Live Blog: Democratic National Convention, 9/6/12

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on September 6, 2012 – 4:00 PM

Welcome to our live blog of the Democratic National Convention!

I’ll live blog tonight’s proceedings from the final night at the Democratic National Convention from 9pm—11pm eastern.

Tonight’s highlights include speeches from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Please leave any thoughts in the comments section—I’ll use a few of them for the main thread.

Finally, there’s no need to refresh your browser; new updates will automatically appear. Here we go!

2:02 am

President Obama gave a barnburner of a speech. But it’s also a speech that would have been well-suited for the Democratic National Convention. If his goal was to extend an olive branch out to the almost 50 percent of Americans who voted for Mitt Romney, I’m not sure he fully succeeded. If it was to fire up and express gratitude to his supporters, he surely did.

It’s 2:00am, so it’s time to sign off. I hope you enjoyed these seven…yes, seven hours, of the live blog.

Thank you for following the live blog. Please join me later in the week, as I return to my usual media and presentation training posts!

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1:36 am

And out walks Obama to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

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1:31 am

In the meantime, Michele Bachmann has a 1,600 lead in her re-election bid with 74% of the vote in. That may be enough to squeak out a win, but not great for a woman who spent so much time on the presidential primary debate stage.

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1:24 am

Paul Ryan wins his House race. Wonder if that role will seem too small for him after being a vice presidential nominee.

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1:17 am

Miami-Dade announces it won’t finish counting its votes tonight. With 12 years to improve their voting processes after the 2000 fiasco, this is nothing short of a national embarrassment.

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1:15 am

Still awaiting Obama’s speech.

In the meantime, interesting that NBC News hasn’t called Virginia or Nevada yet. They’re being more cautious than other news orgs.

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1:12 am

By the way, Todd Akin didn’t just lose tonight – he got crushed. He lost to 54-40 to Claire McCaskill in his Missouri Senate race; keep in mind that before his “legitimate rape” comment, McCaskill was very vulnerable.

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1:04 am

What a strange thing. After months and months of campaigning, the whole thing is over in a short, five minute Mitt Romney speech.

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1:02 am

Mitt Romney offered a short but gracious concession speech. He congratulated President Obama and encouraged leaders to work across the political aisle. He praised running mate Paul Ryan, and poignantly remarked that his wife, Ann, “would have been a wonderful First Lady.”

 

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12:55 am

A painful moment for Mitt Romney. Here’s the speech.

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12:52 am

So what becomes of Mitt Romney now? His career in politics is likely over – so will he go back into business? Will he head a non-profit or foundation? Immerse himself more fully into the Mormon Church?

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12:48 am

Bob Kerrey gets crushed in Nebraska. So much for his political comeback.

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12:45 am

Fox News reports that @MittRomney will concede at 12:55am.

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12:43 am

I wonder if Candy Crowley will fact check Mitt Romney’s speech in real time?

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12:41 am

CNN projects that Obama wins Virginia. Ohio suddenly doesn’t matter any more. Even without it, Obama wins.

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12:39 am

Seems to me that Mitt Romney will now be persona non grata in the Republican party. Think about the fates of presidential losers Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bob Dole, and Al Gore.

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12:37 am

CNN reports that family members of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are filtering into the Romney headquarters. We may be close to a concession speech.

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12:35 am

Now that California is being added to the totals, President Obama takes the popular vote lead for the first time.

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12:28 am

Big news on the culture wars tonight, too. The AP reports that gay marriage passed in Maine. It’s ahead in Washington State and Maryland. And Minnesota voters are rejecting a ban on gay marriage. After going 0-32 when gay marriage has been put on state ballots, it could go 4-0 tonight.

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12:25 am

Looks like Obama will likely take Virginia, may take Florida. This whole “who won Ohio” debate may continue for a while but may not be relevant to the electoral math at all.

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12:21 am

According to MSNBC, Mitt Romney has not called President Obama to concede yet. This could go on a while longer.

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12:19 am

Marriage equality was 0-32 until tonight. Maryland passes marriage equality; a few others may also join tonight.

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12:13 am

If I’m correct, NBC News hasn’t called Oregon yet. Even without Ohio, Florida, or Virginia, Obama would win the election with Oregon.

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12:11 am

Dear Governor Romney and President Obama: I’d like to do a writeup of your speeches tonight. But it’s getting very late. Would you kindly keep me in mind?

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12:10 am

Obama wins Colorado, says NBC News.

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12:05 am

Donald Trump tweets that this election is a travesty and calls for “revolution.” His case is that Romney will win the popular vote while Obama will win the electoral college.

First, he may be wrong. California hasn’t been fully counted yet, and will add a ton of votes to Obama’s tally. Second, isn’t it about time NBC pulls him off the air? To have one of its hosts calling for “revolution?” Absolutely nuts.

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11:57 pm

Washington State legalizes marijuana. State’s voters reach for Cheetos, ask, “Was that on the ballot?”

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11:52 pm

John King on CNN suggests Obama will win Florida, Virginia, and Colorado. That’s not an official call.

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11:51 pm

I have a feeling that it’ll be a while before Mitt Romney concedes. They’re reportedly saying they won’t concede Ohio yet; therefore, Obama will need a few more uncontested wins.

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11:48 pm

In fairness to Karl Rove, I do see what he’s seeing. He’s seeing a state in which only 77 percent has reported, with only 2,000 votes separating the candidates.

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11:45 pm

“Obama wins, but he has no mandate.” – Charles Krauthammer, on Fox.

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11:44 pm

Karl Rove finally admits: “They’ve got a bigger data set than I do.”

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11:41 pm

Karl Rove back on Fox News fighting his own network’s call. I can’t remember ever seeing a pundit challenge his own decision desk so vigorously.

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11:37 pm

Donald Trump tweets out: “This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!” Class act.

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11:35 pm

Fox News Decision Desk: “We’re quite comfortable with the call.”

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11:34 pm

Megyn Kelly roves down the hallway looking for the Decision Desk. This is really must-see TV on Fox News.

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11:29 pm

Karl Rove is taking on his own network’s decision desk, challenging their call for Obama in Ohio.

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11:27 pm

Fox News (Karl Rove, speaking based on sources from the Romney campaign) contests Fox News’ call for Ohio. He says this is not settled in Ohio yet. Based on my experience at CNN in 2000, I’m willing to listen to what he’s saying.

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11:24 pm

This is not a partisan comment, but one based on my love of facts and data. Data won this year (I’m thinking of Nate Silver’s wonderful 538 blog). Bullshit lost (I’m thinking of Dick Morris’s alternative universe).

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11:21 pm

Is it too soon to ask who the 2016 candidates will be? Hillary vs. Rubio? O’Malley vs. Christie?

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11:18 pm

Fox News calls the race for President Obama. Brett Baier and Megyn Kelly look like they want to cry.

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11:14 pm

According to NBC News, President Obama has won re-election.

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11:11 pm

Obama wins Iowa. That’s a big one. He’s Virginia, Ohio, or Florida away from being a two termer.

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11:10 pm

Anthony Palmer writes:

“Win or lose, the Republican Party is going to have to get real about its woeful performance among Blacks, Hispanics, gays, non-Christians, moderates, women, and other non-Whites. You can’t keep antagonizing these groups with that crazy birther talk and “rape” talk and “they hate God” talk.”

 

Feels like I’ve heard that before. I’m skeptical that change will come quickly – the Moral Majority and Tea Party have lived within the Republican party for 30+ years.

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11:07 pm

So, how many electoral votes did Bill Clinton win tonight?

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11:05 pm

From Twitter, Republican pundit David Frum:

“This is not a reaffirmation of the status quo. This is a Republican thumping.”

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11:03 pm

Officially, Obama now at 243 electoral votes; Romney now at 188.

270 are needed to win.

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11:00 pm

Just looked, county-by-county, at what’s still uncounted in Florida. The state looks good for Obama. Only question is about whether there are uncounted provisional ballots, and if so, when they’ll be counted and whom they favor.

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10:57 pm

Romney wins North Carolina. Obama made it more of a race than it should have been.

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10:55 pm

Elizabeth Warren giving her acceptance speech now. “This victory belongs to you. You did this for every family that has been chipped at…and hammered.”

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10:54 pm

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen quite this many states with this close a margin. We’re going to have several states in which no more than two percent of the vote separates the candidates.

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10:48 pm

Todd Akin knocks President Obama with a “you didn’t build that” reference. That line failed to be a winner for Republicans, but he’s not ready to let it die yet.

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10:47 pm

Claire McCaskill may be the biggest genius of this entire race. She paid for ads to encourage Republicans to nominate Todd Akin, who she thought she could beat. She was right.

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10:46 pm

Watching Todd Akin’s concession speech. It’s a very somber speech; only three people visible behind him. Polite but downbeat crowd.

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10:43 pm

MSNBC reports that President Obama is doing better in Miami-Dade this year than he did in 2008 against John McCain.

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10:42 pm

With 65 percent in, Obama leads Romney 51 – 47 percent. The story of our country is a nation divided.

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10:40 pm

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs on Fox News Channel right now. His audio isn’t working well. Cue the conspiracy theorists, who will tell you that’s happening because he’s a Democrat.

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10:37 pm

On CNN, David Gergen makes the point that Mitt Romney is leading in the popular vote by 1.5 million people so far. Of course, that doesn’t include the west coast, where the President will add a lot of raw votes.

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10:35 pm

Virginia may look good for Romney with 69% in (51-48), but the counties out heavily favor Obama. Question is whether he closes the gap.

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10:33 pm

I thought Wisconsin had already been called for Obama? CNN hasn’t called it yet – didn’t others?

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10:28 pm

On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow says she’ll be speaking with Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren shortly. Chris Matthews, thinking they’re in commercial, asks “Why are they speaking to us before the concession?”

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10:24 pm

CBS calls Tim Kaine winner of the Virginia Senate race. He beats George “Macaca” Allen.

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10:20 pm

Polling guru Nate Silver of the New York Times predicted a 313 – 225 electoral college victory for President Obama. He’s looking increasingly prescient.

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10:18 pm

Alex Castellanos, Republican strategist, seems to concede on CNN that Obama will win Florida.

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10:17 pm

That said, Sarah Palin has clearly not spent her past four years improving her syntax.

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10:15 pm

I give Sarah Palin enormous credit. Even on a night that’s looking lousy for Republicans, she’s happily talking a lot of trash.

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10:13 pm

Sarah Palin on Fox uses present tense to describe President Obama’s second term. She seems to know it’s over.

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10:07 pm

Claire McCaskill beats Todd Akin in the Missouri Senate race, says NBC News.

Memo to make politicians: when speaking about rape and abortion, be very, very careful. (cc: Richard Mourdock)

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10:05 pm

With 84% in, Romney looks good to take North Carolina. It’s a must-win state for him, would have been a nice steal for Obama.

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10:02 pm

If my math is correct, Obama wins 270 electoral votes if he wins Virginia and Nevada. He can lose Ohio, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, and Colorado.

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9:57 pm

Candy Crowley is reporting for CNN at Romney headquarters. Given her damaging interjection at the second Republican debate on Libya, I wonder what kind of reception she’s getting.

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9:55 pm

Romney up in Virginia, 51-47 percent, with 60 percent of the vote in. But a lot of votes in the Virginia suburbs haven’t been counted yet, so that one will likely tighten.

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9:51 pm

Obama takes New Hampshire, says NBC News. That’s the first call on a true swing state.

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9:50 pm

Republicans keep the House, Democrats will keep the Senate. A divided Congress yet again.

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9:49 pm

Again, I want to be careful here. But it’s inescapable that pundits on all three networks – including Fox – are speaking about this race as if it’s over.

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9:47 pm

After his failed 2008 presidential run and his failed 2012 Senate race, is Wisconsin’s Tommy Thompson done?

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9:46 pm

Music at Romney/Ryan headquarters? Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams (Come True).”

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9:44 pm

And Richard Mourdock loses his Indiana Senate race against Joe Donnelly, another big Democratic win. Has not been a huge or unexpected Republican win tonight, unless I’m missing one.

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9:44 pm

Elizabeth Warren beats Scott Brown in Massachusetts, reclaiming Ted Kennedy’s seat for the Democrats. That news, according to NBC News and CBS News.

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9:42 pm

You know there’s not much to report when all three cable news networks stay with their normal commercial rotation. If there were calls to make and actual news, they’d shrink the number of commercials they show.

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9:37 pm

Will Paul Ryan go down as one of the most useless vice presidential picks? That’s only partially his fault – the campaign picked a guy with big ideas, then muzzled him.

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9:33 pm

Anthony writes:

“So, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin have been called for Obama. This means Romney really has to thread the needle now because he hasn’t been able to flip any states Obama couldn’t afford to lose.”

 

Too soon to publish Romney’s political obituary. But maybe a good idea to start researching it.

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9:29 pm

MSNBC calls Wisconsin for President Obama. So far, the””quasi-battlegrounds” have landed exactly where they were expected to.

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9:26 pm

Carly Fiorina, a Mitt Romney surrogate, speaking on CNBC about Obama’s second term as if it’s fait accompli.

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9:24 pm

I know I’m a broken record with Florida tonight, but that’s where the action is. Romney is ahead by about 12,000 votes with 74 percent in, but Broward and Miami-Dade have a lot of votes still uncounted. Any guesses what’s going to happen there?

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9:21 pm

Reading the subtext of the Fox News panel, it seems to me they know they’re losing. They’re admitting that the math is looking tough for Romney. BUT…this thing is close, and it ain’t over.

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9:17 pm

Fox News calls Pennsylvania for Obama.

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9:16 pm

BreanneMT writes:

“fastest growing voting population is Latino (re: NBC); neither candidate speaks Spanish.”

 

It will be interesting to dissect the numbers tomorrow. Assuming Mitt Romney loses, he might have won if he had taken a softer line on immigration and matched George W. Bush’s 2004 vote totals with Hispanics.

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9:14 pm

Some advice for North Dakota Republicans: In four years, tell pollsters you’re voting Democratic. You’ll be lavished with visits from your candidate. And you can still vote Republican as usual.

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9:12 pm

74 percent in in Florida. Romney has a 2,000 vote lead. Just unbelievable. The vote hasn’t changed AT ALL in 12 years.

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9:08 pm

Bob Menendez wins his New Jersey Senate race, despite The Daily Caller’s attempt to “get him” with a story about Dominican prostitutes. Sorry, Tucker Carlson.

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9:07 pm

Jimmy Carter should seriously stop monitoring elections in Haiti and take up residence in Virginia, Wisconsin, and Florida. Lines still out the door, polling places out of ballots. An insane way to vote.

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9:05 pm

Romney leads in the electoral college by 153-114, according to MSNBC. That lead would be erased by California alone, which is still open for voting.

