Mitt Romney Wins GOP Presidential Nomination

The Republican Party made it official Tuesday night by approving Mitt Romney as the GOP's presidential nominee. Delegates also heard from Romney's wife Ann and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. Now, of course, the approach of Hurricane Isaac forced the Republican Party to scrap the first day of its convention in Tampa, but the events did begin in earnest yesterday. Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, took the stage in defense of her husband. And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave a keynote address that capped the evening. The party also did something significant - though unsurprising. They made Mitt Romney officially their nominee. NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson took in the action.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: The traditional roll call of the states went on until New Jersey put Mitt Romney over the top, with the required 1,144 delegates.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED DELEGATE #1: Madam Secretary, the Garden State, the proud home of tonight's keynote address given by Gov. Chris Christie...

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED DELEGATE #1: ...proudly casts all 50 of its votes for the next president of the United States, Gov. Mitt Romney.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED GOP CONVENTION SECRETARY: New Jersey - 50, Romney.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: After a long, hard-fought primary that made him his party's standard-bearer - but not the object of its affection - Mitt Romney had finally became the Republican Party nominee. He arrived in Tampa earlier in the day, as polls show him running neck-and-neck with President Obama nationally, and in key battleground states. But he also had deficits to address: the lowest personal approval rating of any challenger since 1984, and a worrisome gender gap as more women prefer the president and his policies.

Last night, the campaign turned to Romney's most powerful validator - his wife, Ann - to address both those problems. She spoke directly to the women whose votes Romney needs, describing how they always have to do a little more, to earn the respect they deserve at work; then coming home to help their kids with school work, or take care of an elderly parent.

(SOUNDBITE OF GOP CONVENTION SPEECH)

ANN ROMNEY: It's how it is, isn't it? It's the moms who have always had to work a little harder, to make everything right. It's the moms of this nation - single, married, widowed - who really hold this country together. We're the mothers. We're the wives. We're the grandmothers. We're the big sisters; we're the little sisters. And we are the daughters. You know it's true, don't you?

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: I love you women!

LIASSON: And by referencing her own health problems, Ann Romney tired to counteract the stereotype of her husband painted in the Obama campaign ads: a wealthy, out-of-touch plutocrat who can't relate to the problems of ordinary Americans.

(SOUNDBITE OF GOP CONVENTION SPEECH)

ROMNEY: I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a storybook marriage. Well, let me tell you something. In the storybooks I read, there never were long, long, rainy, winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: And those storybooks never seemed to have a - chapters called MS or breast cancer. A storybook marriage? Nope, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: Mrs. Romney described her husband's life as a story of accomplishment, that the president was trying to malign.

(SOUNDBITE OF GOP CONVENTION SPEECH)

ROMNEY: It's true that Mitt's been success - is successful at each new challenge he's taken on. You know what? It actually amazes me to see his history of success being attacked. Are those really the values that made our country great?

UNIDENTIFIED DELEGATE #2: No!

GOP CONVENTION DELEGATES: No!

ROMNEY: As a mom of five boys, do we want to raise our children to be afraid of success?

GOP CONVENTION DELEGATES: No!

ROMNEY: Do we send our children out in the world with the advice: Try to do OK?

GOP CONVENTION DELEGATES: No!

ROMNEY: And let's be honest. If the last four years had been more successful, do we really think there would be this attack on Mitt Romney's success?

GOP CONVENTION DELEGATES: No!

ROMNEY: Of course not.

LIASSON: With just over two months to go before Election Day, Mrs. Romney was trying to reintroduce her husband to the country, to transfer to him some of her own warmth and likeability. "This boy I met at a high school dance," she said, "his name is Mitt Romney, and you really should get to know him."

(SOUNDBITE OF GOP CONVENTION SPEECH)

ROMNEY: I can't tell you what will happen over the next four years. But I can only stand here tonight, as a wife and a mother and a grandmother - an American - and make you this solemn commitment: This man will not fail.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: If Ann Romney's speech was about her love for her husband, and his love for the country, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's keynote address was about a different kind of love - the tough kind.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONVENTION KEYNOTE ADDRESS)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: See, I believe we have become paralyzed - paralyzed - by our desire to be loved. You know, our Founding Fathers had the wisdom to know that social acceptance and popularity were fleeting, and that this country's principles needed to be rooted in strengths greater than the passions and the emotions of the times. But our leaders today have decided it's more important to be popular - to be popular, to say and do what's easy and say yes rather than to say no, when no is what is required.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: Christie is a Republican rock star with a brash, confrontational style; and he cast the presidential election as a clash of ideas.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONVENTION KEYNOTE ADDRESS)

CHRISTIE: I know this simple truth, and I am not afraid to say it: Our ideas are right for America, and their ideas have failed America.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: Let me be clear with the American people tonight. Here's what we believe, as Republicans; and what they believe, as Democrats. We believe in telling hard-working families the truth about our country's fiscal realities; telling them what they already know. The math of federal spending does not add up. With $5 trillion in debt added over the last four years, we have no other option but to make the hard choices - cut federal spending, and fundamentally reduce the size of this government.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: Want to know what they believe? They believe that the American people don't want to hear the truth about the extent of our fiscal difficulties. They believe the American people need to be coddled by big government.

LIASSON: Although Romney has been criticized for refusing to lay out any real hard choices - with details on what tax loopholes he'd eliminate, or which government programs he'd cut to balance the budget - Christie insisted that Romney would ask for shared sacrifice.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONVENTION KEYNOTE ADDRESS)

CHRISTIE: Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear, to put us back on a path to growth; and create good-paying, private-sector jobs again, in America. Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear, to end the torrent of debt that is compromising our future and burying our economy. Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear, to end the debacle of putting the world's greatest health-care system in the hands of federal bureaucrats; and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: Christie's unvarnished style energized delegates, like New Jersey's Budd Wilson.

BUDD WILSON: If we can learn from Chris Christie - he can relate to the common man; in his - how he talks. He relates to us, and relates to us in our everyday lives. He doesn't just tell facts; he tells stories. And we can engage with that.

LIASSON: Those are the qualities voters haven't yet seen in Mitt Romney. Last night, Mrs. Romney's warmth, and Chris Christie's unvarnished directness, served to counter the image of the Republican nominee - with his buttoned-down demeanor, enormous wealth and programmatic politics. And although Republicans here are fired up to beat President Obama, Romney himself has never generated much passion among the GOP grassroots - including the Tea Party, which has become the Republicans' driving wheel.

Mara Liasson, NPR News, Tampa.

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