Promising to restore the economy and a unite a divided country, Mitt Romney claimed what eluded him four years ago and his father a generation earlier.
The former Massachusetts governor accepted the nomination for president Thursday night at the Republican National Convention, charging that the promises of President Barack Obama had proved hollow. He argued that his personal and business background equip him to lead the country to a better future.
The nominee, the son of onetime Michigan Gov. George Romney, characterized the general election campaign as presenting a fundamental choice on the future of America.
"Today, the time has come for us to put the disappointments of the last four years behind us," he said, according to a text distributed by his campaign. "To put aside the divisiveness and the recriminations, to forget about what might have been, and to look ahead to what can be."
But he wasn't ready to put the last four years aside just yet, as he assailed the Obama administration as a failed and fumbling steward of the nation's economy.
"How many days have you woken up feeling that something really special was happening in America?" he asked.
"Many of you felt that way on Election Day four years ago. 'Hope' and 'change' had a powerful appeal. But tonight I'd ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he's President Obama? You know there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him."
Repeating the broad prescriptions of his standard stump speech, Mr. Romney offered a five-point program for an economic recovery that he said would create 12 million jobs. He called for energy independence by "taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables"; educational choice; new trade agreements; deficit cutting through a balanced budget," and supporting small business.
"We will champion small businesses, America's engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small business the most. And it means that we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of health care by repealing and replacing Obamacare."
Again targeting the incumbent he hopes to oust in November, he said, "To the majority of Americans who now believe that the future will not be better than the past, I can guarantee you this: If Barack Obama is re-elected, you will be right.
He said he was running to help create a better future. "A future where everyone who wants a job can find one. Where no senior fears for the security of their retirement. An America where every parent knows that their child will get an education that leads them to a good job and a bright horizon."
Republicans in general and Mr. Romney in particular have faced a persistent polling deficit among women, and he added his voice to a refrain during the convention that included tributes by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan to their mothers.
"My mom and dad were true partners," said Mr. Romney, "a life lesson that shaped me by everyday example. When my mom ran for the Senate, my dad was there for her every step of the way. I can still hear her saying in her beautiful voice, 'Why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?' "
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