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GOP convention wrap-up: The balloons fell. So how did Mitt Romney do?

At the GOP convention, Mitt Romney needed to unify and fire up his supporters and attract undecided voters. The coming weeks will show if any needed 'bounce' in the polls endures.

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Such stories may have humanized the speakers and the general impression of Republicans. But did it do much for Romney, who had a privileged upbringing as the son of an auto executive and governor?

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Delegates were enthusiastic about Ann Romney, who tried to add humanizing brushstrokes to the portrait of her husband – their life as young newly-weds in a basement apartment eating tuna casseroles and raising their passel of boys. But it’s unclear whether that does much to attract undecided voters – especially those struggling economically who’ve already heard many times about the Romneys' extraordinary wealth, many homes, and Mrs. Romney’s “couple of Cadillacs.”

Their Mormon religion has been an issue in the campaign, with a substantial minority of evangelicals saying they would not vote for someone of Romney’s faith.

Paul Ryan and Mike Huckabee both alluded to this in their speeches.

"I care far less as to where Mitt Romney takes his family to church than I do about where he takes this country,” said Mr. Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister who, as a presidential candidate four years ago, made what sounded like questioning if not dismissive comments about Romney’s religion.

“Mitt and I go to different churches,” acknowledged Mr. Ryan, who is Roman Catholic. But, he added, “Our different faiths come together in the same moral creed. We believe that in every life there is goodness; for every person, there is hope. Each one of us was made for a reason, bearing the image and likeness of the Lord of Life.”

In his acceptance speech, Romney himself touched on his church, although not in any theological sense.

But those were politicians expected to frame (or reframe) their rhetoric if not their positions to accommodate a political goal.

Instead, the effort to give a personal glimpse into the character of Romney – and to at least indirectly address his faith, which remains an enigma to many Americans – came from fellow church members who told personal stories of Romney’s quiet prayerful support and practical help during times of trouble and deep loss.

“Mitt prayed with and counseled church members seeking spiritual direction, single mothers raising children, couples with marital problems, youth with addictions, immigrants separated from their families, and individuals whose heat had been shut off,” said Grant Bennett of Romney’s years as an unpaid lay pastor. “He found the definition of religion given by James in the New Testament to be a practical guide: ‘Pure religion … is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.’”

Party conventions traditionally bring a bump in the polls for the nominee. In Romney’s case, at least at this point, he needs that more than Barack Obama will after next week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.


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