At 2 o'clock PM Eastern Daylight Time [1800 GMT] on Tuesday 28 August 2012, the real business of the 40th Republican National Convention finally got underway as Republican National Committee Chair Reince Preibus, once again, gaveled the Convention back to order (technically, taking it out of a nearly 24-hour Recess). The colors were then presented by the Color Corps of the Knights of Columbus of New Haven, Connecticut.
This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, led by former Montana Governor Tim Babcock and Tom Hogan- both combat veterans (the first of World War II, the second of the Korean War), after which the National Anthem was then sung by Philip Alongi II and the Invocation was delivered by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and Yeshiva University of New York City. Then the Convention got down to the rather arcane matters Conventions have to always "get out of the way" before the more entertaining aspects of the program can later be brought forth:
The Convention Secretary, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa, read the Preamble to the Call of the Convention; by viva voce vote, the further reading of the Call was suspended after which RNC Chairman Preibus nominated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky Temporary Chairman of the Convention (also approved by the assembled viva voce). Next, the membership rolls of the Convention's Committees- those on Credentials, Permanent Organization, Rules and Order of Business and Resolutions (this last being the GOP's 'Platform Committee')- were also accepted viva voce.
The first musical interlude (of many during the course of these proceedings) followed and it was interesting to note that (a sign of the times, I reckon) 'tweets' and facebook postings from the delegates on the Convention floor (as well as from various and sundry GOP organizations) were being shown on either side of the large screen behind the dais during this short break.
RNC Chair Preibus returned to the dais to formally welcome the delegates as well as set something of the tone for the gathering. We have a message for America, he declared: elect Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and they will get America working again. Preibus further opined that Barack Obama thinks he is at the center of the economic universe, even though he has never run a garage sale or even seen the inside of a lemonade stand. Preibus further accused the Democrats of attacking the American Dream while the Republicans were working on rebuilding the American Dream.
RNC Co-chair Sharon Day then came forward to opine that [t]his election is more than [the most important election of our lifetimes]: this election is the most important election of our Nation's lifetime because what [the Founding Fathers] believed in, we must now defend. Attacking the Party of Obama, Biden, Pelosi and Holder, Day went on to declaim that [t]his fight is not just about an election, it is not just about our Party: this fight is about Our Country and we cannot lose this battle. Together, Day later concluded, let's defeat Barack Obama and save Our Country for the next generation!
After yet another musical interlude, there was the business of those who had put this gathering together in the first place: first came Tampa Mayor Tom Buckhorn who, although a Democrat, welcomed the assembled to his city: he was followed by both Convention Chief Executive William Harris and local Host Committee Chairman Al Austin. After this, a motion was made from the floor to express the gratitude of the Convention for the work done by those headed by these last three speakers-- it was adopted viva voce. Then came a moment of silence for those important Republicans who had passed away since the last GOP Convention four years earlier.
Next came Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas, Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, to introduce a number of GOP candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives (our lead salesmen, as Sessions called them). These (all of whom came to speak before the Convention) included Ricky Gill of California; Jackie Walorski of Indiana; John Archer of Iowa; Andy Barr of Kentucky; Steve Daines of Montana; David Rouzer, Richard Hudson and Mark Meadows of North Carolina; Keith Rothfus of Pennsylvania; first-term Congressmen Tim Griffin of Arkansas; Dan Benishek of Michigan, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Quico Canseco of Texas and Sean Duffy of Wisconsin; second-term Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah.
Next to the dais came Republican candidates for the United States Senate: Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Congressman Rick Berg of North Dakota.
These were followed by Virginia House of Delegates member Barbara Comstock who, in turn, was followed by President of the National Federation of Republican Women Rae Lynn Chornenky who asked, of the so-called 'War on Women': which 'war' and which women? Citing a statistic that some 92 percent of all jobs lost during Obama's Presidency had been those held by women, Chornenky opined that if there is a 'War on Women', it is President Obama who has waged it!
