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Romney in Tampa as Adviser Stevens Downplays Convention

Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Mitt Romney landed in Tampa, Florida, as his party’s three-day convention got under way to affirm him as the Republican presidential nominee after a delayed start caused by Tropical Storm Isaac.

One of Romney’s top advisers downplayed the importance of the national convention, saying he was unsure whether the gathering would prompt a surge of support for the Republican presidential candidate.

“I just think all bets are off about any past performance being a predictor of the future,” chief strategist Stuart Stevens told reporters on Romney’s campaign plane.

Romney’s stop in Tampa is timed to his wife’s convention speech. Tomorrow, he will go back on the campaign trail with a trip to Indiana, and return Thursday to accept the party’s nomination.

Ann Romney and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be the headline speakers tonight as Republicans kick off their convention with the theme “We Built it.”

“Big government didn’t build America, you built America,” Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell will tell his fellow Republicans in a speech later today, according to excerpts released by the Republican National Convention. “The choice is clear -- the status quo of the entitlement society, or dynamic change to an opportunity society.”

Made-for-TV Event

The made-for-television event got off to a rocky start when supporters of Representative Ron Paul, a Texas Republican who challenged Romney in the primary, began chanting his name when Paul arrived on the floor.

There also was some shouting over a proposed rule change related to Paul’s delegates from Maine being replaced with Romney backers.

Paul declined an invitation to address the convention after Romney’s campaign insisted on approving his remarks. His son, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, is scheduled to speak tomorrow.

The convention has been viewed as an opportunity for each party to make their case to voters who are starting to pay attention to the presidential race.

Romney’s speech will present a “clear vision” of his presidency, said Stevens, laying out his argument against President Barack Obama, reasons for running, and proposals to improve the U.S. economy.

Foreign Policy

He also plans to address foreign policy and the tropical storm bearing down on the Gulf Coast in his Aug. 30 appearance before his party delegates. Romney has been thinking about the speech for months, said Stevens, making notes on broad themes and consulting with advisers and friends across many industries.

Obama, campaigning at Iowa State University in Ames, said the Republican convention “should be a pretty entertaining show.”

“What you won’t hear from them is a path forward that meets the challenge of our time,” Obama told supporters.

Democrats hold their convention starting Sept. 4 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Hurricane Isaac developed today 75 miles (121 kilometers) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, with top sustained winds of 75 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in a special advisory.

Ann Romney confirmed that her husband would attend her speech tonight, saying that he was not initially scheduled to attend. Changes in the schedule because of the storm, she told reporters aboard the campaign plane, made it possible.

Roll Call

Delegates completed the roll-call vote today needed for Romney to officially accept the nomination on Aug. 30.

Ann Romney said today that she worked hard to craft her convention remarks.

“I had a lot of input in this, I must say, and a lot of tweaking where I felt like I was getting what I really wanted to say and from my heart,” she said.

Tonight, she said, will be her first experience reading from a prepared text and using a teleprompter.

“I don’t like it,” she said of the teleprompter. “It’s hard, we’ll see how I do.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Lisa Lerer in Tampa, Florida at; Catherine Dodge in Tampa, Florida at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at

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