Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Parade of Would-Be Romney VPs Advocate for Nominee

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice got the warmest response of the night from the crowd at the Republican National Convention as it awaited vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's acceptance speech.

Portman got a muted response to his speech, which focused on economic issues and hit Obama on his economic record.

"You cannot spend your way, regulate your way, tax your way or blame your way out of the economic mess we are in," Portman said. "You have to compete and win in the global economy. Gov. Romney understands this."

"America has a choice between Mitt Romney, who seeks to grow the economy, and Barack Obama who seeks to redistribute it," he said. "Which one do you think will liberate America's entrepreneurial spirit?"

"Rom-ney, Rom-ney, Rom-ney," delegates chanted.

At the Ohio delegation, there was no sense of disappointment that Portman wasn't the vice presidential nominee.

"We were all rooting for him," said Debbie Hymore-Tester, an Ohio delegate. "He would have been a great choice, but he didn't get it and we're all supporting Mitt's choice."

The theme of the night was "we can change it," though that narrative didn't resonate particularly strongly through the speeches.

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the 2008 Republican nominee for president, also addressed the crowd, with a speech heavy on foreign policy and criticism of Obama.

"Our president is not being true to our values," he said.

Sen. John Thune (S.D.) also spoke.

Early in the program, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul - perhaps a future White House contender - got the crowd warmed up with a strongly delivered speech. Delegates gave him loud and sustained cheers from as he knocked the Affordable Care Act.

"I think if James Madison himself ... were here today, he would agree with me: The whole damn thing is still unconstitutional!" he said to whoops and applause.

Paul didn't stray from his libertarian roots. He made a small dig at the military-industrial complex and his party. "Republicans must acknowledge that not every dollar spent on the military is necessary or well-spent," he said. And he got loud cheers when he said, "We must never - never - trade our liberty for any fleeting promise of security."

Abby Livingston contributed to this report.

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