Next up at the dais was Chairman of the College National Republican Committee Alex Schriver who argued that his position allowed him to push back against the bastions of Liberalism: America's colleges and universities. He was followed by the President of the Organization of Republican Mayors and Local Officials, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and the Global Chairman of Republicans Abroad Chris Fussner who spoke before Chairman of the Young Republicans Lisa Stickan who opined that there was a War on Young People: a war on our paychecks and our ability to succeed being waged by the Obama Administration and the Democrats.
This gave way to a rather long musical interlude (with accompanying 'tweet's and status posts on-screen before the assembled who might actually care to read them [assuming, that is, they weren't busily engaged in boogie-ing down to the music, of course!]) followed by yet another bit of what has, by now, become altogether arcane Convention business, the reports of the Committees (which had been holding finalizing meetings off the floor of the Convention while the above was all going on). Summaries of actions taken by these Committees was led by Mike Duncan of Kentucky, the Chair of the Credentials Committee (whose noting that the Republican National Committee's own recommendation of how best to handle the dispute over delegates in Maine- a real "bone of contention" between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney supporters- had been accepted by his Committee was greeted with a chorus of scattered 'Boos', as was RNC Chair Preibus' claim that "the 'Aye's have it" after the acceptance of the Credentials Report had been moved and then voted upon viva voce).
Then came Zoraida Fonalledas, the Chair of the Committee on Permanent Organization, who had to give her summary (which included U.S. House Speaker John Boehner being named the Permanent Chairman of the Convention) over the rather vocal displeasure of more than a few delegates not at all happy with the previous action just taken by the Convention (and only after intervention from RNC Chair Preibus to calm things down at least a bit). After this, Convention Permanent Chair Boehner himself took the gavel and introduced former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, Chair of the Committee on Rules and Order of Business who gave his summary (Boehner's authoritative declaration that "in the opinion of the Chair, the 'Ayes' have it" as regarded the Convention's acceptance of these Rules viva voce was also greeted by a chorus of many 'Boos' from the disgruntled scattered amongst the assembled [gee-- pretty much as *I* had actually predicted in one of my own Commentaries just a few months ago now! ;-)]).
The final, important piece of otherwise mundane Convention business was adoption of the 2012 Republican Party Platform and, to this end, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Chair of the Resolutions Committee, presented his own summary report. He was followed by Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, a co-Chair of the Resolutions Committee who, among other things, argued in favor of the building of the controversial Key Stone Excel pipeline, and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, another co-Chair of the Resolutions Committee who opined that, because of the Platform being so put forth, the GOP will become known as the Great Opportunity Party. Governor McDonnell then came back to the dais in order to move the Platform which was adopted viva voce (this time without all that much of the rancor displayed only a short time before).
Then it was time for the Official Convention Photograph (which required that everyone present try their utmost to stand still for the few minutes required for the camera to pan the Convention Hall) after which there was yet another long musical interlude leading into Speaker Boehner returning to the dais to explain how the Presidential Nominating process is supposed to work. Boehner then introduced former Governor John Sununu of New Hampshire, who again took to the podium- this time to formally nominate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for President of the United States.
Sununu argued that we are saddled with a failed Presidency with an incumbent President who has not led... because Barack Obama cannot figure out what makes Free Enterprise work. He claimed that Romney, on the other hand, will get our private sector moving again and will respect the successes of our entrepreneurs. Sununu charged the Obama Administration with keeping us dependent on fragile foreign supplies [of energy]. Mitt Romney will unshackle our assets and lead us to real energy independence.
Of Romney himself, Sununu called him a good man... a smart man... compassionate and generous, a great father and a supportive friend who knows how to fix the unfixable and help people perform to their highest potential... the right man for the right time who will be a great leader for our country.
From the Convention floor, Barbara Comstock of Virginia and Ronald Kaufman of Massachusetts separately seconded Romney's nomination.
