Sally Buzbee, AP Washington bureau chief on assignment in Tampa, Fla., sums up the Republican National Convention on its closing evening:
The balloons are popping, one by one. Just a few white beach balls continue to bop across the floor of the Republican National Convention hall. Delegates are slowly making their way out into the humid Tampa night.
And Mitt Romney — Republican presidential nominee — is heading out on what may be the most challenging 67 days of his life.
In this Florida city, before a national audience, the former Massachusetts governor accomplished quite a bit of what he hoped to do at his convention: He and running mate Paul Ryan focused on the economy and forcefully made the argument that President Obama hasn't been able to fix it. Again and again, they sounded a theme not of anger but of disappointment — disappointment in the way the country is going, disappointment in Obama's performance.
Romney did one other thing: He talked about his life, spoke personally, in front of one of the biggest television audiences he will have for the entire campaign.
He'll get a few other chances — during the debates, especially the first critical one. But whether he managed at this convention to make the elusive but critical connection with voters that he seemed to be remains to be seen.
It's an election that's about the economy, we all tell each other each day. And we're right. But it's also about who we like the best, trust the most and feel comfortable with.
Now he is a nominee, officially. Out he goes to make his case.
— Sally Buzbee
EDITOR'S NOTE — Convention Watch shows you the 2012 political conventions through the eyes of Associated Press journalists. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.