Mitt Romney will tell Americans it's okay to give up on President Obama and try something completely different in his speech accepting the nomination for president at the Republican National Convention tonight. Romney will outline a plan to create 12 million new jobs, and, despite telling reporters he did not want the campaign "to personalize me like I'm a piece of meat," he will talk about love. As his wife did Tuesday, Romney will explain the importance of love -- the "unconditional love" between parents and children and God's love. Having spent most of the election presenting himself as a numbers-obsessed manager, this new appreciation of human emotions seems like a bit of conversion, so maybe we'll get a dance number like at the end of A Muppet Christmas Carol. We'll be liveblogging the night and holding on to that hope till the very end.
11:55p.m.: Here's the highlight reel: Multiple convention-goers wore big hair in solidarity with Callista Gingrich. In a rare moment of genuine emotion -- this is a political infomercial, after all -- a husband and wife told the moving story of how Mitt Romney helped their dying son. The campaign gave us Romney home movies, so The Atlantic Wire gives you eight Romney home movie GIFs. Clint Eastwood talked to an invisible President Obama and said weird rambling things. (This will be the most remembered speech of the night.) Mitt Romney officially accepted the Republican presidential nomination, and in the course of doing so, said the phrases "unconditional love" and "go to Hell." He did not say "Afghanistan." It was one of his best performances of the whole election. And then there were balloons.
11:50p.m.: My favorite part of each convention night has been the moment, just as ceremonies conclude, when we get a flood of trash-talking conservative tweets. Burnt your cookies, libs.
- "The Left is in total meltdown, flailing around with profanity and reduced to bashing Clint Eastwood. And...scene!" -- Monica Crowley.
- "Panic level on the left upgraded to PLAID." -- Brian Faughnan.
- "Libs heads are exploding right now" -- Right Scoop.
- "You know what's impressive? How much we'll win by in November. #kthxbai MT@stefcutter: Don't know about you, but I'm not impressed." -- Republican Hill staffer Ellen Carmichael.
11:27p.m.: The moment we all were waiting for: Balloons.
11:19p.m.: Words not in the speech? Soldier, troops, Iraq, Afghanistan. Romney did mention Osama bin Laden, though.
11:18p.m.: This was Romney's killer line of the night: "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise... is to help you and your family."
11:10p.m.: It appears Romney's theme is "the America we want." See:
- "This was the hope and change America voted for. It’s not just what we wanted."
- "You might have asked yourself if these last years are really the America we want, the America won for us by the greatest generation."
- "Does the America we want borrow a trillion dollars from China? No."
- "And does the America we want succumb to resentment and division? We know the answer. "
- "That America is the best within each of us. That America we want for our children."
11:04p.m.: "I will begin my presidency with a jobs tour. President Obama began his presidency with an apology tour." America has freed countries from dictators, Romney says. Like Muammar Qaddafi?
10:57p.m.: Romney's first swear! When talking about getting investors when he was starting Bain Capital, he considered getting his church to invest, but he didn't, because if he lost all his money, "I didn't want to go to Hell, too." Hell! From a man who says "gosh."
10:56p.m.: "Ann would have succeeded at anything she wanted to do," Romney says. Republicans have tried really hard the entire convention to show they like women. Jane Edmonds, who worked with him in Massachusetts, talked about how inclusive Romney was, and how he appointed more women to top jobs. Jeb Bush talked about education, Marco Rubio talked about his mother, we've heard about six references to Paul Ryan's mom.
10:50p.m.: Romney talks about love:
My mom and dad gave their kids the greatest gift of all - the gift of unconditional love. They cared deeply about who we would BE, and much less about what we would DO. Unconditional love is a gift that Ann and I have tried to pass on to our sons and now to our grandchildren. All the laws and legislation in the world will never heal this world like the loving hearts and arms of mothers and fathers. If every child could drift to sleep feeling wrapped in the love of their family - and God's love- this world would be a far more gentle and better place.
So, Mr. President, how do you handle promises that you have made when you were running for election, and how do you handle them?
I mean, what do you say to people? Do you just -- you know -- I know -- people were wondering -- you don’t -- handle that OK. Well, I know even people in your own party were very disappointed when you didn’t close Gitmo. And I thought, well closing Gitmo -- why close that, we spent so much money on it. But, I thought maybe as an excuse -- what do you mean shut up?
The invisible Obama:
(Photo via Associated Press.)
10:41p.m.: In a reference to Paul Ryan's speech, Romney says to his running mate, "I still like my iPod better than yours."
10:34p.m.: Romney arrives!
10:26p.m.: Marco Rubio is very serious after Eastwood's extended riffing.
For those of us who were born and raised in this country, it’s easy to forget how special America is. But my grandfather understood how different America is from the rest of world.
Tonight, you’ll hear from another man who understands what makes America exceptional.
After praising Romney's accomplishments, he returns to his own story:
A few years ago during a speech, I noticed a bartender behind a portable bar at the back of the ballroom. I remembered my father who had worked so long as a banquet bartender.
He was grateful for the work he had, but that’s not the life he wanted for us.
He stood behind a bar in the back of the room all those years, so one day I could stand behind a podium in the front of a room.
10:21p.m.: "Senior Romney staff do NOT look amused by Mr. Eastwood's remarks," NBC News' Garrett Haake tweets. Still, the audience loved it. I wish winging it had gone so well for me during middle school book reports.
10:10p.m.: Clint Eastwood arrives.
He appears to think the war in Afghanistan was Obama's idea. "I know you were against the war in Iraq, and that’s okay... But you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean ... you thought that was something worth doing... We didn’t check with the Russians to see how did it ... they did there for 10 years..."
