Mitt Romney heard his name said more than anyone else’s on stage during the first full day of the storm-shortened Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Since the weekend, the name Isaac seemed more pressing at the convention as the hurricane finally struck the Louisiana coast late Tuesday night and lumbered toward New Orleans, seven years to the day Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.
After cancelling the first day of the convention, officials and speakers opened Tuesday with prayers for those affected by the storm or bracing for its impact.
Romney's was the only name said from the stage during Tuesday evening's state-by-state roll call — a convention formality, since he came to Florida with an overwhelming majority of delegates and no doubts he would be named the party’s 2012 nominee for the presidency.
In a surreal turn during the roll call, the woman announcing the results wouldn't say the other name put forth by delegates in their states' tallies: Ron Paul – a name chanted by his fervent supporters and delegates throughout the day.
The woman just kept saying Romney’s name repeatedly, as if the former Massachusetts governor and unsuccessful 2008 candidate had run unopposed for the party’s nomination this time around instead of slogging out a win over his rivals in a bitter primary battle that only ended in April.
It didn’t take long for Paul’s supporters to start shouting their candidate’s name and votes after her.Romney emerged on stage for a brief moment to take the hand of his wife, Ann, after her personal testament to him as a "warm, loving and decent" husband, father and grandfather.
"I'm still in love with a boy I met at a high school dance and he still makes me laugh," Ann Romney told the crowd. "No one will work harder, no one will care more and no one will move heaven and earth to make this a better country."
Mrs. Romney’s speech, in which she urged Americans to "trust" her husband, was aimed at "humanizing" the multi-millionaire often viewed as wooden and emotionally reserved on the campaign trail.
Polls have consistently shown that while many voters trust Romney to handle the economy better than President Barack Obama, they view the president as more likeable and compassionate.
Maine delegates walk out
Convention organizers, along with Romney and Paul campaign officials, have desperately sought to avoid any public signs of a schism.
"Anyone sitting under that Maine sign is an imposter," a furious Erin Daly, a Maine delegate who said she lost her seat on the floor, told CBC News as she walked briskly from the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
When asked what it meant for her vote in November’s election, Daly would only offer a curt "no comment."
"Twelve-term congressman and they don’t let him speak," Paul supporter Christopher Cross told CBC News as Paul — the longtime Texas Congressman and hero to libertarians, limited-government activists and anti-deficit crusaders — made a brief appearance on the convention floor. "Unbelievable."
Christie keynote rouses crowd
Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey who delivered the convention's key note address, is likely to be considered as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016 or 2020, along with two others set to speak on the convention stage on Wednesday: former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, whose selection delighted conservatives and tea party members because of his budget plans that call for radical cuts to federal spending.
"Leadership matters," Christie said in his keynote address, a convention slot often saved for future stars to make their leaps into presidential-candidate-level name recognition. "Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to put us back on the path to growth and create good paying private sector jobs again in America."
Christie, Bush and Ryan all enjoy a broad popularity among several wings in the Republican party’s disparate coalition of the establishment, religious conservatives and grassroots activists, support that Romney sought to capture by moving to the right on several issues such as abortion, immigration and health care.
‘We built it’
Tuesday also featured the convention’s "We built it" message repeated in song and speech, emblazoned on the walls of the convention, and on hand-held signs in the crowd to portray Obama as openly hostile to American businesses.
The slogan refers to the president's now-notorious misstatement — "If you've got a business, that, you didn't build that. Someone else made that happen" — words the crowd at the convention heard in Obama's own voice played several times over video montages of business owners.
Democrats insist the president was referring to the building and maintenance of infrastructure, which businesses depend on to get their goods and services to their customers.
There is no doubt Obama will be hearing it again and again, as will Romney hear his own name the next two days in Tampa.