THE RACE: Romney steps to bat amid high stakes

August 30, 2012 - 2:44 PM
Romney 2012

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at the American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis. When Romney addresses the Republican convention Thursday night, he'll do it from a stage that puts him a little bit closer to the crowd inside the convention hall. His campaign hopes the evening ends with Americans feeling a little bit closer to the Republican presidential candidate, too. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

The warm-up acts are winding down, the main event looms and the stakes are high.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finally can accept what has long eluded him: the Republican presidential nomination.

Running mate Paul Ryan has played his part, energizing Republicans gathered in Tampa, Fla. But most vice presidential acceptance speeches have short shelf lives. Actually, so do most presidential ones.

But there have been some exceptions: Republican Barry Goldwater's 1964 assertion that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," John F. Kennedy's 1960 "We stand tonight on the edge of a new frontier."

One president famously waved off his expected re-nomination. "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party," Vietnam War-weary President Lyndon Johnson said in 1968.

Some acceptance speeches can return to bite. "The Congress will push me to raise taxes, and I'll say no... and they'll push again. And I'll say to them: 'Read my lips. No new taxes.'" George H.W. Bush's 1988 words scorched him politically later when he backed a bipartisan plan raising taxes.

Bill Clinton accepted the 1992 Democratic nomination saying, "I still believe in a place called hope," both a reference to his Arkansas hometown and his prognosis for the future.

George W. Bush in 2000 presented himself as "a compassionate conservative." And Barack Obama in 2008 told the nation: "I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree.."

But, he continued, "Times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party."

It's Romney's turn at bat.

Obama had no public events Friday. But he said in an interview with Time Magazine that his re-election might help break the political stalemate in Washington, much like "popping a blister."

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