We can get this country working again. We can get this economy growing again. We can make the safety net safe again. We can do this.
Whatever your political party, let's come together for the sake of our country. Join Mitt Romney and me. Let's give this effort everything we have. Let's see this through all the way. Let's get this done.
Really? That's the big finish? "Let's give this effort everything we have."
Obviously there's huge applause and a standing ovation, but the atmosphere only last a few minutes, and the crowd files out quietly.
Quick response? Kind of boring, neither one thing nor the other. I think it relied on the listener understanding Ryan's references, and it may not have made not have sense to the uninitiated.
Right, that's it. Tomorrow night's the big night, Mitt Romney. Good evening from Tampa.
Paul Ryan waves with his family after his speech. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Oops, let's not forget Paul Ryan's hilarious music-based joke here:
We're a full generation apart, Governor Romney and I. And, in some ways, we're a little different. There are the songs on his iPod, which I've heard on the campaign bus and on many hotel elevators. He actually urged me to play some of these songs at campaign rallies. I said, I hope it's not a deal-breaker Mitt, but my playlist starts with AC/DC, and ends with Zeppelin.
Ooh get you Paul Ryan.
Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin on stage in 1976. Paul's fave. Photograph: Rex
This is another keynote speech that doesn't actually mention the GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, all that much.
Could it be that the Romney campaign's focus grouping and polling has suggested that Romney's unfavourable personal ratings mean that it's best not to mention him? That would explain it, given that the Romney people vet and - in this case - write all of these speeches.
A little thought from Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland on the tone of tonight's speeches:
Given that Obama remains personally well-liked -- his personal ratings substantially ahead of Romney's -- I wonder if Americans watching this constant assault on the president might eventually find it grating. Pawlenty's quip about the presidency being Obama's first job is an example: it's little more than an insult and plenty of independents and others won't like it.
As Paul Ryan starts speaking, I can't help thinking back to the same night (a week or so), when Sarah Palin took the stage in St Paul. That was electric. People say that Ryan has got the party excited but the atmosphere is not a patch on 2008.
Still, look what happened to the Republicans that year.
Susana Martinez is the first female Hispanic governor in US history, and she begins by telling the crowd: En America, todo is posible.
Predictably, Martinez tells the story of her hardscrabble upbringing, parents and so on. But two interesting things then happen: one is how Martinez brings the crowd to its feet with how she had to work for her parent's security firm while carrying a .357 Magnum that weighed as much as she did.
Then she relates how she got into politics and how she converted to the Republican party, after lunch with a couple of Republicans with her husband, Chuck:
When we got back in the car, I looked back over at Chuck and said, I'll be damned, we're Republicans.
She's good, very good. I hate to compare a woman politician to Margaret Thatcher because it sounds glib, but Martinez has a Thatcher-like delivery and edge.
Martinez/Haley 2016 - now there's a ticket Republicans.
This is certainly the best speech of the night - and never mind that this sets a very low bar - by Rice, who ends with a ringing peroration, delving into her background growing up in segregated Alabama and rising to be secretary of state.
She's speaking far more confidently now. No texting on the floor now.
Condoleezza Rice is normally a fluent speaker but sounds nervous hear tonight, possibly because she's uncomfortable reading off of an autocue.
"We are abandoning the field of free and fair trade, and it will come back to haunt us," she warns while giving a speech for a candidate who wants to label China a currency manipulator and start a trade war on day one of his presidency.
As the Paulites filed out of the convention hall, Romney delegates watched them go, displaying more relief than angst. "Go home!" one man called, while another chuckled, "Looks like we'll have more elbow room on the floor now!"
My colleague Paul Harrishas written about the noisy dissent staged by Ron Paul supporters and Maine delegates for the second day running over the failure of a 'delegate strategy' to nominate the Texas congressman:
As the convention prepared to listen to Romney's running mate Paul Ryan speak, a group of Maine delegates walked out of the convention hall in protest at their treatment. Shouting "Ron Paul! Ron Paul!" they marched through the convention hall, engaging in fierce arguments with Romney supporters.
Video of the moment quickly circulated on Twitter and showed Paul backers and Romney fans trying to drown each other out with chants. Some Paul fans shouted "This convention is a farce" and "Shame on them." Others sang: "As Maine goes, so goes the nation."
Though the fight over Paul's supporters is a sideshow that has little real impact on the Romney team, it is no doubt an unwelcome distraction as the campaign seeks to present a united party to the nation and paint Romney as a sympathetic, warm president-in-waiting.
