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TAMPA, Fla. — The storm-caused abbreviated schedule for the Republican National Convention this week may end up serving the party well. Tuesday, the convention was a packed show full of highlights.
Mitt Romney's first appearance at the convention came after a rousing speech from wife Ann. The crowd ate up her telling of their lives together, and it was an important appeal to Republican women — a lagging demographic.
"You are the best of America," Ann Romney told the women. "You are the hope of America. There would not be an America without you. Tonight, we salute you and sing your praises."
But Ann Romney wasn't the only woman making the crowd roar at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Utah's own Mia Love was an early highlight — what many are calling a superstar — with a video and speech that trumped her status as a political newcomer.
"I kind of feed of the energy, and Utah was right there," Love said following her speech. "I was really excited. I felt comfortable."
Love drew rousing cheers during a coveted slot at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
"Mr. President, I'm here to tell you the American people are awake and we're not buying what you're selling in 2012," Love said.She began her remarks by downplaying Obama's sincerity as President.
Love is a darling of tea-party and conservative Republicans for her groundbreaking role in state politics as Utah's first black woman to become a mayor.
She now stands to become the first black Republican woman in Congress if she topples Democrat Jim Matheson in the November election.
Love's speech lasted only a few minutes but she was an instant hit, drawing numerous ovations, even chants of "U-S-A."
"Let me tell you about the America I know," she said. "My parents immigrated to this country with 10 dollars in their pockets and the hope the America they heard about really did exist. When tough times came, they did not look to Washington, they looked within. So, the America I grew up knowing was centered in self-reliance and filled with the possibility of living the American dream." "I'm very proud of her. I thought she did a wonderful job," Love's husband, Jason, said. "It was our intention that she be well prepared to come out and represent the principals of Utah."
"She'll be a superstar back in the Congress," Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said of Love. "This convention crowd is hungry and eager, and it's getting one serving of red meat right after the other."
NBC political analyst Mark Murray said Love hit the mark-for herself and for Romney.
"You usually don't see this type of a buildup, a video, a speech like this," Murray said. "Rarely have we seen somebody who's running for a house seat get this kind of attention at a Republican convention, at this kind of time slot."
During her speech, Love also showed her strong support for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
"With Mitt Romney as president, and Paul Ryan as vice president, we can restore and revive that American story that we all know and love. The world will know it, our children will tell it, and our grandchildren will possess it for years to come," Love said.
Romney will officially accept the nomination Thursday night, but he still has work to do after he gives his acceptance speech, according to NBC political analyst David Gregory.
"I think he does have work to do," Gregory said. "I think there are image problems Mitt Romney has right now that are about how he connects to people. His overall empathy for people in a tough economy: does he relate well?
"When you go back to Romney's early races in the '90's when he was running for the senate, he recognized that image was important, that his opponents were defining him; he wasn't defining himself.
"So that's a big part of this convention. The upside for him is that the conditions in which he's running, the kind of campaign he's running have made this an even race. And that, I think, is what's giving a lot of solace to the Romney campaign. That they have work to do, connected to the American people, they have to reintroduce him, but this is an even race, so they like where they are."