It's All Politics
11:20 am
Tue August 28, 2012

As It Happened: GOP Kicks Off Its Convention; Makes Its Case To The Nation

Originally published on Wed August 29, 2012 10:23 pm

  • NPR Special Coverage, Hour 1
  • NPR Special Coverage, Hour 2
  • NPR Special Coverage, Hour 3

With a program designed both to tell the American people more about Mitt Romney and to make the case that Republicans' ideas for solving the nation's problems are better than Democrats', the 2012 GOP National Convention got going today and Romney officially became the party's presidential nominee.

Delegates also officially made Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin the party's vice presidential nominee.

We live blogged through the afternoon and evening. Scroll down and read "up" if you want to see how the story developed.

Update at 11:05 p.m. ET. In Closing, An Appeal For Those In Isaac's Path:

Before delivering the benediction, Rev. Sammy Rodriguez urges delegates and those watching on TV to go to RedCross.org to donate for those in the path of Hurricane Isaac.

With that, the convention is adjourned until 7 p.m. ET Wednesday. Join us then for more live blogging, and come back to It's All Politics for posts throughout the day.

Update at 11 p.m. ET. Stand Up!

With his voice rising, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie asks the delegates to rise and they respond with enthusiasm.

"It's now time to stand up!" he declares "There's no time left to waste. If you're willing to stand up with me for America's future, I will stand up with you. If you're willing to fight with me for Mitt Romney, I will fight with you.

"If you're willing to hear the truth about the hard road ahead, and the rewards for America that truth will bear, I'm here to begin with you this new era of truth-telling.

"Tonight, we choose the path that has always defined our nation's history. Tonight, we finally and firmly answer the call that so many generations have had the courage to answer before us. Tonight, we stand up for Mitt Romney as the next president of the United States.

"And, together, we stand up once again for American greatness for our children and grandchildren. God bless you and God bless America."

Among those standing, by the way, were Mitt and Ann Romney. They watched the keynote from a box in the arena.

Update at 10:57 p.m. ET. It's Leadership That's Missing, Christie Says:

"There's only one thing missing now," says New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. "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 gets a big cheer.

Update at 10:55 p.m. ET. Wind-Up Over, Christie Gets To The Nominee:

Around word 1,700 of his 2,700-word address, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie moves from explaining why Republicans' ideas are better than Democrats to talking about the party's nominees:

"We have a nominee who will tell us the truth and who will lead with conviction. And now he has a running mate who will do the same.

"We have Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, and we must make them our next president and vice president!"

Update at 10:45 p.m. ET. Christie's Refrain: "We Did It" And "Their Ideas Have Failed":

Continuing on a theme hit by several other governors today, New Jersey's Chris Christie is using the refrain "we did it" to punctuate the accomplishments he's touting from his time in office — such as "real teacher tenure reform that demands accountability and ends the guarantee of a job for life regardless of performance would never happen."

He then says, "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."

Update at 10:43 p.m. ET. Christie Says "We Are The United States Of America":

After saying that leaders need to stop "tearing each other down," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says that:

"We are the great grandchildren of men and women who broke their backs in the name of American ingenuity; the grandchildren of the Greatest Generation; the sons and daughters of immigrants; the brothers and sisters of everyday heroes; the neighbors of entrepreneurs and firefighters, teachers and farmers, veterans and factory workers and everyone in-between who shows up not just on the big days or the good days, but on the bad days and on the hard days.

"Each and every day.All 365 of them.

"We are the United States of America."

Update at 10:38 p.m. ET. Christie Starts With His Life Story:

The New Jersey governor is beginning the keynote by talking about his family's humble origins and the authority figure — his mom. He's also quickly worked in a Bruce Springsteen reference: "I was her son as I listened to Darkness on the Edge of Town with my high school friends on the Jersey Shore."

Update at 10:33 p.m. ET. And Now, The Keynote From Gov. Christie:

One of the week's most anticipated speeches is next — the keynote address from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who's known for his wit and way with words.

Update at 10:32 p.m. ET. "You Can Trust Mitt," And Then A Kiss From Her Man:

"I said tonight I wanted to talk to you about love," Ann Romney says as she wraps up her address. "Look into your hearts. This is our country. This is our future. These are our children and grandchildren.

"You can trust Mitt."

And moments later, Mitt Romney comes onstage to give her a kiss. They walk off hand in hand to the strains of "My Girl."

Update at 10:28 p.m. ET. Yes, Mitt Romney's Rich; But He Also Helps Others:

After saying that the company her husband helped build (Bain Capital) "has become another great American success story," Ann Romney says this:

"Has it made those who started the company successful beyond their dreams?