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9:03 pm

71 percent of the vote counted in Florida. And guess what? Obama leads Romney by fewer than 3,000 votes.

I have a serious case of deja vu.

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9:00 pm

And the 9pm polls close. Mitt Romney wins Texas. (When you think Texas, don’t you just think, ‘Mitt Romney?’)

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8:58 pm

With two-thirds of the vote in, just 16,000 votes separate Obama from Romney. Someone page Katherine Harris. She just might be needed again.

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8:54 pm

Matt Faustini writes:

“Re: Scott Brown if he losses. Look for John Kerry to be a possible Sec. Of State if a 2nd Obama term happens and him running in that special election.”

 

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8:53 pm

(Almost) everyone thought this election would hinge on Ohio. It still might. But it’s increasingly looking like Florida might be an important decider.

I wonder if Pat Buchanan has any regrets for not jumping in the race.

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8:50 pm

Anthony writes:

“Scott Brown’s problem is that he’s running as a Republican in a heavily Democratic state. Think of Brown as the Republican equivalent of Blue Dog Democrats (conservative Democrats in the South).”

So, here’s the question: If he loses, does he have a political future? Massachusetts did elect Mitt Romney and Bill Weld as governors, after all.

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8:48 pm

If the great Tim Russert were still alive, he might be on TV with his white board exhorting “Florida, Florida, Florida.” And just like eight years ago, he might have been right.

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8:46 pm

Emily writes:

“Waiting anxiously for the Massachusetts senate results to come in!”

 

Scott Brown vs. Elizabeth Warren is one of the most competitive races in the country. It’s amazing that Scott Brown has high favorable ratings – and might still lose. A truly unusual race.

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8:45 pm

On Fox News, Carl Cameron reports that the Romney people say the punditry is wrong and they’re going to win. We’ll find out in the next couple of hours if that’s based on reality or the final spin of a dying campaign.

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8:41 pm

The presidential race is obviously the story of greatest interest tonight. But an important second story is that the Democrats may well gain seats in the Senate.

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8:40 pm

And Linda McMahon, the Republican World Wrestling Entertainment magnate, loses her second bid for Connecticut’s Senate seat. Insert your own “body slammed!” joke here.

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8:37 pm

Is it me, or is Florida counting incredibly fast? They’re already at 56 percent, just closed 36 minutes ago. Given the dysfunction in their voting system, that seems like impressive speed.

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8:35 pm

Jane Jordan-Meier, a native Australian, writes:

“Some more trivia for you:

As a point of comparison, the 2010 Australian Federal election campaign took 35 days (from formal announcement on 17-Jul to election day on 21-Aug). Most agreed the campaign was too long and too much money was spent!

That pales into comparison when one thinks about what has been spent in America for these elections, and how long it has been.”

35 days?!? Wow, I’m jealous. Tine to move to Sydney.

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8:32 pm

Folks, it’s early. But if you had to be in the Obama or Romney camp right now, you’d rather be Obama.

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8:31 pm

Mitt Romney takes Arkansas and Tennessee.

According to CNN, It’s Romney with 73 electoral votes to Obama’s 64. Of course, those totals mean nothing at this point.

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8:29 pm

From Twitter, @MattFaustini writes this regarding Florida:

“Panhandle is the R stronghold not in yet. Obama’s numbers in Hillsborough and Pinellas worry R’s like me though.”

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8:26 pm

I’m going to go out on a limb and call Florida for Al Gore.

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8:25 pm

Obama up in Florida by one point with 53 percent in. Broward County, an Obama stronghold, hasn’t reported anything yet. That could be good for Obama (but a long way to go).

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8:21 pm

Richard Mourdock losing his Indiana senate race with 29 percent in, 49-45 percent. You’ll remember his comments that children of rape are a gift from God.

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8:14 pm

Anthony Palmer writes:

“A bit of trivia for you:

Oklahoma is the only state in which Obama failed to win a single county in 2008. Even the college town counties voted for McCain.”

Who knew? Well, I guess Oklahoma won’t be a blue state any time soon.
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8:12 pm

A word about the graphics on each of the networks. I find Fox’s totally confusing. MSNBC’s is fine, not special. CNN’s isn’t great either. The best I’ve seen so far? CNBC’s. Easy to follow, not cluttered on the screen.

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8:11 pm

Romney takes a 51-49 lead in Florida with 50 percent of precincts reporting.

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8:03 pm

CNN is generally being more cautious with calls than MSNBC and Fox. I mean, is there really any reason not to call Alabama?

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8:02 pm

Romney gets Oklahoma. CNN hesitates to call Alabama and Tennessee for Romney – but that’s simply out of an abundance of caution.

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8:01 pm

Eight states go blue at 8pm: Connecticut, Delaware, Washington DC, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Rhode Island

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8:00 pm

Get ready for a bunch of new electoral votes…

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7:58 pm

Obama with a slight early lead in Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida. If two of those two states go blue, this thing is probably over.

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7:53 pm

First, my Internet went down. Then, my cat spilled water on my (other) computer. The Gods are fating me not to live blog. I scoff at the Gods.

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7:47 pm

So, who’s going to win? Leave your guesses (and electoral totals or states won) in the comments section below.

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7:44 pm

17 states close at 8:00 pm eastern. Most of them aren’t “battleground” states – but Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire will matter a lot.

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7:42 pm

Here’s a fun drinking game: Every time Wolf Blitzer says, “Take a look at this,” do a shot. He does it every time there’s a call.

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7:40 pm

Okay, CNN is still airing political ads (a generic one for the Republican ticket). It’s 7:40pm on the east coast. I suspect the ads are geared toward influencing the all-important Inuit vote?

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7:38 pm

On the other hand, I waited no more than three minutes to vote at my voting precinct in suburban NYC.

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7:37 pm

I still can’t believe how many horror stories I’m hearing about voting around the country. Why can’t we get this basic civic responsibility right?

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7:35 pm

MSNBC announced South Carolina for Mitt Romney as if it was a surprise.

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7:35 pm

Sorry for the radio silence there for a few minutes. We had technical difficulties, but I think we’re back!

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7:34 pm

Anthony Palmer writes:

“I notice the MSNBC map has all the states in blue, but they gradually flip to red when a state is called for Romney. Gray would have been a more suitable color, obviously.”

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7:22 pm

According to CNN, fathers went for Mitt Romney by double digits and mothers went for Barack Obama.

 

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7:22 pm

MSNBC surprisingly running ads without vote totals on the bottom of the screen. Both CNN and Fox have voting numbers on the screen during commercials.

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7:19 pm

A quick story while the counting gets started.

In 2000, I was working at CNN in Washington when the network made the call for George W. Bush in Florida (and thus, the presidency). They then famously retracted the call. I remember wondering why they had called it in the first place, since the two counties that were still out (Broward and Dade) favored Al Gore.

The moral of the story? Don’t believe early vote tallies unless you know which counties are still out and who they favor.

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7:12 pm

For those interested, polling guru Nate Silver of the New York Times is predicting a 313 – 225 electoral college victory by President Obama. If he’s right about an Obama victory, he’ll be THE most important pundit to watch in 2016. If he’s not, his book will be in remainder bins by morning.

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7:08 pm

All three cable news networks are using shiny graphics that do little to increase the audience’s understanding of the key issues. Makes me wonder what type of, you know, news coverage they could provide with that graphics budget.

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7:04 pm

There are also some fascinating Senate races tonight – Scott Brown is taking on Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, and two Republicans who would have been favored (Richard Mourdock in Indiana and Todd Akin in Missouri) may have squandered their chances due to making controversial comments about rape.

 

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7:01 pm

And Mitt Romney takes Indiana and Kentucky – 19 electoral votes in his column.

Barack Obama takes Vermont.

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7:00 pm

I try not to make predictions on this blog – which is a good thing, since I really don’t know what to expect tonight. Nate Sliver’s projection of a 91 percent likelihood of an Obama win seems high to me. I suspect President Obama has a slight lead coming into tonight, but this race appears within reach for either man.

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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6:46 pm

Welcome to the live blog!

Here are the closing times for each state tonight, courtesy First Read (all times eastern):

7:00 pm: GA, IN, KY, SC, VT, VA
7:30 pm: NC, OH, WV
8:00 pm: AL, CT, DE, DC, FL, IL, ME, MD, MA, MS, MO, NH, NJ, OK, PA, RI, TN
8:30 pm: AR
9:00 pm: AZ, CO, KS, LA, MI, MN, NE, NM, NY, ND, SD, TX, WI, WY
10:00 pm: IA, MT, NV, UT
11:00 pm: CA, HI, ID, OR, WA
1:00 am: AK

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11:46 pm

Thanks to all of you for following the live blog over the past two weeks!

I hope those of you new to the blog continue to visit. We usually post new stories at least five days each week. See you soon!

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11:32 pm

Matt writes:

“BOO….for no live blogs during the debates! lol Really enjoyed this though, Thanks!”

 

Thanks for all of your great comments over the past few days, Matt. I haven’t decided that for certain, but I’m inclined to really focus on the debates and write a more in-depth piece immediately after each one.

That said, how about an election night live blog?!?

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11:30 pm

Eric Barnes writes:

“Be interesting to see the viewing numbers for Obama DNC speech v MTV VMAs given the importance of youth vote. Anyone else surprised the network largely responsible for Rock the Vote movement would schedule awards show on final night as DNC?”

 

A curious choice, to be sure. But does anyone actually still watch MTV anymore? I’m so old, I remember when they played videos. (Anyone else remember The Buggles?)

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11:29 pm

Denise writes:

“I will say I was disappointed in many of the speakers, particularly DNC presenters, and the very obvious, mean-spirited, wry and almost-childish insults tossed off as political discourse — a really effective way to alienate the audience and only points up lack of substance … But lack of substance in terms of results is tough to overcome.”

 

This seems to be a bipartisan problem. The Republican “you didn’t build that” theme was not only intellectually dishonest, but a squandered opportunity.

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11:27 pm

My overall takeaway from tonight is that President Obama suffered from a combination of huge expectations for his speech juxtaposed against “incomplete” results from his first term. His speech too frequently came across more as a State of the Union address than as a big convention speech. His speech felt laden with platitudes, albeit inspirational ones, and was soft on policy specifics. His most notable moments came when he bashed his opponents, including a jab for Mitt Romney’s Olympics gaffe.

Still, having watched and live blogged more than 15 hours of both conventions, my judgment is that the Democrats had a more effective convention — a feat due, in no small measure, to Bill Clinton.

Mitt Romney got a one-point “bounce” after his convention — I wouldn’t be surprised if President Obama gets a slightly larger one after his.

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11:17 pm

My mother emails:

“I followed the blog throughout!  How do you think, write and hear all at the same time?”

 

The truth is, I found it very difficult to do that. At moments, I think I succeeded. At others, I know I missed pieces of all of the speeches I wrote about. For that reason, I won’t live blog the debates, but will watch them carefully and post a review of them within an hour or so of their conclusions.

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11:12 pm

Other than unexpected world events, personal scandals, and the completely unknown, we now have four events on the political calendar that matter:

October 3: Presidential debate

October 11: Vice-Presidential debate

October 16: Presidential debate

October 22: Presidential debate

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11:07 pm

What did you think of tonight’s speech? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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11:06 pm

Obama leaves to Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own.” Finally, song’s message connected to the campaign’s message.

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11:05 pm

A big close, if a platitude-filled one. President Obama certainly energized the crowd. But he paled in comparison to Clinton ’12, Obama ’08, and Obama ’04.

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11:01 pm

These stories about individual people are hackneyed State of the Union devices that were last fresh in Reagan’s time.

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10:59 pm

“I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the President.” – Sounds to me that he’s telling Mitt Romney, “You want my job? You’re going to need to fight hard to get it.”

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10:57 pm

Denise writes:

“‘… Shouldn’t have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads …’ – isn’t that what’s facing an unprecedented number of Americans today, not just future returning vets? Other than the reference to OBL, ringing a bit more hollow than it did in 2008. Great delivery, very natural but been there, done that … Hard to message around the record to date. PS. Really enjoyed your live blog and tweets!”

 

Thanks, Denise! You’re right about the difficulty of messaging around the record. Mitt Romney may have mocked President Obama for saying the biggest mistake he made in office was failing to communicate better, but it’s a real point. Where were these great speeches when he needed to go over the head of Congress and speak directly to the American people?

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10:54 pm

“We don’t think the government is the source of our problems,” President Obama says while pounding the lectern.

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10:54 pm

President Obama is throwing some sharp elbows tonight. And it occurs to me that’s a smart strategy. One of the biggest raps on Obama is that he’s too willing to negotiate away his beliefs to his political opponents. And this speech seems designed to signal that he’s ready to be more confrontational in a second term.

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10:51 pm

Matt writes:

“Someone summed this up perfectly on Twitter. The Best of Obama’s Stump Speeches. That might be a partisan view but I tend to be able to check that in my analysis but that is the vibe I get from this speech. The crowd seems to be expecting more too although they still seemed pretty fired up.”

 

So far, I’m underwhelmed. But President Obama is in our living rooms every day. It’s been 12 years since Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office, and I wonder if at least part of the reason he wowed the crowd last night is because absence made their heart grow fonder.

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10:49 pm

When President Obama refers to Bill Clinton’s “arithmetic” line, it’s a sign that he doesn’t have enough great lines of his own.

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10:48 pm

Anthony Palmer clarifies:

“Obama said ‘I will not let oil companies WRITE this country’s energy plan.'”

 

Thanks, Anthony. It was a bit garbled. I hope it doesn’t become a nonsense meme tomorrow.

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10:47 pm

“My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy.” – President Obama, throwing down the gauntlet. That will get some guaranteed press tomorrow.

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10:45 pm

Republican pundit Alex Castellanos said yesterday that the Democrats should have just ended the convention yesterday after the high of Bill Clinton’s speech. He may have been on to something. This speech feels anticlimactic.

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10:42 pm

I’ve been hard on the President’s speech so far tonight, but it seems to me he’s hitting his stride.

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10:40 pm

Eric Barnes writes:

“Thoroughly enjoy following you on this live blog.

Absolutely agree with you on the video packages. They are ill produced, and for a president and a party obviously supported by Hollywood and “creative” types, I expect more.”

 

Thank you very much for following and adding your own comment, Eric!

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10:39 pm

“I will not let oil companies rape this country’s energy plan.” – President Obama, seemingly stumbling over the word “raid.” Admittedly, it’s a garbled word, but it sure sounded close.

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10:38 pm

President Obama is talking about fuel standards and alternative energy. Is it me, or is this beginning to sound more like a State of the Union address?

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10:36 pm

It occurs to me that President Obama is delivering his speech well enough, but suffers from high expectations. Compared to his 2008 speech in Denver and his 2004 speech at the DNC, he’s almost destined to disappoint.

