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Charlie Rose: Convention about defining Romney, inspiring confidence

Posted August 30, 2012 5:11 p.m. EDT
Updated August 30, 2012 7:55 p.m. EDT

— Veteran journalist and North Carolina native Charlie Rose said the biggest challenge for Republicans this week is letting voters know more about Mitt Romney and what his presidency would mean for the American people.

Rose, who spoke with WRAL News Thursday morning from the set of "CBS This Morning" at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, has covered nearly every political convention since 1968. He called the events "democracy in action."

"What you see here is the effort of a party to say, 'This is who we are and this is our candidate, and we want you to know him and we want you to know what our vision is for the future,'" he said. 

He said people are still unsure about Republican nominee Romney. 

The Democrats, whose convention kicks off Monday in Charlotte, don't have to explain President Barack Obama and can instead focus on the crucial issues affecting the country, most notably jobs and the economy.

"Mitt Romney is a candidate (about whom) there is still a sense of 'Who is he exactly?' because he has had different positions on different issues in different roles," Rose said. "Whether it was as a moderate governor of Massachusetts or whether it was running a business or whether it was running the Olympics – all of those things are different."

The concern for conservative voters, then, is what Romney's positions will be as president of the United States.

"I talked to a conservative Republican who said to me, 'There's not much difference between where Mitt Romney is on paper and where I am on paper ... The question is, where will we be if he gets elected? What positions will he prioritize?'" Rose said.

Many of the week's speakers have offered glimpses into Romney's character and political ideals. His wife, Ann Romney, for example, portrayed her husband as a modest, caring man, rather than the stereotype of a cold, shrewd businessman – the image propagated by the Obama camp.

If testaments to Romney's integrity and compassion can inspire the confidence of undecided voters, Rose said, then the GOP convention will have been a success.

"(Undecided voters) may like Obama, but they're not happy about the economy," he said. "They'll probably be willing to trade likability if they have confidence that Mitt Romney can do what he believes he can do."

Rose, who attended Duke University for undergraduate and graduate school, has a home in Henderson, which is also where he was born. He said he's excited to be in his home state next week to cover the Democratic National Convention.