U.S. elections 2012 – the conventions

Written by  //  September 6, 2012  //  Politics, U.S.  //  1 Comment


President Obama’s new media headwinds
For over a year now, the political press has been writing the ever-evolving book on Mitt Romney. But as the Democratic National Convention gets under way in Charlotte, major media outlets are sending President Barack Obama through the spin cycle, lobbing four high-profile bombs at the incumbent in a single holiday weekend.
The New York Times ran a front-page piece Monday with the unmistakable subtext that Obama is a hyper-competitive egotist who often is not as good as he thinks he is at endeavors ranging from politics to poker.
The Washington Post noted the continued controversy over Obama’s “you didn’t build that” line, and how the clumsy remark continues to leave him vulnerable to criticism that he doesn’t understand free enterprise.
The Huffington Post argued that, for all his promises of a new kind of politics, Obama has “played the same old game.”
And POLITICO weighed in with an unflattering portrait of Obama as the conventional president — “relentlessly familiar” in his governing style, politically uncreative and culturally uninspiring.
Obama, Romney tied as Democrats go into convention: Reuters/Ipsos poll
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama enters an important campaign week tied with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Sunday, leaving the incumbent an opportunity to edge ahead of his opponent at the Democratic National Convention.

Monday, September 3, 2012 – Thursday, September 6, 2012

The DNC

Dispatches From the Democratic National Convention
Entry 18: Bill Clinton made a powerful case for Obama. It’ll be a tough act to follow.
(Slate) The Obama campaign got the picture of continuity it wanted for the front pages of the newspapers. If all campaigns are about the future, bringing in the popular former president was an attempt to use an envoy from past prosperity to explain why brighter days were just around the corner.
Clinton has now spoken for a total of more than five hours at Democratic conventions. It seemed at times that he was in the middle of a five-hour speech Wednesday night. The crowd of delegates and party stalwarts didn’t seem to mind. For the last five minutes of the speech, everyone in the auditorium stood to let his words fall on their faces. Clinton seemed to delight in the whole event, luxuriating in the speech like it was a vast terrycloth robe.
Clinton Delivers Impassioned Plea for Obama Second Term
(NYT) Former President Bill Clinton and President Obama hugged onstage Wednesday night after Mr. Clinton delivered an impassioned plea on behalf of Mr. Obama’s re-election, the 42nd president nominating the 44th to a second term with a forceful and spirited argument that Democratic values would restore the promise of the middle class.
Mr. Clinton drew sharp lines between the choices facing voters in November. He made the case in a deeply personal way, sometimes articulating the argument for Mr. Obama more forcefully than the president has done throughout his race with Mitt Romney.
“We believe ‘we’re all in this together’ is a better philosophy than ‘you’re on your own,’ ” Mr. Clinton said.
Virginia Heffernan: Goodbye, cuddles: Older, skinny Clinton is the wonky math-master Dems need
(Yahoo! News) Anyone who watched Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last night can testify: Bill Clinton is now Barney for no one. He’s no longer even rotund. He doesn’t placate liberals. He doesn’t placate at all. He’s sarcastic. He mocks. He’s about as cuddly as Mark Twain. And he instructs. Boy, does he instruct.
Once known for “connecting”—for flirting and hugging and wantonly administering the human touch—Bill Clinton now lives to wonk out. He was like a freaking computer last night. He went for broke on federal-budget arcana, seemingly all in his head.