My Guardian colleague Ewen MacAskill is down on the floor at the RNC in Tampa - and he's deeply unimpressed with tonight's festivities:
It is one of the most lifeless conventions/conferences I have ever attended. Speaker after speaker at the Republican convention is coming over as flat: not just uninspiring but outright boring. Maybe, Romney has stamped his personality on the convention. The explanation may partly be lack of reaction from the stadium. There are about 1,000 Republicans crammed into the floor space in front of the platform and thousands more filling the seats round about. But there is no energy, no feedback. They are milling about, chatting to one another, generally ignoring the speakers. There is little of the raucous scenes that US conventions are normally associated with, the wild, placard-waving hordes. Maybe they are saving themselves for Paul Ryan or even Romney tomorrow.
Our intrepid Adam Gabbatt has run into a familiar face: Georgia delegate Ginger Howard, who told him last time they met that Rick Perry would be the Republican nominee. Here's what she had to say for herself:
And now, give it up for Luis Fortuño, governor of Puerto Rico! A few people do.
There's a suggestion that tonight's RNC programme feels thin because Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal - who was scheduled to speak here tonight - opted to stay home in his state because of Hurricane Isaac. That seems sensible.
Meanwhile... our colorful colleague Adam Gabbatt has some more color from the floor of the RNC:
Mooching around the floor of the forum there's a lot of excitement about Paul Ryan's speech at the end of the night. One of the more excited isSarah Courtney from Wisconsin, who at 20 years old is a "huge fan" of her state-mate, so much so that she has invested in a Paul Ryan mask.
I wonder if there is something up with the schedule here tonight. First, the Bush video tribute was pushed forward an hour and a half. Then there was a really long musical interlude. And then a Red Cross appeal for Hurricane Isaac victims.
Now a "reporter" is doing a live interview from the floor of the convention with an immigrant from India. Filler? Making room for a mystery guest later?
Strange, and it's not exactly keeping the delegates in a frenzy. Unless you count a frenzy of texting and hotdog eating.
Now here's Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, the woman tipped as the next Sarah Palin.
She and another guy are banging on about the horrors of Obamacare, and even that fails to really stir the crowd, many of whom are taking the opportunity to sit outside on the terrace eating hotdogs.
Anyway, after some shrill attacks, Bondi manages to swallow her big crescendo, so that her ringing call for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to be elected gets completely lost on the crowd, and ends in just a smattering of applause and an air of puzzlement.
Florida attorney general Pam Bondi and a thrilled Georgia attorney general Sam Olens. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
My colleague Ewen MacAskill has been talking to delegates on the convention floor again to take the temperature of the room.
Toni Anne Dashiell, 58, a delegate from the Texas Hill Country, where LBJ was brought up, was wowed by Ann Romney on Tuesday night.
"I thought she really talked to women. She is a woman who has lived it all and I am pleased she will be the next First Lady." Dashiell, who co-wrote 'Reading for Freedom: Leadership Skills for Republicans', a practical guide and motivational tome published this summer, was watching senator Rand Paul, given a speaking slot at the convention, a pay-off for his father Ron's stubborn challenge for the nomination earlier this year.
Rand Paul is heir-apparent, ready to take over leadership of the libertarian wing of the Republican party from his father. Dashiell said she supported Rand Paul on many issues.
"We believe in many things. I do not agree with him on everything. I don't agree with my husband on everything. I agree with Rand Paul on about 80% to 90% of things. I disagree with him on foreign policy."
She expressed confidence that Mitt Romney would deliver a strong speech tomorrow night. "He is not an orator like Obama but I believe in what he says and that is more important than being the best speaker."
John McCain is getting a pretty tepid response here, with just loud cheers from the Arizona and not much from anyone else. Perfunctory stuff, possibly because few of the delegates have much regard for John McCain, who hasn't yet entered the harmless-cuddly-elder-statesman phase.
Mind you, with speech writing such as "Always, we have led from the front, never from behind" and "America must be on the right side of history," perhaps it's no wonder.
"People [around the world] don't want less of America, they want more," says John McCain, God alone knows what that means.
A change to the schedule now: there's a video tribute to "41 and 43" - meaning presidents George HW and George W Bush. This was meant to be in primetime after 9pm, but it seems to have, ahem, got pushed back somewhat.
