President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign slogan of hope was turned against him Tuesday evening at the Republican Convention in Tampa as speakers lambasted the president for his time in office while rallying around GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's call for economic reform.
Texas' Ted Cruz, whose late July victory over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the state's Senate Republican primary race all but assures him the vacant seat, blamed the Obama administration's spending for the economic problems and growing debt that U.S. faces today.
"Many in Washington seem content to saddle our children with a financial debt larger than our nation has ever seen," Cruz said. "Government is out of control, and we're going broke."
The Tea Party favorite referenced the giant national debt clock that the RNC hung inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum, which stood at the time of the speech just below $16 trillion.
"How do we turn things around? How do we get America back to work? President Obama thinks the answer is more and more government," Cruz said as the crowd booed. "Government is not the answer. You are not doing anyone a favor by creating dependency, destroying individual responsibility."
Cruz mentioned his father's working class, immigrant past as a counter example to government aid for immigrants and people in need. Born in Cuba, Cruz's father came to Texas in 1957, where he worked his way through the University of Texas and eventually opened his own business in the oil and gas industry.
"When he came to America, 'no tenía nada, pero tenía corazón' He had nothing, but he had heart. A heart for freedom," Cruz said, uttering the first words in Spanish by a GOP speaker this year. "Fifty-five years ago, when my dad was a penniless teenage immigrant, thank God some well-meaning bureaucrat didn't put his arm around him and say let me take care of you..That would have been the most destructive thing anyone could have done."
Speaking earlier in the evening, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval also played up his family's working class, immigrant roots.
The son of Mexican immigrants, Sandoval said that he went from his first job cleaning sheep pens to putting himself through law school to becoming attorney general of Nevada.
"My story could end there, but this is America. And so, in 2005, a simple son of promise was appointed by President Bush, and confirmed by the United States Senate as a federal judge," Sandoval said. "I saw in my courtroom the fulfillment of all that our forefathers sought to create. A nation of laws. A nation of due process and merit and justice for all. And yes, a nation of immigrants."
The normally upbeat Sandoval then shifted gears to make what is arguably his first real jab at the Obama administration when he too backed Romney's main talking point in the presidential election: the economy.
"I have seen Hispanic business owners and families from backgrounds -- not unlike my own -- struggle in this economy," Sandoval said. "Make no mistake: The current administration's failed experiment with big government gets in the way of economic recovery. Their love affair with government regulation is a drag on business confidence."
Nevada economy over the past few years went from boom to bust. The swing state currently suffers from the nation's highest unemployment rate in the country, as well as one of the worst foreclosure markets.
The Obama camp didn't seem surprised by the remarks made by Cruz, Sandoval or any of the other speakers in Tampa.
"I think in general all the speeches today had very little essence or message to Hispanics from the Republican party that has adopted the most extreme immigration platform in modern history," said Gabriela Domenzain, the director of Hispanic press for Obama for America. "I don’t think that what was said tonight moved the Republican party any closer to supporting policies that Hispanics care about and support."
In the presidential race, Obama's challenge in Nevada is its ailing economy, while Romney faces a better-organized and better-funded state Democratic Party machine with a victorious track record. A Latino Decisions and ImpreMedia of Latino registered voters released Monday showed that 65 percent support Obama and 26 percent support Romney.
"Like so many. I looked around for help. And what did I find?" Sandoval said. "A president who promised change, but turned instead to the same tired strategy of ever-larger government. A president who abandoned hope and embraced only blame."
Bryan Llenas contributed reporting from Tampa, Florida.
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