Aug 28, 2012 / 3:00 pm
TAMPA, Fla. - Republicans bestowed their presidential nomination on Mitt Romney on Tuesday, turning to the former Massachusetts governor and millionaire businessman to drive Barack Obama from the White House and usher in a new era of small-government conservatism.
The overwhelming, enthusiastic vote of delegates at the Republican National Convention belied Romney's long, difficult road to the party's nomination: losing to Sen. John McCain four years ago and fending off a series of rivals in a brutal nomination fight this year.
In the end, Republicans cast aside doubts about Romney's conservative credentials and bet that American voters would be persuaded that Romney's business acumen was just what America needed in dreary economic times.
But Republican exuberance was tempered as Hurricane Isaac neared the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, likely to strike the same states hit by Hurricane Katrina seven years ago.
The storm prompted Republicans to cancel the first day of the convention. Though it no longer threatens Tampa, Republicans wanted to avoid holding a boisterous political celebration just as the storm was unleashing its fury.
With Romney's candidacy now official, and Obama's renomination assured at next week's Democratic convention, U.S. voters will face a clear-cut clash of ideologies: Romney, conservative on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion, favours cutting taxes, slashing the government and repealing Obama's signature health care overhaul - even though it was modeled after one of his own programs as governor. Obama is liberal on social issues, wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and sees government as a potential force for good.
Polls show the race a dead heat, with the economy the top issue in the campaign. Voters say they trust Romney more on economic issues, but find Obama to be the more likable candidate.
Associated Press writers David Espo, Brian Bakst, Thomas Beaumont, Tamara Lush, Brendan Farrington, Julie Mazziotta, Steve Peoples, Kasie Hunt and Philip Elliott in Florida and Steven Ohlemacher, Alicia A. Caldwell and Jennifer Agiesta in Washington contributed to this report.
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