"Yes, it has."

But, she adds, "Mitt doesn't like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point."

Update at 10:26 p.m. ET. He'll Move Heaven And Earth:

Ann Romney gets a huge cheer for this line: "No one will move heaven and Earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live!"

Update at 10:22 p.m. ET. The Humble Start To Their Marriage:

When she married Mitt Romney, Ann Romney tells the delegates, they "ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish," had a folding dining room table and somehow coped while he went to business school and law school at the same time.

Those sort of details are aimed at fleshing out the wealthy family's story.

Update at 10:17 p.m. ET. "I Love You Women!":

If it could somehow be detected, Ann Romney says, each night "we could hear a collective sigh from the moms and dads across America who made it through another day."

And, she says, "you'll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It's how it is, isn't it?"

"I love you women!" she shouts.

Update at 10:15 p.m. ET. "I Want To Talk To You About Love":

Ann Romney says she does not want to talk "about what divides us, but about what holds us together. ... The one great thing that unites us. ... About love."

Update at 10:08 p.m. ET. Ann Romney Coming Up:

Luce Vela Fortuno, the first lady of Puerto Rico, is onstage now to introduce Ann Romney, wife of the GOP presidential nominee. So if you've been waiting for Ann Romney's address, it's time to listen up.

Update at 10 p.m. ET. Big Cheers For Voter ID:

When Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina says that if you need to show an identification card to get on an airplane you should also need to show an ID to vote, the delegates respond with one of the biggest cheers for any single statement tonight.

Update at 9:50 p.m. ET. Former Democratic Rep. Davis: "Thank You For Welcoming Me":

Artur Davis, who until recently was a Democratic congressman from Alabama, opens his speech with a joke about where he was four years ago: "Some of you may know, the last time I spoke at a convention, it turned out I was in the wrong place. So, Tampa, my fellow Republicans, thank you for welcoming me where I belong." (He was, indeed, a part of the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver and used to be a strong supporter of President Obama.) It's a crowd-pleasing line, to say the least.

Of Obama, he says: "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."

Update at 9:35 p.m. ET. When Santorum Speaks Of His Daughter, The Arena Is Hushed:

As he talks of the people met on the campaign trail this year and the hands he held along the way, Rick Santorum says, "I cradled the little, broken hands of the disabled. Hands that struggle and bring pain, hands that ennoble us and bring great joy. They came to see us — oh did they come — when they found out Karen and I are blessed with caring for someone very special too, our Bella." The arena was the quietest it has been all day as delegates appeared to listen closely.

His disabled daughter was introduced to the nation during her father's campaign, and the story touched many hearts. And in comments that draw applause from a crowd where most likely have strong opinions about abortion, Santorum says, "the doctors later told us Bella was incompatible with life and to prepare to let go. They said, even if she did survive, her disabilities would be so severe that Bella would not have a life worth living. We didn't let go and today Bella is full of life and she has made our lives and countless others much more worth living."

Update at 9:25 p.m. ET. Rick Santorum Makes His Case Against Obama:

The last man to mount a serious challenge to Romney's bid for the GOP nomination is at the microphone. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is telling the story of his family. "My grandfather, like millions of other immigrants," he says, "didn't come here for some government guarantee of income equality or government benefits to take care of his family. In 1923 there were no government benefits for immigrants except one: Freedom!

"Under President Obama," Santorum continues, "the dream of freedom and opportunity has become a nightmare of dependency with almost half of America receiving some government benefit." Mitt Romney, he says, would change that.

As he speaks, a woman is shouting something from above and behind the stage. She's too far from our position to hear.

Update at 9:05 p.m. ET. Gov. Walker Is A Big Hit With This Crowd:

For the second time today, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is proving to be a huge favorite with the GOP delegates. Walker, who pushed to limit public unions' collective bargaining rights and then survived a recall vote, said to huge cheers that:

"On June 5th, voters in Wisconsin got to determine who was in charge — was it the big government special government special interests in Washington ... or the hard-working tax payers of our state.

"The good news is that — on June 5th — the hard-working taxpayers won."

And about Romney's choice of Ryan as a running mate, Walker said "with this pick he showed us that the 'R' next to his name doesn't just stand for Republican, it stands for Reformer." That's a message that will appeal to the conservative wing of the party.

