Donald Lambro
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has to do two things really well at his convention: Lay out in dramatic terms how bad the Obama economy is, and demonstrate that he is the candidate who can fix it.

After Monday's front-page Washington Post/ABC News poll showing more than 80 percent of Americans now say the economy is poor, and 70 percent who say our country is seriously off-track, Romney's convention has to send that failed economy message into the minds of TV viewers and nail it to the door of Obama's Oval Office.

This will be the clarion call coming out of Tampa and from podium-pounding Republican Party leaders that will dominate just about every speech, video and interview. Romney and his vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan will make the recession-leaning economy the centerpiece of their addresses that will set and shape the course of the rest of the presidential campaign.

It's a message -- if it's delivered strongly and maybe even angrily -- that will reach a receptive electorate. The Post/ABC poll found that 72 percent of Americans say Obama's handling of the economy will be "a major factor" in their vote. Not Romney's tax returns, not abortion, not Bain Capital, not "Mediscare" ads, but Barack Obama's mishandling of the economy.

Not only does Romney have to lay out how bleak our country's future is under Obama's incompetent economic stewardship, he must also convince undecided swing voters he is uniquely qualified -- after a lifelong career of creating jobs -- to restore our economy to robust health.

And he has a great, uplifting story to tell that will be related at the convention about his success as a capital investor who has turned around dozens of mismanaged, failing or struggling businesses into major job-creators.

Unlike the remedial occupant of the White House, who had no executive experience and has never even run a lemonade stand, Romney knows how to manage and how to lead, how to grow businesses and make a profit to boot. As governor of Massachusetts,, he balanced its budget every four years and left office with unemployment at 4.7 percent. This is not a guy who failed Economics 101.

Despite the profound economic problems we face that have made Americans pessimistic about the future, Romney has to present an inspiring message of hope that things will get better with the right policies.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.