Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ryan in the political spotlight with convention speech
By Tom Cohen, CNN
updated 9:13 PM EDT, Wed August 29, 2012

Tampa, Florida (CNN) -- In the biggest speech of his still young political career, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan will tell the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night that time is running out to solve the nation's fiscal problems, but Mitt Romney and he can do it if elected in November.

"We will not duck the tough issues -- we will lead," Ryan will say in his prime-time address that will be televised nationwide, according to excerpts released by the Romney campaign. "... 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."

Ryan's speech is part of a campaign effort to portray Romney, a multimillionaire businessman and former Massachusetts governor, as a champion of working-class Americans who struggle under the policies of President Barack Obama.

Romney chose Ryan, the conservative House Budget Committee chairman from Wisconsin, as his running mate in hopes that the fiscal expert known for big and hard-line ideas would galvanize support on the political right and appeal to moderates and independents seeking solutions for the nation's chronic deficit and debt problems.

Ryan's speech will focus on his personal background, the fiscal problems the nation faces and how he and Romney will tackle them, campaign officials told CNN on the condition of not being identified, adding that the convention theme for the day is "We Can Change It."

"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," Ryan will say, according to the excerpts. "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 runaround, America needs a turnaround, and the man for the job is Governor Mitt Romney."

A Republican source familiar with Ryan's speech told CNN it will "deconstruct" the Obama agenda, with particular focus on the fiscal issues that are the congressman's strength, such as the national debt, stimulus spending and his proposed Medicare reforms, which have come under attack by Obama and Democrats. According to the source, Ryan wants to be an attack dog in the speech.

Ryan will say that the 2010 health care reform law championed by Obama and passed by Democrats amounts to "more than two thousand pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country," according to the excerpts.

"The president has declared that the debate over government-controlled health care is over," Ryan will say. "That will come as news to the millions of Americans who will elect Mitt Romney so we can repeal Obamacare."

If elected, he and Romney will confront the tough issues "before the math and the momentum overwhelm us all," Ryan will say.

Five things we learned at the RNC

In other speeches Wednesday night, Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona offered biting criticism of Obama's presidency, saying the president was failing to adhere to American values.

Paul took aim at domestic policies that he blamed for the country's debt now equaling its economic production, calling Obama "uniquely unqualified to lead this great nation."

"The republic of Washington and Jefferson is now in danger of becoming the nation of debt and despair," said Paul, the son of vanquished Republican candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

McCain, the Republican presidential candidate defeated by Obama four years ago, took aim at what he called diminishing American power and influence around the world. He accused Obama of abandoning freedom movements in Iran and Syria by not supporting protesters trying to overthrow oppressive regimes, saying "our president is not being true to our values."

"We can choose to follow a declining path, toward a future that is dimmer and more dangerous than our past, or we can choose to reform our failing government, revitalize our ailing economy, and renew the foundations of our power and leadership in the world," said McCain, a consistent advocate for a stronger military. "That is what's at stake in this election."

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be one of the featured speakers later Wednesday.

Romney and Republicans contend that Obama's policies such as stimulus spending have worsened an already bad economic situation the president inherited from the previous GOP administration. They propose traditional conservative policies to shrink government, cut taxes and drastically reform entitlements, which they way will bring economic growth and job creation.

Obama and Democrats say such prescriptions are failed policies of the past, and call for increased revenue sources such as higher taxes for wealthy Americans to be part of a deficit reduction plan that includes continued with some spending cuts and entitlement reforms.

"On almost every issue he wants to go backwards, sometimes all the way to the last century," Obama said Wednesday at a campaign event in Virginia.

For Ryan, 42, the vice presidential nomination and convention speech mean an elevated national profile after never having a statewide race.

The convention is proceeding as Hurricane Isaac drenches the Gulf Coast after making landfall in Louisiana on Tuesday night, the eve of the seven-year anniversary of devastating Hurricane Katrina. Isaac prompted Republican organizers to postpone the first day of the convention, which is crucial for defining Romney to the American people.

Romney mentioned Isaac at a campaign event on Wednesday in Indiana, joking that he appreciated the chance to be there "on dry land."

"Our thoughts are, of course, with the people of the Gulf Coast states," he said, noting the Katrina anniversary. "We're grateful that it appears that Isaac will spare them from the kind of damage we saw during Katrina, but for many in the Gulf Coast who just finished repairing their homes and getting their lives back to normal, this must be a heavy burden. And so today our thoughts are with them, our prayers go out to them and our country must do all we can to help them recover."

GOP officials pushed ahead with a convention agenda designed to frame the election as a referendum on Obama's presidency while attempting to turn Romney's biggest political vulnerabilities into campaign advantages.

GOP convention: Live blog

Romney clinched the Republican nomination in the roll call of state delegates Tuesday after a rugged Republican primary campaign that saw momentum swings nearly every week and bitter attacks by GOP colleagues

The 2,200-plus convention delegates also approved a conservative platform that calls for less government, opposes same-sex marriage and endorses a "human life amendment" to ban abortion, with no specific exceptions for cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is threatened.

Romney and Ryan, who also was endorsed by delegates Tuesday, will be formally nominated on Thursday, and Romney's acceptance speech that night will conclude the convention with the highest-profile political moment in the former Massachusetts governor's career.

