A Democrat's Guide to Watching the GOP Convention
As you watch the 2012 Republican National Convention on Fox News Channel this week here is a tip sheet to alert you to ‘Don’t Miss’ speeches and power plays behind the scenes that will be evident if you look behind the pretty sets and soaring speeches.
Obviously the most important speech is Mitt Romney’s on Thursday night. He has to lay out strong ideas that support the argument that he knows how to fix the economy.
Now for the not so obvious:
First, pay careful attention to faces you don’t see.
That list begins with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Tea Party fans also will
be searching to find any mention of 2008 Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin. Also missing from the big party are former GOP primary candidates Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul and Rick Perry. Romney’s team made a decision to exclude these right-wing stalwarts from the program for fear that they would alienate the moderate voters.
Tuesday, August 28th.
So, now let’s tune into the GOP’s “Must-See TV,” critical speeches for you to see to judge the success of the convention.
On Tuesday night the convention belongs to Ann Romney.
Romney’s wife of 43 years has been described as his “secret weapon.”
After a testy interview with NBC News over the family tax returns last month, Mrs. Romney will try to humanize her husband who many voters still perceive as cold, aloof and unfeeling. Mrs. Romney’s main appeal will be to women voters who according to the NBC/WSJ poll favor President Obama, 51 percent to 41 percent. Another CNN poll found that 60 percent of likely voters say Obama is “more in touch with women voters” compared to 31 percent who say the same about Romney. Her job will be to help her husband narrow the gender gap.
Even before she speaks, watch how Mrs. Romney is introduced. Expect the focus to be on her 5 sons and 18 grandchildren to create the image of a warm, stable family behind the man of the house.
Mrs. Romney is competing with first lady Michelle Obama who still enjoys a 66 percent favorability rating according to a May Gallup poll.
Tuesday’s second most important speaker is Rick Santorum.
Romney’s main rival in the GOP primary had previously called him a “liar,” the “ultimate flip flopper” and the “worst Republican in the Country to run against President Obama.” The former Pennsylvania Senator has earned a following of hard-line social conservatives for his stance against abortion and gay marriage. These voters have been skeptical of Romney and he is asking Santorum to vouch for him with them as best he can.
The Tea Party base backed Santorum in this year’s GOP primaries even when it was apparent that Romney had enough delegates to capture the nomination. Santorum has to win over skeptical voters for Romney and remind them to turn out in a big way on Election Day. But if he is too “hot” it could be a turn-off to voters who are middle of the road types.
Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, will be competing with Santorum for raising the convention roof with passion.
If Romney loses in November the battle between Christie and Santorum is a fight to control the future of the party with Christie representing the establishment wing and Santorum the Tea Party wing.
But don’t forget, the third player for the 2016 GOP nomination is obviously Paul Ryan. He will have to be self-effacing in his speech at the convention but if he does a good job he will help his prospects for the future.
And finally on Tuesday, look for the convention to play racial politics. Two speakers will be responsible for presenting a racially diverse image for a party that is low on Hispanics, blacks and Asians as it runs against the nation’s first non-white president.
That effort begins with Artur Davis, the former African American Congressman from Alabama shocked the political world earlier this year by announcing that he was leaving the Democratic Party and joining the GOP. Just four years ago, Davis officially seconded Barack Obama’s nomination at the Democratic Convention. Davis can help the GOP make the case to swing voters that they need not worry about voting against the first black president.
Helping Davis with this tricky job is Mia Love, a Mormon congressional candidate from Utah. This daughter of Haitian immigrants provides a female black face for conservatism. The GOP wants to use Love to show that it is not just the party of older, white men. Can she do it?
On Wednesday look for one speech.