Mitt Romney scored big victories Tuesday night in the Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island primaries, and basically accepted the Republican nomination in his victory speech. "After 43 primaries and caucuses, many long days and more than a few long nights, I can say with confidence, and gratitude, that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility," Romney declared before a charged crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire, a few months ahead of the Republican National Convention.
The former Massachusetts governor collected 698 delegates prior to Tuesday's primaries and will gain a majority of the 209 delegates at stake tonight; 1,144 delegates are needed to clinch the GOP nomination.
He's not quite there yet, but Romney advanced his platform before a banner that read, “A Better America Begins Tonight." Romney's speech echoed a Ronald Reagan construction, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"
The presumptive nominee posed a series of rhetorical questions and presented several criticisms of President Obama.
Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? Have you saved what you needed for retirement? Are you making more in your job? Do you have a better chance to get a better job? Do you pay less at the pump?
After each question, supporters shouted "No" in unison.
"If the answer were “yes” to those questions," Romney said, "then President Obama would be running for re-election based on his achievements, and rightly so. But because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions. That kind of campaign may have worked at another place and in a different time. But not here and not now. It’s still about the economy, and we’re not stupid."
Romney has focused on Obama in previous post-primary speeches, but facing no real opposition anymore for the Republican nomination, the former Massachusetts governor confidently set the table for a Romney-Obama matchup on November 6. Romney appealed to working mothers, grandparents, and small-business owners, saying, "Hold on a little longer; a better America begins tonight."
And Romney took shots at Obama, positioning himself as the man that can fix the economy. "The last few years have been the best that Barack Obama can do," he said. "Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years and a start of new and better chapter that we will write together."
Romney assailed Obamacare as a bureaucratic mess and condemned the Obama administration's "faulty leadership." Romney also made a call to the electorate at large and preached about fairness.
We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.
It's Obama's move.