Archive for August, 2012

Eastwood’s empty chair, and Mitt’s Mormon moment

TAMPA — The enduring image from the 2012 GOP convention may well be an empty chair, the prop Clint Eastwood used to represent Barack Obama’s presidency during a prime-time performance that was at turns bizarre and bitingly effective.

That empty chair — an apt symbol for a president known during his legislating days for voting “present” and during his White House tenure for being MIA on the country’s most pressing economic and fiscal issues — is already a social-media icon. It’s already spawned a meme of people photographing themselves talking to unoccupied furniture: “Eastwooding.” Plus, at least two new snarky Twitter accounts: @InvisibleObama and @ClintsChair.

But if that’s the only visual people take away from this past week, it will be a shame. The picture burned in my mind is of a yellow legal pad.

That’s because the week’s emotional peak came a couple of hours before Dirty Harry interrogated the air. It came from a retired firefighter and his wife as they spoke about the …

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RNC 2012: Summing it up

TAMPA — So I’m sitting at the gate in the Tampa airport, Sunday column filed, and finally have time to put down some quick thoughts about Thursday night’s finale at the RNC.

First, Clint Eastwood’s performance is a good example of why (I presume) he insists that the actors in his movies follow a script. There were some grand moments in there — “You, we, we own this country. … Politicians are employees of ours” being one of them — and the image of President Obama as an empty chair is going to have staying power in this campaign. But his 12-minute bit could have been done in much less time and been even more effective. As rambling and bizarre as Eastwood was at times, I don’t think he hurt Mitt Romney with his performance. He just didn’t help as much as he might have.

Second, there were a few primetime-worthy appearances earlier in the evening that would have done much more to burnish Romney’s public image. The first was a trio of speeches by members of Romney’s church in …

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RNC 2012: Before Romney’s speech, campaign releases a bevy of Bain videos (see one here)

Hours before Mitt Romney takes the stage to accept the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign released nine new videos on YouTube about his successes in business. Could they represent a preview of the case he’ll make tonight? Here’s one of them, about that staple of shopping malls across the country: Brookstone.

A robust defense of his business career has been a long time coming. Will these help do the trick?

(H/t: Hot Air)

– By Kyle Wingfield

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RNC 2012: Ryan finishes off a powerful second night

TAMPA — Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention was drifting along unremarkably for a couple of hours. For Georgians, even Attorney General Sam Olens’ speech — the only one this week by someone from our state — suffered from his pairing with his Floridian counterpart, Pam Bondi; the tag-team format just didn’t work all that well. Speeches from Sen. John Thune, the South Dakotan whose name was bandied about (inexplicably, I’d say tonight) as a potential presidential candidate, and Sen. John McCain, the 2008 nominee, were flat.

Then came the wave.

It started with Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate. To be honest, I wasn’t able to catch much of his speech, but I could tell that the crowd responded to it with much more energy than any of the earlier speakers generated.

Then came Condoleezza Rice. The former secretary of state is highly regarded for her intellect and experience, but I don’t know anyone who expected a set-piece …

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RNC 2012: For Romney, voters’ love would be nice — but their respect may suffice

TAMPA — Giving a glimpse at Mitt the man was Ann Romney’s job Tuesday night, and she framed her story as one about love: hers for him and his for her, their family and his fellow man.

Defining the choice between the Romney Republicans and Barack Obama’s Democrats was Chris Christie’s job immediately afterward, and he framed his story as one about respect: the kind, as he said his mother taught him, a person sometimes has to seek instead of love. The kind that leads one to make tough decisions, to say “no” when it’s right, even if “yes” would be easier.

“Look into your hearts,” Ann Romney implored.

“I believe we have become paralyzed by our desire to be loved,” Christie intoned, not so many minutes later.

And any number of people watching the first full night of the 2012 Republican National Convention must have thought, Um, THAT’S awkward.

But the two messages were not as incongruent as they appeared at first blush. Christie explained why early in his speech: “love without …

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RNC 2012: Christie’s speech was better than the reviews it’s gotten

TAMPA — The consensus around here seems to be that Chris Christie might have been Tuesday’s keynote speaker, but Ann Romney stole the show from the New Jersey governor. I agree, and will have more thoughts on Mrs. Romney’s speech later. But Christie delivered exactly what I expected, and was quite good at doing so.