Update at 8:55 p.m. ET. Another Republican Governor Touts GOP Policies:

"Look at the results of Republican policies in the states," Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell tells delegates. "In states with Republican governors, the average unemployment rate is a full point lower than in states with Democratic governors. Republican governors lead seven of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates, and 12 of the 15 states ranked best for business." McDonnell, says NPR's Ron Elving on our broadcast, "did an awfully good job of getting through a lot of numbers in a compelling way."

Update at 8:45 p.m. ET. And Kasich's Black Eyed Peas Reference Has Folks Tweeting:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said during his address that "I got a feeling, and it's not just because I like the Black Eyed Peas!" That's got folks tweeting, including fake Jill Biden, a parody Twitter page about the wife of the Democratic vice president (and on a related note: Joe Biden, by the way, doesn't tell the truth about being a good golfer, according to Kasich):

"John Kasich quoted The Black Eyed Peas. Yep, Republicans are in touch with everyday people. #GOP2012."

Update at 8:40 p.m. ET. Our First Stemwinder!

On the NPR broadcast, Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving just declared that Gov. John Kasich's address was "the most dynamic" of the evening so far and a real old-fashioned "stemwinder."

What's a stemwinder? According to Slate:

"The term dates back to the middle of the 19th century, when the stem-winding watch came into vogue. The newfangled timepiece was a vast improvement over its predecessor, the key-wound watch, because the mechanism for setting it was a stem actually attached to the watch, rather than a key that was easily and frequently misplaced. This technological advance was so widely appreciated that, by the end of the 1800s, the term stemwinder had taken on the figurative meaning of 'excellent' or 'outstanding,' or, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, 'a person or thing that is first rate.' "

Update at 8:30 p.m. ET. Kasich Fires Up The Crowd:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is talking about how his state went from being "$8 billion in the hole" to being in surplus — without, he says, raising taxes. Washington needs to do the same, he says, but "this relationship [with President Obama] is just not working, it is holding us back!" Ohio Republicans, Kasich says, have made the state fourth in the nation in job growth — up from 48th when he took office in 2011. He's the second governor to get some loud cheers today. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin (who will be on again a little later) is the other.

Update at 8:15 p.m. ET. Sen. Ayotte On Regulations:

Telling the story of the snow removal company she and her husband started, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte says their experience was that "from the National Labor Relations Board — to the Department of Labor — to the EPA ... under this administration, the regulations are up — and the job creation is down."

Update at 7:55 p.m. ET. A Fact Check On "You Didn't Build That":

The nonpartisan FactCheck.org has looked at President Obama's comment — "you didn't build that" — and how Republicans have responded. It says that:

"There's no question Obama inartfully phrased those two sentences, but it's clear from the context what the president was talking about. He spoke of government — including government-funded education, infrastructure and research — assisting businesses to make what he called 'this unbelievable American system that we have.'

"In summary, he said: 'The point is ... that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.' "

Obama's critics, FactCheck says, have often been "out of context" when using the comment against the president.

Update at 7:50 p.m. ET. "We Built It!"

After saying that "the America I came to know was centered in personal responsibility and filled with the American dream," Mayor Mia Love of Saratoga Springs, Utah (who is running for Congress), says to the current occupant of the White House:

"Mr. President I am here to tell you the American people ... are not buying what you are selling in 2012. This is our story. ... This is the America we know because we built it!" She gets some of the biggest cheers so far tonight. "We built it" is going to be a line used a lot at this convention.

Love is among the women and minorities (she's African-American) whom South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was talking about earlier today when she spoke of those who she says are offended by what she called Democratic attacks aimed at convincing minorities that Republicans hate them.

Update at 7:25 p.m. ET. A Shout-Out To Biden, Sort Of:

Vice President Biden hasn't come up often tonight, but Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus just got off a zinger aimed at the man Rep. Paul Ryan would like to replace:

With Ryan, Priebus said, the nation won't have a vice president who goes around "just prying his foot out of his mouth!"

Update at 7:15 p.m. ET. Things Are Going Again:

House Speaker John Boehner, who grew up working in his family's bar, is trying out an applause line. What would they do in a bar if a customer turned troublesome? "Throw him out!" And you don't need to guess who Boehner is suggesting needs to be "thrown out" now.

Update at 6:30 p.m. ET. Her Husband "Will Not Fail," Ann Romney Will Say:

"This man will not fail. This man will not let us down. This man will lift up America!"

Those are three of the lines Ann Romney is set to deliver when she addresses the convention during the 10 p.m. ET hour, according to excerpts emailed to reporters by the Romney campaign.

She also plans to say:

"At every turn in his life, this man I met at a high school dance, has helped lift up others. He did it with the Olympics, when many wanted to give up. ... This is the man America needs. ... This is the man who will wake up every day with the determination to solve the problems that others say can't 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."