Well this makes a change from last night when not a single one of the 158 speakers remembered that George Bush had been president.
Which reminds me, time for a drinking game, yes?
"There's no doubt in our mind that Mitt Romney would be a great president," says George W Bush. But can we think of other things when there has been "no doubt" in George W Bush's mind? WMDs anyone? At least this time, Mitt Romney exists.
Good evening, and we are live on the floor of the Tampa Times Forum, centre of the Republican universe and the Republican National Convention.
And right off the bat, here's Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.
And Senator Paul is riffing on Obamacare, calling it a "travesty of justice". After he heard the Supreme Court ruling on the healthcare reforms, "I still thought it was unconstitutional," says Paul. And you'd be wrong, Rand Paul, since the Supreme Court decides such matters. Bummer, eh?
The crowd loved that - but it doesn't take long and we're back on the "You didn't build that" nonsense of last night. A second night predicated on a falsely edited soundbite? Yes, it seems so.
And guess what? Rand Paul's grandfather arrived in America with no money and so on and so on.
Senator Rand Paul speaks during the third day of the Republican national convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Wednesday. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Barack Obama's "Ask Me Anything" Q&A on Reddit today contained at least one bombshell from the handful of questions he answered: floating the possibility of a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United court ruling that has allowed the rise of the super pac and unlimited funds for political advertising.
Here's Obama's answer on Reddit:
Question: What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term?
Obama: Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-pacs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress - to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who. We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists. Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.
The key phrase there is: "I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it)." Since that would be an amendment to the First Amendment, one of the most cherished parts of the Bill of Rights, the chances of that happening are somewhere between zero and nil.
In fact just mentioning it will probably get a few people riled up.
It might seem puzzling but the Democratic party is unleashing a barrage of anti-Romney/Ryan advertising in Tampa, currently home to more die-hard Republicans than the NRA. Politico reports:
The offensive includes a full-page ad Wednesday in the Tampa Tribune and billboards on the interstate heading into Tampa and across from the Forum where delegates are convening. The topper is an airplane, due to circle the city beginning at noon, dragging a banner that reads, "Romney-Ryan: Wrong for the Middle Class."
Waste of money, hmm? Not when you remember that Hillsborough county, where Tampa sits, is the swing-ing-ist county in the swing-ing-ist state in the country. Whoever wins Tampa and its suburbs wins Florida, and whoever wins Florida wins the presidency (maybe!). Hence the Democrats are really aiming at local voters to ensure that the GOP ticket doesn't get a week's free-ride while the RNC is on.
The Guardian's Paul Harris went along to a fringe event in Tampa - fringe in the sense of the Edinburgh Festival, not politically - this morning featuring two presidential offspring: Chelsea Clinton and George P Bush, son of Jeb Bush and so grandson of George HW.
Sadly the pair weren't debating each other, just tangentially appearing at the same time in a forum on young people and politics that naturally attracted about a zillion journalists:
Chelsea Clinton, in her latest guise as a television journalist, instead was a moderator asking trademark softball questions to guests like “Do you think there is a role for technology here?” and “Why are young people not registering (to vote) in greater numbers?”.
Meanwhile George P. Bush expressed his love for Texas high school football, his fondness for the odd session of computer gaming and the fact he was not in favour of mandatory national service for young people (not much surprise there).
The pair only briefly shared the same stage and had no interaction except when Chelsea heaped praise on Bush’s answers in a previous session saying he had had dealt with them “so eloquently”. It looks like the Bush v Clinton feud is on hold among the young folks.
Here's the extracts from Paul Ryan's speech this evening that the RNC has just released:
I accept the calling of my generation to give our children the America that was given to us, with opportunity for the young and security for the old – and I know that we are ready. Our nominee is sure ready. His whole life has prepared him for this moment – to meet serious challenges in a serious way, without excuses and idle words. After four years of getting the run-around, America needs a turnaround, and the man for the job is Governor Mitt Romney.
Obamacare comes to more than two thousand pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country. The president has declared that the debate over government-controlled health care is over. That will come as news to the millions of Americans who will elect Mitt Romney so we can repeal Obamacare.
We have a plan for a stronger middle class, with the goal of generating 12 million new jobs over the next four years.
My Dad used to say to me: ‘Son. You have a choice: You can be part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution.’ The present administration has made its choices. And Mitt Romney and I have made ours: Before the math and the momentum overwhelm us all, we are going to solve this nation’s economic problems. And I’m going to level with you: We don’t have that much time. But if we are serious, and smart, and we lead, we can do this.