With that, it was time for the Roll Call States re: Presidential Nomination (for which purpose Convention Secretary Kim Reynolds and Assistant Secretary Kelly Knight of Kentucky came to the dais [Reynolds would call out the States- or equivalent jurisdiction- and the number of delegate votes to which each was entitled and Knight would read out the official result of the vote from each delegation as recorded at the dais])
The resultant celebrations (both when New Jersey's vote put Romney over the top and, again, once the Roll Call had been completed) were short and rather subdued all told (very unlike the "spontaneous demonstrations" that tended to break out at previous National Conventions in which the Roll Call was an important piece of Prime Time Convention coverage) before Temporary Chair (and Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell came to the podium to introduce Steve King, Republican National Committeeman from Wisconsin and Chief Sergeant of Arms, who stepped forward to formally nominate Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan for Vice-President of the United States.
In two short months, Our Country faces a momentous decision, King began: we will decide whether to continue our slide into Debt and Dependence or whether to restore Opportunity and Self-Determination. King called Congressman Ryan the first real leader of his generation who never forgets who he works for and no one has been more diligent and effective in working for the good of Wisconsin and America.
After King had finished speaking, a motion was made to nominate Ryan by Acclamation: this was approved viva voce after which Senator McConnell returned to the dais to announce that the Convention would be in recess until its Evening Session: it was 6:21 PM Eastern Daylight Time [2221 GMT].
The Evening Session was gaveled to order- at 7:14 PM Eastern Daylight Time [2314 GMT]- by U.S. House Speaker and Convention Permanent Chair John Boehner who then made a few remarks. We begin tonight with a fundamental question: can we do better? Boehner said: The answer is obvious, you bet we can! Of President Obama, Boehner noted that he offers only excuses, not answers and then has the audacity to hope we believe him! He can't fix the economy, Boehner opined, because he doesn't know how it was built. Boehner argued that it was time to throw out the politician who doesn't get it and elect the President who does.
Boehner was followed by RNC Chair Reince Preibus who declaimed that America needs a turnaround: we need Barack Obama to turn around and go back to Chicago. Of his fellow Wisconsin resident, now- GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan, Preibus declaimed that he doesn't descend to the gutter politics of the other side.
Next Neal Boyd, two-time winner of America's Got Talent, sang Lee Greenwood's 'God Bless the U.S.A.' and then, after yet another musical interlude by the house band, a short film introduced the next speaker- Mia Love, Mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah and a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. Mr. President, she declaimed, the American People are awake and we're not buying what you're selling in 2012!
The next speaker was actress Janine Turner who now also hosts a talk show of conservative political bent on radio in Texas. Our liberal brethren, Turner opined, they don't feel constrained by our Constitution-- that's convenient for them: by ignoring constitutional limits, they do whatever they like, don't they? Playing on Patrick Henry's (alleged, yet famous) stating "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!", Turner claimed that Obama' enabled an entitlement society that says 'Give me Liberty and gimme gimme!'-- why?-- because Democrats depend on Dependence... America was built with her hands at work, not with her hands out... Obama is stifling the American Dream primarily because it isn't his dream: his dream is not of an independent people-- his dream is of a dependent people based upon the failed principles of antiquated Government
Turner stated that Mitt Romney's vision, on the other hand, was based on three founding principles: 1. God gives us our Rights, not Government... 2. the checks and balances of Government are paramount... 3. the genius of the People will prevail: for the People's voice is the Republic and, for the Republic, Mitt Romney will stand!
Country musician Lane Turner next performed his song 'I Built It' before Sher Valenzuela, the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Delaware, came to the dais. Citing a report that nearly half of small business owners aren't hiring because of "regulatory uncertainty", she said You might call that Regulatory Uncertainty; I call it an all-out assault on Free Enterprise. That's what worries me about this Administration: they seem so eager to fix Society, but they don't have a clue how to fix the Economy... they just don't trust the entrepreneur's ability to grow her own business and create jobs!
