It's official - Mitt Romney has formally accepted the Republican Party's nomination for President in a passionate speech closing out the last night of the Republican National Convention.
He walked the red carpet through the crowd in a dark blue suit and red striped tie, shaking hands and greeting ecstatic fans on his way to the stage.
Romney got down to business right away, coming close to tears as he said "I accept your nomination for President of the United States".
The newly-minted Republican nominee called on Americans disappointed with President Obama to to vote him out of office, arguing that Obama has failed to deliver the hope and change he promised four years ago.
“If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama?” Romney asked. “You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.”
He took a dig at Obama's 'You didn't build that' line, saying "In America we celebrate success, we don't apologize for success."
Romney advisors told CNN that the candidate's biggest challenge for the speech was to cut through the stiff and out-of-touch perception that's been created for him by his opponents. His goal, they said, is to improve his likability and make the case that Romney understands the struggle that middle class Americans face.
Romney softened his image by easing up on the tough language he has been using to slam Obama on the campaign trail and instead focused on pulling in voters disenchanted with the President.
“The time has come to turn the page. The time has come for us to put the disappointments of the last four years behind us,” Romney said, “to put aside the divisiveness and the recriminations, to forget about what might have been and look ahead to what can be."
The Republican party has a lot riding on the success of Romney's speech. CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen said the speech needed "to be more soaring and set a vision of where we could go under his leadership that is compelling."
Romney made a point of appealing to women, quoting his mother Lenore during her run for Senate, "Why should women have any less say than men in the great decisions facing our nation?"
He praised successful women in politics including Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and former secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"If could I use a metaphor, it's like a plane. I think Paul Ryan put one wing on the plane. ... Ann Romney put another wing on the plane. ... Condi Rice put some fuel in the engine. Now, Mitt Romney has got to fly the plane," he said.
Romney's accepting of the nomination comes with financial benefits as well. While he was still the 'presumptive nominee' he was limited to only spending money raised for the primary campaign.
Now that the primaries are officially over, Romney can start spending from his huge war chest of general election funds.
The Romney/Ryan ticket has already received a so-called 'convention bounce' in the polls. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Thursday showed Romney with a slight lead over Obama, 44 percent to 42 percent, after starting the week down by 4 points.
Such convention bounces are usually short lived and the Romney campaign is going to start spending their huge cache of adverting money in earnest once the Democrats take the spotlight next week in Charlotte, NC.