A few thoughts on tonight's program:
Jeb Bush - Following a tribute to Ronald Reagan and remarks from Newt and Callista Gingrich, the former -- and very popular -- Florida Governor will address delegates. Part of his message will upbraid President Obama for incessantly blaming his predecessor (Bush's brother) for all of the nation's problems.
Personal stories - Convention attendees will hear from individuals Mitt Romney has helped through acts of kindness and generosity over the years. We'll likely hear about Romney's faith life and the active role he's played in the Mormon Church.
Business success - Team Romney is going on offense over Bain, as we reported earlier. We'll be hearing about Bain tonight via testimonials and videos.
Massachusetts tenure - Romney's Lieutenant Governor will describe his leadership, as will an fairly unlikely admirer:
Jane Edmonds is a self-described liberal Democrat, an African-American civil rights activist from Massachusetts who is very likely far from Mitt Romney on most social issues. But that’s not what she’s here to talk about. Edmonds was a Cabinet secretary under Romney when he was governor, and Thursday night she will speak on his behalf at the convention. “I didn’t come here to talk about our differences — I’m not going down that path,” Edmonds said in an interview. “I’m here to talk about my experiences working for him. My friends have asked me why. I adore the guy. I have seen him behind closed doors in Cabinet meetings. I have seen his compassion. I’m at a point in my life that the character of the human being we entrust to be president is important to me. He would make an excellent president.”
Olympic Triumph - Several prominent US Olympians will talk about Romney's stewardship of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Romney inherited an ethical and financial mess in Salt Lake City and transformed the games into an undeniable success.
Clint Eastwood - You heard it here first. My source was absolutely correct. Academy Award-winning actor and director Clint Eastwood will serve as tonight's "surprise" speaker. The A-lister will voice his support for Mitt Romney. If there aren't one or two movie lines woven into this speech, someone should be fired. In all seriousness, Eastwood is a libertarian-leaning guy and an American institution. His speech with garner lots of "soft news" attention, reaching Americans who don't typically pay any attention to politics.
Sen. Marco Rubio - He's a mega-star within the party. His political future is as bright as anyone's on either side of the aisle. He'll introduce his party's nominee here in his home state, explaining the stakes of this election and the exceptional nature of our nation.
Gov. Mitt Romney - Tens of millions of Americans will tune in tonight to see Mitt Romney make the case for himself. This address is personal. He wrote it. The fate of his candidacy partially rests on it. Many Americans don't know too much about Mitt Romney, aside from the campaign ads and the occasional soundbyte. Polls show that most voters trust Romney on economic issues, but aren't sure if they really like him very much. The former governor must strike a tricky balance this evening. He needs to be authentic, trustworthy and personable without forcing the issue. He needs to exude competence and confidence and highlight his very impressive record without coming across as a wealthy braggart. He needs to criticize the president effectively without lingering in negative territory for too long. He needs to express his vision for the future and his principles in a way that convinces people that he has a plan, has the ability to carry it out, and that it will help the country. Tall task, huge stakes.