The right that makes all the difference now is the right to choose our own leaders. You are entitled to the clearest possible choice because the time for choosing is drawing near. So here is our pledge. We will not duck the tough issues – we will lead. We will not spend four years blaming others – we will take responsibility. We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles. The work ahead will be hard. These times demand the best of us – all of us, but we can do this. Together, we can do this.
I’m sorry Fox cancelled all my scheduled interviews tonight because I sure wanted to take the opportunity on the air to highlight Senator John McCain’s positive contributions to America, to honor him, and to reflect on what a biased media unfairly put him through four years ago tonight. Granted, our honored and esteemed war hero has gone through much more than the liberal media can ever do to him in their efforts to harm this patriot. I look forward to hearing his words to his fellow Americans tonight more than any of the other convention speeches. God bless John McCain. Thank you for everything. And happy birthday, my friend.
Now, what's that all about? Did the Romney campaign "suggest" to Fox News that Palin wasn't the acceptable face of the Republican party it wanted on screen during peak viewing hours? Tonight being the night that Paul Ryan makes his big debut as VP, as Palin did four years ago. That's my entirely unsourced conspiracy theory and I'm sticking to it.
Latinos and Hispanics are the other bloc of potential voters that the Republican party is finding hard to win over. As the RNC features a line-up of Latino Republicans, my colleague Gary Youngepoints out this snippet:
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a leading Latino Democrat, was scathing in his criticism of the GOP’s outreach efforts. “You can’t just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname and expect people are going to vote for your party or your candidate,” Villaraigosa told reporters Tuesday. “Window dressing doesn’t do much for a candidate. It’s your policies, your platform. This is a party with a platform that calls for the self-deportation of 11 million people.”
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval speaks during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Rubio said he agreed with Villaraigosa but added that the issue was not solely a Republican one. "I think what he's saying, quite frankly, is true for both parties," Rubio said. "Policies matter and, look, the Republican Part does have a challenge. We can't just be the anti-illegal immigration party, we have to be the pro-legal immigration party."
Many black Republican activists, however, insist that the dream of winning over large numbers of black voters is not a forlorn one. They point out that the social conservatism of many leading black churches on key issues like abortion and gay marriage should be incompatible with the liberal stances of the Democratic party. "They [the Republican party] may not see the opportunity, but there is an opening there," said the reverend CL Bryant, a conservative pastor.
The big story of the day so far - it's early days - is that Mitt Romney hates America. How can we tell? Not only does he send lots of his own money to rest in a Caymans Island bank account, he also holds parties on a yacht registered in the Cayman Islands.
It's not Romney's own yacht - which would make this more exciting - but it's the plaything of a friendly wealthy donor and fundraiser who happened to be visiting Tampa. How convenient. Here's ABC News, which broke what no-one is dubbing "yacht-flag-gate":
Governor Mitt Romney's campaign toasted its top donors Wednesday aboard a 150-foot yacht flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.
The floating party, hosted by a Florida developer on his yacht Cracker Bay, was one of a dozen exclusive events meant to nurture those who have raised more than $1 million for Romney's bid.
"I think it's ironic they do this aboard a yacht that doesn't even pay its taxes," said a woman who lives aboard a much smaller boat moored at the St Petersburg Municipal Marina.
Oh no! A "much smaller boat"? Also, that's not really irony, except in anAlanis Morissette sense.
"Hi, I’m Barack Obama, President of the United States," is the disarming start of Barack Obama's AMA - aka Ask Me Anything - on Reddit. "Ask me anything. I’ll be taking your questions for half an hour starting at about 4:30 ET."
Photographic evidence of President Barack Obama doing a Reddit AMA
It's the difficult second day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. After the excitement - if that is the right word (it isn't) - of Ann Romney last night, tonight sees the GOP vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan take the stage here.
For the Wisconsin congressman it will be his first, crucial introduction to a national audience at around 10pm ET (3am BST), one that could make or break (cf: Palin, Sarah) Mitt Romney's fortunes in November.
We'll have all the reaction to last night's speeches, a look forward at tonight's speakers from the Guardian's crack team, and coverage ofPresident Obama's AMA [Ask Me Anything] taking place shortly on the social news site Reddit.
We'll be live-blogging the night all the way through to the final gavel at the Tampa Times Forum tonight, so stick around. Also, jokes.