(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Last night at the Republican National Convention Ann Romney made the hard sell on behalf of her husband, who had earlier in the day been crowned official presidential nominee of his party. Ann Romney's message: I love you, women, and you can trust Mitt Romney.
Yes, there was some romance there -- she recounted the story of meeting her husband at a high school dance. "His name is Mitt Romney," Ann said, "and you really should get to know him."
"I could tell you why I fell in love with him," she continued, "he was tall, laughed a lot, was nervous -- girls like that, it shows the guy's a little intimidated -- and he was nice to my parents but he was really glad when my parents weren't around."
But Ann really got to business. She didn't try to tell people they should fall in love with Mitt Romney. But, they should trust him to be competent and successful.
"Let me say this to every American who is thinking about who should be our next President: No one will work harder. No one will care more. No one will move heaven and earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live," she said. "It's true that Mitt has been successful at each new challenge he has taken on. It amazes me to see his history of success actually being attacked. Are those really the values that made our country great? As a mom of five boys, do we want to raise our children to be afraid of success?"
If Ann's speech was about selling Mitt, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's remarks were about selling himself and the Republican Party.
"I know this simple truth and I'm not afraid to say it," Christie said to applause, "our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America."
Christie made the case not so much for Romney as he did for his brand of tell-it-like-it-is conservative principles. This is the same message that Paul Ryan has been pushing. It works well with the GOP faithful, but will it sell with swing voters?
And one smart Republican strategist offered an impression of Christie's speech: "Chris Christie gave a great speech -- to accept his own nomination," this strategist said. "It was surprising that with a national audience, the Romney camp allowed a prepared speech that took so long to spotlight the candidate."
(As it turns out, it took Christie more than 17 minutes to utter the word "Romney" and he did so only 7 times in a more than, 2,630 word speech).
Wednesday night is Paul Ryan's moment. The crowd in Tampa is ready for a red meat speech. But, his bigger hurdle is his perception among those outside the hall -- especially women and those concerned about his approach to reforming Medicare.
Can he get out from under the "extremist" label Democrats have slapped on him? Stay tuned.
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