The 10 biggest surprises of the conventions

Hungover Democratic delegates are finally heading home — a fitting conclusion to the two-week political binge known as convention season.

And while there has been lots (and lots) of coverage of the convention on this blog and elsewhere, sometimes the small stuff gets lost in the larger picture.

Which is where The Fix comes in.

For today's Friday Line, we recap 10 of the biggest surprises of the 2012 conventions — the speakers who didn't land that primetime slot but whose stock rose considerably by virtue of their convention performances.

(Fun fact: Four of our 10 speakers listed below are products of Massachusetts, and none of them are named Mitt Romney or Elizabeth Warren.)

Who did we miss? The comments section awaits ...

To the line!

10. Jennifer Granholm: Democrats are consistently going on offense against Mitt Romney over the auto bailout, and in doing so, will rely heavily on surrogates best able to sell Obama's policy to voters. The former governor of Michigan proved she was up to the task in Charlotte by delivering an energetic address on a well-worn topic — even if some are comparing it to Howard Dean's "Dean Scream."

9. Ted Strickland: The fiery former Ohio governor had been a short-lister to chair the Democratic National Committee, but was passed over for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.). He demonstrated to the party once again that he is a valuable surrogate that shouldn't be overlooked. And his quip that if Romney was "Santa Claus, he would fire the reindeer and outsource the elves," was among the most memorable lines of either convention.

8. Rand Paul: No, the Kentucky senator didn't deliver a stem-winder, but the amount of traction his family got at the GOP convention was remarkable. First, Ron Paul supporters created a coalition with grassroots activists to fight tooth-and-nail against new party rules. Then Wednesday’s program featured an hour-long segment devoted to the Pauls. Rand’s 2016/2020 stock just went up.

7. Mia Love: Love is trying to become the first black Republican woman elected to Congress. She helped her cause in Tampa, serving as an optimistic counterbalance to many of the speeches aimed solely at undercutting Obama. “We are truly the last best hope on Earth," Love declared.

6. Craig Romney: The youngest of the Romney boys might be the most ready for prime time. The 31-year old delivered a speech – much of which was in Spanish – that should serve notice on which son could continue the family’s political legacy. Key moment: when he choked up while talking about his immigrant grandparents.

5. Tulsi Gabbard: Another 31-year old, the Hawaii Democrat was one of very few congressional candidates who got time on the stage, and there’s a reason for that: She’s good.  She was the youngest state legislator in the country when she was elected to the state House in 2002 at the age of 21. By 2004, she resigned that seat to serve in Iraq. Oh, and she will soon be the first Hindu in Congress.

4. Deval Patrick: The hype surrounding Elizabeth Warren's speech meant Patrick wasn't even the highest-profile speaker from his state. The Massachusetts governor delivered in spades with an impassioned address that stood out, even amid higher-profile speakers on the convention's opening night. At some point, we have to start talking about Patrick as a national political figure again.

3. Pam Finlayson: Of all the non-politicians to speak at this year’s conventions, Finlayson stood out as someone her party should really try to recruit. The Romney family friend and fellow church member gave an emotional account of how Romney’s family helped out when her daughter was born prematurely. “I will never forget that when he looked down tenderly at my daughter, his eyes filled with tears, and he reached out gently and stroked her tiny back,” she said. Wow.

2. John Kerry: To some Americans, the 2004 presidential nominee might have been an afterthought headed into the week. But Kerry, an early front-runner to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Foggy Bottom next year if Obama wins reelection, gave an enthusiastic foreign policy defense of the president that turned a GOP argument on its head. "Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off than he was four years ago," Kerry said to rousing applause. If Kerry spoke like this in 2004, the result might well have been different.

1. Condoleezza Rice: As we wrote last week, Rice delivered a speech that will make her into a potential 2016 (or 2020) presidential contender. It had a little bit of everything and was extremely effective politically from someone whose training is not in politics (and claims she's not interested in running herself). If you haven't watched it and you've got 20 minutes to spare, do yourself a favor:

 

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