Romney Readies for Biggest Speech of His Life

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  August 30, 2012 at 8:48 AM EST

Mitt Romney watches the convention on TV with his grandchildren from a suite in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday. Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

TAMPA, Fla. | Mitt Romney has given plenty of speeches, stretching from the corporate boardroom to the governor’s office in Massachusetts and his two runs for the presidency, but Thursday evening at the Tampa Bay Times Forum he will deliver perhaps the most important remarks of his 65-year life.

The Morning LineWith a little over two months until Election Day, Thursday’s speech is the best opportunity left for Romney to define for the American people just who he is and what he believes.

The NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released last week found that voters believe Romney would be a better steward of the country’s economy (44 percent to 38 percent) and has better executive and managerial skills than President Obama (45 percent to 32 percent). But the same poll and others have revealed struggles for the GOP hopeful when it comes to connecting on a personal level, trailing the president on questions of likability and which candidate cares more about average people.

Romney cleared the competency hurdle for the presidency a long time ago and his business background is perfectly tailored for a campaign with the economy as the central issue. And he will certainly remind Americans again Thursday about his qualifications, but if he is able to share even a bit more about his personal side, it might go a long way toward improving his chances come November.

Watch the final day of the Republican National Convention on our 24-hour livestream:

ABOUT LAST NIGHT…

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., staked out a contrast with President Obama Wednesday night, and outlined why he says he and Romney will take the country in the right direction. (Watch the full speech here. But from the energy inside the convention hall, it was clear it was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who brought down the house.

In a tribute to her parents, Rice delivered the line of the evening: “[T]hey make her believe that even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, she can be president of the United States and she becomes the secretary of State.” (Watch in full here.)

During the PBS convention special, New York Times columnist David Brooks said Rice’s remarks were the best he’d heard all week. He noted she didn’t mention Barack Obama, and that “key pronouns” in her speech were “me and us.”

Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill, our co-anchor team from the skybox, had a candid discussion with former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum about Romney on the campaign trail and the state of the campaign. Watch that here.

Also last night, convention attendees saw this warm and fuzzy video from the Bush family showcasing each former president.

As we’ve been telling you all week, the NewsHour is delivering wall-to-wall convention coverage and field reports in our 24-hour livestream you can watch above.

Reporter-producer Katelyn Polantz and politics online production assistant Meena Ganesan had “hat cam” duty Wednesday. Watch the cam make its way through the crowd here.

Reporter-producers Saskia de Melker and Katelyn had two political cartoonists face off in a draw-off.

Watch that here or below.

CONVENTION CRUSH

Our livestream lineup:

  • The Political Checklist with Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff and Christina Bellantoni in the late morning.
  • The Doubleheader with Hari Sreenivasan, Mark Shields and David Brooks around 5 p.m.
  • Dispatches from our team on the floor as delegates officially get to business.
  • More from the hat cam

Keep an eye on our Flickr feed with photographer Mallory Benedict.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • Where do you fit? Take the Pew Research Center/NewsHour Political Party ID quiz here and share your results with your friends.

  • We’re showcasing the Vote 2012 Map Center each night, telling the story of the campaign through data. Hari interviewed Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call. Watch that below.

TOP TWEETS

TONIGHT’S HEADLINE SPEAKERS

7 p.m. ET hour: Florida Rep. Connie Mack, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Callista Gingrich, and Craig Romney

8 p.m. hour: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Romney for President campaign Chairman Bob White and Staples founder Tom Stemberg

9 p.m. hour: Former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, former Massachusetts Director of Workforce Development Jane Edmonds and Olympians Michael Eruzione, Derek Parra, and Kim Rhode

10 p.m. hour: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.