Entries in RNC 2012 (7)


Obama Gains a Convention Boost -- But Not Among Likely Voters, Poll Finds

JEWEL SAMAD/FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Barack Obama has emerged from the nominating conventions in his best position against Mitt Romney since the spring, a 50-44 percent race among registered voters in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. But Romney recovers to a virtual dead heat among those most likely to vote, keeping the contest between them wide open.

Obama is the greater beneficiary of the back-to-back nominating conventions. For the first time he’s numerically ahead of Romney in trust to handle the economy, the key issue of the 2012 contest, albeit by a scant 47-45 percent. Obama’s seized a 15-point lead in trust to advance the interests of the middle class. And strong enthusiasm among his supporters is up by eight points from its pre-convention level; Obama now leads Romney by 10 points in “very” enthusiastic support.

[See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.]

The 50-44 percent race among registered voters compares with a 46-47 percent Obama-Romney contest immediately before the conventions; while those shifts are within the survey’s margin of sampling error, Obama is at his best vs. Romney since an ABC/Post poll in early April. That’s the case even though fewer than half, 48 percent, approve of Obama’s job performance in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

The main change has been a shift among Democrats, coalescing around their party’s nominee. Obama’s support from Democrats who are registered to vote has advanced by eight percentage points since before the conventions, to a near-unanimous 91 percent, matching his best; the number defecting to Romney has dropped by six points, to a mere five percent. Among other groups, Obama’s support has reached a new high among men, while Romney is at new lows among moderates, whites and higher-income voters, all in ABC/Post polls since April 2011.

Additionally, there’s been a shift in preferences in the eight tossup states identified by the ABC News Political Unit: Registered voters in these states now favor Obama over Romney by 54-40 percent, vs. 42-48 percent in these same states before the party conventions. And in the states with mid-levels of unemployment, it’s 51-43 percent, vs. 40-53 percent pre-convention, further suggesting some progress for Obama in his economic arguments.

As noted, though, among likely voters -- people who say they’re both registered and certain to vote -- the race squeezes shut at 49-48 percent, Obama-Romney, essentially unchanged since before the conventions (+2 Romney then, +1 Obama now, well within sampling error.) That means that Romney’s supporters express greater intention to vote -- a challenge for Obama’s ground game, and a suggestion that the race could come down to turnout.

Obama faces another reality: No incumbent with an approval rating below 50 percent in September of an election year has been re-elected in ABC/Post polls dating to the Reagan presidency. However, one came close: Not in September, but in early August 2004, George W. Bush had just 48 percent approval among registered voters. That went to 52 percent the next month, en route to his re-election. (Among other presidents, it seems that only Harry Truman won re-election with less than majority approval as the election approached, but the only pre-election data point available is a Gallup poll from late June 1948, showing 40 percent approval.)

Romney has his own challenges; beyond his lack of traction on the economy, he’s broadly seen as having failed to provide specifics of his governing plan -- in effect a negative assessment of his convention presentation. Registered voters by 63-31 percent say Romney has not provided enough details on the policies he’d pursue as president. They divide much more evenly, 46-49 percent, on whether Obama has or hasn’t given enough details on what he’d do in a second term.

Other results suggest opportunities for Romney. The “build that” theme may have legs; Romney is far more apt than Obama to be seen as understanding what it takes to build a successful small business, and registered voters by 53-35 percent think government programs make it harder, not easier, for small businesses to succeed -- a position the opposite of what Obama has expressed. At the same time, Obama and Romney run evenly in trust to support small businesses, suggesting that Romney has yet to capitalize on this issue.

More broadly, registered voters by a 13-point margin, 53-40 percent, say government programs do more to interfere with people’s lives than to improve them, a position again more in tune with Romney’s image as an advocate of smaller government than with Obama’s.

