TAMPA, Fla. -- Mitt Romney claimed the Republican nomination for president Tuesday, six years after he first began his run for the White House and on the first full day of a storm-shortened national convention. For months the unofficial nominee, Romney won his party’s formal imprimatur in the traditional roll call of states.
Romney, 65, served as governor of Massachusetts for one term but has rested much of his campaign on his business background as a consultant and venture capitalist. He is also the first Mormon to serve as a major party presidential nominee.
Waving “MITT!” signs and cheering, Republicans celebrated their convention while keeping a wary eye on Hurricane Isaac, as it spun past Tampa and toward New Orleans and the nearby Gulf Coast. Party leaders were hoping to proceed with three full convention days, with vice presidential candidate Paul D. Ryan due to speak Wednesday and Romney scheduled for Thursday.
But like much in a long and contentious campaign, the nominating process didn’t go without bumps in the road. Ron Paul delegates, who have roiled the convention with calls for rules changes and an insistence on placing their candidate’s name in nomination, tipped several states for the Texas congressman.
Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, the secretary of the convention, ignored the Paul votes. When her state cast 22 votes for Paul and six for Romney, for instance, she announced, “Iowa, six, Romney,” without mentioning the Paul votes.
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu formally put Romney’s name into nomination just before 5 p.m. EDT. After the nomination was seconded, the long, raucous and colorful process of state-by-state voting commenced.
New Jersey’s 50 votes put Romney over the 1,144 needed for nomination at about 5:40 p.m., prompting a polite and rather restrained demonstration on the convention floor.
The delegates announcing the votes of the various states included Romney’s brother, Scott, who cast the votes for Michigan, where Romney was born and where their father, George, was governor.
He said he was casting the votes for “Michigan, where Ann Romney and Mitt Romney were born, raised and fell in love. Mitt Romney loves our country. He will bring jobs and opportunity to the poor and middle class. ... He will provide America with leadership in bringing peace and prosperity at home and abroad.” He called Mitt Romney “a man who happens to be my brother and who I love.”
From California, former Gov. Pete Wilson cast the state’s 172 votes, the largest prize.
"At a time when America continues to suffer ... we must instead choose to restore our economy and restore belief in America,” Wilson intoned. He said he was voting “for another champion and another living example of American exceptionalism.”
The roll call featured the usual cross-country Baedeker, as states introduced themselves with occasionally obscure trivia. Colorado was “the home of the greenback trout and the Rocky Mountain columbine"; Delaware was “the first state to ratify the Constitution” and Florid was “the Sunshine State -- well, most times.”
Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, announcing her state’s votes for Romney, called for a moment of silence for all those affected by Tropical Storm Isaac. Carroll said Florida “knows how to prepare for hurricanes and provide hospitality for all visitors.”