The convention seeks to portray Obama as a failed leader whose policies undermine the American dream, directly attacking the president on the issue of equal opportunity that traditionally favors Democrats.

Speaker after speaker has emphasized his or her own humble beginnings as descendants of immigrants who worked hard to achieve success for their families and never expected government help or handouts. Virtually every speaker took umbrage with Obama's comment on the campaign trail that "you didn't build that" in reference to successful businesses that received government help along the way.

On Tuesday night, Romney's wife Ann faced a similar entry as Ryan into the full-bore glare of presidential media coverage with her own prime-time speech that delivered a political broadside with a personal touch.

She mixed homespun anecdotes, such as repeated references to their first date, with references to issues considered weaknesses for her husband -- support from women and his personal wealth -- in encouraging Americans to get to know the warm and loving man she met at a high school dance.

"This was a political speech wrapped in velvet," CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger commented.

Mrs. Romney took on another tricky political issue for her husband Wednesday when she addressed a Latino coalition and challenged the traditional support by Hispanic-Americans for Democrats, including Obama.

"I feel like my importance in speaking out is making sure that those coalitions that would naturally be voting for another party wake up and say you better really look at the issues this time," she said. "You better really look at your future and say who is going to be the guy who is going to make it better for you and your children. And there is only one answer."

Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida called Wednesday for a more comprehensive and moderate immigration policy by Republicans in order to make inroads with the Latino community.

"The Republican Party has to become the pro-legal immigration party, not simply the anti-illegal immigration party, and that begins by recognizing that a million people a year immigrate to the United States legally, permanently. No other country even comes close," said Rubio, a Hispanic-American conservative who is a rising Republican star.

Noting that millions of illegal immigrants present what he called a humanitarian problem, he added: "We are not going to give amnesty to 12 million people, we are not going to round up and deport 12 million people. Somewhere between those two ideas there is a solution."

The GOP platform contains traditional conservative planks on immigration and other issues, including support for the "human life amendment" with no exceptions to an abortion ban. That runs counter to overall public opinion in America, especially among women.

Obama took aim at conservative GOP social policies Wednesday, saying voters can decide the direction of the country.

"In November you can say in this century women can be trusted to make their own health care choices," the president said to cheers. "You can say that in this century we don't think young immigrants who were brought here when they were children and understand themselves as Americans and have pledged allegiance to the flag should suddenly be deported to countries where they have never been."

The Obama campaign also has made an issue of Romney's personal wealth, challenging him to release more than the two years of tax returns he has made public -- as his father did in releasing 12 years of returns when running for president in 1968 -- and questioning whether his career as a venture capitalist benefited workers or prepared him to deal with a sluggish economy.

Democrats ask: What did Romney build?

In her speech Tuesday night, Ann Romney addressed the Democratic attacks head-on, noting her husband's success throughout his career and expressing amazement that such a record was being criticized.

"If the last four years had been more successful, do we really think there would be this attack on Mitt's success?" she said.

RNC images from CNN staff

For Romney, 65, the nomination puts him within one step of the goal he first sought in 2007 by running for president after serving as a Republican governor for four years in traditionally Democratic Massachusetts.

Though rivals challenged his conservative credentials in the 2012 primaries, Romney emerged victorious. But he continues to walk a political tightrope in trying to energize right-wing support while also appealing to moderates and independent voters.

The latest CNN/ORC International poll indicates a dead heat between Romney and Obama, with new numbers released Sunday showing that 53% of likely voters believe Obama is more in touch with their needs, compared with 39% for Romney.

Obama leads by an equal margin when it comes to being in touch with the middle class, and six in 10 say Obama is in touch with the problems facing women today, with just over three in 10 feeling the same way about Romney.

Romney leads 48% to 44% over Obama on managing the government effectively and has a 6-point advantage on having a clear plan for fixing the nation's problems. Both figures are within the survey's margin of error.

CNN Fact Check: Santorum misleads on 'dependence'

