The Republican National Convention has been delayed by a day due to Tropical Storm Isaac; but, once it gets under way, there will be a lot at stake.
Republican delegates, elected officials and volunteers from across the country will spend the next few days collaborating in Tampa, whipping up support for GOP candidates across the country.
The primary goal of the televised portion of this convention is to tell the story of Mitt Romney's life in a positive, uplifting way. By the time Romney gives his acceptance speech on Thursday evening, viewers should have already been told the story of a man who went from a practical joker in Michigan to a Mormon missionary in France to a Harvard graduate in Massachusetts to a successful businessman in Boston to the governor of that state and on to chair the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee in Utah.
We will hear about Romney's personal life as a husband, a father and a religious leader.
We will learn about the painful years after his wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
There will be no shortage of biographical storytelling for Vice Presidential candidate and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan either.
Aside from the nominees, the prime time speakers will be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Puerto Rico's First Lady Mrs. Luce’ Vela Fortuño, Ann Romney, former Secretary of State Conde Rice, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
They each have the dual tasks of promoting the Republican brand while also promoting Romney as an exceptionally qualified candidate for President.
Aside from the prime time speakers, others will try to make a name for themselves within the party as they deliver marque addresses to the convention hall. Among the speakers to keep an eye on will be former Senator Rick Santorum, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Of that list, pay close attention to the performances of McDonnell, Haley, Cruz, Paul and Jindal. They represent a new generation of GOP leadership just now jockeying for position and respect within the party. Their speeches will not be heavily televised, but their reception within the hall will be interesting to watch.
It is noteworthy that of all the GOP stars present, none have been President. Neither Bush 41 nor 43 will be present. If that is not a signal that the party is done with the past and looking to re-brand itself for the future, I don't know what is.
No one has more riding on this convention than Romney because his prime time convention speech will be his first introduction to millions of Americans who have not been paying attention until now.
He will be praised by dozens of speakers who know him personally and professionally; but, in the end, he has to tell us about himself and explain why WE should vote for HIM in November.
On Wednesday, I will post a preview of his speech and spell out what he must accomplish in order stay competitive in this election.
In the meantime, enjoy the speeches and spectacle. It's convention time and we are only 71 days away from the election.
And it's only 799 days away from the next election for Illinois governor...in case you were wondering. Dan Rutherford, I am looking at you ;)
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