The speech that many pundits wondered if it would redefine the campaign capped off the Republican Convention in Tampa on Thursday night. I honestly do not know if it redefined the campaign, but it certainly kicked off the next big stretch and part of the presidential run that should decide the race.
Mitt Romney hoped to use the GOP convention, and more accurately his speech, to motivate his party and to reach and connect with undecided voters.
My first impression of the speech is that he indeed was able connect to voters, but not necessarily in a way that was extremely motivating. One convention speech shouldn’t be forced to be everything to everybody, but it should be informative and inspiring. Romney’s speech was informative, and had some great points, but it wasn’t inspiring.
The feeling I left with was the same when I meet a really nice guy at a party who is nice to talk to and very polite, but in the end, not very memorable. He wasn’t the life of the party, or a person who simply owned the room. But he made good points in a very business-like fashion.
If some undecided voters out there are looking for inspiration, then Romney did not win them over. However, in this season of harsh political ads, if some undecided voters were looking for a reasoned conversation with someone who probably does well in a job interview, then they probably liked what they saw.
I am sure his campaign would have liked more, but Romney did score some points on some strong lines in the speech. The most memorable one for me was regarding how voters felt when they elected Barack Obama as President in 2008.
“But tonight, I’d ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama?” Romney asked. “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.”
It wouldn’t surprise me if the Romney campaign begins to hammer that point harder in the next few weeks. It’s a line that should appeal to independent voters who were swept away by the excitement of the 2008 campaign, but have since felt unfulfilled. It’s also a line from someone who again, is being a nice guy about a tough situation. For voters tired of the demonizing in the campaign, it’s should be a persuasive point.
Finally, the speech seemed to show me a clear difference within the baby boomer generation. Mitt Romney speaks for the part of the baby boomers that look back with great fondness with the way things were when they were growing up. That’s a powerful emotion among baby boomers, especially as the generation enters retirement.
Barack Obama is on the other end of the spectrum of the baby boomer generation, and on the side that embraces much of the change from the way things were when they grew up. Essentially, it’s the ‘50’s versus the ‘60’s, not just in ages, but in eras. Pundits can say all they want about voting blocks, but the biggest voting block out there is the biggest generation out there, the baby boomers. Where they stand on how they grew up and where they want to see the country go will go a long way in determining who wins this election.
A speech is simply a speech and cannot, by itself, change the entire face of a presidential campaign. However, conventions wouldn’t exist if they didn’t affect opinions or news cycles. With the convention starting with a hurricane warning, it could have gone much worse for Mitt Romney.
The real advantage for Romney will come down to if people remember the nice man they met at the big GOP party or if they enjoyed a nice conversation, but simply can’t remember his name.
We’ll know in about 66 days.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.