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GOP convention: Previewing Romney's big night

Charlie Cook: “Romney’s speech tonight is enormously important—arguably more so than the debates or anything else that is likely to happen between now and Nov. 6…. Romney’s test is more personal. Voters began this week feeling like they didn’t know him. For whatever reason, his campaign is just now getting around to attempting to establish a personal connection between Romney and the public. That connection cannot be made in a debate; the format doesn’t lend itself to it. Romney desperately needs to leave Tampa having created that relationship. Ann Romney’s speech was a start, but tonight, Romney has to do the connecting himself… Romney needs to connect enough to earn the benefit of the doubt from voters." 

More: Swing voters “don’t need to consider him a guy they would like to have a beer with, but they need to feel that if he were a neighbor, they could comfortably ask him to collect the newspapers and the mail while they were away. Focus groups show that people perceive Romney as aloof and wonder whether he would even speak to them. His friends say that this is ridiculous, that he’s a terrific guy. But the doubts persist. Tonight is the night Romney needs to fix that.” 

“[W]hile Thursday’s anointing indeed represents a political triumph for Mitt Romney it is also fraught with risk,” the Boston Globe’s Helman writes. “To name just one: Can the modern Republican Party, with its increasingly conservative bent, successfully court middle-of-the-road voters?” 

The AP: “Mitt Romney is stepping up for the most important speech of his Republican presidential campaign, to an audience of millions, after a rousing warm-up from a running mate who vowed the days of dodging painful budget choices will end if voters toss President Barack Obama from office. Having grasped the nomination on his second try, after years spent cultivating this moment, Romney will use his speech Thursday night to introduce himself to a large portion of voters and claw for advantage in a race that could scarcely be any closer. As part of that introduction, Romney appeared prepared to discuss his Mormon faith in more direct terms than usual, a direction signaled by running mate Paul Ryan on Wednesday night in several allusions to the duo’s differing religions but ‘same moral creed.’”

“Mitt Romney will offer voters a window into his Mormon faith Thursday night before accepting the Republican presidential nomination when the man who succeeded Romney as president of the church’s Boston stake delivers a prayer of invocation,” the Boston Globe writes.