Mia Love speech at Republican National Convention 'pitch perfect' on national stage

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 28 2012 10:34 p.m. MDT

Mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, Mia Love addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Charlie Neibergall, AP

TAMPA, Fla. — The crowd was so loud by the end of 4th District congressional candidate Mia Love's speech Tuesday to the Republican National Convention that it was all but impossible for members of the Utah delegation to hear her final words.

It didn't matter.

The delegates chanted "Mia, Mia, Mia" while waving bright orange towels emblazoned with her name while state GOP Chairman Thomas Wright high-fived Love campaign consultant Stephen Hunter.

"She couldn't have done any better," Wright said of what was supposed to be a two minute speech that went on much longer because of the repeated cheers, whoops and chants.

"She really feeds off of it," he said of the crowd's enthusiasm. "We saw it in the state convention, when she gave a great speech that she won the nomination with, when she really wasn't supposed to win."

Hunter marveled at her poise.

"At every level, she was pitch perfect. It was awesome," he said. "She went way longer and she handled it well. She didn't start speaking and get nervous. She just absorbed it. It was cool. It was so cool."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he spoke to Love earlier about the speech. "I said, 'Mia, are you OK, are you a little bit uptight?' She said, 'Oh, no, I'm going to go out there and knock them cold,'" Hatch said. "She's going to be a tremendous superstar in our party."

Hatch shook his head. "It's unnerving to get out there and then people are applauding and yelling, 'Mia, Mia, Mia' and then, 'USA, USA'….you know you only have so much time. She handled it with aplomb."

Even one of Love's rivals for the GOP nomination in the state's newest congressional district said her performance will bring more national attention to her campaign, already backed by party leaders.

"I think just the idea that she is a breaking a lot of stereotypes of what a Republican is, being female and black….I think she did break out," said former Utah House Rep. Stephen Sandstrom. "It was a good move."

Love would be the first black GOP woman in Congress if she defeats the only Democrat Utah has sent to Washington, Rep. Jim Matheson.

Love's husband, Jason, watched from the VIP seats alongside the wife of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Tagg Romney, one of Mitt Romney's five sons.

"I was nervous. Every time she's on stage, it's like I'm on stage," Jason Love said. "She has nerves of steel and I'm a little more timid."

Before her speech, a video featuring Love talking about herself and her campaign was shown. It included shots of her young family, her work as an exercise instructor and as mayor of Saratoga Springs.

On stage, she began her speech by saying she was "thrilled to add Utah's voice to support for Mitt Romney," then launched into the story of her Haitian immigrant parents and the other "patriots and pioneers" who help ground America in self-reliance.

She went after President Barack Obama, calling his vision of the country "a divided one, often pitting us against each other based on income level, gender and social status."

One of her biggest applause lines came when she said, "We are not better off than we were four years ago, and no rhetoric, bumper sticker or Hollywood campaign can change that."

Love appeared to relish the moment, smiling broadly and even pausing for the crowd's reactions, thanking them for their applause.

"I kind of fed off the energy and Utah was right there," Love said. "I was really excited. It felt comfortable." She laughed when asked if she was concerned her time on stage might be cut short because her speech was lasting longer than scheduled.

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