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The Republican Convention as Prologue

Do Americans understand the role of conventions in the electoral process? The Republican National Convention is getting underway in Tampa this week in spite of Hurricane Isaac. Mitt Romney now has a chance to convince America that he deserves President Obama’s job. Both conventions raise the question: "Is America listening?"

Image by George Cassutto
Copyright 2012
Used with permission

It is the night of the 2012 GOP Convention’s opening night. The role call of the states is taking place. New Jersey just submitted its 50 delegate votes in the name of presumptive nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan, putting them over the top. Romney has the delegate votes to receive the nomination, but it won‘t become official until he accepts the nomination on Thursday. The National Convention is the pinnacle of the nomination process as the results of the primary elections and caucuses are reflected in the submission of the delegates’ votes. Each state gets to tout its good points, its political achievements, and its tourist attractions. Then the state gives its delegate votes. In the case of the RNC, Rep. Ron Paul has been able to siphon off some delegate votes from Romney, but Romney has far more than the 1140 needed to secure the nomination.

What is the purpose of the national convention? Again, it confirms the results of the primary elections that have taken place all summer. Usually, the decision of the party is not a surprise. Only if the delegate count is close might the outcome be in question.  Another role of the national convention is to write the party’s platform. Prior to the actual gathering in Tampa, which was delayed by one day due to the approach of Tropical Storm Isaac, the Republican Platform Committee hammered out the core beliefs of the Republican Party. What the public may not know is that their presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, does not agree fully with his party’s platform, and he has expressed differences on several issues even though the nominee is the embodiment of the party’s beliefs. Democratic critics of Romney and the of the Republican Party point out that the party itself is experiencing a revolution from within with the surge of Rep. Ron Paul, who represents a Libertarian streak within the ranks of the party.

The divisions within the Party, with Romney in the middle, the Tea Party to his right, the old guard, known as the Establishment, to his left, is the challenge facing Romney as he moves forward from the convention podium. The convention is the Party’s best for of advertising, with national coverage and a series of speeches that reflect the party’s strengths, and to its opponents, its weaknesses. Romney must unite the party with their support behind him, and he must reach out to the few voters who have not made up their minds that he is the one the nation needs to replace President Obama in the Oval Office.

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