ST. PAUL, Minn. — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney urged voters Wednesday night to “throw out the big-government liberals and elect John McCain” in a fiery call for rejection of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and “the party of Big Brother.”
In the first of four major speeches at the third session of the Republican National Convention, Romney likened McCain, whom he unsuccessfully challenged for the presidential nomination, to the conservatives’ hero, Ronald Reagan, casting him as an outsider with the courage to take on entrenched interests.
Denouncing “the Eastern elites” — whom he identified as “the editorial pages of the [New York] Times and the [Washington] Post” and “the broadcasters from the coast” — Romney declared that it was “time to look for the sun in the West, because it’s about to rise and shine from Arizona and Alaska,” the home states of McCain and his vice presidential running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin.
Much of Romney’s speech was an old-fashioned rallying cry for the traditional Republican issues he campaigned on in the primary season: lower taxes, spending cuts, a stronger defense and demonization of government employees’ unions. He was followed by speeches from former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani before Palin's acceptance speech.
“We need change, all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington,” he said. “We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin.”
Little notice of Obama
Romney mentioned McCain and Palin fewer than a half-dozen times. And while he offered his party as the responsible alternative to the Democrats, he mentioned Obama by name just one time, in a reference to a forum last month at which both candidates fielded questions from Rick Warren, a prominent evangelical leader.
“At Saddleback, after Barack Obama dodged and ducked every direct question, John McCain hit the nail on the head: Radical Islam is evil, and he will defeat it. Republicans prefer straight talk to politically correct talk.”
Otherwise, Romney preferred to revisit themes from his primary campaign, when he offered himself as the conservative alternative to the unorthodox McCain.
The Republican crowd welcomed Romney’s serving of orthodoxy, interrupting him with cheers after each iteration of a call for conservative principle.
Delegates cheered when Romney recalled President Bush’s labeling of North Korea, Iraq and Iran the “axis of evil.” They cheered when he called for “taking a weed-whacker to excessive regulation and mandates ”and “for putting a stop to tort windfalls” and for standing up “to the Tyrannosaurus appetite of government unions.”
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They even cheered when he called for “new efficiencies” in generating energy, “from clean coal to non-CO2-producing nuclear.”
And he finished to the longest cheers of all, when he said: “Just like you, there has never been a day when I was not proud to be an American. We inherited the greatest nation in the history of the Earth. ...
“President McCain and Vice President Palin will keep America as it has always been — the hope of the Earth.”
By Alex Johnson of msnbc.com.
© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints