As Paul Ryan prepares to deliver his acceptance speech tonight as the vice presidential nominee at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, comparisons to convention speeches of yore are inevitable. Did he outdo Sarah Palin’s standout standup of 2008? Did he bring the same level of gravitas the VP wannabe Dick Cheney delivered in 2000? Whether Ryan will go down as a speaking phenom or a dud won’t be known until tonight, but here are a few recent convention speeches from memorable veep candidates to spur the debate:
Richard Nixon, 1956, San Francisco, CA
Before he became president of course, Nixon was President Eisenhower’s righthand man. Here’s Nixon waxing rhapsodically on one of his favorite topics: the evils of Communism at the 1956 Convention.
Geraldine Ferraro, 1984, San Francisco, CA
It took Geraldine Ferraro about a good minute before she could actually begin her speech, so loud and raucous was the noise coming from the Democratic delegates at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. As the first female vice presidential nominee, just her presence on that stage was memorable enough. She topped it off with some rousing rhetoric about American freedom.
Dick Cheney, 2000, Philadelphia, PA
Cheney gives an eerily prescient summary of what would be some of the hallmarks of the Bush-Cheney presidency here, alluding to No Child Left Behind and renewed bolstering of the military.
Video here: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/CheneyA
John Edwards, 2004, Boston, Massachusetts
Although the 2004 Democratic Convention will, arguably, be known as the one where then-Senate candiate Barack Obama made his mark, this was the stage where John Edwards invoked the “Two Americas,” the haves and the have-nots, for a national audience. (The motif even has its own Wikipedia page.) Edwards, of course, went on to become infamous for other things.
Sarah Palin, 2008, St. Paul, Minnesota
This speech was widely considered a slamdunk for the little-known Alaskan governor. She charmed Republican delegates with her backstory of taking on Big Government as the consummate smalltown outsider. She also uttered this zinger: “You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick.” It was a line that would later get then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama into trouble when he said that the difference between a McCain-Palin government and a Bush-Cheney one was essentially like putting “lipstick on a pig.”