Republican Convention Wasn’t a Decisive Moment
Party conventions long ago stopped picking the presidential nominees and rarely have much impact once the sound bites fade and the last confetti gets swept away.
The exceptions came in 1968 for the Democrats and 1992 for the Republicans, when voters were repelled by what they saw (rioting in the streets of Chicago) and heard (a sharp right turn on social issues inside the convention hall in Houston). There was nothing at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, save Clint Eastwood’s free-form performance of a man and his chair, that was not carefully scripted and sanitized to avoid just such a result.
For that reason, whether Mitt Romney wins or loses in November, it is doubtful anyone will look back and say the election was decided this week in the swampy heat of Florida. (Nor, for that matter, next week in Charlotte, N.C., when the Democrats gather for their big bash.)
Still, the convention that crowned Romney and his running mate, Paul D. Ryan, featured both achievements and missed opportunities.
One of Romney’s big goals was to add some flesh and humanity to the image many voters have of the former Massachusetts governor. He delivered an acceptance speech that showed who he is: a man conservative in values, devoted to family and church, grounded in the business world and experienced in turning around tough situations. Like Romney himself, the delivery was crisp, polished and not very exciting.
It was also measured in tone, demonstrating what Rob Stutzman, a GOP consultant and onetime Romney strategist, called a turn away from “the angry white party of Republican primary politics.”