"Mitt Romney believes that if we succeed in changing the direction of our country, our children and grandchildren will be the most prosperous generation ever, and their achievements will astonish the world," Rubio said in a rousing speech to introduce the nominee.
Romney then entered the arena floor from behind the crowd, shaking hands as he made his way to the stage amid roaring delegates on their feet. He highlighted his family and business experience, then pounded the president, saying Obama did not follow through on promises and left Americans worse off than they were four years ago.
"To the majority of Americans who now believe that the future will not be better than the past, I can guarantee you this: If Barack Obama is re-elected, you will be right," Romney said. "I am running for president to help create a better future. A future where everyone who wants a job can find one. Where no senior fears for the security of their retirement. An America where every parent knows that their child will get an education that leads them to a good job and a bright horizon."
Romney then went through a five-step plan to create 12 million jobs: taking advantage of the country's natural energy resources, providing workers with new skills and offering school choice, forging new trade agreements, cutting the deficit, steering the government toward a balanced budget, cutting taxes and simplifying regulations for small businesses.
"President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet," Romney said. "My promise is to help you and your family."
Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan walked onstage after Romney concluded, and their families joined them as balloons and confetti dropped on an energized convention floor.
Seated in the front row of the Arizona delegation, Rep. Jeff Flake, a Senate candidate, told Roll Call that the speech was "awesome."
"I thought it would be tough to top Paul Ryan's speech, but he did it. He really did," Flake said.
In town for counterprogramming by Democrats, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) was asked in an interview Wednesday what Obama's best argument for re-election is amid high unemployment. Durbin noted unemployment isn't high in every state, and with the Electoral College, it's more telling to look at how well battleground states are doing.
"Our point, and we continue to return to it, is: And their alternative is what?" Durbin said.
That's the question Republicans hoped to answer this week. Democrats are now at bat as the focus turns to Charlotte, N.C., where the party will look to sell Obama's re-election and rally the Democratic base.