Debra J. Saunders

Tampa, Fla., was like the Republican National Convention delegation -- older, more experienced, less excitable. Tampa has hosted the Super Bowl; the city had lots of space and nothing to prove. There was a been there/done that feel to the entire affair. Tampa Bay is used to welcoming visitors and has plenty of nice hotels to host them.

You say a hurricane is coming? No worries. They laid out some sandbags, closed up for a night and started up a day later. No need to rush a convention. People don't come to Florida to be in a hurry.

Charlotte, N.C., is a younger, more eager town, and it drew a younger, more jazzed set of delegates. The chance to host the Democratic National Convention delegation put the city in the big time. Volunteers dotted the convention center, greeting passers-by. They went out of their way to make visitors feel welcome.

Like a young family, the city didn't have a lot of room (as in hotel rooms), and that made for lots of griping.

The Obama campaign's decision to open up President Barack Obama's nomination acceptance speech to non-delegate volunteers by staging the event at the larger Bank of America Stadium turned out to be impetuous. After the convention czars canceled the venue on account of possible thunderstorms, Republicans were thankful that they then could claim Obama could not draw enough volunteers to fill the stadium's 70,000 seats.

The decision angered the locals. As the Charlotte Observer's Taylor Batten later griped, the Democratic National Convention Committee has a pattern: "Make big plans (and) then scale them back."

In Tampa, Mitt Romney told the country that instead of going with the thrill of hope and change, voters should ask themselves whether they're better off than they were four years ago. He issued a simple proposition: Go with the candidate who can make the economy work for your family.

Obama was a changed man. When he spoke at his first two conventions, he arrived buoyed by promise and impatience -- a young man in a hurry to change the world. In Charlotte, Obama no longer played a young man's game. He carried the baggage of governance.

Thus, the president told his people that change takes time and that it isn't easy.

Ann Romney was the yin to her husband's yang. She was solid and warm. Most of all, she seemed happy as she delivered a speech that lit up the convention audience.

After Tampa, Romney predicted that the Democrats' convention wasn't "going to be as happy" as the Republicans' was. That certainly applied in the wife department.

Debra J. Saunders

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