Romney hopes the speech will give him a bounce in the polls and help propel him to the White House, but President Obama next week will make his case to the nation during the Democratic National Convention. Conventions typically produce poll bounces for each candidate.
Introduced by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R.-Fla., Romney entered the arena by walking through the crowd, shaking hands and giving high fives before walking up the platform steps and taking the podium.
Apparently seeking to attract voters who sided with Obama in 2008, Romney indicated he had cheered for the president to do well.
"Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president," Romney said. "That president was not the choice of our party but Americans always come together after elections. ... I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn't something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we can do something. With your help we will do something. ... So here we stand. Americans have a choice. A decision."
Calling the current economic state the "worst economic recovery since the Great Depression," Romney said his administration -- if he is elected -- has a plan to create 12 million jobs.
Toward the end of his speech, Romney touched on social conservative themes and received one of the loudest ovations of the night.
"As president, I will protect the sanctity of life," he said, referencing, among other issues, abortion. "I will honor the institution of marriage. And I will guarantee America's first liberty: the freedom of religion."
The brief line referenced his support for marriage as being between one man and one woman, and apparently also his opposition to the Obama administration's contraception/abortion mandate, in which businesses and religious organizations -- through Obama's health care law -- are forced to purchase health insurance that covers contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs.
Romney also said Obama has "thrown allies like Israel under the bus."
He directly mentioned his religion, something he has rarely done during political speeches. Discussing his growing up in Michigan with his father as governor, Romney said, "We were Mormons, and growing up in Michigan that might have seemed unusual or out of place, but I really don't remember it that way. My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church we went to."
Romney mentioned his religion again later in the speech when he discussed how he, his wife Ann and their five boys tried to make it on their own, away from his parents.
"Like a lot of families in a new place with no family, we found kinship with a wide circle of friends through our church," Romney said. "When we were new to the community it was welcoming and as the years went by, it was a joy to help others who had just moved to town or just joined our church. We had remarkably vibrant and diverse congregants from all walks of life and many who were new to America. We prayed together, our kids played together, and we always stood ready to help each other out in different ways.
"And that's how it is in America. We look to our communities, our faiths, our families for our joy, our support -- in good times and bad. It is both how we live our lives and why we live our lives. The strength and power and goodness of America has always been based on the strength and power and goodness of our communities, our families, our faiths.
"That is the bedrock of what makes America, America. In our best days, we can feel the vibrancy of America's communities, large and small."
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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