Update at 6:18 p.m. ET. Ryan's The Vice Presidential Man:

Without a roll call, the Republicans just officially made Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin their 2012 vice presidential nominee. Basically, the "ayes" had it.

Now things are in recess for about 40 minutes.

Update at 6:10 p.m. ET. Shout!

House Speaker John Boehner just announced that Romney collected 2,061 delegates' votes (it takes 1,144 to be the nominee). Then Boehner lowered the gavel on the roll call. There was a brief pause, the house band struck up the rockin' strains of "Shout" and that was the cue for the delegates to wave signs and do some standing-by-their-seats dancing. Now the party's on to the roll call for vice president — Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is the pick.

Update at 6:05 p.m. ET. Wisconsin's Governor Gets A Hero's Welcome:

Scott Walker, the Republican governor who pushed to limit public unions' collective bargaining rights and then survived a recall vote, just got a huge cheer from the delegates when he announced Wisconsin's vote on the nominees. He'll be getting another rousing cheer, almost certainly, when he takes center stage in the 8 p.m. ET hour. (Reminder: we previewed the night's program here.) (Correction at 7:20 p.m. ET: Our apologies for earlier referring to Walker as the governor of Wisconsin.)

Update at 5:40 p.m. ET. The Roll Call Shows: Romney Is The Nominee.

It takes 1,144 delegates to become the Republican presidential nominee and New Jersey's 50 just put Mitt Romney over the top. Meanwhile, Ron Paul's total isn't being announced from the podium. C-SPAN says there are 130 votes at this point for "others." Some Paul supporters in the crowd have taken to shouting out where his total stands.

Update at 5:20 p.m. ET. Process May "Turn Some People Off":

As the roll call continues, Maine Republican National Committee member and delegate Rick Bennett tells NPR's Liz Halloran that the process of seating delegates (which has excluded some from Maine who supported Rep. Ron Paul) "was incredibly messy, and nobody feels treated well. We're operating under an antiquated process, with a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong."

"Unfortunately," he adds, "this is going to turn some people off. It's going to turn some real energy and activism off."

Still, he does not think it will affect Mitt Romney's chances of winning in November.

Update at 5:05 p.m. ET. The Roll Call Begins:

For those who enjoy the pomp and circumstance of the official roll call, it has begun.

Update at 4:50 p.m. ET. You Can Disagree, Just Don't Do It Here:

The outbursts over the rules and seating votes by some from his state and in other delegations was embarrassing, 56-year-old Texas delegate Isaac Castro tells NPR's Liz Halloran.

"We elect national committee men and women to represent us. They do and they do a fine job," he said. .

"When a majority speaks, we need to abide by these rules," said Castro. "There's room in this party for everyone. There's room to disagree. I just don't want them doing it here."

"We need to move forward united behind Romney."

Update at 4:35 p.m. ET. More On The Dispute:

"This is not about Ron Paul," Minnesota delegate (and Paul supporter) Rudy Takala, 23, tells NPR's Liz Halloran. "This is about future conventions."

Liz previously posted for us that:

"The Paulites say that there are more of them embedded in state delegations than Republican officials are willing to acknowledge, and they are trying to organize a floor fight Tuesday to take on new proposed party rules that would hobble outsider candidates seeking to seat delegates at future conventions.

"Many of the pro-Paul delegates were chosen at state party conventions, and not through the allocation process based on the results of presidential caucuses and primaries. The rules change would require that delegates be picked based on caucus and primary contest outcomes; not by state conventions."

Takala says "we want to be able to submit a minority report and vote on it. We want to at least have a vote."

In the end, though, it appears that the party has decided to push through and keep things going — knowing, of course, that while the Paul supporters are very loud they are not in the majority.

Update at 4:25 p.m. ET. "POINT OF ORDER!":

The floor fracas continues. Once again "NOs" are as loud as "AYEs" when the delegates are asked to vote on rule changes that give nominees more control over who is or isn't a delegate (and, presumably, more of a chance to exclude supporters of such candidates as Rep. Ron Paul). As with the previous vote, the chair declares the motion is passed. Even louder "boos!" erupt.

From the floor, Liz Halloran reports that "Texas delegates were screaming 'POINT OF ORDER!' " She says there's a group of at least 20 in that delegation doing the shouting. "It's a tumultuous scene down here," she emails.

Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell continues to talk at the podium about the change that Republicans hope to bring to the nation. He's basically ignoring any distractions.

