By Russell Berman - 08/30/12 10:05 PM EDT
TAMPA, Fla. — Mitt Romney will emphasize his life story and appeal to those disappointed in Barack Obama’s presidency as he accepts the Republican nomination Thursday night.
Romney will tell voters that they “deserve better” than what Obama has delivered over nearly four years in office.
“I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division,” he will say. “This isn't something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we can do something. With your help we will do something.”
“Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, ‘I’m an American. I make my destiny. And we deserve better! My children deserve better! My family deserves better. My country deserves better!’ ”
Romney’s speech will culminate an abbreviated Republican National Convention that has sought to make the case against Obama and humanize the GOP nominee to an electorate that has not warmed to him.
Romney plans to tell the story of Bain Capital, the company he helped start at age 37 that Democrats have vilified during the campaign. “That business we started with 10 people has now grown into a great American success story,” Romney will say.
The excerpts released Thursday suggest the former Massachusetts governor will not adopt the harsh tone toward Obama that has characterized many of the Republican speeches. Instead, his remarks appear aimed at independent voters who might like Obama but believe he has failed as president.
Where conservatives have appealed to voters angry at Obama, Romney will target those who are disillusioned.
“Today the time has come for us to put the disappointments of the last four years behind us,” he will say. "To put aside the divisiveness and the recriminations. To forget about what might have been and to look ahead to what can be. Now is the time to restore the promise of America.”
In a section likely aimed at closing his campaign's gender gap with Obama, Romney will pay tribute to his mother's Senate candidacy and other women political trailblazers.
"As governor of Massachusetts, I chose a woman Lt. Governor, a woman chief of staff, half of my cabinet and senior officials were women, and in business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies," Romney will say.
Romney will conclude with an appeal that echoes the one Obama made when he burst onto the national stage in 2004, yearning for America to set aside its divisions and unite behind “a single purpose.”
“That America, that united America, can unleash an economy that will put Americans back to work, that will once again lead the world with innovation and productivity, and that will restore every father and mother's confidence that their children's future is brighter even than the past,” Romney will say.
“That America, that united America, will preserve a military that is so strong, no nation would ever dare to test it. That America, that united America, will uphold the constellation of rights that were endowed by our Creator, and codified in our constitution. That united America will care for the poor and the sick, will honor and respect the elderly, and will give a helping hand to those in need. That America is the best within each of us. That America we want for our children.”
Romney will pledge that, “If I am elected president of these United States, I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future. That future is our destiny. That future is out there. It is waiting for us. Our children deserve it, our nation depends upon it, the peace and freedom of the world require it. And with your help we will deliver it. Let us begin that future together tonight.”
“You can either help the politically powerful unions or you can help the kids,” said Bush. “Now, I know it's hard to take on the unions. They fund campaigns, they're well-organized.”
“But you and I know who deserves a choice. Governor Romney knows it, too.”
Romney has not spoken often of education reform on the campaign trail, with the primary focus revolving around jobs and the economy. Instead, several of his powerful surrogates, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have taken hard hits at teacher unions as they pushed for school choice rights.
Bush got an awkward laugh from the Republican crowd as he made a comparison between a person’s ability to choose what type of milk they want to buy at a grocery store to a parent’s option to choose the type of school their child goes to.
“They even make milk for people who can't drink milk,” said Bush. “Shouldn't parents have that kind of choice in schools?”
“Governor Romney gets it. He believes parents - regardless of zip code or income - should be able to send their child to the school that fits them best.”
In a strange slight to Bush, current Florida Gov. Rick Scott was seen making his way down an aisle on the convention floor shaking hands, talking, and taking pictures with delegates during the first half of Bush's speech.
Many initially thought Bush was planning to speak about immigration. The Romney campaign has looked to Bush, as the governor of a state with more than 1.4 million registered Latino voters, to help deliver Hispanics, which Republicans will surely need in order to take the White House.
But Bush’s only two plays toward Latinos were in his opening statement when he welcomed the crowd to Florida in Spanish, and when he touted the vastly improved standings for Hispanic students in Florida.
— This story was last updated at 6:35 p.m.