Republican National Convention 2012 - Tuesday as it happened

The Republican National Convention got under way with Mitt Romney confirmed as the GOP candidate and Ann Romney addressing delegates
ann mitt romney rnc
Mitt Romney joins his wife, Ann, after she addressed the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Tuesday. Photograph: Win Mcnamee/Getty Images
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So there we have it, it's all over at the RNC for tonight.
The highlight was undoubtedly Ann Romney's effective and humanising address, that may have done more for Mitt Romney's personal image than many millions of Super Pac spending.
Chris Christie gave it all a harder edge, although it really did seem to be more about Christie.
The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland, who's here on the floor at the RNC, has some thoughts:
Ann Romney certainly spoke well and persuasively - but I have a slight and sneaking feeling that she may not quite have done the job of humanising her husband that Richard refers to. First, she had the burden of performing two tasks in a single speech, rather than just one. Besides advocating for her husband, she also had to rebut the notion of the GOP as a party that has become anti-women: hence the awkward-ish declaration that "I love women!" That meant diluting the case she made for Mitt.
More important, though, was that what she did say about him tended to focus on the notion that he is competent and capable and would be a great CEO for USA Inc. That's all good for the campaign - but not exactly the humanising material that he needed. Beyond saying that her husband made her laugh and that he liked to give, even if he did not like talking about it, she did not add an awful lot more. And that was what she needed to do most.
That all makes sense. It also felt odd that after all that from Ann, Mitt just appeared and waved, when what we really wanted was for him to say something substantive.
It's worth noting that several words weren't mentioned even once tonight, that I noticed: George Bush, Osama bin Laden, Afghanistan, al-Qaida, Iraq. Unless I missed them all, which is always possible, but otherwise: not a whisper.
All right, there we go. And we can do it all again tomorrow.
Updated at 06:45 BST
And that's it - Chris Christie roams around the stage making a grabbing motion with his hands that appears to be farewell wave. Then he reluctantly departs the stage to howl at the moon and curse his bad luck at not being the Republican presidential nominee. And then have a pizza.
"Everyone stand up!" says Chris Christie. This must be what counts as his exercise routine. "Tonight we stand up for Mitt Romney as the next president of the United States!"
Chris Christie getting a bit shouty now. Not sure this makes great television, which tends to make shouty people look, well, shouty.
"Our problems are big and the solutions will not be painless. We all must share in the sacrifice. Any leader that tells us differently is simply not telling the truth," says Christie, who could find bits of that quote ending up in a Democratic party ad.
"Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear," says Christie, who then bangs on with some nonsense about healthcare that "puts a federal bureaucrat between an American and her doctor".
Aaaaand here we have the traditional "some sceptics will question if America can be great again" etc part of a Republican keynote address. But not Chris Christie! And not the unnamed guy he's supporting for the presidency! Mitt someone.
"They believe in teacher's unions. We believe in teachers," says Christie to a round of applause. Although it's not obvious that that statement isn't entirely meaningless.
Hmm, Christie just called himself a "conservative Republican governor".
Oh and finally Christie actually mentions Mitt Romney. That only took like three hours.
Christie is giving it the "telling it like it is" posture:
Let's be clear with the American people tonight. Here's what we believe as Republicans and what they believe as Democrats.
We believe in telling hard working families the truth about our country's fiscal realities. Telling them what they already know - the math of federal spending doesn't add up.
With $5 trillion in debt added over the last four years, we have no other option but to make the hard choices, cut federal spending and fundamentally reduce the size of government.
My Guardian colleague Ewen MacAskill wisely notes that the Republicans have got this the wrong way around. Bad cop Chris Christie should have gone first, to be followed by good cop Ann Romney. Finish on the feel-good high note.
But let's wait and see how Christie wraps it all up.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in full flow at the RNC in Tampa.New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in full flow at the RNC in Tampa. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Updated at 03:54 BST
After Ann Romney spoke with a smile about love just now, Chris Christie isn't having any of that. "Tonight, we choose respect over love," says Tough Christie.
With all the make up and the menacing tone, Chris Christie looks like an angry chocolate muffin.
Updated at 06:45 BST
Remarkably, Chris Christie - as is the case with every single Republican politician we've heard from tonight - had tough yet humble parents who brought them up proper.
Christie's wearing French cuffs. East Coast elitist.
Seriously, Christie's got a deeper tan tonight than his state's other well-tanned celebrity, Snooki. (Although obviously Christie skips the gym part of the Jersey Shore tan and laundry routine.)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie takes the stage at the RNC in Tampa.New Jersey Governor Chris Christie takes the stage at the RNC in Tampa. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Updated at 03:44 BST
And here's Chris Christie - and make no mistake, he's very, very popular indeed. Standing O from the get-go.
"This stage and this moment is very improbable for me," says Christie. "A New Jersey Republican!"
It looks like Christie had a terrible accident on the way to the convention centre when a truckload of caramel got dumped all over him, so deep is his pancake make-up.
"This is the man America needs," says Ann Romney. "This is the man who will wake up every day with the determination to solve the problems that others say can't be solved... This man will not fail. This man will not let down America."
"Look into your hearts," she continues. "You can trust Mitt. He loves America. He will takes us to a better place, as he took me home from dance."
Oh and look who it is? Mitt Romney! Squeal!
They politely kiss but not a full-on Al and Tipper Gore snog.