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10:34 pm

Matt writes:

“This DNC has many parallels to the 04 RNC. The grassroots of each party were/are ready to fight and claw their way to victory in tough and close races while their opposition clearly dislike and maybe even hated the current President they both never fell in love with the man that was suppose to replace him and that shows in the convention hall.”

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10:28 pm

“If you’re sick of me saying ‘I approve this message,’ believe me, so am I.”

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10:28 pm

President Obama’s tie is shimmering on my screen. Unimportant? Yes. An unnecessary possible distraction? Yes.

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10:26 pm

“Yes, Malia and Sasha, you do have to go to school in the morning.”

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10:25 pm

Obama greeted with chants of “four more years.”

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10:24 pm

Obama walks out to U2’s “City of Blinding Lights.” A great tune, but what message is that? Long gone are the days of “don’t stop thinking about tomorrow,” it seems.

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10:23 pm

And Michelle Obama makes another appearance to announce her husband, “the love of my life.”

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10:22 pm

I’m underwhelmed with these video packages. They’re entirely forgettable, don’t touch the soul.

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10:20 pm

Interesting that Bill Clinton is in the piece introducing President Obama. The Obama people obviously believe that Clinton is an important key to a November win.

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10:14 pm

Matt writes:

“I get the feeling we are going pass 11pm again tonight. Both Parties have called the networks bluff on only an hour a night of coverage. I wonder how this effects convention coverage 4 years from now.”

 

Networks have already cut their coverage down to an hour per night. But the nets are in a bit of a bind as long as they allot that hour: If the nominees go past their allotted times, they’ll be roundly criticized for ducking out early. Of course, it’s probably a matter of time before conventions are relegated to PBS and the cable nets.

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10:10 pm

Judi Robinson writes:

“Typical Irish, tells a entertaining story..makes you cry. But then you find out it was all bu– s–t.”

 

Judi, you’re now banned from posting comments to this site. Your viewpoints would have been welcome, but I won’t allow that kind of ethnic crap.

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10:09 pm

Biden played off by Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September.” Better than Collective Soul’s “December,” I suppose.

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10:08 pm

Overall, a good speech, if not particularly memorable. Short of great.

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10:08 pm

Biden’s turn from raw emotion to passionate close was a little abrupt. A strong closing, but a bit of emotional whiplash.

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10:06 pm

Biden gets emotional talking about veterans killed or injured in war. He’s had to pause a couple of times to regain his composure. A nice moment, and an unusually raw one in politics.

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10:05 pm

For the record, Biden is 36 minutes in at this point. Clinton went 49 yesterday, and was criticized by some for going too long.

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10:04 pm

Matt writes:

“I love Joe as much as any, don’t get me wrong, he brings a joy and fun to politics that tends to be so lacking but he is rambling on a little too long in this speech.”

 

I agree. It’s usually better to leave people wanting more than to wear out your welcome. Biden hasn’t quite worn out his welcome yet, but he would have benefited from a stronger editor.

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10:03 pm

“It’s never been a good bet to bet against the American people,” Joe Biden says, finger pointing Clinton-style into the camera. That was an emphatic moment, to be sure. I’m also not sure that it’ll play well in sound bite form on tomorrow morning’s news programs.

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10:01 pm

“What he doesn’t understand” is a common trope of tonight for Democrats speaking about Mitt Romney. They’re trying to make the case that he’s not a bad person, just a clueless one.

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9:57 pm

It’s interesting that Joe Biden keeps calling out and flattering individual people in the audience off the cuff (Michelle Obama, Mrs. Robinson, Michelle’s mother). It’s likely a remnant of him being an old-school pol, slapping backs at smaller venues along the way up.

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9:53 pm

And there it is. “Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.” A great line, but he could use a similar (and new) sound bite for the morning papers.

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9:51 pm

Reader Matt writes:

“Biden attack on Romney about the auto bailout was one of the most effective attacks I have seen by democrats so far. Makes the attack from a deeply personal reference and uses Romney’s bio to present not a view of disgust about his approach but disappointment. Very effective.”

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9:49 pm

I should have seen this coming…the second “decision point” is about killing Osama bin Laden. That sets Biden up for his favorite sound bite:  “Detroit is alive and bin Laden is dead.” Wait for it.

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9:48 pm

Like Chris Christie, Joe Biden appears a bit too angry when tries to emphasize points.

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9:45 pm

This speech is a bit old fashioned, in that I haven’t heard many (any?) memorable, Twitter-friendly sound bites.

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9:43 pm

We’ve now moved on to the body of the speech, which appears to be organized to highlight two major “decision points.” The first of those two will focus on the rescue of the auto industry. I’m generally a fan of this organizational device, as it uses two smaller moments to communicate a larger truth.

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9:42 pm

Anthony Palmer adds:

“A surprisingly sober speech. And because the caricature of Biden is so bad, it offers the advantage of low expectations. As a result, it gets his audiences to give him their attention when he contradicts this caricature.”

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9:41 pm

When he gets too  emphatic, Vice President Biden risks looking too angry. When he says “America has turned the corner,” he shouldn’t look pissed.

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9:39 pm

On Twitter, @HarmonicFamily notes:

@MrMediaTraining listening to it on am radio in the garage, sounds good.

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9:38 pm

Reader Judi Robinson asks:

“Joe said 4 years ago a nation turned to Obama to lead us out of this mess. What happened to the last 4 years Joe?”

 

He, and the President, will have to answer that question convincingly tonight.

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9:37 pm

Reader Matt writes:

“For all Biden’s gaffes and missteps he still has a way of connecting with voters at a core level. That gritty anger has always come off well for him, in my opinion. If Obama speaks to voters hearts, Biden speaks to their gut.”

 

Couldn’t agree with you more. Joe Biden is a much better compliment to Barack Obama than Al Gore was to Bill Clinton. He brings significantly different traits to the table.

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9:35 pm

As you watch this speech, close your eyes and listen to his delivery. In terms of his vocal variation, he’s doing great – and this speech would sound terrific on radio.

 

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9:34 pm

Reader Anthony Palmer writes:

“I love Joe Biden. But he’s only one gaffe or awkward comment away from overshadowing the whole evening. We’ll see what happens.”

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9:33 pm

Joe Biden now praises the current generation for its awesomeness. I’m not sure what we did to earn that, but thanks?

 

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9:31 pm

Joe Biden begins with a full minute of praise for his wife. Nice, but the best way to make the case for another four years?

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9:29 pm

Joe Biden hits the stage to Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher.”

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9:28 pm

Seriously, this voice over is shockingly bad. The video itself isn’t great, but the voice over makes it plain unwatchable.

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9:26 pm

Fair to bet that the Obama people are a little more nervous about Biden going off prompter than Clinton?

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9:24 pm

The voice over on the Biden video is awful. It sounds like a 1970s driver’s ed teaching video.

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9:22 pm

Joe Biden is from Scranton, PA. Funny, he reminds me a bit of Michael Scott.

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9:19 pm

This may seem like a derogatory comment, but I don’t mean it that way: Jill Biden has a compassionate cry in her voice, similar to Sally Struthers. She comes across as if she deeply feels what she’s saying, which is the hallmark of great communicators.

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9:17 pm

Dr. Biden is impressively natural on the stage. I tend to find that teachers – at least the good ones – know how to read a crowd and adjust their approaches to match the event.

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9:15 pm

Jill Biden hits the stage. I wonder how many people would be able to recognize her on the street: One percent? Two?

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9:12 pm

Angie Flores speaking now. She’s a student at Miami Dade College. I have no idea why she’s speaking (will learn why she was chosen soon, I suppose), but she has a million-dollar smile.

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9:09 pm

It’s truly amazing to see Gabrielle Giffords in the crowd. That she survived at all was miraculous enough. That she survived well enough to be a full participant at this convention is almost beyond comprehension.

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9:07 pm

Democrats aren’t ceding patriotism to Republicans this year. This display of respect for military veterans is a smart strategic choice for the final night of the convention.

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9:05 pm

Retired four star admiral John Nathman speaking now, with a stage full of veterans. The similar image from the Republican National Convention was the stage full of Olympic champions.

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9:03 pm

This video of military families is incredibly moving. But it’s also true that politicians walk a fine line between taking credit for their military successes and exploiting them for political gain.

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8:59 pm

As the late talk-show host Tom Snyder used to say, it’s time to fire up the simultinis. Welcome to the final night of the live blog!

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1:10 am

An excerpt of Clinton’s speech, from CNN:

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12:11 am

Bill Clinton delivered one of his most electric speeches ever tonight, and the best of both conventions so far. He was, at turns, serious, funny, substantive, amused,  warm, strident, and confrontational.

That’s not a partisan analysis. He delivered a true oratorical masterclass that all public speakers – regardless of personal ideology – should study.

Clinton used his time to forcefully back President Obama and knock down some familiar Republican arguments. His speech was loaded with media- and Twitter-friendly sound bites, including:

  • “We simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double down on trickle down.”
  • “It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.” (He was speaking about Paul Ryan’s Medicare cuts)
  • “People ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row…I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.”

His primary argument for President Obama’s re-election boiled down to this: he hasn’t had enough time. That argument will surely be hard for many Americans to swallow, and I suspect critics will seize on that line. But Clinton made it as well as anyone could have, saying, “I had the same thing in 1994 and 1995. I could see that the policies were working, but most people couldn’t feel it yet.”

Clinton owned the stage. Despite speaking for about an hour, the audience appeared rapt and fully engaged the entire time. Part of the credit for that belongs to his delivery technique. He was big in some moments and small in others. He used big gestures (including pointing, which is typically considered rude but worked for him). He used humor immediately prior to delivering devastating sound bites at his opponents’ expense. He introduced each new point with a clear transition phrase that made it easy for the audience to follow along (example: “Let’s talk about the debt.”). And, for what it’s worth, it looked like he wanted to be there.

It wasn’t all roses for the Democrats tonight. The 9:00 p.m. hour was one of the most sleep-inducing of any during the to conventions, with unmemorable speeches from, well, people you’ve probably never heard of.

The worst speech of the night, hands down, belonged to Costco founder Jim Sinegal, who opted to read off a paper copy of his speech instead of using the teleprompter. That can work for some speakers. It didn’t for Sinegal. For ten minutes, he read off the page, barely making eye contact with the audience. His delivery was more nervous than inspired, and he scored few political points. It made little sense for convention planners to give him such a plum spot.

Another loser of the night was Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Senate candidate. It’s not that she didn’t perform well – she did. The crowd in the convention hall loved her, and with good reason: her speech was strong, if a bit academic, and she likely played well with many swing voters in her home state. So why did she lose tonight? Because no one is talking about her. She had the misfortune of preceding Bill Clinton.

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11:37 pm

Reader Anthony Palmer writes:

“I loved Elizabeth Warren’s speech. It had a great message and was well delivered. But after Bill Clinton’s barnburner of a speech, who is talking about Warren’s speech now?”

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11:29 pm

FYI, I’ll post a summation of tonight’s proceedings within the hour. And please join us again tomorrow at 9pm as I live blog all of the speeches, including Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama.

Thank you for tuning in! See you tomorrow night.

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11:27 pm

And this moment, right now, is the most excited any crowd has been at either convention. Bill Clinton couldn’t have teed it up for the President any better.

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11:26 pm

President Obama enter stage to greet President Clinton to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” After a speech like that, is it possible President Obama looks just a little bit smaller than Bill Clinton tonight?

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11:24 pm

Bill Clinton has said “My fellow Americans” twice tonight. I think he’d prefer the presidential seal in front of his lectern.

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11:22 pm

By the way, we’re 21 minutes past 11pm. The networks wouldn’t dare cut out of this early, meaning the Democrats have gotten at least 21 extra minutes of free national airtime. (The Republicans did the same.)

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11:21 pm

“We simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double down on trickle down.” – Perhaps I declared Bill Clinton’s “line of the night” too quickly. He seems to have a lot of these up his sleeve.

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11:18 pm

Reader Matt, a self-described conservative, writes:

“Republicans, Thank God for the 22nd Amendment! No one and I mean not one single politician alive comes close to the ease, skill, gravitas, humor, etc. that Bill Clinton so easily displays.”

 

The 22nd Amendment, for those who forgot, prevents a president from seeking more than two terms in office.

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11:17 pm

“People ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row…I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.” – Bill Clinton, on fire.

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11:15 pm

Another thing Clinton is doing is giving clear transitions from one topic to another. Instead of just moving on to another topic, he says something like, “Now, let’s talk about the debt.”

That’s useful for all public speakers to remember, since those types of transitions help audiences follow along -andhelps audience members who’ve drifted to have an easy place to re-enter the speech.

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11:13 pm

Clinton is playing the part of fact checker tonight. And he’s doing it better than Politifact ever could.

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11:12 pm

When the audience shouts, “Four more years,” it’s somewhat hard to tell whether they’d like to send Clinton or Obama back to the White House for another term.

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11:11 pm

Anyone notice it’s 11:11, 11 minutes past the point the networks were supposed to cut out? Seems like 11pm has been an arbitrary deadline for both conventions.

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11:10 pm

“Folks, this is serious.” – Bill Clinton, numerous times tonight, after saying something intentionally funny. It’s an emotional roller coaster in that room.

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11:08 pm

“It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.” – Bill Clinton, delivering the line of the night. (Plus, he looked like he really had fun saying it.)

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11:06 pm

Clinton is playing the role of Jed Bartlet.

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11:03 pm

Interesting delivery note: Clinton keeps pointing at the audience. Generally, that’s considered rude. But he makes it work, and uses it to help control the room.

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11:01 pm

Bill Clinton’s speech is not only being delivered well, but I’d argue that it’s more substantive than any speech offered at the Republican National Convention.

 

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10:59 pm

Reader K Woo raises a fair question:

“Is a mass of people screaming that things are better off than they were four years ago really the visual they Democrats want to leave? Seems like a very out of touch message given the number of people watching at home who know that they are worse off than they were four years ago.”

 

I don’t know. In the larger context in the hall, it really worked. As a soundbite that Republicans can hammer on for the next two months, I’m not so sure. I will say this, though: Democrats will be better off by confidently advancing that argument than they would be by ducking it and offering nuanced explanations instead.

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10:55 pm

“I had the same thing in 1994 and 1995. I could see that the policies were working, but most people couldn’t feel it yet.” – Bill Clinton, advancing a critical line that may turn out to be the most important argument of this entire convention.

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10:53 pm

“Are we better off than when he took office?” Of course we are, says Bill Clinton. And this will be the debate of the next two months.

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10:53 pm

Christina Mozaffari, our firm’s senior media trainer, writes:

“Bill Clinton is an amazing communicator. One of his most powerful tools? His tone and his gestures match perfectly. Could you imagine this speech if he was resting his hands on that podium? I don’t think so. With every gesture, you can see how much he believes in what he’s saying.”

