Tuesday night at the GOP 2012 Convention features a number of impressive speakers. Several popular Republican Governors spoke to an enthusiastic crowd. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker received an ovation almost as long as his speech. Ted Cruz, a surprise Senate nominee from Texas, spoke without a podium and a casual ease in front of a national audience. Mia Love, a Mayor and now Congressional Candidate in Utah, won the title as surprise of the convention thus far, electrifying the crowd with her speech. Former Senator and one time Romney rival Rick Santorum spoke as well, the only 2012 candidate who will address the convention other than the winner.
Despite the impressive line up, the evening belonged to two people: Ann Romney and Governor Chris Christie. The speech delivered by the nominee’s wife is always an important one. Many voters want to know about the private side of the candidate. They want to know what makes him tick, what he values in his private life and will he consider the human side of things while President. This message is perhaps even more important than usual for Mitt Romney, given that one of the criticisms of him is he appears robotic at times. Democrats will also attack him as being out of touch with the problems of the average American. No pressure Ann!
The First Lady hopeful was introduced by Puerto Rican First Lady Lucé Fortuño and proceeded by South Carolina Governor Nicki Haley. She spoke to the hushed crowd about the people she’s met on the campaign trail who are struggling. About how the “moms have to work a little bit harder” to take care of the family.
I want to talk not about what divides us, but what holds us together as an American family. I want to talk to you tonight about that one great thing that unites us, that one thing that brings us our greatest joy when times are good, and the deepest solace in our dark hours.
Tonight I want to talk to you about love.
She spoke meeting Mitt, and how he made her laugh. Her family’s humble beginnings and the humble beginning of Mitt’s father. Mock Romney’s wealth if you want but their families lived the American dream and earned their the wealth they now enjoy. Using personal stories about the early days of their marriage, Mrs. Romney made the case they earned everything they have. She spoke of his charity and times he’s cared for other people.
Did she deliver? Did she present a more human side of her husband? The audience in the convention hall thought she did. Time will tell if America agrees.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vaulted to the national stage a few years ago because of his willingness to take his State’s fiscal problems head on. His bold blunt style earned him plenty of national media and viral videos. The fact that he is a Governor of a Blue State is icing on the cake for Republicans.
Christie’s courage gave courage to other Republicans like Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Mitch Daniels, all of whom pushed through reforms and are improving the lives of their citizens.
Christie’s keynote speech is perhaps second only to Mitt Romney’s in importance. The keynote speech at a convention is meant to deliver the core message of the Party to the country. Given the fiscal crisis and Christie’s courage in taking it on made him the perfect choice for this convention at this time.
Christie’s speech built on the message sent by putting Paul Ryan on the ticket: Elect Romney President and he’ll take our fiscal crisis head on. Christie said:
Our founding fathers had the wisdom to know that social acceptance and popularity is fleeting and that this country’s principles needed to be rooted in strengths greater than the passions and emotions of the times.
Our leaders today have decided it is more important to be popular, to do what is easy and say “yes,” rather than to say no when “no” is what’s required.
In recent years, we as a country have too often chosen the same path.
It’s been easy for our leaders to say not us, and not now, in taking on the tough issues. And we’ve stood silently by and let them get away with it.
But tonight, I say enough.
Focusing the campaign on austerity and fiscal pain may not win the election. It’s fraught with electoral danger. As Jim Galloway recently pointed out, voters in Greece rejected austerity (as mild as those may have been) and voted for the candidates who promised good times. Christie knows a little about this:
The disciples of yesterday’s politics underestimated the will of the people. They assumed our people were selfish; that when told of the difficult problems, tough choices and complicated solutions, they would simply turn their backs, that they would decide it was every man for himself.
Instead, the people of New Jersey stepped up and shared in the sacrifice.
They rewarded politicians who led instead of politicians who pandered.
The debate has been framed. The President and his Party will give their answer next week. The choice will be laid before us and in seventy days we’ll make our choice.