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Mitt Romney’s Big Night

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“Romney’s Big Night” is my column this morning, and confirmation that Clint Eastwood would be speaking before Marco Rubio who would in turn be last up before the GOP nominee guarantees an even larger audience than even the very big one already on tap for an acceptance speech.
The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker notes that it is the Romney way to tinker with a speech up until the moment it is delivered, and no doubt he is doing just that today, influenced by what worked from the podium and that which didn’t over the past two nights.
There have been no huge flops, some workmanlike and quickly forgotten efforts, and a series of compelling addresses, especially those from John Kasich, Artur Davis, Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie. Some panned Tim Pawlenty and Rob Portman but they too did exactly what their place in the schedule required, and no doubt each was chosen for their strengths in the overall effort to create a crescendo. The planners cannot have all brass and no violins, all cymbals and no flutes. Last night worked because it was beautifully put together, and all of the talking heads examining each speaker serially betrayed that they know very little about programming and less about moving a nation towards an enormous U-Turn.
There isn’t any nay-saying about the big four speeches prior to tonight/ They have come from Romney’s running mate and three women –Ann Romney, Condi Rice and Susana Martinez.
Any member of Team Romney would have said a week ago that the sentence above means a home run convention, and that it was they have gotten, with a little MSM-exposing scandal thrown in with the Yahoo meltdown and the MSNBC serial tantrum.
As Twitter exploded with praise for Paul Ryan last night –a genuinely moving address that built and concluded exactly as any orator would hope for– the hunger for substance in speeches and not just windy rhetoric and self-congratulation peaked. After four years of thin gruel, the real stuff was being served, again. People know Ryan meant what he said because he has lived it. The same is true of Ann, Condi and Susana. Supporters of Mitt Romney hope he does the same tonight. Those of us who have profiled him in depth are certain that he will because Romney rises to challenges. Romney will also have taken note of the Convention’s reactions to Paul Ryan’s seriousness mixed with a little humor, and especially to the crowd, at home and wherever Twitter reaches, to the invocation of the Founding and the love of freedom that is deep in the American DNA.
(The talking heads ability to grade a speech is completely and wholly shattered. The Twitter feed considers and rules. That ruling cannot be overturned by pundits, but the pundits can expose themselves as fools by attempting to do so.)
Take a look at the comparison graph that charts ’08 v. ’12. This already shows a much closer race than four years back, and President Obama doesn’t have the vast money edge, doesn’t have the luxury of running on words, and –as last night’s Twitter feed from David Axelrod demonstrated– the president doesn’t have a confident inner circle but rather a gang of Chicago operatives who must feel a bit like Bernie Madoff on the days before his arrest. Their game is up, and the last trick in their very big book is to attempt to destroy Romney’s reputation.
Look at the picture above and listen to the speech tonight and you will see why the Chicago gang’s gutterball simply won’t work. Democrats have spent the last 10 hours trying to find some way to tarnish Ryan’s triumph without any success whatsoever because the lies just don’t work and because the “faded poster” line will live on and on and on as the perfect summary of the Obama economy and the Obama failure.
It is now up to Romney to close a very strong convention, one made even more impressive by the difficult circumstances of Tampa and the Gulf Coast generally. That he has guided his team successfully through this week is yet another indication of his abilities, but the best indication of his judgment is Paul Ryan’s selection and Paul Ryan’s appeal. All of those things, however, are simply manifestations of excellent judgment. Tonight the voters get a close-up look at the man who promises a new approach and a fresh start. It feels like 1980, and tonight’ address could make it so.


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