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US Election

United behind Romney

The US Republicans have nominated Mitt Romney as presidential candidate and Paul Ryan as his running mate. And Ann Romney worked hard to convince the delegates that Romney is a nice guy.

Ann Sullivan is convinced: her home state of North Carolina will help Mitt Romney become the next president of the United States. "We're motivated," says the delegate from Goldsboro. "We're a little bit more savvy than we were the last time. We were not prepared for the onslaught that took place - we are this time."

North Carolina, where the Democrats will shortly be holding their party convention, is one of the election's battleground states. President Obama only just won the traditionally conservative state in 2008, but Romney's currently ahead in the polls.

After the postponement of the start of the convention because of Hurricane Isaac, on the first real day, Ann Sullivan has thrown herself into the mood of the event: her hat is adorned with the Stars and Stripes, she's wearing a Republican red t-shirt and a necklace of Republic elephant mascots. In her hotel in St. Petersburg, she's getting ready to cross the bay to Tampa for the convention. She's been involved in politics for over 40 years. She's a supporter of family values, and that's why she trusts Mitt Romney, who's been married to his wife Ann for 43 years and has five sons.

Christian values are the most important

Christian values are important to her, but she doesn't mind that Romney is a Mormon - after all, they believe in Jesus and the bible too. "What bothers me more is that we have someone sitting in the White House who doesn't go to church," she says, "and apparently his children don't go to church, so they're not getting raised with any spiritual background." Obama has been to a few services during his term in office, but that's not enough for Ann Sullivan.

She sees herself as a member of the Tea Party movement and thinks highly of Herman Cain, who has just addressed her delegation over breakfast. Cain is a former businessman who withdrew from the presidential race during the primaries following allegations of sexual harassment, but he's still one of the Tea Party icons.

The Tea Party is a loose grouping to the right of the Republican Party. It doesn't have its own organization, but its supporters agree on wanting a smaller state, fewer taxes, free enterprise and conservative Christian values. But their representatives, like Herman Cain, have currently only one aim: "I'm on a mission, and that is to defeat Barack Obama," Cain told the delegates over breakfast. He's now rooting for his former rival: he said he could see for himself that Romney was not just the best man for the job, he was also a nice guy - after all, he'd met him many times during the primaries.

Tea Party unites to back Romney

So the Tea Party has now united behind Romney, even if he isn't their favorite - at least he isn't Obama. It wasn't like that not too long ago: Republican politicians who were part of the establishment or who didn't support the Tea Party were being dropped like hot bricks. The movement succeeded in getting many of its candidates into Congress in 2010 and managed to deprive the Democrats of their majority.

As Herman Cain told DW after his speech to the North Carolina delegation, "The selection of Rep. [Paul] Ryan [as running-mate] goes a long way to help excite the Tea Party base, because Rep. Ryan is perceived as very clearly conservative." Ryan, he said, stands for the Tea Party's three main demands: he is a fiscal conservative, supports the free market and wants to strengthen the constitution. "That's all the Tea Party is looking for, and when you take Rep. Ryan and complement Governor Romney's leadership experiences, I think we have a very strong ticket."

Ron Paul's supporters mix things up

But there was still Ron Paul: his supporters were still mixing things up at the convention on Tuesday. He hadn't yet withdrawn his candidacy and he still had some delegates. While Romney's other primary opponents released their candidates to support him, Paul's were the only ones who were out of line when Romney won the nomination overwhelmingly.

The delegates also passed the election program, which included concessions to the conservative Christian and Tea Party wings of the party: it confirms marriage as being only between a man and a woman, bans abortion without exceptions, and demands a change to the constitution to enforce a balanced budget.

Warm words and fighting spirit

At the end of the day came the worm words: Ann Romney gave an emotional speech about the human side of her husband. "He's warm and loving and patient," she told the delegates - and the American people. "He's tried to live his life with a set of values centered on family, faith and love of one's fellow man." He was always prepared to help without much fuss if someone was in need. And she promised there would be no-one who would work harder to make the country better to live in than Mitt Romney: "This man will not fail."

And she tried to win over those voters who have so far had their problems with Romney: "You are the best of America," she said to rapturous applause. "You are the hope of America. There would not be an America without you. Tonight we salute you and sing your praises."

The last speech of the evening belonged to New Jersey governor Chris Christie, whom many would have liked to have seen as candidate, or at least running-mate. It was a fighting speech, in which he called on the delegates to look uncomfortable facts in the eye. For example, the huge government deficit might require unpopular measures.

"We win when we make it about what needs to be done," he said. "We lose when we play along with their game of scaring and dividing." At the end of the day the delegates know that they only have a chance of defeating Obama if they stand solidly behind Romney.

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