James Anderson writes from Tampa: Hurricane Isaac was bidding to be the uninvited guest at the Republican Convention here. At the last moment it swerved away and headed for New Orleans. A huge slice of luck or divine intervention? The Republicans breathed a sigh of relief but could not be seen to be congratulating themselves because Isaac might wreak havoc in the same city that Hurricane Katrina devastated in 2005. Had Isaac decided to pay a visit to Tampa it could have forced the postponement of the Convention. So are things beginning to flow in the Republicans’ direction?
Mitt Romney, of course, was crowned the GOP’s candidate, to take on President Barack Obama in November. He secured 2,061 votes, way ahead of the 1,144 he needed for the nomination. Florida is a swing state and the Republicans must take it if they are to enter the White House. A recent poll revealed the candidates neck and neck. Romney’s supporters stress that he is brilliant at crisis management. After all, he has bought and turned around failing companies. Had Hurricane Isaac decided to pay a visit, all his skills might have been put to the test. Television is a ruthless medium. A candidate has to be telegenic nowadays to make the Oval Office. Mitt’s detractors portray him as a robot who is brilliant at making set moves but gets confused when he needs to improvise. He is working hard on his TV persona and the acid test will be his victory speech late today. It will close the Convention and delegates will expect to be sent home confident that their man will be the next President.
The star turn of the first day was Ann Romney. Her task was to appeal to all the female voters and convince them that her man was their man. She had quite a story to tell. Audiences love stories. It is the way to connect with the average person. She revealed that she has not had a storybook marriage. She has had to defeat breast cancer and is still battling multiple sclerosis. That makes her human. She has brought up five boys. Anyone who has been in a room with five young boys all screaming for attention and trying to be number 1 will empathise with her. Her aim was to make Mitt sound like a normal guy. She did not say where he was when the boys were screaming their heads off!
There are two topics the Convention would like to avoid: abortion and religion. On abortion, the party is split. The fundamentalists will not countenance abortion under any circumstances. Romney has softened his stance by saying there are situations, such as rape, incest or the health of the mother where it is justified. The Democrats may avoid questioning Romney’s Mormon beliefs and their possible impact on policy if he makes the White House. Mind you, this presidential race is already the dirtiest ever. Any mud slung might stick. Some Republicans have even dragged up the old chestnut about Obama not being born in the US.
The next star speaker is Paul Ryan. He is a wholesome family man who goes to Mass every Sunday. He has no time for slackers and those who sponge on the state. He repeats the Republican mantra that one’s rights have been granted by the constitution and God and not by government. He has to come across as the man to turn the country’s finances round but at the same time sound compassionate. A difficult task.
We have learned nothing new during the Convention. However, it was intended to be seen as a triumphal parade for Romney. Next stop the White House? Tough call.