That was an awesome effort by Ann Romney - and it feels kind of a let down to be having to watch a bio-video touting Chris Christie. More Ann! Less Christie!
Suddenly it's like Chris Christie is running for president. Which he is, in 2016.
Updated at 06:52 BST
"This is important, I want you to hear what I've got to say," says Ann Romney. "Mitt doesn't like to talk about when he helps others, because he sees it as a privilege, not as a talking point." Very effective.
Updated at 06:47 BST
Ann Romney gets the biggest applause line of the night when she addresses voters wondering about who to vote for president: "No one will work harder, no one will care more, no one will move heaven and earth like Mitt Romney."
My money is on Mitt Romney making a "surprise appearance" any time now.
"I'm still in love with that high school boy," says Ann Romney after running through their respective biographies and early life together, who's doing a good job here. "A story book marriage? No, what Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage," which gets a big round of applause.
"It's the moms who have to work a little harder," says Ann Romney, who says that if you listen to America sighing at night, the women sigh a little longer. "I love you women!" shouts Ann.
"You are the best of America, you are the hope of America, there would not be an America without you," says Ann, after listing how women know the fastest route to the emergency room. "I'm not sure there's a man in America who realises this but women don't expect their life to be easy."
I don't know quite what to make of this proto-feminist speech but time will tell.
"This is going to be so exciting!" says Ann Romney as the long applause fades, before changing gear and mentioning that Hurricane Isaac has indeed made landfall.
"Tonight I want to talk to you from my heart about our hearts. I want to talk to you not about what divides us but what unites us as an American family.... I want to talk to you about love," says Ann Romney.
Technically she really wants to talk about empathy, but who can complain about love?
But then there's another swift gear change: "I've been all over this country - and I've met a lot of you guys!" Then, back to love.
Ann Romney wife of Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney speaks on stage during the RNC.Ann Romney wife of Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney speaks on stage during the RNC. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Updated at 03:22 BST
Now we've just gone past 10 o'clock - and all three major networks led with Hurricane Isaac rather than with the RNC, as you'd expect in the circumstances.
Meanwhile in Tampa, Luce' Vela Fortuño of Puerto Rico introducesAnn Romney, who will be on soon. "She's been Mitt Romney's secret weapon for 43 years," says Fortuño.
The crowd leaps to its feet. Will Mitt make a "surprise" appearance?
"South Carolina just passed one of the most innovative immigration laws in the country," says Nikki Haley. That's one way of putting it: innovation!
Haley gets a really big cheer for her rousing defence of South Carolina's voter identification laws.
Haley's doing really well with the crowd, she's building up nicely and hammering the government. "What did President Obama and the federal government do?" is her repeated question to a variety of scenarios.
This is easily the best speech of the night, and Haley's doing it with a smile. Nikki 2016, that's all I'm saying.
"I love South Carolina" are the first words out of the mouth of the next speaker, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, wearing what appears to be a suit woven out of pure gold.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley waves to the RNC crowd in Tampa.South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley waves to the RNC crowd in Tampa. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Updated at 03:06 BST
Artur Davis's role here is to represent the Obama voters of 2008 who have become disenchanted. "Let's put the poetry aside, let's suspend the hype, let's come down to earth and start creating jobs again," says Davis.
"Let's say: 2008, lesson learned. 2012, mistake corrected," says Davis in winding up, getting his biggest hand of the night.
Next up it's Artur Davis, the one-time Alabama congressman and gubernatorial candidate for the Democratic party. He's changed horses and joined the Republicans - and he gets a warm welcome here in Tampa.
Former US Representative Artur Davis at the RNC in Tampa.Former US Representative Artur Davis at the RNC in Tampa. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Updated at 02:55 BST
So Rick Santorum mentioned "hands" 31 times but "Mitt Romney" only three times. Not exactly a rousing endorsements, but we quibble.
The first reviews are in: 
"I shook the hand of the American dream, and it has a strong grip," saysRick Santorum, waxing lyrical. He means farmers and so on.
Lots of hands. Rick Santorum has shaken lots of hands. Hands hands hands. Maybe he should open a nail salon?
Updated at 06:50 BST
I'll tell you this Republicans: if the free market really worked as advertised then someone would be selling me a cold beer right about now. For $20.
"Mitt Romney believes that parents should be in charge of our schools, not the Department of Education," drones Rick Santorum.
I can faintly hear another protester shouting somewhere. Possibly a complaint about the awful hotdogs, who knows?
"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Rick Santorum." No, he doesn't beat Scott Walker on the clapometer.
"It is a great honour for me to be here tonight with the love of my wife Karen," says Rick. That's remarkably open-minded and liberal of you Rick.
Santo then repeats the "my grandfather's hands" tale that we came to know, love and eventually get really bored with in the GOP primaries.
"In 1923 there were no government benefits for immigrants," says Santo. "Except one! Freedom!"
Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum gives a thumbs up gesture as he addresses delegates of the  RNC.Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum gives a thumbs up gesture as he addresses delegates of the RNC. Photograph: ERIC THAYER/REUTERS
Updated at 02:38 BST
The latest small business person on stage now is complaining that he didn't get any business from the stimulus. In other words, if the government had bought he's stuff he'd be happy. Er, what happened to "I built that"?
Brian Sandoval: not one of the world's great orators. Unless all the delegates suddenly got a really fascinating text message at once.
Security eventually showed up and quietly removed the woman protesting above me here in the hall. It all seemed very civilised.
Updated at 02:15 BST
