Mitt Romney's message to his supporters at the Republican National Convention on Thursday (August 30) in Tampa, Florida, was simple: "What America needs is jobs ... lots of jobs."
And the former Massachusetts governor and private equity fund co-founder said that after four years of what he labeled the failed policies of the Obama administration, he promised that he was the man to do it.
After the praise heaped on him Wednesday night by his 42-year-old vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan , Thursday night was a final, biggest chance to date for Romney to give America a glimpse of his personality.
"I am running for president to help create a better future," said Romney, who took to the stage to the strains of his campaign's theme song, "Born Free" by Kid Rock. "A future where everyone who wants a job can find one. Where no senior fears for the security of their retirement. An America where every parent knows that their child will get an education that leads them to a good job and a bright horizon."
The night included testimonials from friends and fellow politicians attesting to Romney's Mormon faith, his generosity and business acumen in an attempt to shine a light on a candidate whose personality has often taken a backseat to his patriotic sounds bites.
Romney ticked off a list of items that he said President Obama promised to tackle when he was elected in 2008, lamenting that they have not come to pass. "Every new college graduate thought they'd have a good job by now, a place of their own, and that they could start paying back some of their loans and build for the future," Romney said, noting that he wished Obama had delivered on his promises and that Americans were better off than four years ago. "This is when our nation was supposed to start paying down the national debt and rolling back those massive deficits. This was the hope and change America voted for."
Despite the harsh partisan nature of the campaign so far from both sides, Romney said repeatedly that he wished Obama had succeeded. "But his promises gave way to disappointment and division," he said. "This isn't something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we can do something."
Though he's avoided talk of his religion for most of the campaign, the first politician from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints spoke of his church and his faith during the address, though the word "Mormon" never crossed his lips. He reached out to women and to one of his weakest constituencies, minority voters, noting that his church was "remarkably vibrant and diverse," with a number of members who were new immigrants.
Romney spoke of his family's roots in Mexico, the unconditional love of his mom and dad, his emergence from the shadow of his late father and his awe at wife Ann's job raising their five boys with a hitch in his voice, exhibiting a warmth often missing on the stump.
He also made a series of promises should he be elected: energy independence by 2020 thanks to the exploitation of our oil, coal and gas reserves, more school choice for parents, forging new trade agreements, cut the deficit and balance the budget and champion small business by cutting taxes, loosening regulations and repealing Obamacare. Toby Pedford, 32, a black Republican from Oklahoma City, told MTV News' Power of 12 the he would have liked to hear Romney talk about gun rights and the minority employment gap. "I think one of the main things he could [have] talk[ed] about is be racial profiling I think that would be huge," said Pedford of Romney, which a recent poll revealed was currently attracting zero percent of the black vote. "I think in galvanizing minorities he could talk about the employment gap. The fact that so many more African-American youths are ... underemployed than could be, the over-jailing of minorities. We're the Republican party, we're the party of the second amendment and individual liberty."
Among the other pledges from Romney were promises to "protect the sanctity of life" and "honor the institution of marriage," while guaranteeing freedom of religion. Those social issues were among the ones some young supporters told MTV's Power of 12 earlier in the day they were not as concerned about as job creation. Some did, however, have those topics in mind. "They keep bashing Mitt Romney that he doesn't support women and that we should be giving everything to women for free," said Tampa's Danielle Kashou, 22. "But I look at things today and they want, for instance, birth control. They want that to be free to every girl. To me it's like if I can afford to go get a Starbucks once a day or go out to dinner or go party and do all these things, I can afford that birth control if I want to live that route. Unfortunately I don't. I just feel like giving everything for free to me is just; I work hard. I don't just want to give it away to somebody who's not willing to work hard."
The night ended with another promise from Romney to the party faithful. "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," he said of a nation united by a strong military, the Constitution and a desire to help the poor, sick and elderly. "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."
Check back for coverage on the 2012 election, and stick with MTV's Power of 12 throughout the presidential election season.