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Mitt Romney didn't hit a home run, but he didn't have to. What he did need to do was to introduce himself to the American people who have likely heard very little from him other than at the primary debates. He created a luxury for himself at last night's acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for President. He crafted a week of speakers that stuck to several tightly coordinated themes (as I have written all week, here and here), culminating in the final night of the convention that was a true celebration. By the time he took the stage, it was unnecessary for him to steal the show. All he had to do was to put a bow on the evening and prepare for victory in November.
After months of waiting for the perfect moment to reveal his strategy, it has now become clear that Romney will run his campaign in exactly the same manner as he ran multiple other companies; as CEO. He positioned himself last night as a problem solver and a doer, one who as boss will put the right people in the right places in his organization to get the job done. In the process, he presented a real, human side that had rarely been glimpsed by the voting public.
He was tough when he needed to be. He gave a firm signal to Israel and Iran that we will no longer withhold support for our allies and apologize to our enemies. The line, "Under my presidency our friends will see more loyalty and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone" should be repeated as often in the rest of this campaign as "We Built It".
He was direct when the scripting called for it, by presenting a five point plan to create 12 million jobs. I was particularly gratified by his ultra aggressive announcement that he will open up our vast energy reserves, setting a goal of being completely energy independent within 8 years. He also made a very strong case for school choice. The other three points of the plan were strong international trade, reform and simplification of the tax code and a dedication to cutting the deficit and balancing the budget.
But he also spent a significant amount of time working on areas that we previously haven't seen from him. He let us see a side of him, many facets in fact that until now have gone largely unknown. Romney definitely accomplished the goal of humanizing himself.
Romney, in the process of talking about his family - not just preaching family values as a dictate, but actually demonstrating them - made a strong conservative case why independents should vote Republican. This is a big point for me - it drives me nuts when we refuse to articulate why conservative values make more sense. Romney reached out to independents in many ways, in a manner that was welcoming and loving. He avoided pedantry at all costs. He reached out to women voters, not by pleading with them, or placating them, but by demonstrating his love for his wife and family, and demonstrating how Bain Capital supported women business owners. He did the same for Hispanic and African American voters. This might have been the most effective part of his remarks. Avoiding the potentially phony gesture of a figurative welcoming hand shake, he instead demonstrated how he's actually lived those values.
Romney was definitely upstaged by Rubio, and Ryan for that matter, no question about it. But you know what? That’s ok. His whole theme this week has been that he’s a CEO who puts the right people in the right places to solve problems. The very speaker lineup was another reinforcement of this theme, and I thought it played beautifully. He deferred to the people he hired to make the case and solve the problem, which is a hallmark of leadership.
I have never been a Mitt supporter, and I still think he’s a big government corporatist. But for the first time last night, I was convinced by his message. He sold me on the problem solver argument, and he demonstrated that he sees the deficit and debt as problems to be solved. I am crossing my fingers for his administration … but I think he’s going to accomplish the biggest goal – removing Obama.
Finally, a note about the finale. I was so touched when the Ryan and Romney families were all together on the stage during the balloon drop. Watching the kids have balloon fights and run around acting like children was a very powerful, unscripted scene. Here is one of the 500 pictures I took that shows the happy mayhem that ensued:
In the end, in the manner of a true leader, Romney lived by the quote by Harry Truman, which sat in a frame on Ronald Reagan's desk: "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."