Another speaker, another new governor. This time it's Brian Sandoval. of Nevada.
Goodness, there's a protester right in the level above me. It's a woman holding a sign saying something like "It failed in Wisc[onsin] - austerity" and something else. I can't hear what's she's saying.
I hope she doesn't jump, she'll land on me.
No one seemed to notice so she's been there for a few minutes.
Updated at 02:14 BST
Scott Walker is sticking to message here and telling the scripted message about individual business success in the face of overwhelming Obama-odds. It's done with an aim but it doesn't get the delegates going. I overhear two delegates moaning that all the "I built that" stuff is boring.
Walker also complains about how unemployment is over 8% in Wisconsin, which is obviously the government's fault. Funny thing, those governors with lower unemployment boast that it's because they cut taxes and whatnot.
Now here we go: it's Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, the real rock star of the current GOP.
And the crowd goes wild. Really wild, and they are still cheering over Walker's first sentence.
If you wanted any evidence that this man is the heart of the GOP, here it is. He could have milked that applause, but he didn't.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks to the RNC in Tampa on Tuesday.Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks to the RNC in Tampa on Tuesday. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Updated at 02:10 BST
My colleague Ewen MacAskill is taking soundings from delegates on the floor.
Kevin Fulton, 41, from Houston, Texas, is one of the few black delegates at this convention. Wearing a white cowboy hat like the rest of the Texas delegation, he was keen to hear from Mia Love, the Congressional candidate.
“It is true there are not many blacks at the convention,” Fulton said. “We Republicans do not say African-American. We say black.” He added: “The Republicans need to do a better job of delivering their message to blacks and Hispanics.”
He is finding plenty of excitement in Tampa at the prospect of winning the election, though he admitted it would be close. “People are not excited by Romney but they are anti-Obama. I think we will see a high turn-out on the Republican side and low on the Democratic side.”
Apart from Love, he was looking forward to hearing Ann Romney and Christie. He wanted to hear from Ann Romney about their personal life. “What is missing from Romney is the personal side, what he is like behind closed doors. I like that his sons are speaking out.”
Charlotte Lane, 64, from West Virginia, is, like the other 30 delegates from the state, wearing a plastic coalminer’s hat. It is to highlight what she says is the damage Barack Obama is doing to the famous and controversial West Virginia coal industry.
For her, the highlight of the day will be Ann Romney and New Jersey governor Chris Christie. “Romney is not a warm, fuzzy person. Ann Romney is a lot more relaxed. I have MS like her and to live with that takes a lot of courage. I like how she says he was supportive. I would like to hear how she managed to raise five boys,” Lane said. 
As for Christie: “I would like him to really criticise the Obama administration. “
Updated at 01:57 BST
And now it's my old friend as of 30 minutes ago Bob McDonnell of Virginia - who was a serious candidate at one point to be Mitt Romney's VP.
Apparently, Bob McDonnell's father left Ireland 100 years because of the American dream, which is awesome. Also, maybe Ireland not so hot at the time.
Got to say, Bob's not exacting setting the crowd on fire here. Or even making them uncomfortably warm.
Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin is next up. It's the first time I've heard her speak, and she's pretty good as well. But it's another story of personal achievement.
"President Obama promised hope and change. And left too many Americans with no hope and little change in their pockets," says Fallin. We haven't heard that one for, oh, three days.
Hmm, we were supposed to have Rick Santorum by now.
Governor Kasich's speech seems to contain a lot of the same jokes he has been using recently, such as the "Joe Biden told me he was a good golfer" quip. It seems that his teleprompter went down mid-speech so he winged it, pretty successfully it seems.
Updated at 01:36 BST
Here's Ohio governor John Kasich, who is certainly trying to fire the crowd up with a far more energetic speech than anyone else so far.
"We killed the death tax," says Kasich, to cheers.
Meanwhile, out in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Isaac has made landfall in Louisiana.
A quick trip outside for fresh air - if a tent with fans blowing cool mist counts as fresh air - has me running into Virginia governor Bob McDonnell entering the convention hall, with a few people eager to shake his hands, and he seems happy.
That sort of sums up the mood here: a pleasantly good mood rather than a particularly fired up one. But that may change.
There are now even more "We built it" signs out in the crowd on the floor, proper printed ones now. Obviously the Republicans think this is some sort of killer line, although it's not obvious that it is.
The line-up of TV-friendly faces continues. "President Obama has never even run a lemonade stand," says New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte. Do we know that's true? Politifact? Anyone?
"We Built It" signs at the RNC in Tampa"We Built It". Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Updated at 02:14 BST
small business owner is now on stage, claiming something about "100 billion new paperwork burden hours". Who knows what that's all about.
Now it's "country music singer-songwriter Lane Turner" (no, me neither), singing his composition "I built it".
"I milked it with my own two rugged hands," is a sample lyric. Subtle as a brick through a window.
Updated at 01:33 BST
"Barack Obama is stifling the American dream because that is not his dream," says Ms Northern Exposure. Hmm, what ever can she mean? A number of dogs start barking.
Speaking of the "you didn't build that" bash-a-thon that the Republicans are on tonight: before the convention restarted, I noticed a few people walking through the crowd of delegates on the floor, offering hand-painted signs saying "we built that" and similar slogans.
"Democrats depend on dependence," says actress lady. Because theformer cast members of Northern Exposure are uniquely placed to judge such things.
Northern Exposure actress Janine Turner addresses delegates during the Republican National Convention in TampaNorthern Exposure actress Janine Turner addresses delegates during the Republican National Convention in Tampa Photograph: Charlie Neibergall/AP
Updated at 01:24 BST
