One day after it officially opened, the Republican National Convention in Tampa kicked into high gear with a full slate of speakers as former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was officially named as the GOP's presidential candidate to take on Barack Obama in November.
The headliners for the evening included New Jersey governor Chris Christie, former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and potential first lady Ann Romney.
Republicans pulled out the old playbook, as Christie went on the attack before Mrs. Romney offered a kinder, gentler vision of America.
Christie hammered away at the the Obama administration, much to the delight of an adoring throng of conservatives at the 20,000-seat Tampa Times Forum.
Obama is scaring seniors with a campaign of misinformation about social security and government sponsored medical programs, according to Christie.
"We believe in telling seniors the truth about our overburdened entitlements...(Democrats) believe seniors will always put themselves ahead of their grandchildren. So they prey on their vulnerabilities and scare them with misinformation for the cynical purpose of winning the next election," said Christie.
"Their plan: whistle a happy tune while driving us off the fiscal cliff, as long as they are behind the wheel of power," he continued.
Echoes of the Tea Party, the fading force that swept a number of conservatives into office two years ago, were heard in Rick Santorum's speech.
Santorum, who was a bitter rival of Romney's in the race for the GOP nod, remains a favorite of the Tea Party - and did his best to steer that support more firmly behind Romney.
"President Obama spent four years and borrowed five trillion dollars, trying to convince you that he could make things better for you ---- to put your trust in him and the government to take care of every problem," Santorum said. "The result -- massive debt, anemic growth and millions more unemployed. The President's plan didn't work for America, because that's not how America works."
Ann Romney's speech may have been the most closely watched address of the night, as Republicans scrambled to win back independent women voters outraged by Missouri Senate candidates Todd Akin's controversial comments about abortion and rape.
Mrs. Romney painted a picture of her husband as a man of integrity and a president who can get the country back on track. A veteran of the campaign trail, Mrs. Romney rose to the defense of husband without being shrill, pointing out that the former governor's success in business has allowed him to make immense charitable contributions.
"He has tried to live his life with a set of values centered on family, faith, and love of one's fellow man," she said. "From the time we were first married, I've seen him spend countless hours helping others. I've seen him drop everything to help a friend in trouble, and been there when late-night calls of panic came from a member of our church whose child had been taken to the hospital."
Other speakers included Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, former Democratic congressman Artur Davis, New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte, Utah congressional candidate Mia Love, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, and U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Walker, along with Christie is known for tackling unions in a state where organized labor remains strong. He has become a Tea Party darling after surviving a recall vote in June and staring down the municipal unions in a fight over payments for benefits.
Unlike Christie, Walker represents a critical swing state in a race that is becoming closer in the polls every day. He took the opportunity to praise Romney for his selection of Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate.
"With the announcement of Paul Ryan as his running mate, Governor Romney not only showed that he has the experience and the skill needed to become president, he showed he has the courage and the passion to be an exceptional president," Walker said.
Just about every speaker spun their own rags-to-riches success stories, and almost every one warned that Obama does not share this vision of the American Dream.
The night's most enduring refrain: "We Built That," a reference to Obama's claim that American business owners did not build successful companies without help from the public sector.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley's parents started a business out of the living room of their home and, "30-plus years later, it was a multi-million dollar company," she said before introducing Ann Romney.
"But there wasn't a single day that was easy and there wasn't a single day my Mom and Dad didn't put everything they had into making that business a success," Haley remarked. "So, President Obama, with all due respect, don't tell me that my parents didn't build their business."
by RTT Staff Writer
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