Bill Clinton electrifies DNC with defence of President Barack Obama
Bill Clinton delivered the most electrifying presentation of either convention so far—and the most full-throated, clear and detailed defence of Barack Obama’s policies that anyone, including the president himself, has ever made.
Hatchet, consider yourself buried. Obama came out on stage and embraced the former president to ecstatic cheers. It will be a moment to remember the next time a political party has a bitter, grinding, primary fight that leaves pundits asking: Can this party ever unite again behind eventual nominee?
Clinton delivered a sprawling speech that veered from the prepared text and steamrolled over time limits – but the rapt audience clung to every word. No one has held a convention audience so spellbound since, well, Barack Obama in 2008.
Dispatches From the Democratic National Convention
Entry 11: The first lady tied the personal to the political in a way that was worthy of Bill Clinton.
(Slate) If the speech is effective beyond the power of well delivered rhetoric, it will be because the first lady took this description of Obama’s core self and linked it to policy. This is what Ann Romney and Mitt Romney never did. The message of the GOP convention was “Trust Mitt.” That was Michelle Obama’s message too: Her husband could be trusted because he came from a humble background and has lived a middle class life. But then she started connecting the biography to the policy. This was always Bill Clinton’s great gift. If this connection is successfully made, then that’s what will make this pitch worth more politically than just a pretty speech by a loving wife who thinks her husband deserves an A for effort.
Michelle Obama Speech: Being President ‘Reveals Who You Are
Michelle Obama was the overwhelming star of Tuesday night’s Democratic National Convention, delivering a powerful personal narrative about her husband still being the same deeply principled man she fell in love with 23 years ago when they were both broke and watching their families struggle. …the first lady’s remarks also touched on the message that others, including the keynote speaker, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, made earlier: Struggle and success aren’t just Republican ideals, and there’s nothing un-American about getting help.
Michelle Obama at the Democratic convention — If you built that, still say thank you
(The Economist) There was almost a sense of poker at work. In Tampa, Republicans talked a lot about their parents, the second world war and the “greatest generation”, and the founding fathers. On the first night in Charlotte, speaker after speaker spoke about their grandparents (ie, I’ll see your mother, and raise you my granny).
From Democratic governors, senators and mayors speaking in Charlotte there was talk of pioneers heading west in wagon trains and of George Washington fighting the British redcoats. Mrs Obama traced her community-based version of the American dream back to the American revolution, in which patriotic farmers and blacksmiths came together to “win independence from an empire”.
In short, the Democrats are on offence against what they clearly think was a purely individualistic narrative of success from the Republicans in Tampa last week.
Julian Castro Speech At 2012 Democratic Convention Wows Crowd
(HuffPost) San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro’s keynote speech to the Democratic convention was a spicy blend of immigrant dreams and partisan bite.
The 37-year old Castro, a rising star in Texas but little known on the national stage, roused the packed audience at the Time Warner Center with a pointed message to voters: “Mitt Romney, quite simply, doesn’t get it.” Castro’s tale was in part standard political fare for a party seeking to solidify its standing among immigrant voters. … But from there, Castro pivoted to an assault on Republican Mitt Romney, whose policies Castro said would “dismantle” the middle class if elected.
Democratic National Convention 2012: 5 landmines
The Republican National Convention in Tampa brought fresh reminders that even carefully choreographed political events don’t always go according to plan.
Hurricane Isaac threatened to cancel the whole affair, Ron Paul supporters stirred up trouble on the convention floor — and Clint Eastwood stole headlines from Mitt Romney by conducting a rambling interview with an imaginary President Barack Obama. Here are POLITICO’s five potential landmines facing Obama and Democrats as they gather in Charlotte.

The next four days give Barack Obama an opportunity to claim a clear edge in the presidential contest. He’s had the bully pulpit and the Rose Garden all year, so the Democratic National Convention is not quite as important as last week’s Republican gathering in Tampa. But this is nonetheless his last, best chance to fire up the base and woo back disappointed independents. The balancing act is between disqualifying Mitt Romney in the eyes of as many voters as possible while touting the accomplishments of the last four years and outlining plans for the next four. With that in mind, here are five questions for the week ahead:
(1) How much of Vice President Joe Biden’s speech is positive and how much of President Obama’s speech is negative?
(2) What will each potential 2016 Democratic candidates for president do to differentiate himself from the pack?
(3) How wholeheartedly does Bill Clinton pitch Obama?
(4) Will more DNC speakers mention Bain or that Romney omitted the war in Afghanistan from his acceptance speech?
(5) Which speaker will go the most off-message a la Clint Eastwood? More from Politico Playbook