Mia Love is a seriously good speaker: "Mr President, I'm here to tell you the American people are awake and we're not buying what you're selling us."
Oh, she just invoked Rosa Parks as an example of American individual triumph. Not by name, but still. "This is the America we know, because we built it," says Love, get in a mention of the "you didn't build that" remark they love to bash Obama with.
Also, a surname like that makes a fantastic bumper stickers: "Vote Love". Who wouldn't like that, eh?
Now there's that actress who was in that sitcom a while back.
Mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, Mia Love addresses the RNC delegates in TampaMayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, Mia Love addresses the RNC delegates in Tampa Photograph: Charlie Neibergall/AP
Updated at 01:28 BST
Next up is a bio-flick of Mia Love, the interestingly African-American Mormon woman running for Congress in Utah.
"If I could describe freedom in one word..." says Mia Love. Ah, wouldn't that one word be "freedom"? No, says Mia Love, " would be agency". Oh yeah, agency.
After John Boehner comes Reince Priebus, the Republican party chairman and human anagram. His address need not detain us long, except to paraphrase Joe Biden: a noun, a verb and Paul Ryan.
The lights dim. "And now, ladies and gentlemen, the 2008 winner ofAmerica's Got Talent...." Really. It's some guy who appears to be on the Chris Christie workout plan.
And there's our first chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" for the evening. Always a crowd pleaser.
Opera singer Neal E. Boyd performs during Tuesday's session of the RNC in TampaOpera singer Neal E. Boyd performs during Tuesday's session of the RNC in Tampa. Photograph: RICK WILKING/REUTERS
Updated at 01:57 BST
And we're back at the RNC, after Speaker of the House John Boehnerbrought the convention back to order following that brief recess, during which the miserable $5 hotdogs on sale was a clear sign of market failure.
Boehner tries to warm the crowd up by saying that at his family bar in Ohio, if someone came in and said that business was doing all right, "we'd throw him out".
Boehner repeats this theme a few times, in an attempt to get the crowd behind him and start a "we'd throw him out" chant. It doesn't take off, and one gets the impression that the Boehner family bar in Ohio must struggle if all they do is throw out customers who want government healthcare and so on.
This is Richard Adams live in the Tampa Times Forum conference hall.
Ann Romney wants to talk to us about love. And when she does, she'll be talking from her heart, to our hearts.
Politico has some extracts from the speech, in which Ann will talk about her relationship with Mitt and why he should be the next president.
…Tonight I want to talk to you from my heart about our hearts.
I want to talk not about what divides us, but what holds us together as an American family. I want to talk to you tonight about that one great thing that unites us, that one thing that brings us our greatest joy when times are good, and the deepest solace in our dark hours.
Tonight I want to talk to you about love.
My colleague Paul Harris has been down to a Citizens United screening of "The Hope, The Change", an hour long anti-Obama documentary.
"It is probably unwise to underestimate Citizens United," says Paul. "After all a legal spat over one of the conservative production company’s movies wound up in the Supreme Court and created the modern world of unlimited money in elections and SuperPACs."
At the Tampa screening just outside the convention centre Citizens United president David Bossie called the movie “a culmination of a year’s journey.” That year was spent finding 40 people (the majority of the Democrats) who had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and now regretted the decision. They all live in swing states like Ohio, Colorado and New Hampshire are not shy in either explaining their joy in 2008 and their deep current disillusionment with the man they voted for.
Of course, Citizens United is a partisan activist group. But it
employed Democrat pollster Pat Caddell as an aide to advise on the selection of its subjects. Caddell is a former consultant to President Jimmy Carter, but he is also a familiar face on Fox News and has long been a major critic of the Democratic party. However, he insisted the people appearing the film and vehemently denouncing Obama from the vantage points of former supporters were genuine and unprompted. “This is unscripted,” he said. “There are no Republicans in the film. There are no conservatives. There are no Tea Party people,” he added.
That may be true and the film is a slickly produced attack on Obama. It eventually portrays Obama as an elitist snob who spent wildly, failed to kickstart the economy and whose healthcare reforms divided a nation. By the end of it former supporters are calling his time in office “a charming story” and his slogan of Hope and Change as “God forsaken”. All vow never to vote for him again. It also contains powerful scenes where its subjects describe hard lives working multiple jobs and taking no vacations. Some start to weep. The movie then contrasts their concerns with scenes of Obama enjoying rounds of golf and holidays in Hawaii. Which is where the film starts to fall down.
Caddell insisted this demographic – of the struggling middle class person who once voted for Obama but is now thoroughly disillusioned – is “terrifying” to the Obama campaign. He is likely right. But at no stage in the movie does anyone mention the word “Republican” or “Mitt Romney”. After all Romney, with multiple holidays homes, offshore bank accounts and a car elevator in his house, is hardly an example of the modest, earnest middle class. There are indeed a lot of disappointed Democrats out there and “The Hope, The Change” has tapped into some of their frustrations. But the Republican party in general, and Mitt Romney in particular, is struggling to do the same.
Updated at 23:40 BST
Richard Adams here again: And with that Mitch McConnell gavels the convention into recess and closes down the party, which is quite easy given his hangdog demeanor and mortician's sense of levity.
We'll be back at 7pm or so for the evening's festivities.
"Mr Chairman, Paul Ryan believes in America," says someone else. And yay, Paul Ryan has been nominated as Mitt Romney's vice president, thus completing Ryan's long, hard struggle of about two weeks.
Hello again, it's Richard Adams, live from the RNC convention hall – thanks to a floor pass – I can report that the crowd went wild after all the states had finished voting.
