Utah congressional candidate Mia Love said Tuesday it's possible to "revive" the American dream she came to know as the daughter of Haitian immigrants by focusing on self-reliance, not President Obama's failed policies.
Love drew rousing cheers Tuesday night during a coveted slot at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
"Mr. President, I'm here to tell you the American people are awake and we're not buying what you're selling in 2012," Love said.
Love is a darling of tea-party and conservative Republicans for her groundbreaking role in state politics as Utah's first black woman to become a mayor.
She now stands to become the first black Republican woman in Congress if she topples Democrat Jim Matheson in the November election.
Love's speech lasted only a few minutes but she was an instant hit, drawing numerous ovations, even chants of "U-S-A."
"Let me tell you about the America I know," she said. "My parents immigrated to this country with 10 dollars in their pockets and the hope the America they heard about really did exist. When tough times came, they did not look to Washington, they looked within. So, the America I grew up knowing was centered in self-reliance and filled with the possibility of living the American dream."
Love took office as mayor of Saratoga Springs two years ago. Dubbed a rising GOP star, she has been getting a lot of support from top Republicans, with more to come.
Arizona Sen. John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner made recent stops in Utah to help Love raise money, and she was endorsed by Ann Romney, the wife of GOP presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in June. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to give Love another boost Sept. 7.
Tuesday, she boosted the crowd.
She called President Obama's version of America a divided one, often pitting people against one another "based on income level, gender and social status."
"We are not better off than we were four years ago and no rhetoric, bumper sticker or Hollywood campaign ad can change that," she said.
She said the American dream is not just her story, or President Obama's story but "our story."
Love said it's possible to restore and revive the American story with Romney and running mate Paul Ryan.
"The world will know it, our children will tell it, and our grandchildren will possess it for years to come," she said.
Matheson held a news conference in Salt Lake City earlier Tuesday, a sharp contrast, he noted, to Love's convention appearance.
"She's back at a party meeting in Florida giving a partisan speech, while I'm here in Utah talking about real issues," he said.
Matheson also accused Love of supporting efforts to get rid of federal aid for college students.
"If you want to talk about pursuing the American dream," he said, "the American dream is about educating ourselves. I'm here in Utah for Utahns standing up for what they want."
Meanwhile, a Democratic-leaning group, the House Majority PAC, launched an online ad claiming Love has consistently supported tax increases in Saratoga Springs.
"If you like how she raised taxes in Utah, you'll love Mia Love in Congress," the ad says.
A local Utah non-profit, the Alliance for a Better UTAH, issued a statement Tuesday claiming Love's plan would eliminate all government support for student loans. The statement said Love put herself through college in Connecticut using federal student aid programs.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.