Ann Romney Wins Hearts, Chris Christie Wins Minds

Politics is a contest of ideas, and both speakers last night showcased why Mitt Romney and Republicans are winning that contest.

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Some people like to watch the Oscars, others like the Olympics. Maybe it's the speechwriter in me, but three nights of political oratory is my idea of a good time. Last night was great fun, from Senate candidate Ted Cruz giving a TED-style talk without a podium to former Rep. Artur Davis's barnburner to Gov. Chris Christie's keynote. Here's what Republicans accomplished last night:

In the short run, Ann Romney did a great job of humanizing her husband and reassuring women that it's OK to vote for Mitt Romney. When she closed the speech with its most powerful line, "Mitt Romney will not fail. Mitt Romney will not let us down," she was speaking directly to women who feel let down by Barack Obama—women like Velma Hart, the woman who said this in a town hall with President Obama in 2010: "I'm one of your middle-class Americans. And quite frankly, I'm exhausted. Exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for." 

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

Ann Romney's answer was that yes, Velma, if you stay with Obama, you'll still be exhausted. Women will be let down again. Ann Romney made a solid case for her husband; no wonder she's known as Mitt's "secret weapon." I'd be surprised if we don't see some movement toward the GOP among female voters in the next few days.

If Ann Romney was going for people's hearts, then Chris Christie was going for their heads. The Republican line of attack this fall will not be a negative one—note that neither Ann Romney nor Chris Christie attacked the president by name—but rather will be one of contrasting the president's rhetoric with his lack of results. That's why Christie spent the first two-thirds of his speech talking about the results he's achieved in New Jersey, balancing the budget without raising taxes and working with state Democrats to pull the state back from the fiscal cliff. People want results and he's got them.

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

Christie attributed those results to his philosophy of government: one of limited government and fiscal sanity. He laid out the intellectual framework of the future of the Republican Party, one we'll hear more about not only from Christie but also from Sen. Marco Rubio, former Gov. Jeb Bush, and Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP's vice presidential nominee. And we'll hear more about results from Republican governors, who lead seven of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates, and 12 of the 15 states that have been ranked "best for business." Those results are the consequences of a progrowth, probusiness ideology that Obama and the left don't have. That's a great message not only over the next three days and into the fall, but for the next decade. People are hungry for ideas that work.

If you believe, as I do, that politics is about the contest of ideas, I'd say that Republicans are winning that contest. 

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