At the RNC: A Chair Steals the Show

Posted on September 5, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

If there is one enduring image from the Republican’s recent convention in Tampa, it is surely that empty chair Clint Eastwood spoke to for 12 minutes on the gathering’s closing night.

It doesn’t matter if you loved his presentation, or hated it, you definitely remember it. And for newly anointed Republican standard-bearer Mitt Romney and his backers, that’s probably not what they intended. And it could be why the Romney campaign has yet to see much of a convention bounce.

Eastwood’s performance overshadowed a solid, if bland, acceptance speech by Romney which built on one of his campaign’s favorite themes, that the Obama administration has been a disappointment. He went over his five point plan to create 12 million new jobs, called for renewed American unity and reached out to women voters.

But coming as it did after Eastwood’s chair speech and reflective and philosophical remarks from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Romney’s speech was hardly the highlight of the night. Quick polling by Gallup gave Romney low marks.

Rubio did his best in trying to focus the crowd away from the Obama bashing and back to the virtues of Romney. He did a great job, talking about his family and about Romney’s  and about how the American dream endures even in troubled economic times.

In one of the few prime time speeches that focused more on lifting Romney up than on running Obama down, Rubio sounded a rare note of optimism. Romney, he said, believes “life in America can be better than it has ever been.”

If the goal of convention speeches is to tell the electorate why their man should be elected, then Romney’s wife, Ann, was its star. Her heart-felt remarks on the convention’s opening day talked about the loving family man who worked hard to meet every challenge along the road to business success.

“At every turn in his life, this man I met at a high school dance has helped lift up others,” she said.

But vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech was more the norm, focusing more on Obama than Romney. He described the Obama administration as “a dull, adventureless journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.”

Then there was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose keynote address was really more about himself than about Romney or Obama. It did contain a nice bit about leadership and the memorable line: “Real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls.”

It started with the threat of being washed out by Tropical Storm Isaac, ended with the memory of a man talking to an empty chair. Overall, we’re not sure the convention did much to help Romney, but polls show the race is still too close to call.

Now, what can Obama and the Democrats do?

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at

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