TAMPA, FLORIDA -- Mitt Romney slammed US President Barack Obama's treatment of Israel and Iran in making his case to the American people Thursday night that he should win the White House, in a speech officially accepting the nomination of the Republican party.
"President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus," Romney declared, with the packed convention hall breaking into boos due to Obama's handling of the Jewish state.
The sentiment is one Romney has expressed previously on the campaign trail and which has raised ire among Democrats for what they consider to be an unfair characterization of the president's record.
Romney, who has emphasized economic policy issues, also attacked the current commander-in-chief for not ending Iran's nuclear program.
"Every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat," the new Republican presidential nominee charged. "He said we should talk to Iran. We’re still talking, and Iran’s centrifuges are still spinning."
Romney also used rhetorical flourishes to put down his Democratic opponent's approach to foreign policy.
"I will begin my presidency with a jobs tour," he pledged. "President Obama began with an apology tour."
He also hit on the theme of American exceptionalism that has been articulated by politicians again and again at the Republican National Convention.
Recalling Neil Armstrong's historic walk on the moon, he said the achievement was one that showed that "when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American."
Romney also touched briefly on his Mormon faith, a topic that has posed an obstacle for some voters and one that the campaign has shied away from talking about. He is the first Mormon to receive the nomination of a major American party.
Growing up as a Mormon in Michigan, he noted that might have seemed "unusual" or "out of place" to his neighbors but he didn't remember it being that way.
"My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church we went to," he explained.
Marco Rubio, a rising Florida senator popular with the Tea Party who was vetted for the vice presidential nomination, also mentioned the role of faith in his address introducing Romney.
"We're bound together by common values -- that family is the most important institution in society, that almighty God is the source of all we have," he said.
"Our national motto is 'In God we Trust, reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all."
In an effort to inject a shot of Hollywood glamor into the convention, actor Clint Eastwood spoke before Romney. His appearance fired up the crowd, although his long, rambling and sometimes incoherent blast at Obama frequently fell flat.
"When somebody does not do the job we've got to let them go," Eastwood said.
Romney and Obama have been running close in polls ahead of the election, but the convention so far has given Romney a boost. The latest Reuters/Ipsos online poll showed him moving into a narrow lead over Obama -- 44 percent to 42 percent among likely voters. The Republican had entered the week trailing Obama by four percentage points.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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