MITT ROMNEY has been formally declared as the Republican Party’s nominee for the US Presidency, officially lining him up as the main challenger to Barack Obama in November’s presidential election.
In a count that offered a subtle reminder of the often bitter nature of the Republican primary process – and the skills needed to overcome it – Romney formally won the support of 2,061 delegates – with a mere 125 members staying loyal to sidelined candidates or choosing not to vote.
Romney himself only appeared briefly on the first day of convention business – joining his wife Ann on stage at the end of her own keynote address to delegates at the weather-curtailed three-day event in Tampa.
Mrs Romney’s speech was a rallying cry to the party’s female members to back her husband – telling them that they could learn to love him just as she had as a teenager.
“It’s the moms of this nation — single, married, widowed — who really hold this country together,” Mrs Romney said.
We’re the mothers. We’re the wives. We’re the grandmothers. We’re the little sisters, we’re the big sisters. We’re the daughters. [...]
You are the best of America. You are the hope of America. There would not be an America without you. Tonight we salute you and sing your praises.
Mrs Romney’s speech also looked to address the concerns of some Republicans that Romney’s wealth, built through a career in asset management and financial services – meant he was out of touch with the welfare of lower earners.
“As his partner on this amazing journey, I can tell you Mitt Romney was not handed success,” Ann said. “He built it.”
Delegates also heard from New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who argued that Romney did not require mass public appeal in order to be an effective leader.
Popularity was not more important than respect, he claimed, saying the courage to make responsible decision-making was more important than retaining public sympathy.
Romney himself will address the convention on Thursday night. Obama himself will formally be named as the Democratic Party’s nominee at the Democratic convention in two weeks’ time.