Mitt Romney will take the stage at the
Republican Party convention in Tampa, Fla., Thursday to accept the
centre-right party's nomination, but his message is aimed at the
millions of viewers far beyond the hall who will choose the next US
After two full days of speeches aimed at convincing the American public that President Barack Obama's policies have failed and Romney is in the best position to fix the US economy, the man at the centre of it all will finally make his speech.
In 2008 nearly 39 million people watched the convention speeches by Republican John McCain and Democrat Obama and the moment provides a rare uninterrupted broadcast across all major US television networks.
"There's no doubt, however, that Mitt Romney's speech tonight is enormously important - arguably more so than the debates or anything else that is likely to happen between now and November 6," wrote long-time political analyst Charlie Cook.
For Romney, the moment comes five and a half years after he announced his first, failed run for president and he must show voters not only his economic policies, but also his personal side.
Romney gets high marks from potential voters asked by pollsters who is better equipped to lead the economy, but trails Obama in "likeability."
Unemployment, which approached 10 per cent in the aftermath of the 2008-09 recession, remains at 8.3 per cent, while second-quarter economic growth was 1.7 per cent. No US president since World War II has been re-elected with an unemployment rate above 7.2 per cent.
Despite the dire economic statistics, Romney and Obama are virtually tied in polling, though the Republican trails in many of the key so-called swing states that traditionally determine the winner of US presidential elections.
The convention provided the campaign with a chance to re-introduce Romney heading into the last weeks of the presidential campaign. Talk by party leaders and rising stars has focussed on Obama's failures and the need to encourage business and decrease the intrusion of government.
But equally as important was an effort by Romney's wife, Ann, to humanizing a man often seen as aloof. She won wide-spread praise for her remarks Tuesday detailing their life together and addressing head-on criticism of his business and other issues.
Romney himself must continue that task Thursday.
"It's important to connect emotionally," former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the brother of former president George W Bush and son of the elder Bush president, told ABC News. "That gives you the chance to allow people in ... he has to do that for sure."
Meanwhile, Obama will be formally nominated by his Democratic Party to seek a second term next week and will seek to win voters through his own high-profile address.
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