Mitt Romney delivered exactly the speech he needed to give last night, no more and no less. His job was to show his human side (as Jonathan wrote) and present himself as presidential, while also reaching out to key groups (women, independents, disenchanted Obama voters). He checked all of those boxes.
There were moving lines in the speech (the rose anecdote, the remarks about children growing up), but Romney seems to know his strengths, and didn’t try to compete against the superstar speakers like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, or Chris Christie. It wouldn’t have worked, and he didn’t need to, anyway. The whole convention lineup leading up to Romney’s speech was effective at personalizing him, vouching for his character, elucidating the Romney-Ryan vision, and offering an ideological critique of Obama’s presidency. By the time Romney took the stage, most of it had already been said; he just had to get the convention over the finish line.
Some wondered why Romney didn’t offer more policy details. After the full-fledged media assault on Paul Ryan yesterday — which was baseless, and ended up detracting from the coverage of an excellent speech — why should Romney have put himself in the same position? While I agree that he has to put out more details on his tax, budget and Medicare plans, he did not have to do it last night. He can do that on the campaign trail or on his website. Voters already trust him over Obama on economic issues. Where Romney lags is on empathy — Americans don’t believe he cares about the struggles of others as much as Obama does. That was the gap he was working on closing last night.