The GOP Republican Convention’s first night featured two very different speeches with mixed results for each.
The convention’s overriding purpose is to help elect Mitt Romney president. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie didn’t get that memo. His speech was mostly about himself and his New Jersey record. As one pundit put it, Christie “sounded more like the nominee than the keynote.” His Mitt endorsements seemed a lot like passing references during “Christie Fest.” Christie is very authentic, an appealing quality in politics. And his pugnacious style is helpful in drawing the contrast between the vision and record of the two major parties. But it was an awkward mistake to have Mitt in the audience cheering on Christie’s 2016 presidential speech (should Romney lose). Mitt even had to stand up and cheer when directed by Christie. This is Christie’s time to be the blocker, not the one running with the ball. You wouldn’t know that from his speech.
As for Ann Romney, her love affair with her husband is both authentic and politically potent. Her strongest moment came when she dismissed the label of her “storybook marriage,” insisting storybooks don’t have screaming kids and breast cancer and MS in them. I would have liked to hear more about how Mitt help her during her struggles — specific and heartwarming examples that really define who he is. She did appear a bit programmed at times, reading rather than feeling. That’s understandable given the pressure of the moment. Overall, she helped Mitt’s cause because it’s hard for any mom not to relate with this woman. And, she had no confusion about who the nominee was.
The writer is a professional speaker and speaking coach who has managed a number of political campaigns that have unseated longtime incumbents.