AUGUST 27, 2012 – AUGUST 30, 2012 | TAMPA, FLORIDA


The RNC

The GOP convention’s so-so TV ratings: 4 theories
Republicans put on a big show for Mitt Romney’s nomination. But TV viewers kept their remotes handy
The 2012 Republican convention, which wrapped up with Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech on Thursday, had millions fewer TV viewers than the last one. Viewership was down by a whopping 41 percent on night two of the Tampa convention compared to the same night in 2008, though opening night this year did better, narrowly topping the audience of the corresponding night four years ago. But all of the networks got hammered in the ratings on Thursday — the convention’s third and final night — with roughly one-third fewer viewers than they had four years ago. This is a super-charged election year with Republicans fired up to prevent President Obama from winning a second term. Why didn’t more people tune in?

One of the most telling commentaries comes from The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson in her review of Ann Romney’s speech to the Convention.
A variation on the line was in pretty much every Republican speech, and written on signs all over the convention hall: “We built it.” It is remarkable to see how much can be made of a misquotation. The reference is to President Obama saying, not that business owners didn’t build anything, but that there were things that helped them, like roads and schools, that no one person can build alone. What is interesting is why the words have such rhetorical force. Part of it is the idea of Obama as a hater of private enterprise; the other, though, is in the “we”—and the character of the implied “they,” the non-builders. In this telling, America is something that was built by people about whom Barack Obama knows and understands nothing. The most remarkable, and dubious, achievement of the Republican convention so far has been to make “we,” the most inclusive word in the English language, into an exclusionary one.

Mitt Romney Accepts Republican Presidential Nomination 
Mitt Romney accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination tonight, capping a six-year quest and setting up a general election showdown with President Barack Obama.
(Bloomberg) In a speech at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Florida, Romney addressed a crowd of delegates and party officials and sought to zero in on his economic message and broaden his appeal to independent voters who have been unsure whether he could relate to their needs. He said the excitement among Americans when Obama won the presidency almost four years ago has given way to “disappointment and division.”
“Tonight I’d ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama?” he said. “You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.”
The “hope and change” Obama promised and Americans voted for was supposed to usher in a time when the nation would pay down debt, families could get ahead and companies would add workers, Romney said.
“I wish president Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed,” Romney said. “Today the time has come for us to put the disappointments of the last four years behind us.”
Jobs Focus
What the nation needs “is not complicated or profound,” he said. “It doesn’t take a special government commission to tell us what America needs. What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs.”
Playing off a line from a speech Obama gave during his 2008 campaign, Romney said: “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”
The Romney Regulars Speak Up for Their Man
(The Atlantic) All week long they tried to humanize the somewhat formal GOP nominee. But it’s the party they really need to work on.
Godly American Businessman: How the RNC Marketed Mitt Romney
(The Atlantic) To succeed, Romney would have to give a speech so convincing that it would wash away all the preconceptions, cementing an image of himself so robust in voters’ minds that the version of him in his opponents’ attacks would clash with what they knew and fall flat. That, surely, was why the signs the crowd waved said “BELIEVE!” The whole project was to create, for the first time, a Romney to believe in.
To do that, Romney took a risk. The program showcased the two most difficult and avoided parts of his biography — his religion and his business career. Was it really wise, I wondered, to make his major statement of self, in essence, “I am a Mormon who worked in private equity”? But the succession of speakers from Romney’s church were genuinely moving, putting to shame the parade of politicians who had taken the stage previously.
(BBC) US media reacts to Mitt Romney speech
Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard writes that Mr Romney “passed the convention test impressively”.
“He suggested that voters had good reason to be excited by Obama in 2008. But the president had let them down by not following though on his promises of progress on the economy.”
The Boston Globe
says the speech was “less of an emphatic statement of purpose than a direct challenge to President Obama”.
“Romney served the ball cleanly into Obama’s court. Next week, Obama will have a chance to return the volley. He would do well to offer a clear, persuasive game plan for the future,” the editorial says.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion journal from the Republican Convention, James Taranto spotted a possible line of attack for the candidate. “Romney is very effective at puncturing Obama’s grandiosity. If he does it half as well in person, the debates will be a blast,” he writes.
The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg
says Mr Romney “worked hard to show he has a heart” but still has to convince many Americans that Mr Obama’s presidency did not work, and to let go of him and move on.
“[Voters] need to be told that it is OK to remain proud of their initial support for Mr Obama, but that they can be equally at peace with a decision to change their minds now,” he says.
But John Cassidy at the New Yorker believes that while “Romney did what he had to do”, the candidate’s night was upstaged by Clint Eastwood.

