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There were no surprises and the Republicans pulled no punches in their opening night speeches, Tuesday night. The afternoon speakers may have drawn a line in the sand with the mantra of “We Did Build It,” chastising the President on spending, and attacking Obamacare, but the presentation in prime time colored that line bright yellow and made it glow in the dark.
Never in the modern era has there been such a stark difference between both the parties and their plans. The Democrats have not only doubled down on policies and rhetoric attacking the wealthy and successful, but their convention speakers feature Sandra Fluke, and a slate of liberal woman’s rights advocates. Fluke will be the talking poster girl for free birth control and a woman’s right.
Tuesday night the republicans took a battering ram to that poster with a night interwoven with political stars, and videos from small business owners of company’s like Sollman Electric Co. and Kimmie Candy to make their case clear.
In the 2008 campaign Obama’s off the cuff remark to Joseph Wurzelbache “lets spread the wealth,” became an instant line of attack for John McCain and made “Joe the Plumber” a house hold name. It did not, however, provide a lightening bolt of anger toward the president beyond conservative circles. The offensive nature of the statement motivated conservatives, but did not ignite within independents or moderate democrats.
“You didn’t build it,” is this years’ bad off-the-cuff comment by the President, and has ignited a big firestorm of opposition. Romney, like McCain before him, has jumped on the comment. Further, the RNC and Romney campaign are betting it will resonate further than the “Spread the wealth” comment; enough to make it the center of the convention speeches. Still, there is a question if this theme will have legs beyond the convention. The view that a person is not responsible for their success, but government is a large part of it, rankles the hairs of a lot of people. However, this election does not hinge on that notion. It hinges on the economy, jobs, the debt, and the President’s failure to fix any of those problems. The largest bat to swing is the stark reality that things are worse in those areas than when the President took office three years ago.
Governors John Kasich and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma were the best warm up speakers for the anticipated Ann Romney and Chris Christie speeches, and clearly articulated the vision the republicans believe is best for America. Kasich’s message was powerful because it showcased the results he has facing the fiscal problems of Ohio. He focused on the results in contrast to Obama. Fallin, followed a short time later further explaining the work involved in the business her and her husband started, and the results of fiscal logic in her state.
Congressional Candidate for Utah, Mia Love was inspiring, but had too short of a speech. Perhaps this was due to the changing schedule, but this was a mistake by convention organizers. Love is a Tea Party favorite. She is another example that belies the accusations from Democrats that the republican Party is against minorities. Her intelligence and poise make it clear she is no token. Judging by the round of applause she received the attendees at the convention felt that same.
Rick Santorum and Chris Christie were both expected to produce fireworks, but both stayed in their lanes. Santorum gave a typical social conservative message, but did not step on anyone’s toes. Christie followed the example of Kasick and spoke at length about telling the truth to the American politic, and focusing on solving problems, not winning elections. Christie is at his best in a debate or press conference, but it is clear that he held back.
Arthur Davis, perhaps fired the most direct shots at President Obama. A black male who voted and supported Obama in 2008, he has disavowed the Democrats, and switched parties. He went after the President, going so far as to steal his 2008 chat, “yes we can” with a spin on controlling debt, creating jobs, and supporting business owners.
The jewels of the night were of course Nikki Haley, and Ann Romney. Haley spoke at length about the 30 year journey her family made to create a successful business. She detailed how “They Built It,” and the lessons learned from watching her parents. More powerful was her description of the fight she had with the Obama administration and the National Labor Relations Board regarding Boeing opening a plant in South Carolina. As a right to work state, South Carolina is not a favorite place of unions. Haley’s description of how, no union jobs were being lost due to the plant, but Obama’s fight to block was an effective illustration of how the President has harmed the growth of jobs.
Ann Romney roll was clear, to humanize and personalize her husband. It’s a role that First Ladies and potential First Ladies all share; make their husbands seem like regular guys. What Ann did however was begin a narrative that explains the true path her husband took to his business success. Her description of their marriage beginning in a $75 a month, basement apartment is one that all Americans can relate too, and have not heard from Romney himself.
This will need to change. Few Americans can relate to someone with 240 million dollars, but all Americans love a person that starts from nothing and makes that kind of money. Romney will need to talk about his beginnings, and his wife seems to be the best person to bring this part of her husband alive. It is difficult for most people to dismiss a wife that recounts the struggles and work she saw and experienced first hand.
Image Courtesy of PBS News Hour