"Today the time has come for us to put the disappointments of the last four years behind us," Romney told the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., during his acceptance speech.
"Now is the time to restore the 'Promise of America,'" Romney said. "Many Americans have given up on this president, but they haven't ever thought about giving up. Not on themselves. Not on each other. And not on America."
As the lyrics of Kid Rock's "Born Free" filled the auditorium, Romney walked from the back of the Tampa Bay Times Forum auditorium to the stage shaking hands, saying hello and thanking folks along and near the aisle.
"Mr. Chairman and delegates, I accept your nomination for president of the United States," Romney said to a cheering, applauding crowd waving banners.
Romney said he was running "to help create a better future. A future where everyone who wants a job can find one. Where no senior fears for the security of their retirement. An America where every parent knows that their child will get an education that leads them to a good job and a bright horizon."
Hope and change, the theme of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, "is not what America wanted; is not what America expected. It was what America deserved," Romney said as the crowd chanted "USA! USA! USA!"
"I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed," Romney said.
Many Americans were excited on Election Day in 2008 because of the powerful appeal of hope and change, Romney said. But that enthusiasm has faded.
"But tonight I'd ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he's President Obama?" Romney said.
The centerpiece of Obama's campaign attacks success, he said.
"In America we celebrate success, we don't apologize for success," Romney said.
Figuring out what America needs is neither complicated nor profound, Romney said.
"What America needs is jobs," he said. "Lots of jobs."
Romney said he and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have a five-step plan to create 12 million new jobs.
First, North America will be energy independent by 2020 by "taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables."
Next, America's workers will get the skills they need for jobs now and in the future.
"When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance," he said.
Third, new trade agreements will be reached that tip the balance in favor of the United States.
"And when nations cheat in trade," he vowed, "there will be unmistakable consequences."
The fourth element is to assure all entrepreneurs and job creators their investments in the United States "will not vanish as have those in Greece; we will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget."
Finally, a Romney presidency "will champion small businesses, America's engine of job growth."
He said taxes on business would be reduced, not raised, and regulations that hurt small businesses would be simplified and modernized.
And it means "we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of healthcare by repealing and replacing Obamacare [the Affordable Care Act]," Romney said to thunderous applause.
Among other things, Romney said he would "honor the sanctity of marriage" and would ensure the religious freedoms under the First Amendment.
Also, during a Romney administration "our [global] friends will see more loyalty" and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will see more backbone," he said.
He said his administration would honor America's democratic ideals "because a free world is a more peaceful world."
Under his presidency, "we will return" to the bipartisan foreign policy legacy of Presidents Harry Truman, a Democrat, and Ronald Reagan, a Republican, Romney said.
"The America we all know has been a story of the many becoming one, uniting to preserve liberty, uniting to build the greatest economy in the world, uniting to save the world from unspeakable darkness," Romney said.
And when people -- no matter their race, party affiliation or work -- live and defend one flag and when [they] pledge allegiance, they do so "to the United States of America," Romney said.
"That America, that united America, can unleash an economy that will put Americans back to work, that will once again lead the world with innovation and productivity," he said, "and that will restore every father and mother's confidence that their children's future is brighter even than the past."
If elected president, Romney pledged to work "with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future."
"That future is our destiny," he said in closing. "That future is out there. It is waiting for us. Our children deserve it; our nation depends upon it; the peace and freedom of the world require it. And with your help we will deliver it. Let us begin that future for America tonight."
"Living in America" blared through the auditorium after his speech. Red white and blue confetti and balloons fell from the ceiling onto the stage and the audience. Running mate Ryan joined Romney on stage, as did their wives, children and grandchildren. Children jumped around on the stairs, tossing balloons and throwing confetti.
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