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10:52 pm

Clinton just made a joke about Republicans being proud that they were “born in America.” Uh oh. He just went off script, and will create a new “birtherism” talking point.

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10:50 pm

Was Bill Clinton this good in 1992 or 1996? Or has he grown into his role as senior statesman?

 

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10:47 pm

Did Bill Clinton just say “President O’Biden?” If so, Sarah Palin is no longer all alone in that odd construct.

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10:46 pm

“One of the reasons we should re-elect President Obama is he is committed to constructive cooperation.” – Bill Clinton

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10:44 pm

Bill Clinton on Republicans: “A broken clock is right twice a day.”

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10:44 pm

Matt writes:

“Is there anyone better on a national stage than Bill Clinton? He is one hell of a political animal. No one simplifies big things and themes than he does.”

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10:43 pm

Bill Clinton is making it hard for President Obama to give the best speech of the convention.

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10:42 pm

“Though I often disagree with Republicans, I actually never learned to hate them the way the far right hates the President.” – Bill Clinton

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10:40 pm

I’m pretty sure of one thing: if Bill Clinton was on the ballot, he’d probably win.

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10:39 pm

“In Tampa a few days ago, you heard a lot of talk about how Democrats don’t believe in free enterprise…this Republican narrative, this alternative universe…we Democrats believe this country works better with a strong middle class…a far better philosophy than you’re on your own.” – Bill Clinton, showing that he hasn’t lost a step.

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10:37 pm

Reader Anthony Palmer asks:

“You can’t fake joy and enthusiasm. The crowd in Charlotte clearly has it. The crowd in Tampa clearly did not. If you are on the fence watching these conventions on TV, which crowd and which party would YOU feel more comfortable being a part of?”

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10:36 pm

Bill Clinton comes out, within seconds, offering a strong endorsement of President Obama. If you thought he’d try to undercut Obama to help his wife win the White House in 2016, you’re going to be disappointed.

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10:35 pm

To this crowd, Clinton is bigger than Springsteen and the Stones put together.

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10:33 pm

And as I predicted, Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” is providing the soundtrack for the video. It’s amazing to think that Clinton ran 20 years ago. Man, I’m getting old…

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10:32 pm

And the Bill Clinton video begins. More anchor tape: Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, and others.

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10:32 pm

Matt writes:

“One key difference from the RNC and DNC. Every speaker from the DNC knows that it is Barack Obama’s party and they have kept it all about him. While the RNC speakers were perfectly willing to throw Romney under the bus and use the national stage to help themselves and their own brand.”

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10:31 pm

Elizabeth Warren’s speech was a nice combination of tough, optimistic, and direct. She will always come off as somewhat professorial, but it’s who she is, and the crowd loves her for it.

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10:27 pm

Unlike Chris Christie, Elizabeth Warren seems to be speaking more for her president than herself. An admirable choice, given that she’s running such a tight race in Massachusetts.

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10:25 pm

Warren crushes Romney for the “corporations are people” line. That riff is going to get some extra airtime on tomorrow’s cable news shows. (Did a thrill just go up Chris Matthews’ leg?)

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10:25 pm

Elizabeth Warren: “They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends.” – A good, Twitter-friendly soundbite.

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10:22 pm

Elizabeth Warren hammering Mitt Romney for putting his money in the Cayman Islands.

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10:20 pm

If you don’t remember Bill Clinton’s history with the Democratic National Convention, here’s a case study I recently wrote about it:

Before he ran for president in 1992, Bill Clinton was best known for his 1988 nominating speech at the Democratic National Convention, which droned on for an hour.

Viewers who saw the speech all those years ago probably don’t remember a word he said, but they likely remember the television cutaways showing delegates of his own party nodding off. And they probably remember the restless crowd cheering when he finally uttered the words, “And in conclusion.”

A few nights later, Mr. Clinton appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Carson’s first question? “So, Governor, how are you?” Without pausing, Carson reached under his desk, pulled out an hourglass, and turned it upside down.

The audience roared.

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10:18 pm

No way Clinton exits the stage by 11pm.

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10:17 pm

“I’m here to talk tonight about hard working people.” –  Elizabeth Warren.

That’s in contrast to Ann Romney, who began by saying, “I want to talk about love.”

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10:16 pm

Crowd shouts “Warren, Warren, Warren.” She finally tells them: “Enough!”

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10:16 pm

And here comes Elizabeth Warren. The crowd starts waking up, seemingly realizing that Wednesday’s convention is about to begin.

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10:15 pm

Why did they give this guy ten minutes?!? On the other hand, at least he’s not yelling at a stool.

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10:13 pm

C-SPAN showing cutaway of a delegate with her eyes closed during Jim Sinegal’s speech. This is deadly. So far, the Dems have wasted night two of their convention.

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10:12 pm

Jim Sinegal, co-founder of Costco, is failing as a speaker because he is not “elevating” his text. He’s doing nothing verbally that couldn’t be better accomplished by simply handing his paper speech out to the crowd and allowing them to read it for themselves. It almost looks like he’s announcing the honored guest at a small town Knights of Columbus hall.

A strange choice for prime time.

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10:10 pm

Good thing for Costco that their stores are better than their founder’s speeches.

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10:10 pm

Jim Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco, is speaking from a paper script instead of a prompter. If that was an intentional choice, it was a bad one. He’s looking down somewhere around 98 percent of the time, making almost no eye contact with the audience.

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10:08 pm

This is undeniably the biggest crowd reaction so far tonight. The construct of Fluke’s speech was interesting: she  book-ended it with a variation on “the two Americans” – one vision for what the world would look like for women in another Obama term, and one vision for what it looks like in a Romney Administration.

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10:05 pm

Sandra Fluke is delivering a serious, and rather strident speech. When she says things hopeful like, “that’s not who we are,” she would benefit from softening a little bit and allowing people to connect with her more personally.

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10:01 pm

Interesting – the Dems saved Sandra Fluke for network coverage at 10pm. A smart choice. Wonder why they announced her for early in the 9pm hour.

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9:59 pm

Chris Van Hollen leading one of the most uninspired call and responses I’ve seen. This has been the single most soporific hour from either convention. It’s up to Elizabeth Warren and Bill Clinton to bring some energy into the hall.

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9:57 pm

Matt asks:

“So as we inch closer to the 10pm hour, I am guessing they canned Sandra Fluke’s speech tonight?”

 

Sure looks that way (unless she comes out as President Clinton’s date for the evening). 🙂

 

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9:55 pm

Chris Van Hollen: “If Paul Ryan was being honest, he would have pointed to that debt clock and said ‘we built that!'” — That’s a great line that accomplishes two things:

1. It questions Paul Ryan’s honesty (which has been at issue after his convention speech and his claim to have run a sub-three hour marathon).

2. It uses what I call “media jujitsu” to use the “we built that” line against Republicans.

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9:53 pm

Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen up now. (He was my member of Congress when I lived in Rockville, Maryland.)

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9:51 pm

Matt writes:

“Maybe this is some partisanship coming through on my end…but it seem to me that the RNC pre-primetime speakers were just flat out better than what I have seen pre-primetime for the DNC, so far. The RNC seemed to use this time to give it’s bench some critical playing time on the national stage. The Dem’s seem to be wasting this time by not giving their up and comers a platform to address/wow the grassroots of the Democratic Party.”

 

Nope, not partisan at all. I’m seeing the same thing. Perhaps it’s an ideological difference? Republicans having more executives speak, Democrats having more “real people” speak?

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9:49 pm

I question the value of having three former Bain workers speaking at 9:45pm on the second night of a convention. The Obama campaign can accomplish the same thing through paid advertisements – I would think there would be better ways to earn independent and swing votes.

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9:46 pm

All of that said, the base is eating it up.

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9:46 pm

Last week, I knocked Republicans for their intellectually dishonest “you didn’t build that” nonsense. I promised that if the Democrats pulled the same stunt, I’d call ’em out for it.

So here we go with the “Mitt Romney likes firing people” stuff. This is pure red meat for the base, and more than a little intellectually dishonest. Did Mitt Romney’s company fire people? Sure. Did he enjoy it, Montgomery Burns-like? I find that tough to believe.

 

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9:44 pm

We’re 45 minutes into the 9pm, and I’ve yet to see a single speech worth noting. This has been a rather bland hour.

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9:43 pm

Reports suggest President Obama will be in the convention hall tonight to watch Bill Clinton’s speech.

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9:42 pm

I’m not sure anything divides the two parties more obviously than unions. Unions get huge cheers from Democratic convention goers, huge boos from GOP convention goers.

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9:39 pm

United Autoworkers President Bob King wearing the ultimate DC power suit: dark blue suit, dark blue short, solid red tie. No flag pin, for those of you who care about such things.

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9:36 pm

Matt writes:

“I personally think the Make or Break speech tonight is from Professor Warren. Bill Clinton will knock it out of the park, we all know that, but Scott Brown is running a great campaign against her and she needs to speak and hold onto to those 200,000 to 300,000 Blue Collar Democrats outside of Boston that Scott Brown will need in order to be reelected.”

 

I’m not sure it’s “make or break,” but it sure is important. Until Todd Akin opened his mouth in Missouri, Massachusetts was set to be the most interesting Senate race this cycle. Warren often connects – we’ll see how she does with this unusually large platform.

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9:34 pm

Interesting that Sandra Fluke was supposed to have spoken already. I suspect they moved her later so that she had more viewers. She probably has the most star power of the 10pm hour (sorry, Chris van Hollen).

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9:32 pm

This news package is showing numerous news anchors (CNN’s Don Lemon, ABC’ Diane Sawyer, and a CBS News correspondent). News types hate being used in political ads. Will they also hate being used in a partisan video?

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9:29 pm

Austin Lingon, co-founder and former CEO of CarMax, is on the stage now. The corporate scorecard: Staples CEO spoke to the Republicans. CarMax and Costco founders speaking to the Democrats. I can’t help thinking that there’s a negative downside for all three companies for getting involved in politics this closely. (It’s not quite Chick-fil-A, but…).

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9:27 pm

Regarding Cristina Saralegui, PR pro Deborah Brody tweeted this to me:

“I think the nervousness you detect may have to do with culture differences. We people in LA say ayay a lot!”

 

Thanks for that insight – I didn’t know that! Still, her speech was rather flat. When she asked the crowd at the end whether they’d go out and register people to vote, the audience was almost entirely silent.

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9:24 pm

Cristina Saralegui doesn’t seem particularly connected to this speech. It looks more like she’s reading it from the prompter than from her heart.

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9:23 pm

Cristina Saralegui’s speech is careening back and forth from Spanish to English. That seems appropriate, but I do question whether going back and forth numerous times within the same sentence is helpful. Why not deliver a portion in English, then another portion in Spanish?

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9:21 pm

Reader Matt clarifies:

“As a Republican not blinded by party or dogma you could clearly see the nays/boos were more of a response to adding that Jerusalem is/should be the rightful capital of Israel than the adding of word “God” to the platform.”

 

Thanks for the clarification. You’re my favorite type of commenter – someone who has a point-of-view, but who remains an independent thinker.

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9:19 pm

Cristina Saralegui is an experienced television host, but she seems quite nervous. She keeps letting out audible sighs, as if she’s out of air and gasping for it.

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9:19 pm

Cristina Saralegui, a former Univision and Telemundo host, is now speaking. I don’t watch either network, and even I know who she is.

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9:17 pm

For the record, the party platforms on both sides are rather extreme, since they’re largely written by liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans. Neither candidate agrees with everything in them.

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9:15 pm

From reader Matt:

“Crowd doesn’t seem engaged at all! AG Harris seems pretty monotone and hasn’t engaged or enthralled me either.”

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9:14 pm

My conservative friends on Twitter are busy tweeting about Democrats in the convention hall booing during a voice vote to restore the word “God” to the official Democratic platform. I haven’t seen the video. If there were, indeed, a lot of boos, expect Republicans to try to create a distraction and get a lot of traction out of it.

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9:11 pm

With the exception of Sandra Fluke, the 9pm hour is a rather low wattage hour. But since the majority of viewers will see only the 10pm hour on the networks, the campaign figures the 9pm hour is more for the base.

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9:10 pm

Please feel free to leave your thoughts about tonight’s speakers in the comments section below.

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9:08 pm

Kamala Harris, the California Attorney General, is up. She looks incredibly comfortable on the stage, as if she speaks at nationally televised eventsallthe time.

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9:07 pm

The “real voices” portion of the Republican convention was one of the most effective parts. Although it could be a hackneyed approach, it’s also a compelling one.

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9:06 pm

Bill Butcher, the founder of the Port City Brewing Company in Alexandria, Virginia, is now up. He’s part of a series of “real people” speakers who will make the case that President Obama and government have an important role to play in our nation’s recovery.

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9:05 pm

Jim Sinegal, the co-founder and former CEO of Costco, will speak on President Obama’s behalf in the 10:00 hour. The Republicans had the founder of Staples. I wonder whether any partisans will boycott Costco or Staples as a result?

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9:02 pm

First, an observation. As I reflected on Michelle Obama’s speech last night, I was struck by how much more substantive it was than Ann Romney’s speech. But not only Ann Romney’s – it was also more substantive than Mitt Romney’s, and arguably Paul Ryan’s.

The Republicans choice to focus on “you did build that” instead of laying out a specific plan may come back to bite them – it seems to me that they left an opening for the Democrats. Now the only question is whether Bill Clinton (tonight) and Joe Biden and Barack Obama (tomorrow night) articulate a substantive approach.

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8:55 pm

Welcome to Tuesday’s live blog! Here’s the schedule for 9pm – 11pm tonight, courtesy of Yahoo:

9:00 PM — 10:00 PM (LOCAL)

Remarks
The Honorable Karen Mills

Progress for People Video: Small Business

American Voices Remarks
Bill Butcher

Remarks
The Honorable Kamala D. Harris
Attorney General of California

Stronger Together Video: Immigration

Remarks
Benita Veliz
DREAM Act Activist
Cristina Saralegui
Journalist, Actress, and Talk Show Host
Sandra Fluke
Attorney and Women’s Rights Activist

Austin Ligon
Co-Founder and Former CEO of CarMax, Inc.

An Economy Build to Last Video: Auto-Industry

American Voices Remarks
Karen Eusanio

Remarks
Bob King
President of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)
Randy Johnson, Cindy Hewitt, and David Foster
Former Employees at companies controlled by Romney’s Bain Capital

The Honorable Chris Van Hollen
Former Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Member of the US House of Representatives, Maryland

10:00 PM — 11:00 PM (LOCAL)

Remarks
Jim Sinegal
Co-Founder and Former CEO of Costco
Elizabeth Warren
Candidate for US Senate, Massachusetts

Nomination Process Set-Up

Remarks
The Honorable Antonio R. Villaraigosa
Chair of the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee
Mayor of Los Angeles, California

President Bill Clinton
42nd President of the United States

Closing Segment

Roll Call Vote
Alice Germond
Secretary of the Democratic National Committee

Benediction
Rabbi David Wolpe
Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, California

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11:27 pm

After a slow start in tonight’s 9pm hour, the 10pm hour picked up and delivered a relatively strong night to the President’s campaign.

