Today’s Courier Herald Column. Alternate Headline: Random Thoughts On A Convention At 4am After A Week Of Almost No Sleep.
The Republicans have now made their case. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have spent three evenings providing speakers and videos to define themselves. Their backgrounds, upbringing, credentials, and testimonials have been put on display for all to see. The Romney-Ryan ticket’s best foot is now clearly forward.
To be honest, it is likely that the readers of this column got as good or better of a glimpse of the performance put on by the Republican National Committee this week in Tampa as I did. Much of my time was spent shuttling between the Tampa Times Forum Arena and the Convention Center which was set up as a media center several blocks away.
Even when in the arena, as I was for most of the headline speeches, the view was obstructed and the various members of the press – mostly foreign print organizations – that surrounded me were frankly disinterested, distracting, loud, and obstructive. Regardless, I’m not complaining. I still consider it a front row seat and was glad to participate. It was a unique perspective that I have not previously enjoyed for a national convention.
There was also a lot of networking with the Georgia delegation – essentially glad-handing over food and beverages to get a pulse of what Georgia delegates, elected officials, and other insiders are thinking about both the national ticket and more local issues. It’s been a full week.
As for the national picture, I’ll offer a few thoughts. The Republicans managed to stay on message, and were mostly positive. Much of the narrative focused on the human side of the Romney family. This was necessary and essential to combat Romney’s almost robot-like persona. The personal testimonials from Thursday night should have been included during the Clint Eastwood time slot for the one hour allotted for network broadcast. They were powerful and real. Anyone who watched them would have a hard time picturing Romney as cold, aloof, or only interested in making personal profits or amassing personal power.
The “War on Women” narrative also took a big hit. Stellar performances by Ann Romney, Condoleezza Rice, and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez showcased powerful and compelling stories from Republican Women. A closer inspection of Governor Romney’s performance in Massachusetts demonstrates he had a significantly better track record on appointments and pay relative to male counterparts than does Barack Obama as president.
The Republican narrative is tight. During a convention, there is little excuse for it not to be. Republicans painted a picture of those willing to lead. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s line from his keynote “leaders don’t follow the polls, leaders change the polls” was most excellent. But the under riding theme was that the President made promises he couldn’t deliver. The Country is on the wrong course. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will tackle the fiscal problems that face our budget while implementing policies that make us energy independent and create 20 million jobs by 2020.
We also saw the next generation of leaders for the Republican Party. In addition to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, there were stunning speeches by Chris Christie, Susana Martinez, Marco Rubio, and Condoleezza Rice. While Rice served under the George W. Bush administration as Secretary of State, her speech made it clear that she could cover the field on all Republican issues. The others are newcomers ready to assume their position on the national stage, and are likely to be the standard bearers for the next generation of Republicans.
All in all, it appears to have been a successful week for Republicans. I don’t see that the missed Monday hurt the narrative, as there was no Prime Time network television scheduled to cover the events anyway. The speeches Tuesday through Thursday mostly hit or exceeded their marks.
More importantly, the party appears unified behind a candidate which had only received lukewarm praise from ultra conservatives prior to this convention. Republicans have successfully fired up their base. Now they must woo independents.
We will now await the response from Democrats next week in Charlotte. I unfortunately will not be able to attend in person. Instead, I will be able to watch from the comfort of my own home and parse the analysis with the aid of a DVR.
The Republicans have made their case, and it is strong. The Democrats are on deck. We’ll have the campaign fully framed by this time next week.