After months of a grueling primary and an already nasty general campaign against President Obama, this week's Republican National Convention promised Mitt Romney the opportunity to introduce himself to a wider national audience, establish the narrative of his campaign, and frame the debate that could carry him to the White House. Did it deliver?
On Day One, Ann Romney's heartfelt speech sought to humanize her husband, often described as stiff and even robotic, as she recalled the high school dance where they met and the challenges they overcame as a family. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie followed her with an impassioned call-to-arms for the GOP tough-love approach to solving the nation's problems; the keynote speaker was criticized for not mentioning Romney until late into the speech, instead using the podium to tout his own successes.
The second night featured the vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who delivered a scathing indictment of the Obama administration. On the final night, "mystery guest" Clint Eastwood's riff was a distraction at best, as he mocked an empty to chair to his left meant to stand for an invisible Obama. The charismatic Sen. Marco Rubio pulled the convention back on track with a stirring paean to the American Dream and how Romney would protect it. Finally it was Romney's turn to accept his crown as GOP nominee. His speech shed light on his own personal biography, as he discussed his Mormon religion and his record in private equity—both touchy subjects for his campaign. He also drew a contrast of his platform to what he called the broken promises of his rival: "President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans, and heal the planet. I promise to help you and your family."
Expectations were not exactly sky-high for the former governor, as he has never been regarded as a spectacular speaker, yet most agree the speech was one of his best. However, others worry that the speeches and antics of the other convention headliners may have overshadowed Romney's performance, particularly as Rubio's and Christie's speeches seemed to set them up for their own 2016 presidential runs. Was the Republican National Convention a success for Mitt Romney? Here is the Debate Club's take:
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Brad Bannon President of Bannon Communications Research
Penny Lee Democratic Strategist and President of Venn Strategies, LLC
Brandon Rottinghaus Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Houston
Zerlina Maxwell Democratic Strategist and Writer
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College