Eastwood’s bizarre speech ignites Twitterverse
Hollywood legend holds conversation with empty chair

(CBC) Clint Eastwood earned plenty of bad reviews for his latest performance: a bizarre, rambling endorsement of Mitt Romney.
“Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic,” tweeted film critic Roger Ebert as Eastwood adlibbed Thursday night to an audience of millions — and one empty chair — on stage at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. “He didn’t need to do this to himself. It’s unworthy of him.”
Eastwood carried on a kooky, long-winded conversation with an imaginary President Barack Obama, telling him that he failed to deliver on his promises, and it’s time for Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, to take over. ‘Eastwooding’ makes the rounds on the Web
For his part, the real President Obama responded on Twitter with the post: “This seat’s taken.” The commander-in-chief added a photo of himself in a chair with the plaque “The President.” It’s been retweeted more than 38,000 times.
Credit for great illustration “Our dog eastwooding” to Colin Dickey on Twitter

Mitt Romney Convention Speech Goal: Rescue His Character
A new Gallup poll out Thursday morning showed Obama with a huge 54 percent to 31 percent advantage in who is most likable, and a 16-point edge (52 percent to 36 percent) in who “cares about the needs of people like you.” But perhaps more importantly, Romney also was behind 12 points, 48 percent to 36 percent, in who is “honest and trustworthy.”
Romney’s friends shake their head at this last number. Romney, to them, is not only normal. He is also virtuous. Many find him inspirational. Previewing the ‘facts’ in Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech

Charles P. Pierce: Paul Ryan Is the Newest New Nixon, a Moocher Belied
(Esquire) … during the whole time Paul Ryan was on his own path, his own journey, the American journey where he could think for himself, decide for himself, and define happiness for himself, every rough road was made smooth by his reliance on Social Security survivor’s benefits that came to his family upon the death of his father. ..  The assistance that young Paul Ryan got from “the central planners” as he rose from Janesville, through Miami of Ohio, and to a career in which he never has had a job that wasn’t inside, or very close to, the national government was not even acknowledged. He knows, in his Randian soul, that he once was a moocher, that in many ways he remains a moocher, and perhaps it galls him just a bit. It eats at him, the way Richard Nixon’s childhood poverty was wormwood in his soul. That’s where the connection lies. Paul Ryan is the newest new Nixon and, don’t kid yourselves: He’s a lot better at it than the old one was.
Fox News’ Sally Kohn: Paul Ryan’s RNC Speech ‘Was Attempt To Set World Record For Blatant Lies’