Update at 4:20 p.m. ET. "SEAT THEM NOW!" Vs. "USA!":

The convention has gotten raucous. When it was moved that the Rules Committee's recommendation that not all of Ron Paul's delegates from Maine be seated should be adopted, the "NOs!" were as loud as the "AYEs!" And when RNC Chairman Reince Priebus declared that the motion had passed, the arena got even louder.

"SEAT THEM NOW!" yelled the Paul supporters and others who oppose the decision and the plan to give future presidential nominees more control over which delegates do and don't get seated. "USA!" other delegates shouted in an unsuccessful bid to drown them out.

Priebus pushed through the fracas, asking delegates to be respectful. It's been several minutes and the volume has gone down, but there are still catcalls.

Update at 4:03 p.m. ET. "I Want You To Love Me":

We were in the hall Sunday when the house band — led by guitarist G.E. Smith — ripped through Cheap Trick's classic rocker "I Want You To Want Me." We suggested it's a song that fits most politicians.

Well, the band is indeed playing it for delegates. And they seem to be enjoying it.

Update at 3:40 p.m. ET. The Congressional Parade:

The early hours of conventions — well before TV's prime time — are when junior members of Congress and new candidates get their chances to be on the podium for 60 or 90 seconds. This can also be a time when parties try to show some diversity and appeal to minorities.

Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin said the GOP will spread prosperity from "the breweries of Wisconsin to the barrios of California." And Tim Scott, an African-American candidate for Congress from South Carolina, ended his turn at the microphone with a few runs through the chorus of "Hit The Road Jack" — the person he want to see hit the road, of course, is President Obama.

The early hours also give a party the chance to begin hammering home its message. So far, there have been many comments from the stage that "we can do better" and a big sign at one end of the floor says "we built it."

Update at 3:25 p.m. ET. Oops. Someone Forgot To Send The Buses For The Florida Delegation:

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Florida delegation — which is staying 30 miles away as something of a punishment for holding the state's primary earlier than rules allowed — suffered another indignity today. The buses that were to show up to bring the delegates to the convention didn't arrive.

"The RNC forgot to send them, delegates were told," according to the Times. It took a while to round up replacements, and the delegates arrived in town with just minutes to spare.

Update at 3 p.m. ET. Compromise In The Works?

NPR.org's Liz Halloran reports from the convention floor that she's been told by Oklahoma Republican Vice Chairwoman Pam Pollard that the Rules Committee has agreed on a plan that it believes will satisfy those (many of them supporters of Ron Paul) who were upset by plans to give presidential nominees more control over which delegates get seated.

Pollard told Liz that the original plan was akin to "swatting a gnat with a sledgehammer."

There may still be some shows of unrest, though. Liz reports that the Maine delegation may seek to have 10 or so Paul delegates recognized whom the party doesn't want to seat.

Update at 2:26 p.m. ET. First Mention Of The Debt Clocks:

We noted Monday that the GOP has installed two "debt clocks" above the convention floor. One tracks the nation's total public debt. The other tracks how much has been added since the convention official opened at 2 p.m. ET on Monday.

At 2:26 p.m. ET, Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus made the first mention of the debt clocks and the blame Republicans attach to President Obama for the massive amount of debt. Expect many more mentions over the next three days.

Update at 2:20 p.m. ET. Voices Of Dissent:

NPR's Ted Robbins, who is in the arena, tells us he spoke with three members of the Minnesota delegation who say — Ted paraphrases — that unity (behind the idea of defeating President Obama) isn't as important as liberty. They plan to be among the Paul supporters who try to raise objections to new rules that would allow future nominees to have more control over who does and doesn't get seated as a delegate.

Update at 2:05 p.m. ET: And We're Off!

The gavel has been dropped, the colors have been presented, the national anthem has been sung and the invocation is being delivered. The GOP convention has started right on time.

But one of the first things to happen may be a bit of a floor fight, as we previewed this morning. Ron Paul's supporters aren't happy with changes to the party's policies and procedures on the seating of delegates.

Update at 1:35 p.m. ET. Before The Show, Another Ron Paul Moment:

As we've posted about a few times this week, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and his supporters took full advantage of the convention's delay to make some noise of their own around Tampa on Sunday and Monday.

They just did it again. The man himself made an appearance on the convention floor — to the loud delight of his fans. A chant of "Ron Paul!" went up. A minute later, the soon-to-be presidential nominee's supporters responded with "Romney!" They couldn't outshout the Paulites, though (to be fair, delegates are still drifting in; so the majority of delegates — Mitt Romney supporters — weren't here to add their voices).

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