Support for Romney, or hatred for Obama?

As the Republican convention winds up, Mitt Romney has yet to energise his party beyond opposing President Obama.

by

    Tampa, Fl - As the Tampa Bay Times Forum filled up tonight for the biggest speech of Mitt Romney's political life, the question remained whether the Republican candidate can do enough to successfully energise his supporters beyond mere opposition to President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

    The 20,000-seat stadium is packed to the rafters with party delegates, activists, guests, pundits - and about 15,000 journalists. In fact, there are so many journalists here that, at times, it's been difficult to find an actual voting delegate to interview.

    Tonight, however, that's thankfully not a problem. Delegates from across these United States poured into the arena as the day turned to night, leaving the sun-kissed streets - blocked by thousands of fences and law enforcement officials - behind them. This is the moment the primary campaign is over, and the fight for the White House truly begins.

    But, despite days of speeches devoted to boosting Romney's appeal - from wife Ann telling of her love for her husband to would-be VP Paul Ryan giving employment to fact-checkers across the land - the energy now crackling through this packed venue appears directed more at unseating President Obama than it is at embracing the message of the Romney/Ryan ticket.

    Almost every delegate I spoke to this evening was lukewarm towards the former governor of Massachusetts.

    "He's better than Obama," was the best one Texan delegate could muster.

    A delegate from Indiana told me that, while Romney "will make a great candidate", her main focus was on ousting President Obama. "I don't like his policies," she told me. "He wants to take this country in a socialist direction." 

    A Ron Paul supporter, Don Zimmerman from Austin, Texas, summed up the lack of enthusiasm: "The dislike of Obama is universal here.

    "There is an intensity with which we disagree with his policies, and the fact is that everybody in this building wants him out - but not everyone is convinced that Mitt Romney will reverse the spending and reverse the terrible foreign policy mistake of sending our troops into harm's way in foreign countries.

    "We don't want to get rid of Obama and do the same with Mitt Romney."

    The election is still two months away, and Romney seems still to have a lot of work ahead of him.


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