Obama’s advantages, in turn, include a persistent lead over Romney in empathy; registered voters by 50-40 percent think Obama better understands the economic problems people are having, and continue to rate him as more personally likable, by a broad and steady 61-27 percent. (When the two views are tested against each other, empathy independently predicts vote preferences to a far greater degree than does likability.)

Obama is at his best against Romney in another attribute, being seen as the stronger leader, 50-42 percent; and runs numerically ahead, albeit not significantly, in being better able to work with both sides in Congress, 46-41 percent.

On a personal level, building on his advantage in likability, registered voters by wide margins would prefer to have Obama to dinner at their home, think he is more likely than Romney to be “a loyal friend,” and would rather have Obama care for them if they were sick.

On an attribute related more to crisis management than to personality, however, voters divide much more closely on who they’d rather have as the captain of a ship in a storm -- Obama, 46 percent, or Romney, 43 percent. And this measure more strongly predicts vote preference.

In a more general question on political values, registered voters by 65-23 percent say it’s more important that they trust what a candidate says than that they agree with that candidate. And trust in what both candidates are saying is weak, but better for Obama: Registered voters by 49-42 percent say his campaign is saying things it believes to be true, rather than intentionally trying to mislead people. On Romney these numbers go negative, albeit not significantly, 43-48 percent.

Among issues, the economy reigns, and with 53 percent of registered voters disapproving of how Obama’s handled it, Romney should have chances. Barely a third say the country is better off than it was when Obama took office, and 38 percent think it would be better if Romney had been in charge.

Still, that’s not a solid breakthrough. While 43 percent say the economy’s gotten worse under Obama’s presidency, most, 57 percent, don’t think it would have done any better under Romney.

And while 20 percent say they personally have gotten better off under Obama, essentially no more, 24 percent, think they’d have done better under a Romney presidency.

Obama, moreover, has newfound competitiveness on related issues -- for the first time running about evenly with Romney in trust to handle the deficit, and scoring 50-43 percent against him in trust to handle taxes -- not a statistically significant margin given the sample size, but still a slight improvement, and Obama’s best numerically this year. In general, it’s a problem for Republicans when a Democrat is competitive on taxes and the deficit.

Beyond the economy, Obama has regained a significant, 11-point advantage over Romney in trust to handle terrorism, up from a scant four-point gap in the spring. Obama has a 13-point lead in trust to handle international issues, an 11-point lead on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage and his widest advantage, 21 points, in trust to address women’s issues. (Obama’s lead on women’s issues is similar among women and men alike). The candidates are rated more closely on health care generally and Medicare specifically, but the latter is an issue on which Obama’s moved into a numerical edge, if not a significant one.

Vote preferences among liberals remain similar to pre-convention levels (84 percent for Obama); but he’s doing better with moderates, 56-33 percent, Obama’s best in this group since May and a new low for Romney. Romney, additionally, has slipped to 73 percent support among conservatives, numerically his lowest since February; Obama’s 25 percent support among conservatives is his best since February, and up 9 points from just before the conventions.

As mentioned, Obama has improved to a near-unanimous 91 percent support among Democrats, up from 83 percent before the conventions and matching his best; that occurred chiefly among Democratic men, who also moved in their preference for Obama vs. Romney on the economy.

Romney, for his part, has a similar 89 percent support among Republicans, essentially unchanged from two weeks ago. The two run evenly among independents, 46-48 percent, Obama-Romney, similar to the ABC/Post pre-convention poll.

Thirty-two percent of registered voters in this poll identify themselves as Democrats, 26 percent as Republicans and 37 percent as independents, continuing a record four-year preponderance of independents in partisan preferences. The split is almost identical among likely voters, 33-27-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents. Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 7 points in the 2008 election.

Among reasons for the closer race between likely voters vs. all registered voters is that Obama does better among people with lower household incomes, $50,000 or less, and they’re less likely to say they’re certain they’ll vote. Certainty to vote also is lower in related groups, including unmarried and younger adults, and racial minorities. And Romney does a bit better among independents who are likely to vote, with 54 percent support, vs. 48 percent among all registered voters.

