Republicans` eyes now on conservative VP nominee

Republicans looked forward to hearing from Romney`s running mate, whose speech at the party`s national convention was expected to energise conservatives.

Tampa (US): Excited Republicans on Wednesday looked forward to hearing from Mitt Romney`s running mate, whose speech at the party`s national convention was expected to both energise and reassure conservatives who had been wary of their nominee to unseat President Barack Obama.

Vice presidential nominee Raul Ryan`s address will highlight the convention`s second day, after Romney`s wife and others played to the deep economic anxiety of US voters and promised to end what they called Obama`s "era of absentee leadership."

The convention was turning, if briefly, toward foreign affairs issues today. Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state under former President George W Bush, was also scheduled to speak.

She told "CBS This Morning" the United States has been "muted" in world affairs under Obama, creating a chaotic and dangerous security environment, and that US policy on Syria has been ineffective.

Delegates rocked the convention`s first night with enthusiasm for Romney, the multi-millionaire former Massachusetts governor, ending his yearslong quest for the party`s top honor. As the first full day built toward a crescendo, Ann Romney brought a message aimed toward women voters, speaking lovingly of her husband but avoiding sensitive political issues such as abortion.

His nomination now official, Romney was free at last to start using his general-election campaign cash in what is expected to be the most expensive election ever.
The Republican festival played out against a backdrop of polling that shows the race a dead even. Voters say they trust Romney more on economic issues but find Obama the more likable candidate.

Ryan`s speech today faced the challenge of making the 42-year-old appealing to the independent voters whose choices are key in the tight race. Ryan is considered a hero of conservatives, but his controversial budget proposals have caused headaches for Romney and dominated the story line of the campaign.

A poll by the Pew Research Center and The Washington Post found Americans deeply divided about Ryan, whom they described as conservative, intelligent, fake and phony.

In advance of Ryan`s speech, the Obama campaign released an online video targeting him as a politician from a "bygone era." The video criticises him for being the architect of a budget that would overhaul the federal health care system for seniors and for seeking to defund Planned Parenthood, a national non-governmental organisation that provides health care to poor women and counsels those seeking abortions.

Republican exuberance so far has been tempered as Hurricane Isaac hit the southern Louisiana coast just as the evening festivities began, driving a wall of water inland before heading on to New Orleans. Both parties are mindful of how leaders are judged on responses to the storm.