Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney swept to the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday night at a storm-delayed national convention, every mention of his name cheered by delegates eager to propel him into a campaign to oust President Barack Obama in tough economic times.
Romney watched on television with his wife, Ann, at a hotel suite across the street from the hall as the convention sealed his victories from the hard-fought primaries and caucuses of last winter.
The New Jersey delegation put Romney over the top.
Later, Ann Romney addressed the audience in a primetime speech designed to cast her multimillionaire-businessman-turned-politician husband in a soft and likable light.
"I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a "storybook marriage," she said. "Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once."
"A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage," she said, referring to her personal battle against multiple sclerosis.
"I can tell you Mitt Romney was not handed success," snd she told the crowd. "This man will not fail."
Later, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey declared in the keynote address that "it's now time to stand up."
"If you're willing to stand up with me for America's future, I will stand up with you," Christie said. "If you're willing to fight with me for Mitt Romney, I will fight with you."
"Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the torrent of debt that is compromising our future and burying our economy. Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the debacle of putting the world's greatest health care system in the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor."
"I don't know about you, but I don't want my children and grandchildren to have to read in a history book what it was like to live in an American Century," Christie said. "I don't want their only inheritance to be an enormous government that has overtaxed, overspent and over-borrowed a great people into second-class citizenship. I want them to live in a second American Century." (Watch his speech here.)
Earlier, a parade of convention speakers mocked Obama mercilessly from a made-for-television podium, as if to make up for lost time at an event postponed once and dogged still by Hurricane Isaac. Delegates held up signs that proclaimed "We built it," a rebuttal to Obama's saying of American entrepreneurs, "You didn't build that."
The Democratic president has "never run a company. He hasn't even run a garage sale or seen the inside of a lemonade stand," declared Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican Party.
To send Romney and ticketmate Paul Ryan into the fall campaign, the convention quickly approved a conservative platform that calls for tax cuts — not government spending — to stimulate the economy at a time of sluggish growth and 8.3 percent unemployment.
While there was no doubt about Romney's command over the convention, the residue of a heated campaign for the nomination was evident inside the hall.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who never won a primary or caucus, drew 190 delegate votes to 2,061 for Romney. Earlier, his supporters chanted and booed after the convention adopted rules they opposed, but were powerless to block, to prevent those votes from being officially registered.
Opinion polls made the race a close one as the Republicans' days of pageantry and speechmaking began in earnest.
Convention planners squeezed two days of speeches and other convention business into one after scrapping Monday's scheduled opener because of fears that Isaac would make a direct hit on the Florida Gulf Coast.
(Read More: GOP Conventioneers: Pro-Romney, or Anti-Obama?)
That threat fizzled, but it was instantly replaced by another — that Republicans would wind up holding a political celebration at the same time the storm turned its fury on New Orleans, devastated almost exactly seven years ago by Hurricane Katrina.
Romney's convention planners said they were in frequent contact with weather forecasters, but they declined to discuss what contingency plans, if any, they had to accelerate plans for him to deliver a formal acceptance speech Thursday night.
Ratification of a party platform was prelude to Romney's nomination, a document more conservative on abortion than the candidate.
On economic matters, it backs extension of the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 and due to expire at year's end, without exception. It also calls for an additional 20 percent reduction in income tax brackets that Romney favors.
In a time of 8.3 percent unemployment and the slowest economic recovery in the post-World War II era, that went to the crux of the campaign for the White House.
By contrast, Obama wants to allow existing tax cuts to expire on upper income taxpayers, and has criticized Romney's overall economic plans as a boon to millionaires that would raise taxes on the middle class.
The GOP platform also pledges that a Republican-controlled Congress will repeal, and Romney will sign, legislation to repeal the health care legislation Obama won from a Democratic-controlled Congress. So, too, for the measure passed to regulate Wall Street in the wake of the 2008 economic collapse.
(Read More: GOP Platform May Dilute Romney’s Focus on Economy.)
On abortion, the platform says, "The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed."
Romney opposes abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or when "the health and life of the mother" are at stake, he said in a convention week interview.
Obama, who accepts renomination at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., next week, campaigned in Iowa on Tuesday as he set out on a tour of college campuses in battleground states in hopes of boosting voter registration among college students.
Before departing the White House, he made a point of appearing before reporters to announce the government's latest steps to help those in the way of Isaac. He signed a declaration of emergency for Mississippi and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local storm response efforts in the state.
His surrogates did their best to counter Romney and the Republicans.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, dismissing GOP attempts to woo Hispanic voters, said, "You can't just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname and expect people are going to vote for your party or your candidate." He added, "This is a party with a platform that calls for the self-deportation of 11 million people."
Hispanics strongly favor Obama, according to public polls, and Romney and his party have been seeking to win a bigger share of their votes by emphasizing proposals to fix the economy rather than ease their positions on immigration.
(Read More: President Obama Calls Romney's Ideas 'Extreme'.)
Female voters, too, prefer the president over his challenger, and Democrats have done their best to emphasize GOP opposition to abortion and even suggest the party might try and curtail access to contraceptives if it wins power.
Whatever the impact of those issues, the polls show the economy is overwhelmingly the dominant issue in the race, and on that, the voters narrowly say they trust Romney more.
In an AP-GfK poll taken Aug. 16-20, some 48 percent of registered voters said they trust Romney more on economic issues, to 44 percent for Obama.
However, a Washington Post-ABC News in the days immediately before the convention found that 61 percent of registered voters said Obama was more likable, and 27 percent said Romney.
The convention took place in an atmosphere of security that was both stringent and selective. Thousands of police from all over the country, joined by National Guard troops, Secret Service and others, stood in small groups at checkpoints, demanding those entering a secure area display proper credentials numerous times.
But former Michigan Gov. John Engler and an aide were hustled to the front of a long line waiting to clear security at one building.
Aside from Paul, Romney's long-ago rivals for the party nomination had bit roles at his convention, if that.
Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain posed for a photo after running into each other at the convention center. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were also in town, as well, both with speaking slots, unlike Bachmann and Cain.