Finally, just 13 percent of registered voters say they might change their minds, down from 19 percent in July. But an indirect measure of movability -- based on the anxiousness voters feel about their candidates and their interest in additional information -- finds that more, 22 percent, remain persuadable, including about equal numbers of Obama and Romney supporters alike.

That result suggests that opportunity remains for both candidates to change the current dynamic. But the door may not stay open for long: at 32 percent, the number who are interested in more information about the candidates has dropped by 9 points from its pre-convention level.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney Accepts Nomination and Promises to 'Restore America'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- In a precisely planned climax to the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney accepted his party's presidential nomination and promised to "restore America" by creating jobs and fulfilling the hope that he claims President Obama failed to deliver on.

In an energized address that followed three days of speeches by allies, friends and family members, Romney sought to reintroduce himself as a candidate who is sympathetic to the concerns of struggling Americans.

"I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed," Romney said. "But his promises gave way to disappointment and division."

"Today," Romney said, "the time has come for us to put the disappointments of the last four years behind us."

The Republican nominee depicted an America with a vibrant economy, a military so strong it won't be defied, a health care system that works and an optimistic future for its children.

[Transcript of Mitt Romney's Speech]

"If I am elected president of these United States, I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America ... Let us begin that future together tonight," he said moments before a wall of balloons descended on the convention hall.

Romney's contrasted himself with Obama at times with sharp digs at the president.

"President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet," Romney said in reference to Obama's environmental policies and to laughs from the audience.

"My promise is to help you and your family," he said.

Romney, who at times can appear stiff or aloof, gave a deeply personal address, mentioning his Mormon faith by name, a rarity on the stump, and talking about his parents' romance as well as the love he shares with his wife of 47 years, Ann.

"I knew that [Ann's] job as a mom was harder than mine and I knew without question her job as a mom was a lot more important than mine," he said.

Romney in recent weeks has been forced to play defense in what Democrats have dubbed a "War on Women." Romney appealed directly to women voters. He often speaks on the stump about his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney's race for the White House, but Thursday night he instead spoke about his mother's failed Senate bid.

"I can still hear her saying in her beautiful voice, 'Why should women have any less say than men about the great decisions facing our nation,'" he said of his mother.

To strengthen his bona fides with woman, he stressed the women speakers at the RNC in recent days and his record of choosing a woman to be his lieutenant governor in Massachusetts.

Thursday night's speech kicks off the homestretch of the campaign in a race that is neck and neck, according to polls.

At the heart of his pitch is that Obama has failed to live up to his promise to create jobs.

"You know there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him," he said to applause in the convention center.

"What America needs is jobs, lots of jobs," he said.

"Today more Americans wake up in poverty than ever before … His policies have not helped create jobs, they've depressed them," he said of the president.

Romney pledged to create 12 million new jobs in four years if elected. Outlining a five-point plan to create jobs by making the U.S. energy independent by 2020, offering greater choices in education, forging new trade agreements, cutting the deficit and championing small businesses. Romney and former colleagues who addressed the convention earlier in the evening touted his history as a job creator in the private sector.

Romney's position at venture capital firm Bain Capital has become a routine attack line by the Obama campaign.

"The centerpiece of the president's campaign is attacking success ... In America we celebrate success, we don't apologize for it," he declared.

Romney presented his history at Bain as an American success story that helped create jobs.

"That business we started with 10 people has now grown into a great American success story," he said, pointing to businesses like Staples and the Sports Authority in which Bain Capital invested.

Bob White, Romney's friend and former Bain business partner, not only defended the firm but boasted about it.

"Today Bain & Co. is recognized as one of the best places to work in America," he told delegates Thursday evening.

White portrayed Romney as champion of his employees, contrasting the Democrats image of Romney as a calculating titan who fired people at will.