Christie built on a key theme developed earlier in the night by a series of Republican governors, most of them elected since Barack Obama entered the White House. Ohio’s John Kasich, Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Nevada’s Brian Sandoval and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley talked about how they’d gotten their states’ finances on track without abandoning their conservative principles, and Christie offered maybe the most dramatic examples of that:

They said it was impossible to cut taxes in a state where taxes were raised 115 times in eight years. That it was impossible to balance a budget at the same time, with an $11 billion deficit. Three years …

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RNC 2012: Tuesday night thread – roll call, Ann Romney, Chris Christie

Good evening from Tampa, where Mitt Romney has just become the official presidential nominee of the Republican Party. New Jersey’s votes put him over the top in the alphabetical-order roll call of state delegations. He might have gotten there a couple of states earlier if not for a smattering of votes for Ron Paul, including three of Georgia’s 76 votes; one additional Georgia delegate was reported as unassigned, meaning Romney received 72 votes from a state whose March primary was won by Newt Gingrich.

Paul Ryan was confirmed as the vice presidential nominee, and now we’ll have a brief recess and then several speeches in a lineup packed due to the cancellation of Monday’s agenda. Among the speakers are Rick Santorum (on the welfare reform he championed in the 1990s and the Obama administration’s recent move to weaken it), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Democrat-turned-Republican Artur Davis, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Ann Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

I’ll be …

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Deal: No Medicaid expansion for Georgia

TAMPA — Firming up his earlier stance, Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday he “would not have any intention” of expanding Georgia’s Medicaid rolls with federal money from Obamacare.

The expansion to cover anyone who earns one-third more than the federal poverty level, which the law made virtually mandatory by threatening to withhold current Medicaid funds from states that did not cooperate, became optional thanks to a Supreme Court ruling this summer that said Congress had overstepped its bounds in making such a coercive threat. Immediately after the court issued its ruling, Deal said he would wait until November to decide about the expansion, under which the feds would foot 100 percent of the cost of expansion from 2014 to 2016 and less in the years after that.

Tuesday morning in Tampa, during an interview with the AJC, 11 Alive and Politico, he indicated the expansion is off the table:

No, I do not have any intentions of expanding Medicaid. I think that is something our state …

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2012 RNC: Waiting out the storm

Greetings from sunny … er, beautiful … er, just Tampa. And from the inside of my hotel room at that, because not a lot else is happening this opening day of the 2012 Republican National Convention.

The Georgia delegation, which is staying at the same hotel, is holed up in an enormous ballroom listening to uber-focus grouper Frank Luntz. I’d tell you what he’s saying, except the event — like everything else the Georgia delegation has done so far — is closed to the press. I don’t know why so many Georgia Republicans believe they can shape press coverage to their liking by shunning the press. One day, perhaps they’ll learn these antics won’t keep the media from covering them and might just contribute to the sometimes adversarial relationship they have with us. (In any case, the AJC’s Jim Galloway is sitting outside the ballroom as I type, to gather what he can from the Luntz discussion.)

Beyond that, and in case you haven’t yet heard, the Monday program for the convention has …

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Want more from Romney, Obama? Vote with your remote

The presidential race begins in earnest over the next two weeks with the nominating conventions, and we’ll get under way with the start of the GOP gathering Monday night. Unless you don’t have cable, in which case you’re stuck with “Hawaii Five-O.”

That’s right: CBS plans to air a rerun of a remake rather than a primetime speech by Mitt Romney’s wife Ann. ABC is going with “Bachelor Pad” rather than remarks by tea-party favorite Rand Paul of Kentucky.

When you hear the GOP is just a bunch of old, white males, recall that NBC offered you “Stars Earn Stripes” instead of Alabama Democrat-turned-Republican Artur Davis; Senate nominee Ted Cruz of Texas; the Indian-American governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley; Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington; and Lucé Vela Fortuño, wife of Puerto Rico’s governor.

Hey, at least it’s a new episode.

This election is a critical inflection point for our country. Why would the networks bail on any of the nights? (At least the cable news …

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