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Republican National Convention night 3: Winners and losers

TAMPA -- And, it's all over.

The Republican National Convention is in the books with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney wrapping up the festivities with his acceptance speech.

Our take on who was good and who was Clint Eastwood is below. Have thoughts of your own? The comments section awaits.


* Marco Rubio: We knew the Florida senator was talented. But his speech on Thursday night showed that he is a MAJOR political star. Rubio's speech was, without question, the best of the convention. He seemed entirely at ease in the massive national spotlight -- compellingly telling his life story and mixing in jabs at Obama in a more-in-sorrow-than-anger tone that made the hits more powerful. (One example: "Our problem is not that he's a bad person. Our problem is that he's a bad president.")  It's uniquely possible that we will look back in four or eight years to this night as the time when it became clear Rubio had that something special that made him a force to be reckoned with in presidential politics.

* Mitt Romney: Acceptance speeches are no easy thing. There are a million cooks in the kitchen, every one of them thinking they have the perfect ingredient to make it sing.  And Romney is simply not the natural speaker that Rubio (or President Obama) is. All that said, Romney did what he needed to do in his speech, a workmanlike address in which he made a strong case against the incumbent and a slightly-less-strong case for himself. Romney's best moment (to our mind) was when he talked wistfully (and emotionally) about missing the joys of raising kids -- a genuinely human moment that almost anyone, no matter their party registration, could relate to. Romney also did well in casting himself as the anti-Obama. Where Obama lacked business experience, Romney has it in spades. Where Obama made sweeping promises, Romney made simple ones. (The most quoted line of the speech will almost certainly be this one: "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise ... is to help you and your family.") It was a speech that checked the boxes Romney needed to check.

* The Oparowskis: The tale of the couple who lost their son to cancer was incredibly moving to this dad.  Romney's dedication to their young son (he helped the teenager write a will and delivered the eulogy at his funeral) painted a side of the Republican nominee that people hadn't seen before.  Our only quibble: Why were the Oparowskis not telling their story later in the night when more people were watching?

* Romney introduction video: A masterwork of telling the story of a private man using the words of others. The home videos of the Romneys were terrific and showed a side of Mitt the man rarely seen.  (Of course, the fact that Clint Eastwood's "speech" followed hard on the video's end cut into the narrative momentum the campaign was seemingly building.)

* Invisible Obama: The Twitter account -- spawned by Clint Eastwood's baffling speech (more on that soon) -- piled up more than 20,000 followers in its first hour of existence. That's a Charlie Sheen-like level of social media power.

* Leis: They were everywhere on the convention floor. Well done, Hawaii.


* Clint Eastwood: There are no words for what the actor did on the convention stage Thursday night.  The conceit of an empty chair and an invisible Obama was bad enough. But Eastwood rambled off script repeatedly, and he bordered on downright incoherence several times. For a night on which the undercard leading up to the prime-time speakers was the best of the three nights, Eastwood was a totally unnecessary distraction that had to leave the Romney convention planners grimacing.

* Clint Eastwood: So bad, we named him twice.

* Newt/Callista Gingrich: The idea of the former House speaker and his wife giving a shared speech seemed odd to us when we saw it on the schedule. Turns out we were right. With Newt and Callista alternating paragraphs, their address was disjointed and hard to follow.

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