Thank god Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell was on hand to come in and calm things down with the voting for the vice presidential nominee. Mitch McConnell could calm down a hyperactive three-year-old who had just drunk a whole can of Coke.
And Mitch has just handed the mic over to someone even duller, because this is the RNC, where some people even get turned on at the thought of Mitch McConnell.
Big cheers for Governor Scott Walker from Wisconsin. When the cheers die down Walker reminds us that the National Football League MVP, the Major League Baseball MVP AND Miss America are all from the state. Plus, Paul Ryan.
Wisconsin pledge all but one vote to Mitt Romney. The one rogue vote was cast for Ron Paul, I suspect by a young man wearing a foam 'cheese hat'. (I spotted him on the convention floor earlier this afternoon).
Updated at 23:39 BST
Texas are up, with 20 delegates for Ron Paul. They're outnumbered though, with 130 voting for Romney.
If you're playing an obscure-potential-nominees drinking game then this is a damaging round, however – Jon Huntsman, Buddy Roemer and Michelle Bachmann each getting a vote.
Updated at 23:39 BST
It's handy that Mitt won really. Would have been a bit awkward for Ann otherwise...
Mitt Romney is officially the nominee of the Republican party. He has just passed the 1,144 mark needed, New Jersey's 50 delegates taking him up to 1,150.
Ron Paul supporters continue to stick it to Mitt Romney. Particularly Iowan Ron Paul supporters. Iowa casts 22 delegates for Ron Paul, six for Mitt Romney.
It's not just Iowa though. Maine gave Romney 14 delegates, Paul 10. The former Massachusetts governor fares better in his (sort of) home state, however, picking up all 41 votes.
This is Adam Gabbatt taking over from Richard for a couple of hours.
Updated at 22:53 BST
Oh, naughty. A delegate nominated Ron Paul from the stage, which is against the rules since Ron Paul didn't get over the threshold for nomination. Tsk.
Can I be the first to inaccurately compare this to the shambolicDemocratic convention in 1972, which I certainly don't remember at all except by reading Hunter S Thompson's book?
The delegate count of states goes on – and those present will one day be able to tell their children, their children's children and their children's children's genetically-modified children, that they were present when the Republican party nominated whatshisname to do that thing that time.
There we are: John Sununu formally nominates Mitt Romney for GOP presidential nomination. Woo hoo.
And it's official: Mitt Romney is now in the process of becoming the Republican party's presidential nominee. In the midst of a minor rebellion by Ron Paul supporters:
Updated at 21:58 BST
It may not be obvious to those of you watching on C-Span, but there's a mild tumult on the floor of the RNC in the wake of the vote on the rules amendments not long ago.
On the one hand, Politico describes it thus:
It is less likely that there would be a floor flight over a rules change to the 2016 nominating process after a compromise passed Tuesday afternoon by the Republican National Convention’s rules committee.
Conservative ire has dampened after the rules committee voted, 78 to 14, to accept the full set of revised rules.
The NRO's Robert Costa saw the reaction:
It's not just the Ron Paul supporters either, if the response of the Texas delegation near the Guardian's RNC seats was anything to go by.
Rules committee chairman John Sununu – a big Romney supporter – felt moved to warn the protesters from the chair that a prolonged rules fight could upend the RNC's schedule:
Part of what we have to do is fit a convention into a restrained time period imposed upon us by weather. You may think it’s cute if that happens, but I think it is an absolute act of irresponsibility.
Now the Republican National Convention is morphing into a 1980s British Labour party conference, it appears.
The latest chapter in the unfurling omnishambles rules dispute at the RNC in Tampa comes via the Guardian's Ewen MacAskill:
Ron Paul supporters are planning to disrupt the convention ahead of the roll-call this evening that will formally nominate Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential candidate.
The Paul supporters are angry over changes to the party rules that have stripped some delegates of their voting rights.
David Boyer, a Paul supporter from Falmouth, Maine, said of the 24 delegates from Maine, 20 are Paul supporters. The party, as part of backroom negotiations, has cut the 20 Paul supporters down to 10.
“They do not want a convention. They want a coronation,” Boyer said. He added that he is not disputing that Romney is the party's nominee but that he is concerned only about protecting grassroots power.
Boyer said that he will mount a challenge ahead of the roll-call this afternoon by asking to take the microphone. If he fails and is denied a chance to have his say, he will be followed by other delegates, all other nine remaining Paul supporters, each going up in turn. He said other delegations, including Texas and Massachusetts, are sympathetic and will also support them.
Among the delegates stripped of their voting rights is Cody Morgan, a member of the Maine delegation, a Paul supporter and, at 19 years old, one of the youngest of the RNC delegates.
Both Boyer and Morgan said the last-minute decision by a committee made up of nine members of the Republican establishment is unfair. The delegates had paid for air fares and hotels only to find they would not be able to vote, relegated to the status of guests, they said.
Updated at 21:22 BST
The arcane procedural rules battle that erupted last night refuses to die down and is now threatening to become Actually Interesting and Newsworthy - always a bad sign.
With Sarah Palin and the Tea Party super pac Freedom Works getting involved, the Guardian's Paul Harris explains the background:
One Ron Paul supporter, Bobby Regi from Denver, was patiently waiting in line to get inside the convention holding a “Ron Paul for President” sign and even clung to the far-fetched hope Paul might still be nominated in Tampa. “I think Ron Paul could still be president,” Regi explained.
That might explain the recent bid by Republican National Committee officials and other party leaders to change the rules for the 2016 race. New regulations had been drawn up that would have allowed a nominee to veto delegates sent to the convention. The move was seen as a power grab by the national party against state party officials and would have made insurgent campaigns like Paul far less likely in practise. However, the Houston Chronicle reported that the new rules had been changed in the face of the opposition, especially from the large and powerful Texan delegation. The compromise deal now allows delegates to selected by local state rules and organisations but voids them if they vote for someone other than the nominee.
