Convention gives raging Republicans space to vent about Obama
While party luminaries trumpeted the politics and character of their nominee Mitt Romney, they spent significant time onstage offering blistering, prime-time critiques of the president and what they almost universally described as nearly four years of failed leadership.
Speaker of the House John Boehner set the tone at the opening, exhorting a crowd of thousands to "throw him out!"
"He can't fix the economy because he doesn't know how it was built," Boehner said to roars of approval.
"His record is a shadow of his rhetoric. Yet he has the nerve to say that he's moving us forward, and the audacity to hope that we'll believe him," he said, in a play on the title of Obama's best-selling book, The Audacity of Hope.
"So in 70 days, when the American people walk into the voting booth, what should we do? Throw him out!" the Republican lawmaker said after a passionate call and response. "Because we can do better. We can do a lot better."
Energetic congressman Paul Ryan, Romney's vice-presidential nominee, mined the same theme on Wednesday night, painting Obama as a political has-been whose broken policies were drowning the country in debt.
"They've run out of ideas," Ryan told a packed convention ... Their moment came and went. Fear and division are all they've got left."
'A pretty entertaining show'
Before the Republicans opened their nominating convention, Obama knew they would try to slam him.
"This week in Tampa my opponents will offer you their agendas. It should be a pretty entertaining show – I'm sure they will, you know, have some wonderful things to say about me," Obama said.
With $16-trillion in debt, unemployment at 8.3%, Republicans see the languishing economy as Obama's Achilles's heel.
And they have used the spotlight provided by the convention to attack. They highlighted the fact that Romney is a multimillionaire businessman who has created jobs and have tried to paint a stark contrast to Obama's career in politics.
From the convention stage to the arena hallways, the accusation echoes that Obama's policies have put the country on the wrong path.
The last Republican nominee, John McCain, himself the target of blistering negative attacks during his runs for the White House, told reporters this election has been "the dirtiest and nastiest campaign I have seen in all my years in politics."
In his convention speech, he accused Obama of failing to lead and "not being true to our values".
'Single most important' goal
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who in 2010 said "the single most important" goal was to make Obama a one-term president, slammed him for being "missing in action on the greatest challenges of the day".
"Our nation is in desperate need of leadership," he lamented.
Illinois congressman Aaron Schock, who at 31 is the youngest US lawmaker, said Obama "has failed to turn the economy around [and] has dramatically increased our debts".
The fiery rhetoric is aimed at inspiring the party's conservative base – and it is working.
Bruce Thompson, a delegate from San Diego, California, said Obama will go down as "the worst president ever".
"He has accomplished nothing," Thompson added. "He was incompetent before he became president and he is still incompetent."
Americans voted for a man "they want to go and have a beer with", but ended up with an indecisive president who listens to "people who are guiding him in a socialist way".
"He doesn't really love America," he said.
"He may like America, but doesn't like our founding fathers, he doesn't like what we stand for, he doesn't like the fact that people make money, and he is always trying to redistribute money from the rich to the poor." – AFP