"I will never forget when he said: 'Bob, 1,000 employees and their families depend on us. We can't let them down,'" White said.

The mood on the floor of the convention was congratulatory.

"My reaction is I thought the American people got to know him ... He criticized the president, he did not attack the president and that's an important message," said delegate Richard Moccia, who is the mayor of Norfolk, Conn.

Kathleen King, a Florida delegate, said, "I think he did a great job. He hit his stride just right."

Friends had urged Romney to open up about Bain and his religion in an effort to let voters get to know him better. Many of the speakers early in the evening set out to humanize Romney.

Old friends of the Romneys, Ted and Pat Oparowski, Mormons who lived in Romney's Boston ward, shared with the convention a deeply personal story about Romney's devotion to their 14-year-old son who died of cancer 30 years ago.

Romney, Pat Oparowski said, visited the dying boy and touchingly helped him draft a will, leaving his skateboard and model rocket to a best friend.

"How many men do you know would take the time out of their busy lives to visit a terminally ill 14-year-old and help him settle his affairs," she to a hushed arena.

But beyond all the compassion, Romney was careful to signal to the Republican base that he is devoted to the core conservative values.

"As president, I will protect the sanctity of life. I will honor the institution of marriage. And I will guarantee America's first liberty: the freedom of religion," he said.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Marco Rubio Likens Mitt Romney's Personal Story to His Own

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- As he introduced the Republican nominee Thursday night, Marco Rubio linked Mitt Romney's personal history to his own family's immigrant narrative and the stories of people across the country striving to achieve the "American miracle."

"The story of those who came before us reminds us that America has always been about new beginnings," Rubio said. "And Mitt Romney is running for president because he knows that if we are willing to do for our children what our parents did for us, life in America can be better than it has ever been."

"It's the story of a man who was born into an uncertain future in a foreign country. His family came to America to escape revolution," Rubio later added, speaking of Romney's father, who was born in Mexico but later returned to the United States with his family. "They struggled through poverty and the Great Depression. And yet, he rose to be an admired businessman and public servant. And in November, his son, Mitt Romney, will be elected president of these United States."

Speaking before the Republican crowd gathered in his home state, Rubio, whose parents emigrated from Cuba to the United States in the 1950s, recounted the sacrifices his mother and father made to provide a better life for him and his siblings and noted how his grandfather repeated to him that there was "no limit to how far I could go, because I was an American."

"They emigrated to America with little more than the hope of a better life," Rubio said. "My dad was a bartender. My mom was a cashier, a hotel maid and a stock clerk at Kmart. They never made it big. They were never rich. And yet, they were successful -- because just a few decades removed from hopelessness, they made possible for us all the things that had been impossible for them."

"He was grateful for the work he had, but that's not the life he wanted for us," Rubio said of his father's job as a bartender. "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. That journey, from behind that bar to behind this podium, goes to the essence of the American miracle -- that we're exceptional not because we have more rich people here. We're special because dreams that are impossible anywhere else, they come true here. That's not just my story. That's your story. That's our story."

Rubio weaved a thread between the success story of the young Florida senator and the personal attributes and leadership capabilities he said Romney possesses.

"Mitt Romney's success in business is well known. But we've also learned he's so much more than that. He's a devoted husband, a father, a grandfather, a generous member of his community and church, a role model for younger Americans, like myself," Rubio said. "Everywhere he's been, he's volunteered his time and talent to make things better for those around him. We are blessed that a man like this will soon be the president of these United States."

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Rubio, who previously has called the president one of the most "divisive figures" in modern American politics, Thursday night said the problem wasn't that Obama is a bad person, "our problem is he's a bad president."

"Under Barack Obama, the only 'change' is that 'hope' is hard to find," Rubio said, citing Obama slogans from the 2008 election. "Now, sadly, millions of Americans are insecure about their future. But instead of inspiring us by reminding us of what makes us special, he divides us against each other. He tells Americans they're worse off because others are better off, that rich people got rich by making other people poor. Hope and change has become divide and conquer."

