Debate Club

Convention Speeches Too Vague on Policy to Help Romney

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The Republican National Convention was too vague and impersonal to be helpful to Governor Romney. Not only did we not learn enough about Mitt Romney as a person but we also didn't learn much about what the Republican Party's objectives are or what specifically a Romney administration would do on the most pressing issues of the day.

Four prominent (prime-time) examples:

Condoleezza Rice, Wednesday night: "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have the integrity and the experience and the vision to lead us. They know who we are. They know who we want to be. They know who we are in the world and what we offer."

[See a Slideshow of the 11 Most Memorable Political Convention Speeches.]

Chris Christie, Tuesday night: "See, I know Mitt Romney, and Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear, to put this back on a path to growth and create good paying private sector jobs again in America. Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the torrent of debt that is compromising our future and burying our economy."

Paul Ryan, Wednesday night: "When Governor Romney asked me to join the ticket, I said, 'Let's get this done.' And that is exactly what we are going to do." And, "Before the math and the momentum overwhelm us all, we are going to solve this nation's economic problems."

Mitt Romney, Thursday night: "I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs." And, "Every parent should have a choice." And, "When nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences."

[Take the U.S. News Poll: Did Romney's Acceptance Speech Convince Voters He Can Turn America Around?]

They "know who we want to be"? They "tell hard truths"? They are going to "get this done"? What are these specific plans to achieve these outcomes?

In stark contrast to the pomp and circumstance from the preceding three nights, the Republican National Committee's platform committee (like them or not) created a document that is 62 pages long of specific ideas and ideals that define the party and specify its goals. Beyond wayward generalities, very few of these points were mentioned by the speakers over the past few nights. Even discussion of vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's controversial (but detailed) budget proposal was shelved. This creates two problems, one for voters and one for the Republicans. For voters, we are left in the dark about many of the specific details concerning what a Romney presidency would look like, which issues would be a priority, and what specifically would be done on those issues. For the Republicans, it risks letting the Democrats define what a Romney presidency would be like. Without question, they are not likely to paint a picture favorable to the Republicans.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

The GOP missed an opportunity to define and refine its message for the country on a national stage with its most prominent and popular players on the field. Being the party of "not Obama" will only carry the Republicans so far. This vision may come in the subsequent weeks (Mitt Romney said, for instance, "we will get to know them better in the days ahead") but time is running short to make a concerted case to the voters.

Brandon Rottinghaus

About Brandon Rottinghaus Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Houston

Tags
Republican Party
2012 presidential election
Republican National Convention
Romney, Mitt
Rice, Condoleezza
Christie, Chris
Ryan, Paul

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