Throughout this week Lord Ashcroft has been submitting a diary from Tampa, Florida where the Republicans met to nominate Mitt Romney for the US Presidency.
The final night of the Convention, and the last big chance to introduce Mitt Romney to the nation. In advance of his speech, Olympians, members of the church of which he was pastor, and former colleagues vouched sturdily, and sometimes movingly, for the Governor's character and competence. Tom Stemberg, the founder of Staples (in which Romney's company, Bain Capital, invested), said he was well qualified to control government spending: when he first told Mitt about his plan for a chain of office supply stores "he got really excited about the idea of saving a few cents on paper clips". Clint Eastwood was a popular choice as the surprise special guest. People think Hollywood types are all "left of Lenin", he said, but there were some Republicans too: "they just don't go round hotdoggin' it".
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, whom I had met a few months ago and briefed on the state of British politics, invited me to watch the acceptance speech from his skybox. It will soon be clear how far Romney's performance has gone to establishing himself in the public mind as something other than (as one insider put it) "John Kerry without the medals". Romney's best lines contrasted his own approach with that of his opponent: "President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. [Pause for prolonged laughter]. My promise is to help you and your family". Republican strategists anticipate only a small bounce in the polls, but expect the jobs figures out at the end of next week to neutralise whatever small gains Obama could expect from his own Convention.