Michelle Obama’s speech, which played very well in the convention hall, served to do two things: First, she wanted to remind people that the man voters placed their hopes in four years ago is still the same man fighting for them today. Second, she wanted to connect directly with women voters, with whom the President already has an electoral advantage over Mitt Romney. She succeeded in speaking directly to the concerns of many women, including national issues such as jobs and the economy, household issues such as student loans and parenting, and women’s rights issues such as equal pay and abortion rights.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick also had good nights, burnishing their own credentials at least as much as the President’s. And fair pay crusader Lilly Ledbetter brought the crowd to its feet with a speech that was determined and passionate. Although actor Kal Penn’s speech won’t be remembered long, he did his part in reaching out to younger voters.

Other speakers were less successful. Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland screamed through his speech, evoking painful memories of Howard Dean. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who had a great opportunity to tout her work on Obamacare, was disconnected and uninspired. Rahm Emanuel appeared unpolished and disjointed.

Unlike the first night of the Republican convention, no strong single theme emerged. The GOP convention focused its first night on “you did build that,” a reference to President Obama’s verbal slip, in which he appeared to say, “If you have a business, you didn’t build that.” The closest the Democrats came was by saying, “forward, not back,” a seeming allusion to what Democrats perceive as the failed policies of the Bush years.

All in all, this was a good night for the Democrats, particularly the 10pm hour shown by the major television networks.

Two nights to go. See you here again live tomorrow at 9pm. Thanks for reading the live blog!

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11:05 pm

President Obama doesn’t hit the stage to congratulate Michelle. If I remember correctly, Mitt Romney came out to congratulate Ann at the end of her speech.

 

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11:04 pm

“My most important title is still Mom-in-Chief.” – Michelle Obama, getting choked up about her daughters. People in the crowd are wiping tears from their eyes.

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11:00 pm

Michelle Obama: “Change never happens all at once.” I have to say, that’s a tough one to swallow. In 2008, her husband ran on the “fierce urgency of now.” She’s walking back the 2008 campaign.

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10:59 pm

Whereas Ann Romney’s speech was intended to make her husband more “likeable,” Michelle Obama’s is intended to remind people that they liked her husband four years ago, and that the reasons they liked him then are still there now.

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10:58 pm

Michelle Obama doing a nice mix of personal biography, offering an insider’s look into the bubble, and addressing the big policy issues.

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10:54 pm

It seems to me that the strategic intent of Michelle Obama’s speech is to reach women and exploit the gender gap. Ms. Obama is discussing household issues, such as student loans, and women’s issues, such as abortion rights and pay equality.

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10:51 pm

Michelle Obama: “Being President doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.”

I believe that’s exactly what Robert Caro said about Lyndon Johnson.

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10:48 pm

Michelle Obama spending a lot of time discussing the economic struggles that she and her husband endured earlier in life. She hasn’t named Mitt Romney by name. Nor has she directly alluded to him at all. But it’s clear what contrast she’s trying to draw.

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10:46 pm

Michelle Obama: When Barack picked me up for a date, he picked me up in a car with a rusted-out hole, inside which you could see the ground passing by below. He also had a coffee table he selected from a dumpster.

Ms. Obama ribs her husband with these types of stories a lot. I suspect it helps diminish some of the aloofness that is part of her husband’s demeanor.

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10:43 pm

Michelle Obama is a very warm speaker. Little feels forced from her – she appears to believe the words she’s delivering, and her words/voice/body language come across as congruent.

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10:40 pm

Michelle Obama enters to Stevie Wonders’ “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” the same song played as the first dance at my wedding. Not sure what that means, but thought I’d share.

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10:39 pm

Michelle Obama hitting the stage at 10:38pm. If she speaks longer than 22 minutes, she’ll blow the networks’ 11pm deadline, just like Mitt Romney did. I’m increasingly convinced that’s an intentional strategy to guarantee more free airtime.

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10:36 pm

Military mom Elaine Brye, introducing Michelle Obama: What’s a Mom like me doing in a place like this?” Charming line.

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10:34 pm

Strategically, what’s the point of this video? To make Michelle Obama appear more down-to-Earth? Not sure that’s a problem that  needed correction.

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10:33 pm

Michelle Obama’s video emphasizes her work with the military and “Let’s Move.”

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10:28 pm

Tonight’s headliner, Michelle Obama, about to hit the stage. The biographical film playing now.

 

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10:26 pm

One delivery note worth mentioning: Castro is very good at navigating the line between pausing for audience applause but not pausing for too long.  That may not sound like much, but that type of timing is difficult to learn, and is often innate.

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10:24 pm

Polling finds that the Republican National Convention resulted in a statistically insignificant one-point “bounce.” Do you think the Dems will see a bounce out of their convention, or do you think the days of convention bounces are over in an age of such a divided electorate?

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10:20 pm

“Mitt Romney has undergone an Extreme Makeover.”- Julian Castro, delivering a Twitter-friendly sound bite.

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10:19 pm

On Twitter, Guerin Hayes asks me:

“Will Castro talk about Obama? Remember People gave Chris Christie was given a hard time not talking up Romney.”

 

Good question – I noticed the same thing. It seems that keynotes are now as much about building one’s own political career as it is about supporting the candidate on the ballot.

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10:16 pm

Mayor Castro has the same annoying vocal habit as President Obama: they both use an “emphatic whisper” to emphasize key points. It can be effective a time or two, but both men overdo it, making it feel forced.

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10:13 pm

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro: “The path is always forward.” I think we’re beginning to see tonight’s theme emerge – “forward, not back.” It seems to be the Democrats’ way of saying, “Hey, it’s Bush’s fault. Let’s not do that again.”

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10:11 pm

Please feel free to leave your thoughts about tonight’s speeches in the comments section below.

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10:09 pm

Dear Convention Planners: It’s time to kill the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feelin’.”

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10:08 pm

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, tonight’s keynoter, being introduced by twin brother.

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10:06 pm

Is it me, or did O’Malley sound a bit like Ted Kennedy in his speech?

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10:05 pm

Some people regard O’Malley as a potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. His speech suggests it’s possible, although it’s short of a “breakout” performance.

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10:04 pm

O’Malley hammers Romney on Swiss bank accounts. “Swiss bank accounts never created American jobs.”

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10:01 pm

O’Malley pulling off his “Forward, Not Back” call and response section nicely. A good introduction for network viewers, who are just tuning in now at the 10pm mark.

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10:00 pm

At the Republican National Convention, planners allowed a few minutes of downtime during the speeches (the band played while delegates danced). The Democrats are packing the speeches in. I think it’s a mistake not to offer delegates (and viewers) a brief respite. Audiences can only take in so much information without a break – and I suspect viewers would gain more by having 57 minutes of speeches an hour instead of 60.

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9:58 pm

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley up now. And for those of you counting, he’s wearing a flag lapel pin.

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9:56 pm

Deval Patrick’s speech is not only well written, but he’s delivering it wonderfully. Like a great piece of music, he’s allowing it breathe a bit. He only uses the highest, most energetic moments selectively instead of using them nonstop (see Ted Strickland), and his speech is much more effective as a result.

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9:54 pm

Reader Matt writes:

“On a side note, I think the DNC stage is a little odd. That Statue of Liberty looks like something out of Vegas. The cut a ways from the RNC backdrop were 100x better in my opinion.”

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9:52 pm

Deval Patrick: “It’s time for Democrats to grow a backbone and stand up for what we believe.” It’s a good line and will get attention tomorrow, but he delivered just a little bit too angrily (pounding the lectern). Wish he had held back just a little bit more – would have played better on subsequent news clips. On the other hand, he’s electrifying the crowd.

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9:51 pm

Deval Patrick using repetition (“We believe”) to deliver Democratic platform. It’s an effective rhetorical device, and he’s used it well.

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9:48 pm

Deval Patrick delivers a great Twitter-friendly sound bite: “He was much more interested in having the job than doing the job.”

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9:47 pm

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is up. “In Massachusetts, we know Mitt Romney.” His indictment of Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts will get some press tomorrow morning.

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9:45 pm

This is the first great speech so far. One thing Ledbetter is doing well is connecting to her script. Yes, she’s reading from a prompter – but you’d never know it from listening to her. She’s bringing her words to life, varying her vocal delivery with highs and lows, and expressing genuine passion. Electric.

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9:43 pm

My nonpartisan analysis? Ann Romney saying that women matter is one thing. But Lilly Ledbetter praising President Obama’s support for pay equality is quite another.

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9:42 pm

Lilly Ledbetter up now. She’s thrilling the crowd – and this is an important issue (pay equality) for women.

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9:39 pm

Video playing now of President Obama speaking about women and pay discrimination. His video, in contrast to the speakers who have preceded the video, makes clear that he’s still his own best surrogate.

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9:37 pm

Reader Matt writes:

“So far the feeling I am getting here is this is just a big, great job, pat on the back for President Obama the problem is the country doesn’t believe that. The majority of the Country thinks we are going in the wrong track. The Obama team is wasting time tonight. They should be making clear contrast with Romney pounding down on the their summer strategy that has kept the President in the drivers seat in this election.”

 

I agree. My sense so far is that this hour has been for the base, not for the middle. Either way, I’m not sure this is an effective use of their time. The good news for the Obama campaign? The networks haven’t been televising any of this. They’ll have a shot to deliver a knockout hour at 10pm eastern.

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9:34 pm

President Obama’s maternal half-sister, Maya Soetoro-ng, is speaking with Michelle Obama’s brother, Craig Robinson. How is it that I follow politics closely and have never seen her before? No Roger Clinton, she.

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9:32 pm

Music so far: Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Starting Something,” Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” and Prince’s “1999.” Better than Lee Greenwood, at least…

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9:31 pm

Kal Penn doing a good job of speaking directly to younger voters and offering a specific call to action. I was skeptical of his place on the platform, but he proved me wrong.

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9:28 pm

Kal Penn is actually not doing a bad job. The best of the four people who have spoken in the 9pm hour so far.

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9:28 pm

Matt writes:

“None of these speakers in the 9pm hours are making an impact so far. Sebelius would put anyone to sleep and Rahm is listing off things like an action dealer. No overriding narrative is on display.”

 

Good point regarding no overriding narrative so far. Whether or not you agree with the Republicans’ night one theme – “You did build that” — at least they had a theme.

 

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9:27 pm

And Kal Penn — one of the Harold and Kumar guys – takes the stage at the DNC. The good news? He didn’t bring a stool with him on stage.

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9:25 pm

Even the delegates on the floor directly in front of Rahm Emanuel aren’t paying attention.

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9:24 pm

C-SPAN cuts to an audience member watching Rahm Emanuel’s speech. The man was resting his face on two of his fingers – a body language sign of boredom.

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9:23 pm

Reader Anthony Palmer writes:

“Look for “We can’t trust Mitt Romney” to make its way into a future Democratic attack ad. When the NARAL president mentioned that Romney didn’t stand up for Sandra Fluke, that likely personalized Romney’s cowardice in the eyes of female voters.”

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9:21 pm

I’m not trying to be negative here, folks, but this is three lousy speeches in a row.

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9:20 pm

PR pro Deborah Brody points out to me on Twitter that Emanuel is wearing a flag lapel pin, for those of you who care about such things.

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9:19 pm

That’s not to say Rahm Emanuel is delivering a terrific speech — he’s not. It sounds a bit stilted and unnatural.

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9:18 pm

Finally…Emanuel the first of three speakers to strike the right balance of energy that serves both the convention hall and the television viewing audience.

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9:16 pm

Rahm-bo! This should be interesting.

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9:16 pm

I believe the audience is now asleep. Secretary Sebelius may be a brilliant leader, but she’s an uninspiring speaker. “He has earned four more years” should be delivered in something other than a bored voice.

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9:15 pm

For what it’s worth, Sebelius is also not wearing a flag lapel pin.

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9:13 pm

On a scale of 100, with 100 being the ideal amount of energy and 0 being comatose, Sebelius is at about a 50. She’s gotta amp up her delivery. Great speakers “elevate” their text off the page; as it stands, Sebelius could have been equally as effective simply by just handing out her speech in advance and letting the delegates read it for themselves.

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9:11 pm

Ms. Sebelius is going too far in the other direction. Whereas Strickland was too hot, Sebelius is too cool. If she’s going to express pride in ObamaCare, her speech delivery should convey that. Instead, it just sounds like she’s reading a script off a prompter.

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9:09 pm

Kathleen Sebelius, the Health & Human Services Secretary, is up now. A big contrast with Ted Strickland.

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9:08 pm

As someone who is going to watch six hours of speeches this week, I hope no one else does the Strickland Scream. That was painful to watch.

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9:07 pm

An interesting observation: Ted Strickland isn’t wearing a flag lapel pin. Almost all of the Republican speakers did, as if it was part of the official uniform.

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9:05 pm

The best part of Strickland’s speech? At least he’s not yelling at a chair.

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9:05 pm

Ted Strickland is doing one other strange thing: he’s giggling at the end of some of his lines. That laughter is undercutting the seriousness of his words.

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9:03 pm

I wrote this last week during the Republican convention, and it’s true again with Ted Strickland: too many speakers suffer from the “energetic monotone.” Strickland is almost painful to listen to — he’s screaming his speech, and he’s not varying it with any inflection. His mistake, like Howard Dean’s? He’s speaking to the convention hall, not the television viewers.

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9:01 pm

I’m watching the convention on C-SPAN. Is it me, or is the audio mix off? The applause sounds much louder than it should, and it’s cutting speakers off.

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8:59 pm

Ted Strickland, the former governor of Ohio, is up. Man, is he loud. If he starts screaming state names, we won’t be able to tell the difference between him and Howard Dean.

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8:58 pm

A woman whose daughter has a heart defect just praised “ObamaCare.” The Obama campaign has smartly decided to claim the phrase “ObamaCare” for itself, instead of allowing it to remain an uncontested slur.

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11:59 pm

My “worst five media disasters of August” list comes out tomorrow morning. I wrote it this afternoon. Thanks to Clint Eastwood, I’ll be doing some post-midnight editing.

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11:53 pm

12 years ago, I was an associate producer during one of CNN’s focus groups of “undecided” voters. I informed the executive producer that two of the attendees told me they had made up their minds (I don’t remember which way). She said that since the seats had already been placed out, we should just proceed as planned.

