Mitt Romney prepares for his speech with stage crews before the start of… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)
TAMPA, Fla. -- Mitt Romney tonight will cast the presidency of Barack Obama as one that promised hope but ultimately delivered failure, and appeal to the nation to “put the disappointments of the last four years behind us” by supporting his candidacy in November.
In a highly anticipated speech accepting his party’s nomination for president, Romney will call the optimism that greeted Obama’s presidency “uniquely American,” but then challenge the nation to reconcile that with its current doubt about the future.
“ ‘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?” Romney will ask, according to excerpts released by his campaign. “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.”
PHOTOS: The protests of the GOP convention
The speech, to be delivered after 10 p.m. EST from Tampa, is seen as a pivotal moment for the former Massachusetts governor, meant to serve as a springboard for his candidacy in the fall campaign. It’s his greatest opportunity to date for an unfiltered message to a broad electorate.
The emphasis on a theme of a disappointment is in contrast to a series of speeches earlier at the three-day convention that were harsh indictments of the president’s leadership and policies.
For the candidate himself, the speech also serves as an opportunity to tell his own story on his terms, after a summer of Democratic attacks on his record in business and government.
And notably he will emphasize the role of strong women in his life, as polls show a significant gender gap that accounts for the narrow lead Obama holds in most polling.
Reflecting on the influence his mother had on him, Romney will note the cavalcade of female leaders who have spoken at the Republican convention, including Govs. Nikki Haley, Susana Martinez and Mary Fallin, Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
He’ll also note that in his term as governor, he selected women for the posts of lieutenant governor and chief of staff and that “half of my cabinet and senior officials were women, and in business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies.”
Romney, who has been reluctant in the past to discuss his faith, will also reflect on his Mormon background and his work at Bain Capital, calling the enterprise “a great American success story,” before turning to his promise to reignite the nation’s economy.
PHOTOS: Paul Ryan's past
“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 reelected, you will be right,” he will say.
“If I am elected president of these United States, I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future. That future is our destiny. That future is out there. It is waiting for us. Our children deserve it, our nation depends upon it, the peace and freedom of the world require it. And with your help we will deliver it. Let us begin that future together tonight.”