Published August 28, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. – Mia Love isn't a household name yet.
But by the end of the Republican National Convention, she could be, after delivering her breakout speech Tuesday evening in Tampa.
Her profile and backstory alone have made her a compelling presence in the conservative movement. She is a first-generation Haitian-American, a Mormon and a small-town Utah mayor. Love, who is black, is also running for Congress in mostly white Utah. If elected, she would be the first black Republican woman ever to serve in Congress.
In her address Tuesday night, the mayor of Saratoga Springs presented herself to the nation as the embodiment of the American dream -- and touched on themes of self-reliance, small government and fiscal responsibility.
"My parents immigrated to the U.S. with $10 in their pocket, believing that the America they had heard about really did exist," Love said. "When times got tough they didn't look to Washington, they looked within ... So the America I came to know was centered in personal responsibility and filled with the American dream."
The 36-year-old mayor, who is in an uphill race against popular incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, described President Obama's vision for the country as a "divided one" that she said is "pitting us against each other based on our income level, gender and social status."
"His policies have failed. We are not better off than we were four years ago, and no rhetoric, bumper sticker or Hollywood campaign ad can change that," she said. "Mr. President, I am here to tell you we are not buying what you are selling in 2012."
Convention organizers sought to put the spotlight on Love's personal story by airing a short video before her remarks.
This is Love's story: Her parents left Haiti for the U.S. 39 years ago. Her father worked several jobs to support the family, including paying for his daughter to attend the University of Hartford, where she graduated with a degree in fine arts.
"I remember taking my dad to college with me on the first day of orientation and he looked at me very seriously, and he said, 'Mia, your mother and I have done everything we could to get you here. We've worked hard. We've never taken a handout. You're not going to be a burden to society. You will give back,'" Love said in an interview Tuesday with Fox News.
"It actually stayed with me," she said.
Love, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised primarily in Connecticut, moved to Utah in 1997 and married Jason Love. She converted to Mormonism and served on the Saratoga City Council for six years before running for mayor.
Love, a favorite among the Tea Party movement, champions fiscal responsibility and limited government. Her chief mission, she says, is to run a "fiscally sound city."
"It's not rocket science," she told Fox News. "The most I've done is really step out of the way and allowed the economy to thrive ... allowed businesses to come and add resources."
She went on to criticize the Obama administration for running what she described as a divisive campaign.
"If you listen to even the vice president's comments when he comes out and he says 'They want to put ya'll back in chains' ... it's inappropriate," she told Fox News, referring to Vice President Biden's controversial remarks two weeks ago in which he told voters that Romney planned to "unchain Wall Street" and that "they're gonna put y'all back in chains."
Love has also spoken openly about her Mormon faith, saying that "you're going to find a lot of similarities with any Christian faith." Her remarks could help Romney, who is also Mormon, in dispelling any public misperceptions about his faith.