senate, and remind viewers of the string of Republican women who spoke earlier in the week.

The second half of his speech was a sustained attack on President Obama's record. "To the majority of Americans who now believe that the future will not be better than the past," he said, "I can guarantee you this: if Barack Obama is re-elected, you will be right."

He pounded particularly hard on the president's lack of business experience adding that the administration too often "attacked success."

"In American we celebrate success, we don't apologize for success," he said, bringing the crowd to its feet.

He even made mention of Steve Jobs and the fact that the Apple founder was fired by the company before coming back to change the world.

Obviously, it remains to be seen whether Mr. Romney convinced undecided voters. Whatever one makes of the speech, it might have been a finish line for the convention, but it's just the start of what will be a grueling race.

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