Mitt Romney gave a solid performance, and I think one thing that helped was that much of the speech focused on family--something that Romney has a much stronger personal and political record on--than abortion, on which he is more vulnerable. Also, with heavy references to his wife and kids, it drew a contrast with Giuliani.
There was applause through most of his speech, but the problem is that with his volunteers on hand clapping at every oppourtunity, it's hard to get a gauge of the room. Some people I spoke to after thought he did well, while others didn't feel he really lit a fire in them. This might get to the emotional intellegence problem I've written about with regard to Romney--he says the right things on an intellectual level, but doesn't seem to connect on an emotional level. You talk to people about a Romney speech and it's like the old cliche about eating in a Chinese restaurant--you're full when you walk out, but are hungry an hour later. One thing that benefits Romney, I think, is that many people seemed underwhelmed by Thompson, even those who were once favorably disposed toward him. (My initial post gave him good reviews, but part of it might have been that I was sitting near a group of several dozen vocal FredHeads, so I may have gotten a skewed view.) Romney just seems to be working harder for votes, so I can see a lot of leaders coming out of this weekend and rallying around Romney as an anti-Giuliani measure. But I think that the rank and file values voter will remain very conflicted. I hope to do more floor reporting tomorrow after all the candidates have spoken and get a better sense.
"I'm pro-family on every level, personal and political," Romney said early on in his speech.
He talked about the family as the basic "economic unit" and "building block of society." However, he said, "The American family is under stress."
He talked about how as President, he would try to promote stronger families, and that his wife as First Lady would be dedicated to that purpose. He said he would eliminate marriage penalties in the tax system and perform an audit of every government program to weed out any ones that are detrimental to families.
He veered into nanny-statism with his anti-Internet pornography crusade, which he referred to as a "modern plague" and he proposed requiring that computers have an anti-Internet porn filter for children.
He spoke about the gay marriage issue, and his experiences with it in Massachusetts, and also addressed his Mormonism.
"By the way, I imagine that one or two of you may have heard that I'm Mormon," he joked. "I understand that some people think they couldn't support someone of my faith, but I think that's just because they've listened to Harry Reid."
That seemed to go over well.
Toward the conclusion of the speech, in a clear attempt to draw a contrast with Giuliani, he spoke about how "The First Family represents America to the world."
All that stuff was fine, but he was less convincing when he said. "I will be a pro-life president, just like I was a pro-life Governor."
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