The Washington Post

A solid start in Tampa

Tuesday night saw a solid start to the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Ann Romney’s speech was a solid B+. But the campaign did not serve her well by raising expectations. She isn’t a professional speaker, so what did they expect? Her speech had several nervous laughs and forced lines. The hall had a hollow sound that made her seem far removed from the crowd. Her speech was good — not great. She connected when she said, “A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.” She missed when she said, “I love you women!”

Mitt Romney’s entrance onto the podium was also flat, and the applause died quickly. But, importantly, NBC and the other networks gushed over her presentation, so maybe I missed something or I’m a little too harsh.

On the other hand, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is a pro who can feel the room and deliver what the crowd wants. His speech was a strong A. His timing was perfect, and his voice filled the cavernous arena. Christie was very good for Romney, and he was great for the assembled delegates and the party faithful who tuned in. Also, there’s no way he riled independents, since he didn’t even mention President Obama by name. To start the convention, rallying the base and keeping independents friendly was critical. Christie did just that.

Some of the best shots shown on TV were of Mitt Romney sitting in the stands. I swear he looked a little shy or embarrassed by the forceful praise he got from Christie. That says something about Romney’s sincerity and humility, and it offers a vivid contrast to Obama.

This was a solid start to an important event.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.


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