Keep that in mind when you watch focus groups with “undecided” voters.

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11:51 pm

Brit Hume, among other pundits, is saying that this was not a soaring speech. And by historical standards, there have certainly been better convention speeches.

But I’d maintain that swing voters aren’t judging the speech by “historical” standards. They’re more like to judge it from the same perspective I (and many of this blog’s readers) did – by saying, “Wow. I didn’t know he had that in him.”

Simply put, Mitt Romney over-performed expectations. And in politics, that’s a huge victory.

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11:47 pm

Thanks to all of you for tuning in to my first week ever of live blogging. Please join me again next Tuesday at 9pm for the first night of the Democratic National Convention.

And don’t forget to tune in tomorrow morning for my monthly list, the five worst media disasters of August.

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11:36 pm

Matt writes:

““You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had, was the day you voted for him.” That sums up why this speech worked tonight!”

 

That quote is Romney’s version of Reagan’s “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” The campaign seems focused on giving permission to 2008 Obama swing voters to change sides and vote for Romney.

One other note: Even though the base didn’t hear a lot of red meat from Mitt Romney tonight, voters like a winner (or a perceived winner.) For the first time, Mitt Romney looked like he could be a winner tonight.

But two months is a lifetime in politics. Remember that after the 1988 Democratic National Convention, Michael Dukakis led by 17 points. Four days before the 2000 election, the media revealed that George W. Bush had been arrested for DUI (the backlash to the media report may have helped sway the election).

My point? This thing ain’t anything close to over yet. But Mitt Romney did everything he needed to to make this a real race.

 

 

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11:30 pm

For what it’s worth, my Twitter feed (which is full of DC journalist types), is full of Clint Eastwood chatter. Especially given the strength of Mitt Romney’s speech, what the hell were the RNC planners thinking by turning their stage over to Clint Eastwood (and his stool) for 15 minutes during network television time?

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11:25 pm

Reader Anthony Palmer writes:

“I’m conflicted about this speech. Romney showed passion and competence, which was very good. But he also veered a little too much into immature territory by mocking President Obama’s concern for climate change and spreading lies (apology tour, raising taxes on middle class families, talking with Iran, etc.). Romney may come to regret some of these lies when it comes time to debate Obama in October.”

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11:20 pm

I watched every debate during the election cycle. In total, I’ve seen at least 40 hours of Mitt Romney debates and speeches since 2010.

I’ve often been critical of Mitt Romney’s oratorical skills. In 2010, I rated his speech making a “C+.”

But that all changed tonight. Tonight was an “A.”

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11:15 pm

Interesting musical choices.

Before Romney’s speech, Michael Jackson’s “Man on the Mirror.”

After? James Brown’s “Living in America.”

An accused pedophile and a wife beater. As I say, interesting.

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11:14 pm

What are your thoughts about Mitt Romney’s speech? Please leave them in the comments section below.

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11:13 pm

Wow. That was one hell of a speech, and one hell of a closing.

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11:12 pm

Romney now 12 minutes past the time the networks granted him.

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11:12 pm

Romney is really pulling off this call and response section. From a delivery standpoint, it’s impressive that he’s familiar enough with his script to leave the prompter and speak directly to the camera (which, I’m presuming, has no prompter).

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11:09 pm

The crowd boos “talking to Iran.” Seriously, is their preference to just begin bombing the hell out of them?

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11:08 pm

When Mitt Romney mentions “rising oceans,” the crowd responds with derisive laughter. This is not a climate change believing crowd. (One would have thought the first Hurricane threatening Tampa in 88 years might have mellowed them out a bit?)

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11:06 pm

“I will not raise taxes on the middle class of America.” Uh oh. That one got George H.W. Bush in some trouble.

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11:04 pm

We’ve reached the energy portion of the speech. Will the delegates chant “drill, baby, drill?”

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11:03 pm

Many Republicans didn’t want Mitt Romney to be their nominee. But after tonight, do any of them really believe that Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, or Rick Perry could have delivered a better convention speech?

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11:01 pm

So far, Mitt Romney has still soft pedaled it on policy. This is a speech about personal character and optimism so far. And it may do the job for him.

 

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10:59 pm

I’m always reluctant to make predictions in politics, but here’s one: after tonight, I don’t think Mitt Romney is the underdog anymore.

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10:58 pm

“In America, we celebrate success, we don’t apologize for success.” (Unsaid: “Oh, and we invest our success in foreign banks.”)

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10:55 pm

You’ll see this line again for the next couple of months: “If you felt that excitement when you voted for Obama, shouldn’t you feel that now that he’s Pres. Obama?” His version of Reagan’s “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”

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10:54 pm

Reader Brian Harrison writes:

“Wow. Real authentic emotion. Someone saved his fastball.”

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10:53 pm

This speech has been very light on policy so far. That seems to be a tacit admission that until now, Americans haven’t liked (or known) Mitt Romney very well.

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10:51 pm

If it keeps going this way, Mitt Romney will erase President Obama’s edge on “likeability.” Don’t be surprised if you hear the words “oh, shit” drifting out of the White House tonight.

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10:49 pm

“Every day, Dad gave Mom a rose.” – Mitt Romney, getting choked up when speaking about his parents. Romney is connected to the words in this speech, and it could be a game changer.

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10:47 pm

One other thing to note: Mitt Romney’s teleprompter is to his left and right, but he’s still looking squarely into the lens at moments. That means he’s memorizing a portion of the next line and delivering it to the camera (the audience at home). Tough to do, and well executed.

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10:44 pm

So far, Romney is knocking this speech out of the park. I’ve never seen him quite this good.

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10:43 pm

“I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed.” – Mitt Romney, delivering a good, Twitter-friendly sound bite.

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10:42 pm

The crowd is chanting “U.S.A” at weird moments. Are they trying to drown out a heckler?

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10:42 pm

Notice Mitt Romney’s raised eyebrows, wrinkled forehead. It’s almost like he’s trying to communicate, “I don’t want to say these things about President Obama, but he’s left me no choice.”

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10:41 pm

Feel free to leave your comments below.

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10:40 pm

Whatever your politics, it’s hard to deny that Mitt Romney looks presidential. And yes, in elections, that can matter.

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10:39 pm

Romney starting with a unifying message. It won’t last long.

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10:37 pm

Is it me, or does Mitt Romney look genuinely moved?

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10:36 pm

I hope he doesn’t salute the crowd, a la John Kerry in 2004.

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10:35 pm

The optics here? “You can see me as the President delivering the State of the Union next January, yes?” Good optics.

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10:33 pm

Mitt Romney enters the stage from the audience, much like the President during a State of the Union. A much different entrance than we’ve seen before, and a humanizing one. Smart decision (and well choreographed with the end of Rubio’s speech).

 

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10:31 pm

Mitt Romney is calling the networks’ bluff. They were supposed to cut out tonight at 11pm, but he knows they won’ t cut out during his acceptance speech, guaranteeing more free network time tonight for the RNC.

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10:30 pm

I’m not sure Marco Rubio’s speech is quite the breakout speech that Barack Obama’s was at the DNC in 2004, but he’s doing himself proud.

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10:28 pm

The convention hall is silent during Rubio’s speech. He is a master orator, using his voice much like a piece of classical music – ebbs and flows, highs and lows.

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10:27 pm

Marco Rubio and Condoleezza Rice have, in my opinion, delivered the best speeches of the Convention (so far). Mike Huckabee was close behind.

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10:25 pm

If you read my criticism of Paul Ryan’s speech from last night, it’s that Ryan seemed disconnected from his words at times. Marco Rubio offers a perfect contrast. He’s a speaker who doesn’t look overly-forced, and whose words and delivery are perfectly congruent.

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10:23 pm

Why do I have a feeling this may not be the last time Marco Rubio stands on the stage during the last night of the Republican National Convention?

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10:22 pm

Reader Matt shares an opinion that I suspect millions of others share tonight:

“WHAT WAS TEAM ROMNEY THINKING?!?!? Marco Rubio would have used those 14 minutes much much MUCH better than “Hey I am talking to a chair, Clint Eastwood””

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10:21 pm

“These are ideas that people come to America to get away from.” – Marco Rubio, delivering another short, pithy soundbite that’s easy to tweet in 140 characters.

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10:20 pm

“Our problem is not that [President Obama] is a bad person. It’s that he’s a bad President.” – Marco Rubio, delivering a line you’ll see all over the news tomorrow.

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10:17 pm

Marco Rubio’s lapel pin seems to be of the American flag, but has a strange mark on it. Optics matter, and small things can distract.

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10:16 pm

Marco Rubio begins with a charming quip about drinking Clint Eastwood’s water.

 

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10:15 pm

I hope President Obama doesn’t counter Clint Eastwood by asking Barbra Streisand to speak to a houseplant.

 

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10:12 pm

The biggest audience of the Convention. The networks give the campaign one hour of televised air. And they spend 15 minutes on Clint Eastwood talking to a stool? That is going to move voters to Mitt Romney? This is the single worst call of the Convention.

I only wish Saturday Night Live were on this weekend.

 

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10:11 pm

Clint Eastwood inveighs against attorneys in the Oval Office, crowd roars. The first obvious anti-intellectualism of the night.

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10:10 pm

Anthony Palmer writes:

“Clint Eastwood said there were 23 million people who were unemployed on Obama’s watch. The convention hall then roared with applause. Terrible optics. That just shows how the GOP seems more concerned with defeating Obama than it is with helping those who need help. What an appalling display of childishness and vindictiveness.”

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10:09 pm

You know who could pull off this bit? Albert Brooks.

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10:08 pm

This “talking to the stool” bit is a piece of comedy that needs to be better executed to work. Comedy is hard, Clint.

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10:07 pm

He’s seriously speaking to an empty stool. This is a high wire act, and it’s not working particularly well.

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10:05 pm

Is Clint Eastwood going to have a conversation with an empty chair that’s supposed to represent President Obama? Let the “senile” jokes begin.

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10:03 pm

“Save a little for Mitt,” Clint Eastwood ad libs over the applause.

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10:03 pm

Clint!

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10:03 pm

The house band plays Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror.” They’ve forgiven a man many in the audience thought was a pedophile.

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10:01 pm

Please feel free to leave your thoughts about tonight’s speech in the comments section below. I’ll use some of them in the main thread.

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10:00 pm

Two people in this video package have mentioned that Mitt Romney is “cheap.” That’s obviously intended to convey “Hey! I’m just like you!”

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9:58 pm

As it should be, this has been the best night of the Convention thus far. Whereas the first two nights were full of red meat for the base, this is the evening that’s trying to reach a much broader audience.

 

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9:55 pm

The video package is definitely showing a more personal side of Mitt Romney. Is it a favorable fluff piece produced by the campaign? Yes. Will that make it less effective? Nope.

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9:51 pm

Intermission music is “Get Ready.” Here’s hoping it’s a cover of The Temptations, and not Rare Earth (or we’re in for an 18 minute version).

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9:49 pm

BeBe Winans singing a beautiful song, sure to set a nice mood in the Convention hall. I’m glad that something better has finally replaced Lee Greenwood’s stale song.

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9:45 pm

Derek Parra, an Olympian who carried the World Trade Center flag during the 2002 Olympics, is getting emotional describing his experience. The crowd is completely riveted, and it’s a nice moment. But I’m not sure how it moves voters to Mitt Romney?

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9:44 pm

Paul Ryan is in the VIP box. “No way in hell I’m missing Clint Eastwood,” he’s gotta be thinking.

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9:41 pm

I’ll be more impressed with Mitt Romney’s connection to the Olympic games if he enters the convention hall later tonight by doing a triple somersault and sticking the landing.

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9:35 pm

So, are all of these athletes Republicans, or is their appearance not necessarily an endorsement?

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9:34 pm

She’s a good skeet shooter, and a rather good emcee. A double threat!

(Of course, even if she was lousy, I wouldn’t dare say that to an armed woman.)

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9:32 pm

Olympian Kim Rhode takes the stage. She was a “Double Trap & Skeet Shooting” gold medalist. And thanks to network coverage of the Olympics, no one’s heard of her. NBC seems to prefer female athletes in bikinis and leotards.

 

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9:29 pm

We’ve now seen American Idol contestants Danny Gokey and Taylor Hicks, which begs the question: Which Idol’s will perform at the DNC? As long as it’s not that Constantine guy, I’m good.

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9:28 pm

Taylor Hicks takes the stage, doing his old American Idol cover of The Doobie Brothers’ “Taking It To The Streets.” I wonder what Michael McDonald thinks about his song being played at the RNC?

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9:25 pm

I was skeptical that Romney would get a big bounce out of this Convention. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with a lead outside the margin of error by the end of the weekend. Unfortunately for him, Obama’s Convention begins on Tuesday.

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9:23 pm

Jane Edmonds, the former Massachusetts Workforce Secretary, is speaking now. There is no doubt that these speeches are challenging the narrative that Democrats (and Romney’s GOP primary opponents) tried to paint of him. But the big question is this: is it too late to matter?

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9:20 pm

Mitt Romney is having a very good night. Unlike some of the speakers who came earlier in the Convention, tonight’s speakers seem to have a lot of genuine affection for him.

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9:16 pm

Some lessons public speakers everywhere can learn from Kerry Healey:

  1. She’s warm.
  2. She looks like she’s having fun on the stage.
  3. She’s varying her vocal inflections.
  4. She’s keeping the energy up, but not rushing.
  5. Her words, voice, and body language are in alignment with one another.
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9:14 pm

Mitt Romney’s Lt. Gov from Massachusetts, Kerry Healey, is speaking now. From her opening lines, it appears that she’s yet another in a long line of effective female speakers at the GOP convention.

 

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9:12 pm

Ray Fernandez, the Owner of Vida Pharmacy, is speaking now about how Bain Capital’s investment helped them. This drumbeat of businesspeople speaking on Mitt Romney’s helpful role is powerful, and may help to reverse the image of Romney as predator capitalist.

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9:09 pm

Regarding the endless “you didn’t build that” references, reader Matt comments:

“Are you expecting more…This has been the campaign of wife killing, “Romney Hood” and “Obamaloney””

 

Somehow, yes, I was expecting more. I believe passionately in the importance of our national politics, and would like to see two strong parties with widely divergent views presenting their best cases. Instead, we’re left with phony gaffes and misleading statements. And yes, both sides are guilty of that.

 

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9:06 pm

Staples founder Tom Stemberg may be alienating some customers with this speech, but he’s also delivering one heck of a good speech. Mitt Romney will be very happy with this voice of support.

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9:05 pm

Reader Steve Weitzman asks:

“Do you think Clint Eastwood could upstage Romney?”

 

I think many inanimate objects could upstage Romney. Seriously, it’s a risk. But Marco Rubio may well be a more dynamic speaker anyway, so it seems to me a risk well worth taking.

