Much of Tuesday's session will center on the president's "you didn't build that" comment, in which he said government investments in things like roads and education were in part responsible for the success of businesses. Though Democrats contend its context has been twisted, the comment has become a rallying cry for Romney and the GOP, who say Obama was betraying disdain for entrepreneurs. Speakers will include small-business owners sharing their stories.
Yet his strategists cannot ignore the personal side of Romney, who has to address other challenges, including the so-called gender gap, with Obama leading by a wide margin among women voters in polls, and a GOP deficit with Latino voters.
"Just 'being Romney' hasn't worked that well so far," said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Not only does Romney need to make the case he has the know-how to lead an economic turnaround of the nation, "he's also got to reassure women that all the discussion about abortion and contraception in the last several days doesn't mean he's going to roll back the rights of women."
Last week, those social issues drowned out the economic message of the Romney-Ryan team for several days after the GOP Senate nominee in Missouri, Todd Akin, said women who are victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant. Romney and much of the Republican establishment demanded Akin withdraw, but he has refused. Jillson said Romney also will need to reach out to Hispanics -- who "heard all that harsh rhetoric about illegal immigrants and deportation in the Republican primaries."
Ann Romney, the candidate's wife, will speak about her husband's character on Tuesday -- moved to that night, which also features the keynote speaker, Gov. Christie of New Jersey, because the major networks were not planning to air the Monday session in which she was originally scheduled to speak.
The candidate will be joined by children and grandchildren, and the campaign plans to broach the subject of Romney's Mormon faith -- in particular, the pastoral work he did as a lay bishop in the church, which he has generally avoided discussing.
"We will be having several people who he worked with through his church that he helped in different times in their lives," Schriefer said. "We'll have someone who followed Gov. Romney as a leader in the church, who will talk about what it was like to fill Gov. Romney's shoes in that role."
It is not known if Romney will mention his father when he accepts the nomination, but memories of the man he has called his role model must surely loom large. George Romney, a moderate Republican who was governor of Michigan, ran for president in 1968 only to see his campaign flame out in controversy over the Vietnam War.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is not standing down. The president plans to campaign in Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia during the opposition's party in Tampa. In Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin, the Democrats are staging bus tours this week, highlighting what they say is the certain damage the middle class would suffer under such Romney policies as a plan to replace guaranteed Medicare health benefits with a fixed amount of money for future retirees to buy private insurance.
For its part, Tampa welcomed visitors with U.S. flags, banners, billboards -- and an uncommonly large number of strip clubs. One, the Doll House, advertised a special "Keynote Undress" program for Tuesday night.
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