TAMPA, Fla. -- The delayed opening of the Republican National Convention worked to the advantage of the GOP by both heightening anticipation and forcing the elimination of extraneous speakers, which there are always too many of at these things.
Ann Romney kicked off her primetime address wearing a bright red dress, Ronald Reagan's favorite color and one occasionally worn by his wife, Nancy. Ann Romney immediately addressed one of the main criticisms Democrats have leveled against her husband: that he's an out-of-touch rich guy who doesn't understand the struggles of the middle class and the poor.
Like many other convention speakers who referenced the convention's "We Built It" theme, Ann Romney noted that neither she, nor her husband, nor their parents started out successful. Of her marriage, she said, "We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, and ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. Those were very special days."
She also made a direct pitch to women. Polls show Mitt Romney trailing President Obama with women. Looking directly into the camera, Ann said, "I love you women! And I hear your voices."
New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie may have surprised some people who had expected him to deliver a rhetorical carpet bombing of President Obama. Mostly, though, he took the higher road.
In what might have been a pre-emptive strike against the Democrats who meet next week in Charlotte, N.C., and who appear preoccupied with abortion and contraceptives, Christie addressed the problems of the nation. He called for shared sacrifice and bipartisanship to solve the nation's growing debt caused largely by entitlement programs. Christie cited his success in New Jersey, which he said has "700,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans."
Christie rejected the notion that seniors care only about themselves and not their children and grandchildren and the uncertain future of entitlement programs that await them when they retire.
Christie implied Democrats were more interested in being popular and loved than in repairing the economy. That keeps them, he said, from saying no to any request for more government spending. Christie said Romney would "say 'no' when 'no' is what's required."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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