The summer has been another reminder that the Republican Party is still fighting internal battles. There’s the tea party vs. the establishment, and then there’s Missouri Rep. Todd Akin and some of his fellow religious conservatives against, well, against almost the entire party hierarchy.
Romney has struggled to consolidate the party. But this isn’t Houston 1992, which featured Pat Buchanan’s culture wars speech. It isn’t 1980 with Jimmy Carter chasing Ted Kennedy around the stage in New York in the hope of getting a photo of unity. It certainly isn’t 1964 in San Francisco with the Goldwater insurgents routing the Rockefeller regulars.
Look for the media to try to keep the Akin abortion story alive, at least toward the start of the convention. Any attention paid to Akin and the abortion plank in the GOP platform isn’t helpful to Romney.
But Republican Reed Galen believes the near-universal condemnation of the Missouri congressman and Senate nominee makes the convention well inoculated from any real damage.
Tea party problems are less likely. Romney and the RNC have bent over backward to accommodate Ron Paul in an effort to keep his libertarian followers happy. Paul was scheduled to hold a rally on Sunday. His son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, had a speaking slot Monday before the day’s events were canceled. Tuesday’s session was to feature a Ron Paul video. Beyond that, Ryan gives Romney a bridge to tea party activists.
Bottom line: This is a Republican Party that, whatever divisions it may have, is united in its desire to defeat Obama in November. That alone will provide all the energy and enthusiasm Romney needs in the hall in Tampa.
Will Chris Christie steal the
show — or overplay the moment?
The New Jersey governor is one of the party’s biggest stars, and a showman to boot. That means his keynote address, expected for Tuesday night, will be one of the most highly anticipated events of the convention.
Christie is fully capable of stealing the limelight — and of overplaying his hand. Blunt talk comes naturally, especially in unscripted moments. He has been one of Obama’s harshest critics, especially for what he says is the president’s lack of leadership on debt, deficits and entitlements. Democrats are bracing for a very tough speech aimed at the president from Christie.
Some Republicans tried to persuade Christie to run for president this year, and he’ll be measured as a future presidential candidate while on the stage in Tampa. But Tom Rath, a Romney adviser, said there’s no worry that the governor will try to overshadow the presumptive nominee.
“He is an extremely effective advocate for Romney,” Rath said. “The press conference in Hanover, N.H., when he endorsed Romney was one of the most successful moments of advocacy for Romney in the nomination fight.”
There are scheduled be other notable speeches, Ann Romney for one and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio another. Still, Christie’s speech could be a showstopper and one quite satisfying to the Romney campaign. “Christie doesn’t conjure up images of Goldilocks,” said California GOP strategist Rob Stutzman. “But I think he’ll be just right.”