"It doesn't matter how you feel about President Obama, because this election is about your future, not his," he added. "And it's not simply a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. It's a choice about what kind of country we want America to be."

Rubio's speech not only tried to highlight differences between the president and Romney, it also drew on themes of American exceptionalism, describing the ideals and principles upon which the country was built and claiming, "These last few years have tested your faith in the promise of America."

"America was founded on the principle that every person has God-given rights, founded on the belief that power belongs to the people, that government exists to protect our rights and serve our interests, and that no one should be trapped in the circumstances of our birth," Rubio said. "We should be free to go as far as our talents and work can take us."

Rubio made the case that in order to ensure the "American miracle" is achieved in future generations, the country must elect Romney as president.

"The story of our time will be written by Americans who haven't yet been born," Rubio said. "Let's make sure they write that we did our part, that we chose more freedom instead of more government. We chose the principles of our founding to solve the challenges of our time. We chose Mitt Romney to lead our nation. And because we did, the American miracle lived on for another generation to inherit."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Clint Eastwood Electrifies RNC Crowd, Interviews 'Invisible Obama'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Clint Eastwood made a surprise appearance at the Republican National Convention Thursday night, calling unemployment in America "a national disgrace" before interviewing an empty chair he addressed as "President Obama."

"I got Mr. Obama sitting here and I was gonna ask him a couple questions," Eastwood drawled, turning his head toward the chair.

"Mr. President, how do you handle promises you made when you were running for election? What do you say to people?" Eastwood asked.

But he cut off the interviewee: "I'm not gonna shut up. It's my turn," Eastwood said.

And then, again to the chair: "What do you want me to tell Mr. Romney?"

"I can't tell him to do that," Eastwood responded. "He can't do that to himself. You're absolutely crazy. You're getting as bad as Biden!"

The partisan crowd erupted at the apparently off-color remark.

The president, though, would get the last word.  At about 12:30 a.m. Friday, his office replied simply, "This seat's taken."

Eastwood, who endorsed Romney on Aug. 3 at a fundraiser in Sun Valley, Idaho, spoke about the Republican presidential nominee, too, saying, "It was time for someone else to come along and solve the problem."

Of Obama, he said Thursday night, "When somebody doesn't do the job, you've got to let them go," before making a throat-slashing gesture.

This wasn't the four-time Academy Award winner's first dip in political waters. He was elected mayor of Carmel, Calif., in 1986, and rumors still exist that President George H. W. Bush, with his 1988 campaign faltering, considered asking Eastwood to be his running mate.

On this night, Eastwood's arrival dispelled another rumor, that the RNC had plans to debut a hologram revival of Ronald Reagan on the convention stage.

Instead, it was the actor and his seemingly improvised one-man show that followed a touching video about the Romney family and delayed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's scheduled address by at least 10 minutes.

Before leaving the stage, Eastwood turned his attention to the crowd and brought them in on the act.

"Go ahead," he growled and, not missing a beat, they shouted back: "Make my day!"

Watch Clint Eastwood's full speech:

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan Talks with Diane Sawyer About Mitt Romney's Speech

Ida Mae Astute/ABC(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Paul Ryan says he hopes that when Mitt Romney speaks Thursday night America will "get to meet the man I know" from their time on the campaign trail.

"I hope people get to meet the kind of leader I know," Ryan told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer. "We need someone who is going to give us honest leadership, courageous leadership, a man of achievement and integrity. A man you enjoy listening to because he is telling you the truth. That's the guy I know and that's what I think America will hear tonight."

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Ryan said he spoke to Romney about his speech Thursday and he's "excited about laying out his vision" as well as "excited just to introduce himself to the country."

The vice presidential candidate added that the top of the ticket was "very complimentary" about his acceptance speech Wednesday night.

"'Great job, you hit it at out of the park,'" Ryan said Romney told him.

