"So, President Obama, with all due respect, don't tell me that my parents didn't build their business," Haley said.
Ayotte detailed her husband's journey to start a small business, a landscaping and snowplowing company.
"And when I say he - I mean we - because I spent many a sleepless night shoveling snow," Ayotte said. "And I'm proud of the fact that in addition to being a United States Senator - I'm also pretty good with a snow plow!"
Nationally known GOP governors followed in the program, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
"We need a president who will say to a small-business woman: Congratulations, we applaud your success, you did make that happen, you did build that in America!" McDonnell said, referencing a woman who runs a Chantilly, Va., design firm.
Even Speaker John Boehner used the nightly theme to describe his family's business - a bar in southwestern Ohio.
"That was our business - and we did build that," he said in his brief remarks.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) also took the stage - Romney's only former opponent with a speaking slot. Santorum's remarks barely mentioned the Republican who defeated him. Instead, the former Senator elaborated on the conservative social issues that helped him win delegates through the primary process.
"In November we have a chance to vote for life and liberty, not dependency," Santorum said. "A vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will put our country back in the hands of leaders who understand what America can and, for the sake of our children, must be to keep the dream alive."
Some of the most partisan comments came from former Rep. Artur Davis, a former Alabama Democrat who recently switched parties and moved to Virginia.
"Some of you may know, the last time I spoke at a convention, it turned out I was in the wrong place," Davis said. "So, Tampa, my fellow Republicans, thank you for welcoming me where I belong."
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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