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9:01 pm

The founder of Staples is speaking. Honest question: will some Democrats decide not to support Staples as a result of this speech?

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8:59 pm

Seriously? Yet another video about “You didn’t build that?” It’s getting exhausting to cover the number of lines the GOP has dishonestly edited out of President Obama’s quote.

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8:57 pm

Welcome to the live blog! We’re up and running. Please feel free to leave your thoughts regarding tonight’s convention speeches in the comments section below.

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11:14 am

After writing my review of Paul Ryan’s speech last night, I looked at what some other pundits had to say. Most of them thought Ryan did a terrific job, which stands in contrast to my more negative review. Because it’s difficult to take in the entirety of a speech while live blogging, I decided to re-watch the full speech this morning. Here’s my take with a few hours of distance.

I understand why many people liked his speech. It was well-written and contained some highly memorable lines. One particularly effective line, for example, was about unemployed 20-somethings who are still sleeping in their childhood bedrooms,  staring up at their fading Obama poster. Another was about Mitt Romney’s bad taste in music, contrasted with Ryan’s love of everything from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin.

His best moments came when he was discussing policy – not surprising, given that he’s a self-described policy wonk. But moments that called for more flourish – such as when he asked, “Why would the next four years be any different from the last four years?” – felt forced. Ryan seems to be more focused on perfect elocution and hitting every word than delivering each of them while sounding completely connected to its content. When speaking about his late father, for example, it came across more that he was speaking from the script rather than from the heart.

I’d rather hear him deliver those lines in his natural manner instead of trying to deliver them as someone he’s not. Until then, he’ll continue to lack the quality of the greatest political orators – think Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton – who were able to transcend the appearance of speech making by seemingly speaking, in the moment, with every individual watching. His rousing close, in which he repeatedly said “we can do this,” was a step in the right direction.

Overall, my review yesterday may have been a bit too harsh. But I stand by my central assertion that Ryan still has progress to make as a speaker – and that he shouldn’t be satisfied that he’s reached his oratorical end goal.

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12:12 am

After watching a lot of coverage after tonight’s Ryan speech, it seems clear that most of the television pundits – including the liberals on MSNBC – thought he knocked his speech out of the park. I maintain that in terms of speech delivery, he looked a bit stilted, overly-prescribed and disconnected. But that view, even if correct, will be swept away by the media narrative that calls it a success. And since perception is reality, it looks like Ryan will be judged as a big winner.

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11:14 pm

Some quick thoughts on tonight’s Republican National Convention:

Condoleezza Rice gave the speech of the night. She stole the show with a smart, substantive, and emotionally connected speech.

Paul Ryan delivered his speech well enough, but something felt off. As I wrote a few weeks ago when he spoke during his announcement as Vice President:

“Ryan sounded like he was reading his speech. He focused too much on elocution, and his gestures felt far too prescribed. As a result, he didn’t make enough of a genuine connection with his audience. The skill, even for scripted speeches, is to at least sound spontaneous and in the moment. Ryan didn’t.”

 

That’s not to say that he did badly. Ryan made a deeply-felt case for conservative governance, and it will surely appeal to most Republicans and many Independents. But I’m unconvinced that he did anything tonight that fundamentally changes the state of the race. Remember: this was the same speech that Sarah Palin knocked out of the park in 2008.

Feel free to leave your thoughts below. And please join me again tomorrow night at 9pm (or earlier) for the final live blog of the week. Thanks for tuning in!

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11:09 pm

Reader Matt writes:

“Ryan speech wasn’t bad. Overall I though he did the job he needed to do. I don’t think anyone could have matched what Palin did 4 years ago. Condi Rice stole the show though. She seemed liked the real leader and a real person of Presidential timber.”

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11:03 pm

The best part of Paul Ryan’s speech came in the last 30 seconds: “We can do this!”

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11:02 pm

What do you think of Paul Ryan’s speech? Please leave your thoughts below.

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11:00 pm

Paul Ryan is about to blow past the 11:00 mark, forcing the networks to go into overtime.

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10:59 pm

In terms of stagecraft, I’m not sure the plain background behind Paul Ryan adds much. They underplayed it, but likely could have had more powerful imagery.

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10:56 pm

Paul Ryan compares the Obama Administration to the “central planners.” Expect that allusion to communism to get a lot of play tomorrow. It wasn’t unintentional.

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10:50 pm

Republicans have bashed VP Joe Biden for two nights. And they have some cause, such as his chronic foot in mouth disease. But Biden also has a way of personally connecting with audiences that Ryan simply lacks.

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10:49 pm

This is a passable speech, but hardly a game changer. If Republicans were counting on Ryan’s speech to change the playing field, this isn’t enough

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10:44 pm

Paul Ryan’s throat clearing isn’t quite as noticeable as Al Gore’s sighs during the first 2000 debate, but it’s close. Expect a few YouTube video mashups of his “ahems.”

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10:43 pm

“He needs to talk more, and we need to be better listeners?” – Paul Ryan, taking a swipe at the President’s comments that his biggest failure in office so far was to “tell a story” and “communicate more.”

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10:42 pm

Paul Ryan is seriously blaming President Obama for the credit rating being downgraded? Now that’s a stretch too far.

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10:41 pm

“We want this debate. We will win this debate.” Expect that Paul Ryan sound bite to be replayed a few times as well.

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10:40 pm

From Twitter, @asauertirg:

“notice Ryan’s weird throat clearing tic?”

 

Yes. He should back away from the microphone during the applause to clear his throat, if he must.

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10:38 pm

And a heckler tried to interrupt the proceedings. Paul Ryan handles it well by pausing, not looking flustered, and waiting until the scene ends before continuing.

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10:36 pm

Remember that this was the speech that Sarah Palin rocked four years ago. (Remember the difference between hockey moms and pit bulls?) So far, he isn’t approaching anything close to her rhetorical success.

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10:35 pm

Like Chris Christie, Paul Ryan is coming across as angry at points. He should be emphatic, yes, but without the anger. His image is as the amiable warrior, and it serves him well.

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10:33 pm

Paul Ryan looks a bit nervous. He isn’t fully in the moment yet, isn’t responding to the audience, and doesn’t look loose. It’s understandable. But he should be conveying a bit more personal warmth when discussing his personal biography. Let’s see if he conveys more warmth when he gets warmed up.

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10:30 pm

Expect to see this Paul Ryan sound bite on television tomorrow: “I have never seen opponents so silent about their record…they ran out of ideas. Their moment came and went.”

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10:29 pm

Unlike Chris Christie, who took 17 minutes, Paul Ryan names Mitt Romney within the first minute of being on stage.

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10:27 pm

And the headliner hits the stage. Paul Ryan gets his second big coming out.

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10:23 pm

Matt writes:

“One thing is clear so far. It is the women of this convention that have been the Stars.”

 

For a party that’s been bashed as anti-woman (with some cause, such as Rush Limbaugh and Todd Akin), this couldn’t have come at a better time. The GOP has an impressive bench of female superstars.

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10:21 pm

Susana Martinez is doing a fine job, but it’s an anticlimactic speech after Condoleezza Rice’s. She didn’t hit the lottery in terms of speech order. This was supposed to be a potentially breakout speech for her. It isn’t happening.

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10:18 pm

And Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico gets her first standing ovation by saying she had a gun. The only thing that would earn her bigger applause is if she whipped it out and rocked some skeet shooting.

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10:16 pm

From reader Heidi Anderson:

“As a PR professional for public schools, I disagree with what Ms. Rice says specifically re how to fix our schools. But the way she says it is so gosh darn convincing.”

 

And from David:

“Not sure that i get thye whole notion that she and more speakers has made, that America is less liked abroad because of Obama. He is the best PR-stunt for America in Europe since Coca Cola.”

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10:15 pm

Reader Matt writes:

“We have never been jealous of each other, and never been envious of each others successes.” WOW! I think we have out first home run speech of this Convention.”

 

Agree. Condi’s stock rose tonight.

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10:12 pm

I can’t overstate this enough: During a convention with a lot of juvenile political putdowns, Condoleezza Rice looks like a substantive leader. If Mitt Romney loses, I wouldn’t be surprised if she instantly polls top three for the 2016 Republican nomination.

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10:09 pm

Until tonight, I’ve been skeptical that a single African American woman who’s never been married could win the GOP nomination. I’m still skeptical. But I would no longer rule it completely out.

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10:05 pm

Reader David writes:

“Condi sounds like she’s giving a foreign policy lecture to grad students. Not sure all of the crowd gets it. But credit for trying to elevate the rhetorical level above “Obama is an idiot”.”

 

Indeed. It’s refreshing to hear an actual debate with actual policy differences instead of distorted “you didn’t build that” nonsense.

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10:03 pm

This is a presidential-level speech from Condoleezza Rice. She is doubtlessly adding to her own reputation. But is she doing much for Mitt Romney so far?

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10:02 pm

From Twitter: @SamaraSomos writes:

“We’re pretty sure that Huck invoking Bono’s name made RNC history of some kind.”

 

Well, it was a better musical choice than Starship, Danny Gokey, Lee Greenwood and 3 Doors Down, who we’ve heard from so far.

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10:00 pm

Condi is succeeding in her speech because she looks completely connected to the words she’s delivering. Her words, voice, and body language are perfectly congruent, making her come across as authentic.

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9:58 pm

So far, Condoleezza Rice is speaking more like a “statesman” than anyone else who’s hit the stage.

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9:55 pm

Classical pianist Condi Rice hits the stage with “Sweet Home, Alabama.”

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9:54 pm

Mike Huckabee delivered a terrific speech tonight. His heartfelt delivery connected powerfully with the audience, and was rewarded with the biggest applause of the night.

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9:51 pm

Huckabee throws his full credibility as an Evangelical behind Mitt Romney: “I care a lot less about where Mitt Romney takes his family to church than I do where he takes this country.”

This may end up being one of the most important speeches during this entire convention, since it may get thousands of voters who are uncomfortable with Romney’s Mormonism off the sidelines.

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9:50 pm

Mike Huckabee, an Evangelical, says the only Evangelical on a national ticket is Barack Obama. He then explains why President Obama is the wrong Evangelical, suggesting people vote for Mitt Romney (Mormon) and Paul Ryan (Catholic). A very powerful appeal to America’s Evangelicals.

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9:46 pm

Mike Huckabee used one line of attack that I’m surprised more speakers haven’t used: That President Obama himself said that Americans would kick him out of office if he couldn’t turn the economy around. There are no distortions there. Obama really said it, and it’s an effective political attack to use a candidate’s words against him.

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9:44 pm

President Obama wants more food stamps for Americans, says Mike Huckabee. If not overtly racist, that Newt Gingrich-like comment is at least intended to remind voters of Obama’s race.

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9:42 pm

Last night’s convention seemed to be much more tightly messaged. Tonight’s theme seems a bit mushier, veering from international policy to Puerto Rico to economic policy.

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9:40 pm

Mike Huckabee has put some weight back on. Sad, considering he wrote a book about the virtues of weight loss a few years ago. Seriously (and without any sarcasm, truly), long-term behavior change is hard.

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9:39 pm

All in all, Tim Pawlenty delivered a speech that will delight the Republican base. Not sure it did anything for the Independents, though.

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9:38 pm

Reader Matt says:

“Pawlenty reminds me of that great Thatcher line “It was treachery with a smile” His speech isn’t treachery but he is certainly delivering some big punch with a joyful smile.”

 

I wonder what would have happened if Tim Pawlenty showed more of this side of his personality during the debates? If I remember correctly, he was the first to use the term “O’RomneyCare,” but then ran away from the term when confronted while standing next to Mitt Romney.

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9:36 pm

Pawlenty just made a sharp turn from mocking the President to speaking about his mother’s death when he was 16. A bit too abrupt of a transition – just got a bout of whiplash.

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9:34 pm

Reader Scotty writes:

“Tim Pawlenty needs to stop being a comedian. He’s like the stereotypical dad trying to be “cool” with the teenagers.”

 

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9:33 pm

“You’re out of time, and we’re out of money.” – Tim Pawlenty, delivering a media-friendly sound bite.

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9:32 pm

Tim Pawlenty really going after the President. It’s an interesting choice to have an amiable figure serve as Mitt Romney’s attack dog. A smart choice, since Pawlenty will never come across as a Pat Buchanan type.

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9:31 pm

Joe Biden has become a punchline at tonight’s Convention. Tim Pawlenty knocks Biden as being one of President Obama’s “mistakes.” That’ll play well with Republicans, but do Independents really dislike him?

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9:29 pm

Tim Pawlenty hits the stage. And the delegates realize they won’t be needing Ambien tonight after all.

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9:26 pm

A band called ‘The Katinas” is performing now. According to Wikipedia, they are a “Contemporary Christian music group. The family of five brothers hails from American Samoa.”

The last speaker was from Puerto Rico. This band is from American Samoa. Any bets on the next act being from Guam?

 

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9:24 pm

Reader Matt responds to my query:

“Fortuno is key part of Republican outreach to Hispanics. Florida has a large Puerto Rican population and this is speaking directly to them. Also Puerto Rico will be having a number of votes on Statehood soon and this is Republicans playing the long game and trying to make sure Puerto Rico becomes a swing state if it enters the union.”

 

Great point. Although I’m unconvinced that a sufficient number of states would ratify Puerto Rico’s statehood.

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9:22 pm

Still to come tonight: Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM), and VP Candidate Paul Ryan.

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9:19 pm

Congratulations. If you were playing a drinking game in which you do a shot for every “you didn’t build that” quip, you’d be unable to stand by now.

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9:18 pm

Gov. Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico is speaking now. Puerto Rico gets no electoral votes – is this a bid for Hispanic votes, or am I missing something? What other tactical benefit is there for him to be on the big stage?

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9:15 pm

This small business owner from Ohio is not a big stage speaker. Or a medium stage speaker. Considering he walked out to Starship’s “We Built This City” – rated by Rolling Stone as the worst song of the 80s – we kind of knew this was coming.

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9:12 pm

In some ways, this convention has been just like Mitt Romney: polished, but lacking heart.

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9:10 pm

Sen. Portman appears to have reached the highest level of his political career. Based on this speech, it’s difficult to see him making it onto a national ticket.

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9:08 pm

I’ve been struck both nights that the speakers are (almost) all speaking in their “big voices.” But they’re failing to change their vocal delivery at key moments, leading to something I’ve dubbed “the energetic monotone.” More here: http://www.mrmediatraining.com/index.php/2011/10/24/public-speaking-tip-avoid-the-energetic-monotone.

You may remember that Ann Romney used hushed tones during key moments of her speech yesterday – at it was a far more effective speech as a result.

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9:06 pm

Reader Matt writes:

“And this is why Mitt Romney did not go with Portman.”

