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Thursday
Aug302012

Mitt Romney to Accept GOP Nomination, Open Up About Mormon Faith

ABC News Radio (TAMPA, Fla.) -- Thursday night, against the backdrop of 100,000 falling balloons and shouts of support from every state in the union, Mitt Romney will claim the prize he has chased for eight years and accept the Republican Party's nomination.

It what many anticipate will be Romney's most personal speech ever, the former Massachusetts governor will outline his vision to voters, emphasizing reducing the deficit and creating more jobs.

Romney has been reticent to delve too much into his personal biography on the stump, and routinely avoids discussions of his Mormon faith.

But one adviser told ABC News "faith" would be a core theme of Thursday night's program. The adviser would not confirm that Romney himself would use the word "Mormon."

"I can't believe it won't be uttered in the faith section," the adviser said.

Over the past two days at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., his wife Ann used the word "Mormon," and Romney's running mate Paul Ryan and Mike Huckabee, an evangelical preacher and former Arkansas governor, both made references to Romney's faith but avoided the word "Mormon."

But Mormons will play a more prominent role in the convention's final night.

Giving the evening's invocational prayer will be retired police chief Kenneth Hutchins, a Mormon Romney has known since the 1980s when the two men volunteered for church charities around Boston. Another friend and fellow Mormon, Grant Bennett, is also expected to address the convention.

Friends have urged Romney to open up, even about his religion, in an effort to let voters get to know him better.

Showing a softer side "connects emotionally" with voters, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who watched his father and brother accept the GOP nomination, said Thursday on Good Morning America.

"That gives a chance to allow people in … and you can make your case," he said.

Romney on Thursday afternoon walked onto the convention center stage to familiarize himself with the setup. The stage was extended further into the audience and a new lectern was added for Romney Thursday. He requested some adjustments to the teleprompter.

Before Romney speaks, rising conservative star Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and a yet-unnamed mystery guest will take the stage in primetime.

ABC News confirmed that guest will be actor and former mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., Clint Eastwood. The theme to Eastwood's film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was heard playing in the Tampa Bay Times Forum during a soundcheck.

Romney advisers said his speech was "locked" and did not expect many last-minute changes.

On Wednesday, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan delivered an address that attacked President Obama for failing to create jobs at the expense of pushing through health care legislation. Ryan promised Republicans would create 12 million new jobs in four years.

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ABC News Radio