Have you seen tons of Facebook posts, Tweets, and news headlines about RNC 2012? Wondering who all these people are that are speaking? Wonder where they’ve been, what office they hold/are running for, and what their potential is on the national stage? Confused as to why people like me treat the Republican National Convention as one of THE GREAT every-four-year events right up there with the Olympics and the World Cup?
Odds are, unlike me, you didn’t block off your Tuesday night to watch PBS’s full, four-hour coverage of the first night of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Odds are, you don’t read political news all day, every day to learn who the rising stars on the political scene are. So that’s why I’m bringing you everything you need to know about last night’s speeches and speakers at the first night of the Republican National Convention. Sit back, relax, get your American flag out, and dwell on freedom and opportunity. Here are the highlights… brought to you by the son of a public school teacher and FedEx employee! (If you watch many convention speeches, you’ll find everyone has to say who their parents are and what they did. If you want more details about mine, ask me about them sometime. They’re pretty great!)
1) Mia Love – Mayor, Mormon, African-American Woman running for Congress in Utah – Dominant Start to Evening’s Speeches
Like many across America, I found myself googling Mia Love. I had heard of her. I had read about her. But I had never heard her story. I had never seen her speak. I hadn’t seen her family.
She may have started the evening out strong, but by the end of the night, she would be discussed as one of the top speeches. With little to no experience on the national stage, she stood out as someone grounded, genuine, and striking the perfect balance between intelligent discussion of the problems facing America today and a gentle compassion for what is great about America that can help solve our problems. Watch the video. Watch the speech. Visit her website.
- “Let me tell you about the America I know. My parents immigrated to the U.S. with ten dollars in their pocket, believing that the America they had heard about really did exist. When times got tough they didn’t look to Washington, they looked within. So the America I came to know was centered in personal responsibility and filled with the American dream.”
- “President Obama’s version of America is a divided one — pitting us against each other based on our income level, gender, and social status. His policies have failed! We are not better off than we were 4 years ago, and no rhetoric, bumper sticker, or campaign ad can change that. Mr. President I am here to tell you we are not buying what you are selling in 2012.”
2) Ted Cruz – GOP Senate Candidate in Texas, Former Bush Administration Attorney, Son of Cuban Immigrants
Ted Cruz is known as the latest possible future GOP superstar who rode the Tea Party wave to Washington, D.C. That’s what the mainstream media and the TX GOP establishment led by Rick Perry would want you to believe. BUT, that’s only a sliver of the story. He’s a Harvard Law grad. He clerked for Chief Justice Rehnquist. He worked on President George W. Bush’s legal team. His political chops have grown exponentially the last few weeks, and his speech on Tuesday night showed it. Unfortunately for us Republicans, he was born in Canada, so he can’t run for President some day. But as his speech shows, cheers to the possibilities of Ted Cruz being a life-long statesman leading in Washington, D.C. to make America stronger each and every day.
One of my liberal friends texted me during the Cruz speech, sure that I was just eating up every bit of it. Cruz was hitting all the things I loved about America and the Republican Party. I loved every bit of it.
- Just watch the first couple minutes as Ted Cruz does a quick stroll through American history, hitting all the high points of what has made our country so great.
- “When he came to America, ‘no tenía nada, pero tenía corazón’ He had nothing, but he had heart. A heart for freedom. Fifty-five years ago, when my dad was a penniless teenage immigrant, thank God some well-meaning bureaucrat didn’t put his arm around him and say let me take care of you. That would have been the most destructive thing anyone could have done.”
- This one is short. Just watch it/listen to it.
3) Artur Davis – former congressman from Alabama, former Democrat, Obama 2008 Campaign chairperson
Artur Davis often drew a lot of comparisons to Barack Obama. Both went to Harvard Law School in the same era. Both were young congressional leaders launched onto the national stage as spokesmen for the Democratic Party. Davis was a golden boy for the 2008 Obama campaign, holding a chair position for the campaign, and speaking at the 2008 DNC. When push came to shove, and Obama prioritized health care reform above all other policies, Davis was one of the only Democrats not to vote for ObamaCare. The Obama White House turned their backs pretty quickly on Davis. After failing to win the governor’s mansion in Alabama, Davis moved to Virginia and began working in the private sector, increasingly critical of the Obama Administration.
And then, tonight, he gave one of my favorite speeches of the evening. I’ll let you enjoy it yourself!
- “We have a country to turn around. This week you will nominate the most experienced executive to seek the presidency in 60 years in Mitt Romney. He has no illusions about what makes America great, and he doesn’t confuse the presidency with celebrity, or loftiness with leadership. What a difference four years makes.”
- “But in all seriousness, do you know why so many of us believed? We led with our hearts and our dreams that we could be more inclusive than America had ever been, and no candidate had ever spoken so beautifully. But dreams meet daybreak: the jobless know what I mean, so do the families who wonder how this Administration could wreck a recovery for three years and counting. So many of those high-flown words have faded. Remember the President saying of negative politics and untrue ads, “not this time?” Who knew “not this time” just meant “not unless the economy is still stuck and we can’t run onour record?”
- “And of course, we know that opportunity lies outside the reach of some of our people. We don’t need flowery words about inequality to tell us that, and we don’t need a party that has led while poverty and hunger rose to record levels to give us lectures about suffering.”
- “To those Democrats and independents whose minds are open to argument: listen closely to the Democratic Party that will gather in Charlotte and ask yourself if you ever hear your voice in the clamor. Ask yourself if these Democrats still speak for you.”
- “John F. Kennedy asked us what we could do for America. This Democratic Party asks what can government give you. Don’t worry about paying the bill, it’s on your kids and grandkids.”