In a surprising move, Fox News joined CNN, The Huffington Post, the Washington Post‘s Wonkblog, and ThinkProgress in publishing a fact-check of the Republican vice presidential nominee’s speech, finding that the speech was full of lies and misleading assertions.
Kohn, who describes herself as a “progressive voice on Fox News,” wrote in her Thursday column that though Ryan came off as likable during his speech, his misrepresentations and omissions “caused a much larger problem for himself and his running mate.” Sally Kohn: Paul Ryan’s speech in 3 words – Dazzling, Deceiving, Distracting
Ryan Lizza: The Paul Ryan Speech: Five Hypocrisies
(The New Yorker) My quick take on Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention Wednesday night is that it is awfully difficult to criticize President Obama when you’ve spent the last fourteen years in Washington dealing with many of the same issues. In five significant cases, Ryan’s attacks on the President were breathtakingly hypocritical.
Paul Ryan’s speech to the RNC: panel verdict
Wednesday’s keynote address belonged to vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Our Tampa team assesses his impact
(The Guardian) … Paul Ryan, nevertheless, remained the star of the show. Ryan is still honing his skills as a big event speaker and attack dog, but he did a good job delivering some of the most effective and specific anti-Obama barbs heard yet in Tampa.
“College grads shouldn’t have to live out their 20s in childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters,” he zinged. “There is no shortage of words from the White House. What is missing is leadership from the White House,” was another good Ryan line. Finally, on Barack Obama’s tendency to blame his predecessors: “The man assumed office nearly four years ago. Isn’t it time he assumed responsibility?”

29 August
Virginia Heffernan: How Condoleezza Rice made the RNC watchable (for at least a little while)
(Yahoo!News) The morning after Paul Ryan’s debutante ball at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, the Internet had one thing to say: Condoleezza Rice.
Condi was better, said the Atlantic.
‘Warm-up’ speaker Rice steals the show from main event Ryan
The GOP faithful gathered in Tampa liked what Ryan had to say, much as the crowd in Minnesota four years back liked what Palin had to say. But across the nation, the electorate already had been delivered to a kind of rhetorical promised land by way of a tour de force speaking performance by Dr. Condoleezza Rice of Stanford, who – in what may come to be viewed through the lens of history as the biggest moment of the 2012 GOP convention – successfully redefined herself as not just a former Bush administration secretary of state but as a humanitarian educator with an altruistic nature. In doing so, she not only overshadowed a comparatively partisan speech by Ryan with an expansive, inclusionary speech, she may well have laid the groundwork for a future political run in her home state of California.

David T. Jones: Yes, Romney Can Win
The question is less whether the Republicans can get elected than why they are not substantially ahead already
(Ottawa Citizen) Conventions are more to energize the bases than convert the undecided. …

25 August
Republican Convention Delayed As Isaac Approaches
(HuffPost) Due to the severe weather reports for the Tampa Bay area, the Republican National Convention will convene on Monday August 27th and immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, August 28th, exact time to follow.
And the answer to the question many of us were asking: Why the GOP gambled on Tampa
(WaPost) Tampa-St. Petersburg is the biggest swing area in the biggest swing state in the country. Florida is worth 29 electoral votes, and the two counties surrounding Tampa — Pinellas and Hillsborough — are two of just four counties in Florida that flipped from Republican to Democrat between the 2004 and 2008 presidential race. Each went between 53 and 54 percent for President Obama after favoring President Bush four years earlier.
Tampa is also at the west end of the all-important Interstate 4 corridor, which runs from the Tampa-St. Petersburg area up to Orlando, which swung significantly for Obama in 2008. The county south of Orlando, Osceola, was the third of four counties to flip Democratic four years ago, and the two media markets along the corridor reach close to half of the state’s voters.
This area has also struggled to recover economically from the recent recession, making it prime property for Republicans to pick up swing voters unhappy with the president they helped choose four years ago.
In other words, if there’s one area in the country where Republicans need to perform, it might be the I-4 corridor.

One Comment on "U.S. elections 2012 – the conventions"

  1. Guy Stanley September 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm · Reply

    Re Condi Rice speech
    Great speech at a generally dreary gathering. She highlighted education, dared to mention that zip codes are now success predictors, so stratified has the US become, emphasized immigration as a bedrock of US success (no nuancing about legal or illegal), reminded those in the room old enough to remember what good ol’ boy KKK southern style used to be like, and made a convincing plea for looking out for the people who sign up to do the heavy lifting in the conflicts politicians design for them. As Ron suggests, much of it could have been Hillary’s speech at the democratic convention this weekend—Romney’s Teaparty supporters have a word for that sort of thing: RINO–Republican in name only… which is why it stands out so refreshingly..

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