10:00p.m.: Romney home videos:
9:51p.m.: We just heard a 10-minute song whose lyrics were entirely comprised of the repetition of the word "America."
9:36p.m.: Whoaaaa Romney is blowing up the Olympian tally. A bunch of bobsledders and skeleton medalists from the 2002 Salt Lake games, the team captain from the Miracle on Ice, speedskater Derek Parra, and skater Scott Hamilton. It's somewhat disappointing they didn't do a choreographed display of athletic prowess. Maybe because they didn't get any gymnasts to come and do flips?
9:33p.m.: Yes! Our first Olympian! It's Kim Rhode, that lady who owned the trap shooting competition. She's won gold at five Olympic Games.
9:30p.m.: Jane Edmonds, former secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development, wrote her own speech. The campaign didn't change it, Politico reports. She said she's a liberal Democrat, but backs Romney because he's "authentic," "honest," "the real thing," and "inclusive." She was very enthusiastic:
9:18p.m.: Kerry Healy, who was lieutenant governor while Romney was governor, explains his record in Massachusetts -- a higher credit rating, tougher education standards, taking responsibility for the Big Dig. One major accomplishment she didn't mention? Romney's biggest: Romneycare.
9:14p.m.: Further humanizing Romney, a reality show-style video has him talking to the camera about starting businesses while driving.
9:10p.m.: The Romney campaign has started making the positive case for Bain. Staples and Sports Authority get videos with testimonials about how Bain made their success possible. Here's a GIF of the Steel Dynamics video:
9:06p.m.: Tom Stemberg, founder of Staples, leads the audience in chants of "They just don't get it."
8:56p.m.: Another view of Ted and Pat Oparowski.
(Photo via Associated Press.)
8:54p.m.: Pam Finlayson, another person from Romney's congregation, explains how Romney helped her family when her daughter was born with severe complications. Though Finlayson's daughter died a year and a half ago, while the Romneys were deciding whether to run for president, but they called her personally to offer condolences. "When it comes to loving our neighbor, there's talking about it, and there's living it. But the Romneys live it."
8:46p.m.: This couple, the Oparowskis, tell the story of when their son was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the 1970s. The son, David, knew Romney went to Harvard Law, so he asked Romney to help him write his will. "The next time Mitt went to the hospital, he was equipped with his yellow legal pad and pen. Together they made David's will." Their story was actually, really, sincerely touching.
8:40p.m.: Grant Bennett, who was Romney's assistant when he was a bishop, talks about the role of faith in Romney's life. He seems like a very nice man. He is authentic, but not charismatic.
8:35p.m.: One of Romney's aides tweets a photo of him barefoot, studying his speech.
8:24p.m.: Mother Jones' Tim Murphy tweets this photo of a man who, though following the theme of the night, nevertheless makes his priorities clear.
8:14p.m.: Bush says something unexpected at the convention -- something Condoleezza rights spoke about Wednesday night, that education is "the civil rights issue of our time." Bush says:
We must stop pre-judging children based on their race, ethnicity or household income.
That got applause, but not huge applause. What gets bigger applause his call for school choice:
So here’s another thing we can do: Let’s give every parent in America a choice about where their child attends school. Everywhere in our lives, we get the chance to choose.
Then he talks about milk:
Go down any supermarket aisle – you’ll find an incredible selection of milk.
You can get whole milk, 2% milk, low-fat milk or skim milk. Organic milk, and milk with extra Vitamin D.
There’s flavored milk– chocolate, strawberry or vanilla – and it doesn’t even taste like milk.
They even make milk for people who can’t drink milk.
Shouldn’t parents have that kind of choice in schools?
8:09p.m.: Jeb Bush sticks up for his big brother, the former president of the United States. "My brother, well, I love my brother. He is a man of courage, integrity, and honor." He tells Obama that while he was dealt a tough hand, it's time to stop blaming Bush for the bad economy.
8:06p.m.: Craig Romney speaks some Spanish, then gets choked up talking about how his grandfathers were immigrants.
8:00p.m.: In every situation, Callista Gingrich seems like a very intense woman.
There's no way it's a coincidence that the camera moved from Callista's famous bob to two other ladies in the hall with statement hair.
7:52p.m.: After a post-primary hiatus, and following a Ronald Reagan tribute video, Newt and Callista return to public life. Let the record show that it was an actual campaign issue in the primary that Gingrich was seldom mentioned in Reagan's diary.
7:40p.m.: "After all, this is America," says Florida candidate for Senate Connie Mack. And on the third night, they ran out of new ways to say America rules. The Republicans have used so many different ways of saying "America, eff yeah," there seem to be none left for the Democrats next week.
By the way, Connie Mack's real name is Cornelius Harvey McGillicuddy IV. One time, in 1992, he got in a fight with Atlanta Braves outfielder Ron Gant. It did not go well for Cornelius:
During the melee, Gant head-locked Mack. Mack testified that he couldn’t breath. So he starting striking and grabbing the ball player’s crotch. At a certain point, the club’s bouncers got involved and Mack broke his ankle. He sued Gant, who was held liable. But a jury awarded no damages.
7:26p.m.: Herman Cain graciously tweets that he would consider serving the nation in Romney's cabinet. "I would consider a cabinet post if it was a position in which I could have maximum impact. Energy Sec,,?"
7:23p.m.: Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah is wearing a lei. He's explaining to C-SPAN what great neighbors Mormons make.
7:20p.m.: 100,000 balloons will fall on the delegates' ecstatic heads at the conclusion of the convention tonight, according to C-SPAN.
7:05p.m.: Other speakers will include Newt and Callista Gingrich. three Olympians, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and House Speaker John Boehner. There will also be a little movie about Bain Capital.