A lot riding on Romney speech

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TAMPA, Fla. — All eyes will be on Tampa, Fla., Thursday night as Mitt Romney officially accepts the nomination to become the Republican nominee for president of the United States.

Earlier in the day, convention planners reconfigured the stage and lowered the podium, bringing Romney closer to the delegates. Among the convention crowd will be a big extended Romney family.

A Romney family reunion

All week, KSL News has met people from Utah and throughout the U.S. who are related to Mitt and Ann Romney. They say they are about 150 strong, and claim they're the biggest gathering of a candidate's family in convention history.

Greg Robinson is an at-large delegate from Park City and Romney's nephew.

"It's very moving for me. My grandparents, George and Lenore, had a tremendous love for this country, and I grew up in a family recognizing an obligation to serve, doing whatever we can to advance the cause of freedom," Robinson said. "Mitt may be in a unique position to make a tremendous difference."

How the 2002 Olympic Games are playing a role

One of Romney's selling points in this election is the claim he saved the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. It's something that will most likely come up in his speech.

There are still a lot of people who remember the uncertainty in the air before Romney arrived to manage the 2002 Winter Games.

Olympic skeleton gold medalist Jimmy Shea had a lot riding on the Games, and he remembers Romney's leadership during a traffic jam after an Olympic meeting.

"When you (got) to the main street, he was in the middle of the street and he was directing traffic," Shea said. "Right from the beginning he was on the go, on everything."

Gold medal speedskater Derek Parra was similarly impressed, and is now grateful to Romney for his multiple Olympic medals. He says he even lived at Romney's house while preparing for the 2004 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

"My medals I won are because him and his team and what they did to turn the Games around," Parra said.

While the Olympics are one of the many badges of honor Romney is using on his campaign, NBC Chief Whitehouse Correspondent Chuck Todd says they're little more than a footnote.

"If there is any parallel they hope a swing voter draws from the Olympics to the economic state of America today, it is that something was broken (and) he came in and fixed it, and it was successful," Todd said.

For campaign purposes, the Olympics are a mix of personal and business triumphs ̬ and Romney will no doubt rely on the 2002 Games to connect the dots.

"I think our country is in a similar situation," Parra said. "I think we are going in the wrong direction, we're off track a bit — no pun intended — and he has the ability, you know, the financial ability and expertise to come in and turn this country around."

"He was there at my big moment, when I won the Olympics," Shea said, "and I'm excited to be there on his big moment, when he becomes the president of the United States.

Romney-Ryan campaign looking to win over Hispanic voters

Romney's acceptance of the Republican presidential nomination Thursday night means even greater pressure to connect with people.

The Republican Party's far-right positions are paying off with conservatives and Tea Partiers, but the Romney-Ryan campaign acknowledges it has work to do among women and Hispanics. The party is actively trying to manage perception of its platform when it comes to abortion and immigration.

"I think they have a real challenge because of the rather poisonous debate they had during the Republican Primary season among the Republican candidates on the subject of immigration," said Andrea Mitchell with NBC News.

Hispanics are not in favor of open borders and ignoring the law. What Hispanics are saying, however, is they know people - human beings - who are impacted by our broken legal immigration system. Any time you know the real face of an issue, it changes your perspective on it.

–Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio - thought to be running mate material for Romney because of the Hispanic vote - admits there is work to do to convince some Hispanics that Republicans are on their side. Rubio's ready response is that Republicans, like most Hispanics, are "pro-legal immigration."

"Hispanics are not in favor of open borders and ignoring the law," said Rubio. "What Hispanics are saying, however, is they know people - human beings - who are impacted by our broken legal immigration system. Any time you know the real face of an issue, it changes your perspective on it."

Utahn and Hispanic Republican Marco Diaz says Latinos have economic concerns too. Diaz says a selling point in the Romney vs. Obama fight is that Mitt offers a solution for Hispanics who are hurting.

"In spite of his ability to connect, he has a solution at least," said Diaz. "He has an answer. He has a plan. Right now, the current plan is not working. Hispanics are unemployed and underemployed."

The Romney-Ryan campaign will have $189-million more to connect with those Hispanic voters after the nomination is official Thursday night.

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Richard Piatt


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