Despite all his previous accomplishments it is fairly safe to say that tonight will be the biggest night in the life of Willard “Mitt” Romney. At least so far.
Tonight he will stand on a national stage in prime time and accept the Republican nomination for President of the United States. He is seeking membership in the most exclusive club on Earth.
Mitt Romney has spent years to reach this moment. This isn’t the ultimate moment – that won’t come until November, if it ever comes at all. Tonight is like the kick-off of the Super Bowl. Mitt made it though the regular season and the play-offs. Now he is facing his toughest opponent yet.
In the end there can be only one.
Mitt’s mission is simple but not easy. This election is a referendum on Barack Obama. There are two stages to a referendum election. The first stage is when the voting public decides whether an incumbent deserves a second term. Barack Obama has already lost that stage.
To win the second stage Mitt must convince voters that he would be a better alternative. That is why the Obama campaign strategy has been “The Republicans are worse!”
Mitt is in a similar position to Ronald Reagan in 1980. Jimmy Carter was unpopular but people were worried that Reagan was too radical. Reagan won by softening his image with humor and folksy charm.
Mitt doesn’t need to convince people he will solve all our problems. He just needs to convince people he will be a competent steward for the next four years. If he does that he will win the election.
Tonight is his first big opportunity to close the sale with the American people. But it won’t be the last, nor will it be the last opportunity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. There will be three debates between Romney and Obama between now and election day.
What the partisans on either side think about Mitt’s performance tonight is irrelevant. You can watch MSNBC for amusement but don’t expect any insightful commentary. But their hysteria level will indicate how effective they think Mitt was.
What really matters is what those damn swing voters think. And since they don’t hang out in the blogosphere and like to lie to pollsters we won’t know for sure until November.
So pace yourselves.