Memoirs of an Invisible Candidate

With one convention behind us, we can all take a deep breath and look at what we learned over the last week. For starters, I learned that the Republican Party wants nothing to do with Mitt Romney. I thought the passion was lacking at the 2008 convention when the Republican delegates reluctantly aligned with a moderate Republican like John McCain; but nothing could have prepared me for the lackluster support given to Mitt Romney at this year’s Republican National Convention.

On the opening night, Chris Christie – in his now famous speech – was noted to have made it more than 2/3 of the way through his keynote address before any mention of Romney. Rand Paul spoke the following day and mentioned the Romney word once(!), and you have to think that was only because he had to. John McCain later stepped up to the podium and delivered a somnolent speech about national security. In his 1,500-word address, McCain went almost 1,200 words without mentioning the former Massachusetts governor who shall go unnamed. Condoleezza Rice continued with the national security theme in her keynote address and then spoke of her childhood in Alabama, barely giving Romney a mention. The final night of the convention brought Jeb Bush to the podium, where we were forced to listen to a long speech on the Florida public education system and the importance of school choice. Again, Romney barely got a mention. And of course we were graced by the guest appearance of Clint Eastwood – the man who preferred talking to an empty chair rather than talk about the presidential traits of his chosen candidate. Ann and Craig Romney spoke endlessly about Mitt in their addresses, but for everyone who didn’t have the last name of Romney, it appeared that Mitt was not a topic of interest.

Just as interesting is that on the rare occasion when Romney’s name did come up, it was usually a completely vapid statement dripping with banality and vagueness. Comments like, “Mitt Romney will change the direction of our country, and our children and grandchildren will be the most prosperous generation ever.” Or “Mitt Romney has the integrity and experience and the vision to lead us.” Or the powerful, “He will provide an answer to the question, ‘Where does America stand?’” And who could forget the show-stopper, “Mitt Romney will rebuild the foundation of our strength.” Wow.

No one could have hated the convention more than Mitt Romney. I can just see him sitting in his hotel suite pulling his hair out every time a convention speech began wrapping up, and he realized he had been slighted yet again.

The pundits were obviously less than impressed with the convention. How many times did we hear the political commentators say something along the lines of, ‘[Insert speaker’s name here] didn’t amaze, but he did what he needed to do.’ The same FOX News pundits who fell over themselves praising Sarah Palin’s “Bulldog Speech” four years ago had a difficult time coming up with anything positive to say about the Republican speakers this time around.

So did the convention do its job? Are people now talking about Mitt Romney? While it’s not yet clear if Team Romney got the usual – and usually temporary – bounce following the convention, it does seem apparent that people’s interest in Mr. Romney remains unchanged. Headlines on various news sites are focused on Clint’s empty chair technique, Paul Ryan’s apparent distaste for telling the truth, and gearing up for the 2016 presidential runs for Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, and Marco Rubio. What does it say about the candidate when an entire convention built in his honor and for the purpose of legitimizing his candidacy goes off almost as if he wasn’t there?

– Nathan


2 Responses to “Memoirs of an Invisible Candidate”

  1. Hey there. First of all, I couldn’t agree with Lisa more, I think this is a great idea. I’ve come to the conclusion that Facebook is just about the worst possible forum for debate, and despite my occasional forays into political discussion on FB, I ignore things most of the time because it only leads to trouble.

    I actually agree with almost every word of these two initial posts by you and Dylan. 1) the GOP was never excited about Romney. The major theme of discussion among conservatives that I know ever since November ’08 has been, “who in the world are we putting up in 2012?” This was true even in the primaries. I see a campaign a lot like what I saw from Kerry in ’04. It’s not a Mitt Romney Campaign, it’s a “beat the incumbent” campaign. And I just don’t think that wins elections.

    Ironically, when I read more personal stuff about Mitt, I actually like him a lot. He seems to have the motivation and goals that I’m looking for–“the government shouldn’t take care of you, because that’s MY job.” Trouble is, as per Dylan’s post, I think he’s afraid to say it. I think he’s afraid to look his backers and the big corporations in the eye and tell them that they have to let the money trickle down, as it were. And that is what I find most unappealing about him.

  2. Good post, Nate. You could have been a lot harsher. Did you watch the entire convention? I watched parts and noticed the same thing(s).

    Heard on NPR today that some delegates walked by black cnn newswoman, threw peanuts at her and said, “this is how we feed animals.”

    That will be the most memorable thing about the convention for me. That and Clint’s awkward-ass chair.

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