As I begin writing this week's blog, I'm on a flight to Tampa to participate in the 2012 Republican Convention. It's been postponed until today (Tuesday) as a result of Hurricane Isaac, but it looks like Tampa (and the Convention) may have dodged a bullet as the storm has drifted more to the west (towards New Orleans) than originally predicted. Our thoughts and prayers are of course with those who are more directly in the hurricane's path.
Back to the convention. In order to decide what must be accomplished at the convention, it's probably a good idea to determine where the presidential race stands at this moment in time. And according to Real Clear Politics, if you average all the national polls done over the last week or so, President Obama leads Mitt Romney by less than 1 point. So, for all intense and purposes, the race is a dead heat, a toss-up, within the margin of error, tied.
Therefore, Mitt Romney doesn't have to go for the fences, throw the Hail Mary pass (fill in your favorite analogy here), but he does need a strong, well-organized, issue-oriented convention to put him on the glide path towards victory over Barack Obama this fall. And remember, the Democrats have their convention next week, so in some ways, the two conventions will offset each other, and it's not clear which candidate will get more of a bounce once all the smoke settles.
So here are my thoughts about what must be accomplished at the Republican Convention this week in order to have been considered a success.
First, the American people must be reminded that Barack Obama has been a failed president. They don't need to be beaten over the head about it, they don't even really have to be convinced of it -- they believe it and KNOW it instinctively. Just provide them with the facts in an accurate, not exaggerated, not over-the-top way.
President Obama and his party completely controlled Washington for two years and passed whatever they wanted. Obama promised that if his Stimulus passed, unemployment wouldn't go over 8%. It passed, and unemployment hasn't been UNDER 8% for 3 years now. Obama clearly doesn't have a clue what to do about the economy, and how to get Americans back to work again.
Obama has allowed government spending to soar to record levels, and it's going to bankrupt the country. His health care bill remains unpopular, and is an unwarranted power-grab by the federal government. And the Obama Administration foreign policy, if there is one, has weakened the United States around the world. (Some Republican operatives suggest that we stay away from foreign policy, but I think President Obama is vulnerable there, as well as on the economy.)
These are areas where I believe Barack Obama has failed the American people. The convention is the place to establish how MITT ROMNEY would be the better alternative in dealing with each of the Obama failures.
Although the Romney campaign has been talking about important issues for over a year now (especially when one considers that he participated in numerous debates with his Republican opponents during the primaries) many voters are just beginning to tune in to the Presidential race.
Mitt must articulate a positive vision for each important issue facing the country, particularly how he would get the economy moving again, create jobs for the millions of Americans unemployed or underemployed, and how he'll restrain the rapid growth of government and reduce the out-of-control spending. There are many other issues a President must deal with, but these are currently the most important, and the ones Obama has failed most miserably to tackle over the last 3-and-a-half years.
Mitt must also overcome the perception (as pedaled by the Democratic attack machine) that he is an aloof, out-of-touch, rich business guy, who doesn't care much about middle class folks. He allegedly is responsible for a woman dying of cancer, hasn't paid taxes for 10 years, and mistreats his dog. This is of course all bunk, but his critics will stop at nothing to make Mitt Romney an unacceptable alternative, even to a sub-par President like Barack Obama.
And finally, the convention must make sure that Mitt Romney's humanity, his compassion, and his generosity comes through. He has helped many people during his life, financially and otherwise, typically without any other people knowing about it. We must make sure that people do know about these things.
His wife will probably be his greatest asset in telling the Mitt Romney story and connecting with people. This is, after all, a woman who has struggled with Multiple Sclerosis, and breast cancer, and has raised 5 children with him. She's known him for nearly half a century, and she's his secret weapon. Let's keep her a secret no longer.
As I finish this week's blog, I've landed in Tampa, done 2 Fox News interviews, listened to the first evening's speeches, and here are my impressions. The two most anticipated speakers were, of course, Ann Romney and Governor Chris Christie. I thought Mrs. Romney did a superb job. Not only did she deliver a great speech, but she has the presence and grace of a First Lady.
Chris Christie, as always, gave a very good speech. However, and it may just be me, but I think he could have gone after Barack Obama much more aggressively. In his defense, Christie may have felt that his key target audience was Independents and blue collar voters (Reagan Democrats) and that being too aggressive might have been counter-productive. Or he may have decided (or been advised) that a more subdued delivery, and less aggressive approach, was more appropriate as some Americans are in the path of Hurricane Isaac and facing potential devastating property loss or personal danger. That being said, it was still a very effective speech.
In conclusion, it's my belief that the Convention is off to a good start. Let's all hope that it brings us closer to ensuring that Barack Obama is a one term President, and that Mitt Romney is the next President of the United States.