Republican Convention Will Focus On Romney’s Faith

Drawing a contrast with Obama, and an attempt to humanize the Republican. posted on

Workers prepare the main stage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum ahead of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. MLADEN ANTONOV / Getty Images

The program of the Republican convention next week will resemble a highly choreographed version of Mitt Romney’s standard stump speech this year, hitting Obama on the economy, calling for small-government solutions, and promising economic recovery if the nation elects a “conservative businessman.”

But the final night of the convention will also be geared toward presenting Mitt Romney the Man to the electorate — an effort that will include bringing his faith into the spotlight.

The general outline of the program was laid out by Romney’s senior political strategist Russ Schriefer in a conference call Friday morning with reporters.

The theme of the program on Monday will be “We can do better,” and speakers will “address the failures of the Obama administration over the past four years,” said Schriefer.

The candidate’s wife, Ann Romney, is also scheduled to speak on Monday, but so far the networks haven’t agreed to cover the convention that night. Schriefer said the campaign is still lobbying the networks to change their minds, but left open the possibility of moving Mrs. Romney’s speech to another night if the they dont’ give in.

On Tuesday, the theme will be “We built it,” a response to the campaign’s favorite Obama gaffe this year, when he appeared to tell small business owners that they didn’t deserve complete credit for their success, and owed some of it to the government. Romney has invoked the gaffe in virtually every public speech he’s delivered since then, often earning loud applause from the conservative audiences.

Schriefer said Tuesday’s speeches will provide an “opportunity to really frame up fundamental philosophical differences between President Obama and Governor Romney.”

The night will also include a tribute video to Ron Paul, the libertarian protest candidate whose rabid fan base has threatened to disrupt the proceedings. The video appears to be a peace offering to the supporters.

Wednesday’s program — following the theme “We can do better” — will focus on policy prescriptions advocated by Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan.

The final day of the convention, when Romney accepts the nomination and delivers his address, will officially be themed, “We believe in America.” But, as Schriefer described it, the program appears more geared toward humanizing the candidate and presenting his biography in a new light.

To do that, the campaign will break from its careful avoidance of Romney’s Mormon faith so far this year, and invite “several people who he has worked with through his church, who he’s helped with difficult times of their lives,” Schriefer said.

He added that they would have a speaker who took over an ecclesiastical leadership position after Romney left it, so that he can discuss what it was like to “fill Gov. Romney’s shoes.”

The invocational prayer on Thursday will be delivered by Ken Hutchins, a retired police chief from Massachusetts, longtime friend of Romney’s, and a former leader in the Mormon Church.

That night will also include Olympic athletes and others who worked with Romney during one of the highlights of his record: his leadership of the Salt Lake City Olympics.

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