But other activists have warned they are still not satisfied. The conservative grassroots FreedomWorks group had emailed its supporters on Tuesday to urge them to still call delegates on the RNC Rules Committee and tell them to "stop the RNC powergrab". The dispute also even brought in Tea Party favourite Sarah Palin who on Monday night had posted about the issue on her Facebook page and called the changes a "direct attack" on ordinary Republican conservatives by elite party officials.
We'll have more on this as it develops – and like Hurricane Isaac, it's gathering force.
One person who won't be the RNC mystery speaker is noted internet trollDonald Trump, who gives us a glimpse of his charm via a Twitter attack on Arianna Huffington:
For those who remember the "puke sticks" used in the Tom Cruisescience fiction movie Minority Report, Donald Trump is the human version: he just makes you vomit at a single touch.
Updated at 21:02 BST
Here at the RNC convention centre, there's some speculation who will be the "mystery speaker" said to be appearing at the podium tonight. Most obvious guess: Mitt Romney himself, who is now in Tampa at the nearby Marriott.
Doubtless he'll appear while Ann Romney is speaking. This is pretty much exactly what Barack Obama did in 2008.
More on RNC ambience from Paul Harris of the Guardian, who obviously drew the short straw for something this morning:
The heat and humidity of Tampa clearly brought out the worst in a few crazies. One street preacher, flanked by a half dozen supporters, spoke in front of a banner warning "homosex" (sic) was a national security threat. His view that God wants women back in the kitchen and Mormons will go to Hell were so extreme an audience of 30 or so Republicans laughed. Probably the most healthy reaction.
Just two blocks away the homophobic bigots of The Westboro Baptist Church stood in front of a bunch of gun toting soldiers waving placards saying God hates the US army. One can only imagine the thoughts of those well-armed men as the Westboro folks sang: "God hates the world."
We've been having a few technical issues today but here's the latest on the revised RNC schedule for today from the Onion.
And now: the Guardian's Paul Harris has an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with New Jersey governor Chris Christie, tonight's keynote speaker at the RNC:
New Jersey governor Chris Christie caused a stir when he walked through the lobby of the Tampa Sheraton where the Massachusetts delegation from Romney's home state is staying. He was instantly mobbed by delegates and officials and he posed with them for a half dozen photographs. The usually chatty governor - who many conservatives dreamed would run himself in 2012 - was not so keen on talking to the press. "I'm not doing any comments today. I'm sorry," he told The Guardian. Was he looking forward to his speech - one of the most eagerly awaited of the convention? "Yes," was all he would say.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who will give the keynote address, and his wife Mary Pat Christie stand on stage for a soundcheck during the Republican National Convention in Tampa.New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who will give the keynote address, and his wife Mary Pat Christie stand on stage for a soundcheck. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Updated at 21:40 BST
Slightly unrelated news reported yesterday by the AP, detailing a court case involving a band of former soldiers, a double murder and $87,000 worth of weapons:
The prosecutor said the militia group had big plans. It plotted to take over Fort Stewart by seizing its ammunition control point and talked of bombing the Forsyth Park fountain in nearby Savannah, she said. In Washington state, she added, the group plotted to bomb a dam and poison the state's apple crop. Ultimately, prosecutors said, the militia's goal was to overthrow the government and assassinate the president.
Not all is peace and unity inside the Republican party. Overnight, it seems a grassroots rebellion – involving an unholy coalition between the forces of Ron Paul and the Texas GOP – has overturned the cunning rule changes that the Romney campaign and Republican national leadership were trying to pass:
Under a compromise reached late Monday, Romney supporters and GOP leaders agreed to back down from a proposed rule change that effectively would have allowed presidential nominees to choose what delegates represent them at national conventions.
The proposed change was aimed at muting the power of insurgent candidates such as Ron Paul but prompted an uproar from Texas Republicans, who select their delegates through successive votes in conventions at precincts, then districts and finally statewide.
It's the arcane rule revisions that make political conventions the pinnacle of human nature that they have become.
Regarding the "Resolution of Appreciation and Tribute to Deceased Party Leaders," as Dorothy Parker would say: how can they tell?
We're live from the Republican National Convention in Tampa – on the historic day when Willard Mitt Romney will be officially selected as the Republican party's candidate to lose the 2012 US presidential election.
Yes it's come to this: lamestream media gags in the opening paragraph. Welcome to live-blogging the awesome bit of the RNC this afternoon as we await such schedule highlights as:
• Resolution of Appreciation and Tribute to Deceased Party Leaders
• Report of the Committee on Permanent Organization
• Report of the Committee on Resolutions
and of course, the ever-popular
• Official Convention Photograph
The actual highlight will be the roll-call of states for nomination of president and vice president of the United States, whereupon just as things get interesting the convention will promptly go into recess for naps and the early diner special at Bob Evans, before returning at 7pm and the sexy part of the evening: keynote remarks by GOP rockstars such as Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, Ann Romney and finally sometime after 10pm, Chris Christie. Plus a veritable “who's that?” of Republican party leaders such as … Man With the Hair from Virginia, Lady Woman Governor from South Carolina and Tea Party Latino Dude of Texas.
That is, assuming the whole thing isn't cancelled because Isaac is about to flatten everything between New Orleans and Tallahassee or Donald Trump keeps making “hilarious” tweets.
Regardless, the Guardian's team here in Tampa will keep the news-hose aimed squarely at the bonfire of the GOP vanities, which these days mainly involves recording the latest Republican to use an inappropriate rape/abortion metaphor.