Romney Takes the Spotlight

Posted August 31st, 2012 at 2:32 pm (UTC+0)

Mitt Romney celebrates after getting the Republican presidential nomination at the party’s convention in Tampa, Florida, Aug. 30. Photo: AP

Vows to Restore the Promise of America

Mitt Romney tried to do something Thursday night he doesn’t always do very well.  He tried to show America and the world who he really is and what he’s made of.

In the speech of his life, Mr. Romney vowed to grow the economy, create jobs and “restore the promise of America” if elected in November.  But it was the personal side people were looking for, and how much of a convention bump the Republican nominee gets could depend to a large extent on whether people feel they are getting to know him better.

Mr. Romney did a credible job of delivering his speech and brought the delegates to their feet several times with rousing condemnations of President Barack Obama and his administration’s and promises of a better future.  It’s worth checking to see what kind of a bump in the public opinion polls the Republican ticket gets coming out of their convention and whether Mr. Romney’s speech will stir support not just among Republicans, but undecided swing voters as well.


Clint Tries to Make Mitt’s Day

To be sure, Mr. Romney got some help from a rising star from Florida, Senator Marco Rubio, and a fading star from Hollywood, Clint Eastwood.  Speaking of Clint, his skit was a bit of a mind-blower. It was more than strange to watch him standing on the podium talking to an empty chair in what was supposed to be an imagined conversation with President Obama.

Actor Clint Eastwood talks to an empty chair as part of his appearance at the Republican Party convention in Tampa, Florida, Aug. 30. Photo: AP

The imagined conversation was, shall we say, a little disjointed.  It seemed to veer toward a TV comedy show skit that ends with a guy in a white coat gently coaxing him offstage.  As Clint talked to the chair, I half expected to hear a voice from backstage cry out, “Hey Clint, I’m over here!”

But at the end of the night it was Mitt Romney center-stage, a one-time moderate who governed liberal Massachusetts and now leads a Tea Party-infused Republican Party that seems to slide further right each year.

In some ways Mitt Romney is an odd fit for this party.  But if he can find a way to make himself personally more appealing to voters by November 6, he just might be able to deliver the one thing that motivates Republicans day and night — denying Barack Obama and second term and taking back the White House.


Revved Up at the RNC

It’s pretty clear after a week of listening to Republicans carry on about the faults of President Obama that this party is pretty unified in its determination to deny him a second term in November.  That was the driving force in the Republican primary campaign this year and became the rallying cry on the convention floor night after night here in Tampa.

The Republicans may be outwardly confident, but I detected a bit of uncertainty just below the surface.

Mitt Romney prevailed against some more conservative alternatives in the primaries because he effectively won the race to become the Republican most likely to beat President Obama.  He did not win because he established himself as the new conservative icon in the mold of Ronald Reagan.

In fact, when discussing this point with Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, he acknowledged that Mr. Romney is “not Ronald Reagan,” but then quickly added, “Who else is?”

I also got the sense talking to people here that no matter how much they dislike President Obama and his policies, they have this sneaking suspicion that the president could still pull the election out because he is seen as more likeable by voters.  I think if Mr. Romney does lose in November, the Republican Party is headed for a rather chaotic period of searching for new leaders that could put the spotlight on a younger generation that includes the likes of Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez.


Immersed in Republican World

You see and hear some strange things roaming around the convention hall and especially the area they call “Radio Row,” which is located near the large media workspace area.  Day in and day out, various Republican politicians, commentators and even a few Hollywood celebrities make the rounds of a few dozen booths containing predominantly conservative talk show hosts who welcome them to their programs with open arms.

One minute Senator Mitch McConnell strides in.

Over in the corner is a small scrum of reporters interviewing a relatively obscure congressman.  You think you’ve seen his face but have no idea who he is.  And then over on the right is the actor Jon Voight, ardent Republican and Tea Party favorite.

Down the hall, Ann Coulter holds court and tells one reporter she doesn’t like his question about what Mitt Romney “has to do” in his acceptance speech for it to succeed.

President Barack Obama, pictured here in Charlottesville, Virginia Aug. 29, gets to reply to Republican campaign charges at the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte, North Carolina this coming week. Photo: AP

As the Coulter interview ends, two young Republican guys rush up to her to let her know that Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is just down the aisle doing media interviews.  They seem offended at the sight of the head of the Democratic Party encroaching on their convention, and their tone suggests they’d like Ms. Coulter to do something about it.  But she’s too busy moving on to the next talk show booth, and one potentially volatile political confrontation is averted, at least for one day.

Radio Row draws in the faithful like catnip, hoping to get a quick glimpse of Republican Party rock stars and maybe a quick handshake or, if they are really lucky, a photo. I saw one guy earlier in the week strolling through the rows of conservative talk show hosts with a big smile on his face and cell phone pressed to his ear.  I couldn’t help but note how excited this gentleman was when I overheard him say, “Yeah, honey, it’s amazing.  There are like no liberals here anywhere!”

The other side of the coin begins Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina when the Democrats open their national convention to nominate President Obama for a second term in office.







2 responses to “Romney Takes the Spotlight”

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Jim Malone

Jim Malone

After a stint in the Peace Corps in Swaziland, Jim joined VOA in 1983 as a reporter and anchor on English broadcasts to Africa.  He served as East Africa correspondent, then covered Congress in the early 1990’s.   Since 1995, Jim has served as VOA national correspondent responsible for coverage of U.S. politics, elections, the Supreme Court and Justice Department.  Jim has been involved in VOA’s election coverage since the 1984 presidential campaign and has co-anchored live VOA broadcasts of numerous national political conventions, candidate debates and election night coverage.


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