 

If he was on the ticket, you’d have to call it “Stiff and Stiffer.”

Folks, please don’t make Matt all alone. Feel free to comment below!

 

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9:05 pm

Sen. Portman seems to be pausing at certain moments, as if he’s expecting applause. Two things: One, he should never wait for applause. Two, in order to deliver an applause line, he should do something different with his cadence to indicate that something different – and important – is coming.

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9:01 pm

Sen. Portman slams President Obama for never starting a business. Neither did Paul Ryan, his party’s VP nominee. Is that really a criteria for leadership?

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9:01 pm

And thwarted Romney running mate Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) takes the stage. He begins with a lame joke about being on the short list for VP. Again, humor is hard, folks. Very few speakers can pull off an opening joke – and they should know better than to try it.

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9:00 pm

I attended my only political convention in 2000 while working at CNN. Actually, I attended the “pre-convention.” Our Executive Producer was too cheap to allow us to stay a few extra days. Fun fact: despite the Republican Convention being in Philadelphia, she booked us hotel rooms in Delaware to save a few bucks. On the other hand, I got to spend some quality time with Robert Novak (and the other Capital Gang pundits), which was a real thrill.

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8:57 pm

Would it be too much for someone to teach these delegates to clap to the rhythm? And a one, and a two…

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8:55 pm

From The Washington Post:

“A Secret Service agent assigned to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s security detail left a gun unattended in the bathroom of a plane carrying the candidate to Indiana on Wednesday. After a reporter found the plane in the lavatory, a Secret Service agent quickly retrieved the weapon.”

 

So much for the Secret Service’s PR rehabilitation project.

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8:52 pm

American Idol has its first person on the Republican National Convention stage. Nice to see you again, Danny Gokey!

(Wouldn’t it be cool if Simon Cowell judged all of the convention speeches in real time? “With all due respect, Senator, that was rather like two cats trapped in a box without oxygen.”)

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8:50 pm

This “you didn’t build that” nonsense continues tonight. An entire convention theme centered around a gaffe. Let’s hope President Obama doesn’t have three nights of “he likes to fire people” crap during his convention.

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8:48 pm

Reader Matt adds:

“Sen. Thune surely does look the part, he is one handsome dude. His speech was boring though. If you put the TV on mute though you can easily say to yourself this guy could be President and that counts for a lot.”

 

Sad, but true. In almost every election during the television age, the taller candidate with better hair has won. (John Kerry is a big exception to the rule.)

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8:45 pm

If you’re interested in such things, the house band at the Republican National Convention is G.E. Smith, who was the guitarist for Hall & Oates. I’m not sure  if he makes my dreams come true, but I can hope that his private eyes aren’t watching me.

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8:43 pm

I’m watching the convention on C-SPAN so I can watch it without pundit analysis or commercials. C-SPAN is a national treasure.

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8:42 pm

John Thune delivered a competent (if unmemorable) speech, and is receiving only polite applause. This will be forgotten by morning, if not by the next commercial.

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8:39 pm

Many Americans vote for presidents for rather superficial reasons. “Looking the part” has a lot to do with it. And it’s undeniable that John Thune looks the part.

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8:38 pm

Whatever mold was used to make John Thune, I’d like to order three, please.

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8:37 pm

South Dakota Senator John Thune begins his speech with a basketball joke about President Obama always moving to his left. Let’s just say Thune won’t be invited headline at Yuk Yuk’s in Poughkeepsie any time soon. Humor is hard, Senator.

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8:36 pm

A reader named Matt writes:

“Susana Martinez is the big wildcard tonight in my opinion. She has quite an impressive story and record and if you can hit one out of the park tonight she will move onto the national level quickly and be a contender for the Republican nomination in 2016 or 2020.”

I’m looking forward to hearing her tonight. There’s no better platform for a politician to break out as a national figure.

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8:33 pm

The two attorneys general are doing a call and response, in which the audience shouts “no!” at all of their questions. But they couldn’t be more joyless – speakers need to elevate that material off the page to make it work – and they’re not.

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8:29 pm

Georgia’s Attorney General, Sam Olens, wins the prize of the night for most closely resembling Ben Stein. Bueller? Bueller?

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8:28 pm

And Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to Be An American” is played for the second straight night. If Mitt Romney wins, may I suggest he replaces “Hail to the Chief” with it?

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8:27 pm

Paul Ryan has been criticized for wearing ill-fitting suits. Want to be a few bucks that he has a beautifully tailored suit tonight?

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8:25 pm

Last night’s theme: “You Built That.” Tonight’s, says Rep. Rodgers, is “We Can Change That.”

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8:25 pm

Rep. Rodgers of Washington offers another mention of the people on the Gulf Coast affected by Isaac. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s terrific politics.

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8:22 pm

Both parties have a habit of abandoning their losing nominees. John McCain, Bob Dole. John Kerry, Al Gore, and Michael Dukakis won’t have prominent roles.

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8:20 pm

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below. I’ll use a few of your comments in the main thread.

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8:19 pm

The musical breaks during the Republican convention give all Americans an opportunity to see how badly the delegates keep rhythm.

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8:18 pm

Paul Ryan is scheduled to speak at 10:24pm – which, I suppose, means he’ll be speaking for about 30 minutes. I suspect they’ll want to leave a few minutes before 11:00pm for the networks to analyze the speech.

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8:16 pm

One other thing that impressed me last night, and again so far tonight: The convention has been well-produced. As a former radio disc jockey, I hate little more than dead air (and so do all producers). This has been competently produced with few technical hiccups.

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8:15 pm

So far, it’s a much different night tonight. It’s a much more substantive night, in which Republicans are laying out their foreign policy views. May it continue this way – it’s nice to have a debate about issues instead of red meat.

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8:13 pm

I’m hoping John McCain doesn’t refer to President Obama as “that one,” as he did during a 2008 debate.

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8:11 pm

John McCain giving a serious, substantive foreign policy speech that stands in marked contrast to yesterday’s “You Built It” theme.

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8:08 pm

Welcome to the live blog! John McCain is up, delivering a speech about the military. It’s hard not to watch the speech and feel a bit bad for him. What a difference four years makes! From nominee to a man giving a speech that no one watching network television will ever see.

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8:03 pm

The live blog is up. John McCain speaking first.

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11:24 pm

A few final thoughts about tonight:

First, the standout star of the evening was Mayor Mia Love of Saratoga Springs, Utah. Unfortunately for her, not too many people saw her, since only the speeches delivered by Ann Romney and Chris Christie aired on all of the major networks.

Ann Romney gave a solid if not particularly memorable speech. She began by saying “Tonight, I want to talk about love.” When he took the stage minutes later, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that we’ve become “paralyzed” by our need to be loved. That conflict in messaging seemed to diminish the impact of Ann Romney’s speech.

That conflict aside, Ms. Romney’s speech did a nice job of humanizing her husband, with whom she had a “real marriage” with unexpected struggles, not the “storybook” marriage some have portrayed.

Chris Christie’s keynote was delivered energetically, and I suspect it played well Republican voters and many Independents. But his tone approached outright anger a few too many times. Plus, his speech curiously didn’t acknowledge Mitt Romney until more than 15 minutes in, fueling speculation that it might have been a tryout for 2016.

The theme of the night “We built that,” was based on an intellectually dishonest spinning of comments made by President Obama. At least a dozen speakers – including Ms. Romney – used the line. Why do I call it dishonest? Because the numerous video montages all left out critical lines that may have helped place the comment into a broader perspective (those omitted lines are in bold):

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

I’ll similarly call Democrats out if they make an entire night’s theme out of  Mitt Romney’s “I like being able to fire people” line.

All in all, tonight was a reasonably good night for Republicans, but one that likely won’t move the polling numbers dramatically.

See you back here tomorrow (Wednesday) night at 9 pm eastern for the next live blog.

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11:05 pm

And by the way, the person giving the final benediction of the night just encouraged people to help with hurricane relief by texting 9-9-9. Somewhere, Herman Cain is smiling.

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11:04 pm

Folks, thank you for following the live blog tonight. I’ll post some final thoughts about tonight’s convention speeches within 30 minutes or so.

And remember: I’ll be back at 9pm tomorrow to live blog tomorrow night’s big speeches. Tomorrow’s speakers include Vice Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

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11:01 pm

Wow, the band 3 Doors Down gets a pretty good slot. I suppose other moderately talented early 2000s bands weren’t available. (And from a messaging point of view, who, exactly, did they think this band would appeal to?)

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10:59 pm

Chris Christie tells everyone in the audience to stand up. Fearing that he’ll verbally scold them if they don’t, the audience quickly complies.

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10:58 pm

A Twitter follower makes the point that Chris Christie is reversing Ann Romney’s “warm, happy vibes.” She’s right. The two speeches, back to back, were a strange contrast – and not particularly well-coordinated.

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10:53 pm

Again, Christie is getting a little too hot here. Ann Romney looks scared.

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10:53 pm

It took Chris Christie about 15 minutes to getting around to naming Mitt Romney. When he finally did, he did it with gusto. But oddly enough, while the crowd stood, Mitt Romney remained seated.

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10:47 pm

Chris Christie got a little close to looking too angry when delivering this line:  “Our ideas are right for America, and their ideas have failed America.” Dial tests in focus groups often show that anger plays badly, especially with women.

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10:44 pm

Several people on Twitter are pointing out a major messaging problem between Ann Romney and Chris Christie’s speeches. Ann Romney said “I’m going to talk about love.” Chris Christie said he prefers respect to love, and suggested we’ve become “paralyzed” by our desire to be loved.

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10:42 pm

One of the things Chris Christie does well as a speaker is that he matches the words to the tone. His words, voice, and body language are entirely congruent – which is one of the reasons he’s perceived as being so genuine.

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10:38 pm

Chris Christie’s abrasive brand of politics works well in New Jersey. But if he was on a national ticket, I can’t help thinking that it would play badly in other parts of the country.

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10:36 pm

Chris Christie appears genuinely choked up to be delivering the keynote. That authenticity is the single biggest part of his appeal.

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10:35 pm

A word on Chris Christie’s girth: It’s impossible not to notice. And if he was running for president, I believe it would be fair game to ask whether he would be healthy enough to serve a full term. But I’ve seen a lot of gratuitous coverage of his weight, and am offended by covers such as this week’s New York Post cover, which read, “Fat Chance.”

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10:32 pm

From my company’s senior media trainer, Christina Mozaffari:

“Ann Romney’s “storybook marriage” versus “real marriage” line was incredibly powerful. It told the audience that, despite the couple’s wealth, they have dealt with some of the same troubles and fears that everyday Americans deal with. She’s making an amazing connection with the audience.”

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10:30 pm

I commented on the wardrobe of two of the men who spoke earlier tonight; now it’s time to analyze Ms. Romney’s outfit. She’s wearing a plan red dress without much adornment. And interestingly, she’s not wearing a necklace (a la Barbara Bush’s pearls), and is wearing rather bland earrings. Her wardrobe is intended to communicate a message – and this one seems to be saying, “I’m not worth hundreds of millions of dollars. I’m just like you.”

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10:26 pm

Ann Romney is pleasing the crowd with the “you built it” riff, but I would have advised her to leave that to others. No need for red meat in a speech intended to capture women and independents.

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10:24 pm

Mitt Romney has too often lacked the down-to-Earth humanity that helps voters feel a warm connection to him. Ann Romney’s job in this speech is to try to make it easier for voters to relate to him on a personal level. And so far, she’s doing a nice job of  painting an alternate picture of who he is.

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10:18 pm

So far, Mitt Romney has had no better surrogate on the stage than his wife. She gets an “A” so far.

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10:16 pm

Ann Romney is doing exactly what I mentioned earlier. She’s using hushed tones to make her sensitive points, not getting louder. And as a result, the crowd is silent, completely drawn in to her words.

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10:13 pm

Ann Romney: “Tonight, I want to talk about love.” Now that’s different for a political convention. (On the other hand, remember that Al and Tipper Gore kiss?)

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10:12 pm

Ann Romney sets a lovely tone at the beginning by spending a moment talking about those people in the hurricane zone. A touch of grace.

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10:11 pm

Ann Romney hits the stage. Although she’s ostensibly there to share more about her husband, it’s her biggest opportunity thus far to introduce herself, as well.

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10:06 pm

Overall, Nikki Haley did a good job during her speech. She looked comfortable in her own skin, and out-performed many of her fellow governors tonight. No wonder they put her in prime time.

 

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10:04 pm

Nikki Haley is blasting President Obama, but is maintaining a slight smile on her face the entire time. If I was her speaking coach, I’d remind her that the tough content of her words has to be matched by her non-verbal delivery.

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10:01 pm

The crowd stands for the second time tonight. The first time was for Rick Santorum when he talked about his daughter and being pro-life, and the second time was when Nikki Haley brought up voter ID.

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9:58 pm

Nikki Haley tells the President that her immigrant parents built their business without the help of government. I wonder if the people who proceesed their paperwork and swore them in were government workers?

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9:57 pm

I believe that the main message Artur Davis has hoped to get across was that it’s okay for people who liked President Obama in 2008 to switch sides and vote for Mitt Romney in 2012. But the point didn’t come across as strongly as it should have.

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9:54 pm

In terms of delivery, Artur Davis is giving one of the best speeches of the night. But I suspect almost none of it will be remembered and will disappear into the ether by morning.

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9:52 pm

If you close your eyes, Artur Davis sounds almost exactly like Al Gore.

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9:49 pm

Party switcher Artur Davis, a former Democratic Congressman from Alabama, is now addressing the convention. Although the crowd is appreciative, I suspect it will take many more years of service to Republicans before they’ll trust him.

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9:46 pm

Ted Cruz becomes the first to use President Obama’s “yes we can” refrain as a taunt. Although his speech may have been the most bizarre of the night, I have to concede that the “yes we can” riff was effective.

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9:45 pm

A reader named Spencer writes:

“Yeah, the shaking hands with the American Dream was a bit over the top for Santorum but it was refreshing to see a good speaker. Also, I think you mean Mia Love, not Mia Long.”

You’re absolutely right. It’s Mia Love – Nia Long is an actress.

 

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9:43 pm

The problem with Ted Cruz’s speech isn’t that he left the lectern. In many settings, that’s the preferred way to speak – and I believe it could have worked here. But he is moving far too much, which works better in front of a small audience than on television.

 

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9:42 pm

There’s something about Ted Cruz’ delivery in middle of the stage that’s just a little bit too over-the-top and hyperbolic. In 1996, Elizabeth Dole famously left the stage (further, she went into the audience). The difference? She pulled it off.

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9:38 pm

Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz becomes the first speaker tonight to leave the lectern and just speak in front of the audience. Generally speaking that’s a good idea. But he’s pacing the stage like a televangelist. He would do far better by going into the middle of the stage,