Of Mitt Romney, she stated that for him, it's not just a theory- Free Enterprise... it's a creed: it's a commitment, it's a worldview-- it's what connects Americans, families and communities, to an unlimited future... We need a leader who understands the moral case for Free Enterprise... who believes in an unlimited future.
There followed a performance by the Oak Ridge Boys who, before performing 'Amazing Grace', told the assembled that There's an element that exists that is trying very hard to push God further and further out of our lives when we think we need God more in our lives than ever before.
The next portion of the evening was devoted to the theme of 'We Built It!' and was introduced by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers of Washington State, Vice Chair of the Republican Conference (as the GOP House members style their caucus). Declaring that small businesses are the true engines of the Economy, not Government, she was the first in a series of speakers before the Convention who would introduce (either in person or on video) small businessmen who were struggling to survive under what they saw as the burden of Obama Administration policies.
First came New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte who opined that regulations are up and job creation is down and referred to many of the taxes (direct and indirect) on small businesses as a success tax... and the very best example is Obamacare. In contrast, so Senator Ayotte claimed, Mitt Romney was someone who believed that creating jobs should be celebrated, not penalized and who will get the Federal Government out of the business of small business. To this end, she introduced small businessman Jack Gilchrist of Hudson, New Hampshire who, playing on Lee Iacocca's famous dictum that "you either lead, follow or get out of the way", complained- at the dais- that the Obama Administration won't lead, their regulations are too hard to follow and they won't get out of the way!
The next speaker was Governor John Kasich of Ohio who opined that the greatest moral issue is job creation and noted that, all too often, politicians play a game of tax, spend and duck when confronting the tough choices of balancing the budget and reducing a deficit (Kasich was contrasting that approach with what he himself has done as Governor). He was followed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin who- playing on the themes of Obama's presidential campaign of four years earlier- noted that, while President Obama had promised 'Hope' and 'Change', he had- instead- left many Americans with no hope and just the change in their pockets.
She was followed by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell who opined that too many Americans are looking for work because this President's policies simply haven't worked. Washington today has a surplus of rhetoric and a deficit of leadership and results. He referred to the Environmental Protection Agency- the EPA- as the Employment Prevention Agency.
Big Government didn't build America, McDonnell said. You built America. Small businesses don't come out of Washington, DC pre-made on flat-bed trucks... Every American deserves the opportunity of a limited, responsible government that performs its core functions well and then gets out of the way.
While the President talks, the Virginian claimed, Republican Governors lead-- talk is cheap, results matter!
Finally, there was Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a veritable hero within the Grand Old Party for his having survived a Recall effort just a few months before. Walker opined that this Recall Election was a choice between elected officials who measure success by how many people are dependent on the Government and leaders who believe success is measured by how many people are not dependent on the Government because they control their own destiny in the private sector... Elections have consequences!
Of Romney's choice of Paul Ryan to be his running mate, Walker opined that it showed he has the courage and the passion to be an exceptional President. With this pick, he showed that the 'R' next to his name doesn't only stand for 'Republican', it stands for 'reformer'.
After Governor Walker had completed his remarks, Lane Turner returned to perform his song 'Blood, Sweat and Freedom' before Governor Brian Sandoval came to the podium and decried President Obama as one who had abandoned hope and embraced only blame. Sandoval then introduced small businessman Phil Archuletta of New Mexico who complained that the Obama Administration is putting us out of business: it is our turn to put them out of office.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a one-time contender for the presidential nomination that was now Mitt Romney's, now came to the dais. He spoke of President Obama having spent four years and borrowed 5 trillion dollars-- the result: massive debt, anemic growth and millions more unemployed.
Marriage is disappearing in places where government dependence is highest, Santorum opined. We must stop the assault on Marriage and the Family today. Further, parents and the local community must be in charge of our schools, not the Department of Education, complaining that the Obama Administration's policies undermine the traditional family and weaken the education system.
