Written by Joe Kaufman
It took the second day of the Republican convention in Tampa for the fireworks to go off. Condoleezza Rice got a rise from the crowd, and Paul Ryan brought down the house. There were a number of themes, but the one that seemed most prevalent was that Romney and Ryan can win. This produced elation from the political right and left progressives noticeably shaken.
The night began with a peace offering to the convention’s numerous Ron Paul supporters in the form of a short Ron Paul video, lauding the longtime U.S. Senator, soon to be followed by a speech by Paul’s son, Rand. Paul supporters have been upset due to a disagreement with the Republican Party over the presidential nomination process.
Rand Paul’s speech included a number of issues, first of which was President Obama’s health care law. Paul stated that, after the Supreme Court ruling, “I still think it’s unconstitutional… The whole damn thing is still unconstitutional.” He mentioned the “You didn’t build that” line that was the tag line of the previous night’s speeches and which was peppered throughout this second night. As well, he made a number of veiled references to his opposition of the Patriot Act, which appeared out of place at this convention but was red meat for his dad’s followers. “We should never trade our liberty for any promise of security,” he stated to large applause.
It seemed appropriate that, right after Rand Paul, a video presentation was shown featuring President George W. Bush along with a reference to the 9/11 attacks spoken by former First Lady Laura Bush. (Clip below, full speech text and video here)
Senator John McCain excoriated President Obama on actions regarding defense and foreign policy. He took issue with the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel (“a nation under existential threat”), Russia and China policy, the leaking of military secrets, and massive cuts to America’s defense. He stated that the President “missed an opportunity” regarding Iran and failed to protect Syrians from the Assad government, which he described as a “savage and unfair fight.” McCain spoke with the toughness that many consider was lacking in his personal run for President in 2008.
The issue of energy independence was only mentioned in passing the first night, but the issue was given a little more prominence on Wednesday. Tad True, the Vice President of Belle Fourche and Bridger Pipelines, located in Caspar, Wyoming, criticized Obama during his speech, stating that the President’s “policies are driving us away from energy independence, not towards it.” He spoke about “rebuilding a nation that can once again power itself” and that he believes Mitt Romney “understands that America needs that pipeline,” alluding to the Keystone Project that Obama shut down.
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio spoke of the differences between Governor Romney and President Obama. He stated that Obama hasn’t passed a budget in the nearly four years he has been in office. Portman said, in that same time period, “FDR and Truman won an entire war.” He reminded the audience that Obama “got zero votes” for his personal budget and called it a “lack of leadership.”
The Hispanic community was featured prominently Wednesday night, as it was the night before. Governor Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico spoke, stating that “Freedom is the essence of who we are as Americans.” And Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico spoke, voicing in Spanish, “En America todo es possible” (“In America everything is possible”). She said that, if President Obama can “take credit for government building small business, then he can accept responsibility for breaking his promise and adding $5 trillion to the national debt – because he did build that.”
The former Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty spoke, and according to him, “Barack Obama is the first president to create more excuses than jobs.” Pawlenty continued, “In his view, it’s George’s fault. It’s the bank’s fault. It’s Europe’s fault. It’s the weather’s fault. It’s Congress’ fault. Mr. President, if you want to find fault, I suggest you look in the mirror.”
Mike Huckabee, the popular Fox News host and former Governor of Arkansas, quickly took a swipe at DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and then proceeded to target Obama, whilst he kept repeating the mantra “We can do better.” Of Obama, Huckabee stated, “Let’s make him a proposition he can’t refuse – Let’s vote him out!” And of Obama’s Nobel Prize, he said, “In the real world you get the prize for producing something, not just promising something.”
Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, offered up a Churhillian-type speech, with a theme that questioned “Where does America stand?” She observed about America’s role in the world, “We cannot be reluctant to lead, and you cannot lead from behind… Our foes cannot doubt our resolve, because peace really does come through strength.” She talked about growing up in “Jim Crow Birmingham” and how her parents told her that, even though she wasn’t able to have a hamburger in segregated Woolworths department store, she could still become President of the United States if that was her wish. And in her words, “she becomes the Secretary of State.”
Finally, Congressman and Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan took the stage and gave a magnificent speech, with too many applause lines to mention. He said “I know we can do this.” He said, “I know that we are ready.” He received a huge standing ovation, when he stated the following: “We have suffered no shortage of words in the White House. What is missing is leadership in the White House.” And he made the case for a Mitt Romney presidency when he asked, “Without a change in leadership, why would the next four years be different than the last four years?”
The discontent leftists from MSNBC appeared out of sorts. Rachel Maddow, usually sporting a bright grin and who earlier went after Paul Ryan using the Todd Akin rape issue, looked noticeably shaken. They were forced to concede that at least some of Wednesday’s speeches were powerful. But that didn’t stop the hate.
About the GOP speakers, Al Sharpton said, “None of them told the truth.” He specifically called Paul Ryan a liar. Ed Schultz agreed, claiming that Ryan was “perpetuating lies.” And Chris Matthews insinuated that Ryan was a racist, in the same fashion that he did to Reince Priebus just one day earlier.
Once again, none of these belligerents could take away the successful night the GOP had at its convention. They only serve to enhance the night for the conservatives, and this night was much bigger than the previous one. Who knows what’s in store for tomorrow?
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