The Republican National Convention is history. Looking back on the week in Tampa, particularly, the convention’s final night, there were highs and lows depending upon who you talked to.
For the convention's final night, there was a buildup of a great send off by this mystery surprise guess. Surprise, it was a flop! Some critics have even ventured to say Clint Eastwood hurt his brand by throwing away his seven minute script to speak extemporaneously. Eastwood was barely heard and he mumbled most of his address. There was a phantom chair next to him as he was channeling President Obama. Ari Fleischer, Republican and former George W. Bush White House Press Secretary, was asked what he considered to be the worst moment of the convention. He said, “I would say Clint Eastwood, but I am not going to mess with Clint Eastwood!"
Before the event, I found the best place to run into Republican standard bearers was on the freight elevator at the massive forum where most of the activities were held.
Before the Eastwood appearance, I asked former Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich about Governor Mitt Romney’s chances against Obama. He said, ”very good!”
Just minutes later, former New York Mayor and GOP hero, Rudi Giuliani, stepped into the impromptu interview lounge, the dusty freight elevator in the back of the forum. He answered a question about the enthusiasm in the auditorium. "I feel it, I feel it.” Guiliani also explained why he wants Governor Mitt Romney to win in November. His response: "I want Mitt Romney to win because I think he can straighten out the economy. I think he can get America growing again. I think he can create more jobs. I think his experience in business and government has all been a great success. He has been able to turn things around. I believe he is the right person at the right time.”
Democrats are already gauging the GOP impact and simultaneously looking forward to next week and their coronation of their presidential nominee, Barack Obama.
Congressman James Clyburn, the Assistant House Minority Leader, was underwhelmed by the GOP events of the past week at the RNC. "All of these speeches have been underwhelming to me. I think the tentativeness of all the participants…there just doesn’t seem to be much energy, there is no energy,” says the South Carolina Democrat.
Clyburn feels the RNC was a warm up for next week in Charlotte and the Democratic National Convention conveying their message. "People will get a chance to listen to Democrats next week, listen to the President and reflect upon what they heard this week.” Clyburn agrees with Congressman Paul Ryan relaying, "He is correct. We are that proverbial fork in the road. The question is which road will be taken? Will it be [on] the high road, create opportunities for all, or will [it] be on the low road, and continue to tamp down opportunities for various people based on artificial means rather than meritorious actions. "
Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis reflected on the convention, particularly the speech by his former colleague. Lewis in a thoughtful manner said, "I was very surprised my former colleague Artur Davis did what he did when he spoke out against the President and the Democratic Party…to me it was hurtful and most painful to see him stand up and speak at the Republican Convention…I don't know what happened to him."
Lewis said when he first met Davis, there was so much promise. His first impressions of Davis years ago were that he was smart, but last week Congressman Lewis was "very, very disappointed to see him speak”. Lewis says, “He [Artur Davis] came across as being bitter."
But the elephant in the room at the Republican National Convention was the lack of living Presidents participating in the events to hand over the torch to the nominee. Republican sources confirm that George W. Bush wanted to come and the Romney camp did not want him there. Debbie Wasserman Shultz, the head of the Democratic National Committee, says, ”I think it was very telling, that the past, that you would think normally a party would taut as their legacy [of George W. Bush] , was specifically asked not to be here because they don’t want to highlight what they really want to do: take us back to policies that Barack Obama inherited were really devastating to our economy.”
Former President Bill Clinton will be on hand at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte to nominate President Barack Obama as their man in the presidential contest in November.