President Obama rules like he is above the Law, Santorum said. Americans, take heed: when a President can simply give a speech, or write a memo, and change the Law to do what the Law says he cannot do, we will no longer be a Republic.
I thank God that America still has one Party that reaches out their hands, in Love, to lift up all of God's children- born and unborn- and we say that each of us has dignity and all of us have the right to live the American Dream.
In November, we have a chance to vote for Life and Liberty and not Dependency, the Pennsylvanian claimed.
The next speaker was Ted Cruz, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate from Texas. We are seeing something extraordinary, he declaimed. We are seeing a Great Awakening, a national movement of 'We, the People' brought together by... a shared love of Liberty.
We're going broke, Cruz opined, yet millions of Americans are standing up and saying 'We want our country back'- Republicans, Democrats and Independents... we will not go quietly in the night!
This election presents a stark choice... President Obama's campaign is trying to divide America... it's tragic how far we've come from 'Hope' and 'Change' (two of the bywords of the President's own 2008 campaign).
Further playing on the themes of Obama's campaign of four years earlier, Cruz asked Can we restore the Constitution? Yes, we can. Can we retake the Senate? Yes, we can. Can we repeal Obamacare? Yes, we can. And can we defeat President Obama? Yes, we can!... That, my friends, is Change We Can Believe In!
Cruz was followed by Artur Davis, the former Democratic Congressman from Alabama (and, as a Democrat, an unsuccessful candidate for that Party's nomination for Governor two years ago) who has recently become a Republican (speaking of 'Change'). The last time I spoke at a Convention, I was in the wrong place, Davis began, so thank you for welcoming me where I belong. Speaking to members of his old Party (as well as Independents) who voted for President Obama last time round, Davis implored them to watch the other Convention in North Carolina the following week and Ask if the Democrats still speak to you... Do you even recognize the America they're talking about? Of the current economic difficulties the country now faced, Davis reminded his audience that This is no Dark Hour: this is the Dawn when we remember who we are!
Next came South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who- among other things- complained that unfortunately, these past few years: you can work hard, try to be as successful as possible, follow the rules and President Barack Obama will do everything he can to stand in your way... We said in South Carolina that, if you have to show a picture ID to buy a Sudafed, if you have to show a picture ID to set foot on an airplane, then you should have to show a picture ID to protect one of the most valuable, the most essential and sacred rights and blessings in America: the Right to Vote-- and what happened? President Obama stopped us!
After this, Luce Velo Fortuno, the First Lady of Puerto Rico, came to the dais to introduce Ann Romney, the wife of the Republican candidate for President of the United States.
After recounting the story of how she first met and began going out with- and eventually marrying- Mitt Romney and their early life together (including the raising of their children and a brief mention of her own struggles with Multiple Sclerosis and Breast Cancer), she went on to make her key points involving the political realm.
Clearly trying to counter her husband's bad polling numbers with women voters (at least as compared to President Obama's own), she noted that [i]t's the moms of this Nation- single, married, widowed- who really hold this country together... you know it's true, don't you?... You are the best of America, you are the hope of America; there would not be an America without you. Tonight, we salute you and sing your praises.
Mrs. Romney went on to make the point that these moms are smart enough to know there aren't easy answers but we're not dumb enough to accept that there aren't better answers.
No one will work harder, Mrs. Romney assured the assembled (and us all- moms or not) about her husband, and no one will care more and no one will move Heaven and Earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live...
This is the man America needs: this is the man who will wake up every day with the determination to solve the problems that others say can't be solved, to fix what others say is beyond repair; this is the man who will work harder than anyone so that we can work a little less hard...
[I] make you this solemn commitment: this man will not fail. This man will not let us down, this man will lift up America... You can trust Mitt: he loves America... give him that chance; give America that chance!