- “This sweet, blessed, God-inspired place called America is a champion that has absorbed some blows. But while we bend, we don’t break. This is no dark hour; this is the dawn before we remember who we are. May it be said of this time in our history: 2008 to 2011: lesson learned. 2012: mistake corrected.”
4) Ann Romney – The Woman Behind the Man who is the GOP Nominee for President
In the final month of the primary battle while Mitt Romney was locking down the nomination, many pundits stated Ann Romney may be Mitt’s most powerful secret weapon, rarely used but always effective. Many also said that the Democrats were secretly most afraid of Ann Romney if she were ever a key part of the campaign.
Well, with tonight’s speech at the convention, Ann Romney has been introduced to America and she’s a bigger part of the campaign. What her speech needed to do: humanize Mitt Romney, show that he’s more than just a successful businessman, and help close the likeability gap that has kept Mitt Romney from taking a strong lead in the polls. Candidates’ wives can often say things about the candidates that they can’t say themselves. Ann Romney needs to let America know what makes Mitt Romney tick and why he’ll be a great President.
AND, I think she did it quite well. Through stories and charming honesty, she seized the opportunity on the national stage. Did she convert any new voters? Doubtful. BUT, she succeeded in beginning to build the foundation for the last couple months of the campaign, by letting America know who Mitt Romney is as a father, husband, and friend. America needs to see that before a majority of them will vote for him.
- “I want to talk about not what divides us, but what holds us together as an American family. I want to talk to you tonight about that one great thing that unites us, that one great thing that brings us our greatest joy when times are good and the deepest solace in our dark hours. Tonight, I want to talk to you about love.”
- “ And if you listen carefully, you’ll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It’s how it is, isn’t it? It’s the moms who have always had to work a little harder to make everything right. It’s the mom’s of this nation, single, married, widowed, who really hold the country together. We’re the mothers. We’re the wives. We’re the grandmothers. We’re the big sisters. We’re the little sisters and we are the daughters.”
- “We’re too smart and know that there are no easy answers, but we’re not dumb enough to accept that there are not better answers.”
- “But — but let me say this to every American who is thinking about who should be our next president. No one will work harder. No one will care more. And no one will move heaven and earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live.”
- “This is important. I want you to hear what I am going to say. Mitt does not like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point.”
- “This is a man who will wake up every day with the determination to solve the problems that others say cannot be solved, to fix what others say is beyond repair, this is the man who will work harder than anyone so that we can work a little less hard. I can’t tell you what will happen over the next four years. But I can only stand here tonight as a wife and a mother and a grandmother, an American, and make you this solemn commitment. This man will not fail.”
5) Chris Christie – Governor of New Jersey, GOP’s favorite tough-talking, wise-cracking governor who has pushed through a lot of pragmatic reform in a very blue state – Keynote Speech at 2012 RNC
I became a HUGE Chris Christie fan upon reading this NY Times Sunday Magazine profile. Upon his special election as governor of New Jersey AS A REPUBLICAN(!), Chris Christie has brought a voice to the Republican Party that had been sorely missing – straight talking, pragmatic, wise-cracking, tough-talking politician who will say anything, do whatever it takes to solve America’s problems, and be straightforward enough to still be respected by people on both sides of the aisle. His calling card has been his ability to speak the truth about the problems New Jersey (and America) face, and ask the citizens to do what it takes to achieve real reform to solve our country’s most severe problems.
The introduction video and his keynote address perfectly capture what Chris Christie has been all about as he has skyrocketed onto the national stage. I’ll let them (and my top quotes) speak for themselves. I will close with Christie’s quotes because they’re better than anything I will say. Tomorrow night, Paul Ryan will be the top speech. Tune in if you want, but don’t worry… I’ll recap it all once again for you. God Bless!
- “This stage and this moment are very improbable for me. A New Jersey Republican delivering the keynote address to our national convention, from a state with 700,000 more Democrats than Republicans.”
-”The greatest lesson Mom ever taught me, though, was this one: she told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. She said to always pick being respected, that love without respect was always fleeting — but that respect could grow into real, lasting love.”
- “It’s been easy for our leaders to say not us, and not now, in taking on the tough issues. And we’ve stood silently by and let them get away with it. But tonight, I say enough.”
- “Now we must lead the way our citizens live. To lead as my mother insisted I live, not by avoiding truths, especially the hard ones, but by facing up to them and being the better for it.”
- “The disciples of yesterday’s politics underestimated the will of the people. They assumed our people were selfish; that when told of the difficult problems, tough choices and complicated solutions, they would simply turn their backs, that they would decide it was every man for himself. Instead, the people of New Jersey stepped up and shared in the sacrifice. They rewarded politicians who led instead of politicians who pandered. We shouldn’t be surprised. We’ve never been a country to shy away from the truth. History shows that we stand up when it counts and it’s this quality that has defined our character and our significance in the world. I know this simple truth and I’m not afraid to say it: our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America.”
- “We believe that if we tell the people the truth they will act bigger than the pettiness of Washington, D.C. We believe it’s possible to forge bipartisan compromise and stand up for conservative principles. It’s the power of our ideas, not of our rhetoric, that attracts people to our Party. We win when we make it about what needs to be done; we lose when we play along with their game of scaring and dividing. For make no mistake, the problems are too big to let the American people lose – the slowest economic recovery in decades, a spiraling out of control deficit, an education system that’s failing to compete in the world. It doesn’t matter how we got here. There is enough blame to go around. What matters now is what we do.”
- “I believe in America and her history. There’s only one thing missing now. Leadership. It takes leadership that you don’t get from reading a poll. You see, Mr. President – real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls. That’s what we need to do now. Change polls through the power of our principles. Change polls through the strength of our convictions. Tonight, our duty is to tell the American people the truth. Our problems are big and the solutions will not be painless. We all must share in the sacrifice. Any leader that tells us differently is simply not telling the truth.”