by Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Millions of Americans got their first real introduction to U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney as he spoke at Thursday' s GOP national convention in a bid to grab votes in the November elections.
Politicos, journalists and Washington-watchers are familiar with Romney. But for the average American, his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination was the first time many have lent an ear to the challenger.
"Tonight is a lot about Romney just introducing himself," said Mike Franc, vice president for government studies at the Heritage Foundation.
Franc said that the average American still knows little about the man who aims to take the White House. "This is his debutant ball. He' s coming out and showing himself to the American people."
Romney appealed to the audience with his personal narrative, stories of his parents, his wife and of raising his five sons, and intertwined jabs at U.S. President Barack Obama with promises to create 12 million jobs.
"I wish Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed," he said, taking a swipe at the president for what he billed as steering the country in the wrong direction amid a sluggish recovery from the worst recession in decades.
"This president cannot tell us that you' re better off than when he took office... today the time has come to turn the page," he said.
In one of many notes of optimism, he said it' s time to look ahead to the "promise of America," adding that he has a plan to make the country energy independent, forge new trade agreements, provide more school choice, work toward a balanced budget and champion small businesses.
Romney added that he would repeal and replace Obama' s health care reform, to audience applause, and would not raise taxes on the middle class.
In a note of pragmatism, he said that while Obama promised to "heal the planet, My promise is to help you and your family."
Romney was faced with shaking off the image that team Obama' s attack ads have attempted to craft - that of a heartless uber-capitalist who has always known privilege and who is incapable of understanding the plight of the average American amid ongoing high unemployment and a sluggish economy.
The 65-year-old has also in the past come across as boring, stiff and dry in comparison to Obama, a gifted orator who can connect with his audience perhaps better than most presidents in history.
Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, said the challenger neither floundered nor hit the ball out of the park.
"He did okay," he said of Romney' s performance.
"He has certainly provided a better sense of why we would understand Romney as an individual and a private sector leader," Mahaffee said.
Romney laid out how he believed he would be different than Obama, but there were very few clear details about the future, as he leaned more on references to the past and restoring American preeminence, he noted.
"His speech certainly allowed him to break through the perception that he is alienating or aloof," he said. "A scripted setting such as this was too difficult to bring about likability. He did establish a sense of competence."
Other analysts said that he would not, if elected president, be remembered as a great communicator, although he would likely be a more pragmatic leader.