Wow! Way to raise the bar, Mrs. Romney! ;-)
After she had finished speaking, the now-Republican presidential nominee himself strode up to the dais and gave his wife a hug and a quick kiss (no, it was not an "Al & Tipper Gore moment!") before escorting her off the stage.
A short film now introduced the Keynote Speaker at this Convention, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
In retrospect, having Mrs. Romney speak to the Convention right ahead of Governor Christie's Keynote Address was a brilliant stratagem (even though it was wholly accidental: Mrs. Romney had been slated to speak on Monday evening but, even before Tropical Cyclone 'Isaac' became a factor, the over-the-air American television networks had announced that there would, by them, be no coverage at all of any Monday Convention sessions [that is, had there actually been Monday Convention sessions!] and so Mrs. Romney had been moved to "Keynote Night" even without 'Isaac''s intervention): Mrs. Romney was, thereby, able to speak about the man she knows so well, leaving Christie to concentrate more on what Convention Keynote Addresses have, more traditionally, been all about-- defining the vision of the Party the presidential nominee is intending to so lead into national political battle (although Convention Keynoters themselves might, thereby, thrust themselves into the "could be a future President" discussion, as we've already seen with Barack Obama himself on the Democrats' side).
But what would Christie say and, more importantly, how would he say it? All interested ears would be tuned not only to the New Jersey Governor's text, but also his temper and tone (would he, in fact, well avoid the temptation- as already touched upon in my own writings about this Convention so far- to talk about the Obama Administration as not just flat-out wrong on the issues of the day but also downright evil [as many Tea Partiers- along with such as Donald Trump (who had endorsed Governor Romney during the pre-Convention period [to the apparent detriment of the presidential ambitions of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich])- have argued the Romney/Ryan campaign will much need to do in order to claim victory this November]?)... whatever Christie said, not to also mention the manner in which he would be saying it, would go a long way towards helping- or harming- the Republican nominee's cause (more to the point, were Christie to come off as too harsh or too strident, it might well undo much of the good will for Governor Romney [among that all-important 'Center' I myself have referenced in previous Commentaries] engendered by the remarks of the nominee's own wife).
After recounting his own background, Christie (with Mr. and Mrs. Romney both looking on from the gallery) got to the heart of the matter from his own perspective: We must live the way our citizens live... The disciples of yesterday's Politics always underestimate the Will of the People yet, or so the New Jersey Governor declaimed, Our History shows we stand up when it counts. Of his own Party as contrasted with the Democrats, Christie declared that our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America... here's their plan: whistle a happy tune while driving us off the Fiscal Cliff, as long as they're behind the wheel of Power when we fall.
It doesn't matter how we got here- there's enough blame to go around, Christie later noted: what matters is what we do now... It is time to end this era of absentee leadership in the Oval Office and send real leaders back to the White House: America needs Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and we need them right now!
I have an answer tonight for the skeptics and the naysayers, the dividers and the defenders of the Status Quo: I have faith in Us... There is only one thing missing now: leadership-- it takes leadership you don't get from reading a poll. You see, Mr. President: real leaders don't follow polls, real leaders change polls... we need to change polls through the power of our principles, we need to change polls through the strength of our convictions... our problems are big and the solutions will not be painless, we all must share in the sacrifice and any leader who tells us differently is simply not telling the truth.
I don't know about you, but I don't want my children and grandchildren to have to read in a History book what it was like to live in an American Century... I want them to live in a second American Century... a second American Century where real American Exceptionalism is not a political punchline.
We have never been victims of Destiny, Christie went on, we have always been the masters of our own... I will not be part of the generation that fails that test and neither will you!
After Christie had finished speaking, the band Three Doors Down performed their song 'One Light' and then RNC Chair Reince Preibus returned to the dais to introduce Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference who offered the Benediction. A motion was then made that the Convention adjourn until the next day, it was approved viva voce and, with this, the second day (the first real working day) of the 2012 Republican National Convention came to an end at 11:07 PM Eastern Daylight Time [0307 GMT Wednesday 29 August 2012]