An ABC News poll released this week found that only 35 percent of voters under 30 years old supported Mitt Romney, but Ryan, 42, insisted the GOP ticket can make a play for the youth vote, something he referenced in his convention speech, because he sees "younger people" as "more disaffected."

"There's a little disillusionment there I think," Ryan said. "And what we're offering them is a positive solution, specific reforms to get this economy going so we can turn opportunity back on."

The country's debt ticks upward on a clock on the convention floor, but what specifically would the Romney campaign cut in order to stop the ballooning debt? Ryan said the Romney/Ryan administration would cut spending in government agency budgets.

"All of the spending on these government bureaucracies has increased far faster than families' ability to pay for it, far faster than inflation and it's all borrowed money... By the way, this isn't selling pain, this isn't saying we are taking things away," Ryan said. It's all about getting "domestic spending down" and "reforming entitlements," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney’s Speech Is ‘Locked’ Hours Before He Takes the RNC Stage

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Mitt Romney’s speech is “locked” and ready to go, a top campaign adviser told ABC News, previewing the acceptance speech Romney will deliver Thursday night as the Republican National Convention comes to a close.

According to the adviser, Romney has been working on the text for “a couple of weeks,” drafting it, in part, on the iPad he carries with him everywhere on the campaign trail.

Allowing for the possibility that the Republican nominee may make a few minor last-minute changes, the adviser said it is otherwise “pretty locked.”

The speech is divided into four parts: Romney’s philosophical and world view; his biography; his disappointment with the Obama years; and his vision for the country.

Before the speech, convention organizers plan to show a video presentation featuring Romney. In it, “Governor Romney talks about love,” the adviser said.

Thursday night’s theme is “We Believe in America,” and the evening will offer a chance for the campaign to deal head-on with two aspects of Romney’s personal story: His record at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he helped start, and his Mormon faith.

Two campaign surrogates -- Romney’s close friend Bob White, who serves as the chairman of the campaign and who helped establish Bain, and Tom Stemberg, the founder of Staples, a Bain-backed company -- plan to specifically address Romney’s time at the firm and his private sector experience.

“We know that the Democrats want to try to make Bain a negative for us,” one Romney campaign strategist told ABC News. “It’s not.”

In addition to the surrogates, the Romney campaign plans to feature some videos calling into question Democrats’ support for America’s small businesses, and the campaign will also unveil a new portion of their website devoted to Romney’s record at Bain.

Romney’s faith will also be front and center on Thursday night.  Grant Bennett, a friend of Romney’s and a fellow member of the Mormon church, will address the convention. And although Romney’s religion will be a key part of Thursday night’s program, it’s unclear to what extent speakers -- including Romney himself -- will discuss faith generally rather than Mormonism in particular.

Asked whether the word “Mormon” would be uttered Thursday evening, the Romney adviser said, “I can’t believe it won’t be uttered in the faith section,” but declined to say whether it will make an appearance in Romney’s speech.

Romney’s achievements as governor of Massachusetts will also be on display Thursday night. His former lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey, will give voice to those years.

The night will feature a parade of Olympic athletes who will highlight Romney’s time as the head of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.  Olympic hockey player Mike Eruzione of “Miracle on Ice” fame; Kimberly Rhode, who won the gold medal in skeet shooting at the 2012 Summer Games in London; and speed skater Derek Parra, who medaled in the 2002 Games, will all speak.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will kick off the 10 p.m. hour and introduce Romney.

Thursday night’s program will end with not one but three balloon drops as Romney, his wife, Ann and their family and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, his wife Janna and their family take the stage in successive waves.

Just before the final benediction led by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, the singer Bebe Winans and the Tampa Bay City Life Church Chorus will lead the entire convention hall in singing “America the Beautiful.”

Romney’s off-key, solo rendition of the patriotic tune at a primary campaign event in a Florida retirement community was used in an Obama campaign attack ad.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio