Mitt Romney’s victory speech in New Hampshire was more pep rally for American exceptionalism than an exercise in specifics, but he certainly was more energetic and strident than he was a week ago.
Romney’s speech was like a road map of themes he would run in the general election: Blistering in his criticism of President Obama, Romney vowed to save the “soul” of America. He called for a “military so powerful no one will think of challenging it,” and for vigorous support of Israel. He made several references to Obama’s desire to turn to U.S. into Europe — or “what Europe has become” — and cast himself as the candidate of free enterprise.
Only one moment was unexpected, attacking the Republicans who have attacked him for his career at Bain Capital, like Newt Gingrich. “President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial. In the past few days, we have seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him.”
He seemed to be trying to evoke Ronald Reagan of thirty years ago, running against a weak Jimmy Carter and a country in “malaise.” He even used Reagan’s phrasing — like “city upon a hill” — albeit not with the same finesse. But the point of the speech, in which he didn’t seem to stray at all from the script, was to contrast himself to Obama, even turning the president’s own words against him.
“The last three years have held a lot of change, but they haven’t held a lot of hope,” he said.