RNC Convention Wrap-Up

Article originally posted September 5, 2012 at Choose Your Stance.


Mitt Romney gives a speech at the RNC; By: Jayel Aheram


Despite the threat of Hurricane Isaac, the Republican Convention in Tampa Florida went exceedingly well.  All the major speakers had a chance to give their spiel and at the end, Romney got his expected modest boost in poll numbers.


Every 4 years, each party has a national convention to “nominate” their Presidential candidate. Of course, this is somewhat of an overstatement because by the time the conventions take place, both parties pretty much know who their candidate is going to be. The party with the Presidential incumbent already knows their candidate 4 years in advance and the other side will know who will win the nomination based on the delegate counts far before the actual convention. So now, these conventions mostly represent the kick-off of election season. The chosen candidates get a chance to shine and parties have an opportunity to discuss some internal business.


This year, the Republicans ran into some issues when it came to the discussion of delegates. For Republicans, each state send a certain number of delegates who get to vote for the Presidential candidate. Some states have strict rules on how their delegates can vote (whoever won the state) but other states allow their delegates to make independent decisions. This was called into question at the Tampa convention as a Rules change that would allow Presidential candidates to have veto control over state delegates. While the media labeled the opposition as purely coming out of the Ron Paul camp (unlike other candidates, Ron Paul never officially stepped out of the race), many grassroots activist also took issue with the rule. Michelle Malkin, conservative blogger, kept a live blog of the day. The rule, after some compromises, was voted into place.


Once the party business was completed, the headlining speakers trotted out. Some of the big names were former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Speaker John Boehner and a surprise appearance by actor Clint Eastwood (who gave a highly dividing presentation). But the highlights were of the candidates themselves, Mitt Romney and his newly picked Vice President nominee, Paul Ryan. Romney’s wife, Ann also gave a headlining speech. Mitt and Ann Romney’s speeches specifically aimed at “humanizing” Romney, a candidate who has been seen as somewhat distant and disconnected from voters, took this opportunity to let the “real” Mitt shine through. Ann, appealing to women voters, a demographic that Republicans hope to gain traction with before the election, spent time talking about her family and the early days of her marriage to Mitt. She gave a particularly heart-felt account about her husband’s support during her battles with Multiple Sclerosis and breast cancer. Romney followed this talk with a similar tone during his acceptance speech. Not that Romney didn’t spend a good deal of time criticizing the sitting President, but he focused the speech on trying to come off as more genuine and reaching out to the demographic everyone wants to win: independents.


Paul Ryan, on the other hand, usually an economics bloodhound, took his teeth to Obama instead of the economy in his speech. While his points were well received at the convention, the media immediately jumped on the candidate, with fact-checks, claiming that he lied in his speech on multiple occasions. Republican bloggers came to Ryan’s rescue, fact-checking the media right back. With the addition of Ryan to the ticket, conservatives who may have been on-the-fence with Romney’s fiscal policies, came back with renewed support. So it is no surprise that the new Republican star saw so much backlash. Many Presidents have used their Vice-Presidents as attack dogs against their enemies. It looks like Paul Ryan might be filling that role and doing a pretty good job of putting the opposition on the offensive.


This next week kicks off the DNC convention which will counter everything that the Republicans brought to the table at their conference. But what we do know is now it is official; Romney-Ryan will face off with Obama-Biden in November.


This article was originally written for Choose Your Stance a project that sought to educate college students on political issues. “Politics Made Easy.” The project has since closed and the articles are republished here

DANGER ZONE: The Foreign Policy Debate (Live-Blogged)

Your PreGame:

Thoughts from Foreign Policy Institute

Questions from Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government

Snark will be live-tweeted.



We start with the number one issue which is Libya. Mitt did a good job congratulating Obama immediately on killing bin Ladin. Also nice that he mentioned Mali, shows he knows something more than just talking points, for those of us who care.

The 1950s was a low blow. But Romney’s response on attacking him instead of solving the problem was good.

Russia is absolutely a Geo-political enemy. This is absolutely true, and shows how Obama doesn’t do well with the difference between defense and security.



Obama says humanitarian aid and sanctions work. Obviously.

Romney: says we don’t need a new conflict but Assad must go.

obama implied that we do not need to help the Syrians militarily.


America’s Role in the World

The Green Revolution: Good point from Romney, we should have stood up.

And also it appears foreign policy is not about foreign policy at all, but the economy. Blah, blah, blah.



Obama says he will stand with Israel and sanctions against Iran are working. (write this down)

Romney says he would take diplomatic steps to bring leaders in iran on international charges. Genocide Convention.

OBama also denies a 1-on-1 talk with Iran.



SO, Romney pretty much thinks we should stay friends with Pakistan because they have scary nukes.

And we appear to completely agree on this issue for some stupid reason.


future threats

Annnd Obama steals Romney’s talking points on China from the last debate.

Romney: Hello, IRAN!


Security of CPAC Straw Poll Not A Huge Concern

CPAC 2012 rolled out an electronic straw poll for the first time during this year’s convention. The technology had a test run at the Florida CPAC event in 2011. CPAC’s official pollster, Tony Fabrizio called the previous system of paper ballots “cumbersome” during the Press Tech Briefing regarding the straw poll.

Data Security by Jon McGovern

The new electronic straw poll works like this: each registrant receives a unique pin which they put into the website. Once the pin has been entered, it cannot be used again, and once a question is answered the registrant cannot go back. The pins are one time only.

The press briefing centered more on a joint initiative with the Washington Times who is conducting a poll among self-identified conservative voters, asking them the same questions as those found in the CPAC Straw Poll. The responses will be released at the same time as the Straw Poll results for an “interesting comparison”.

However, ACU left the question of security mostly untouched. When asked about how secure the electronic polling process was, Tony Fabrizio reiterated the unique pin process. “You can go to it and see the url but you can’t access it without a pin that is verified.” He laughed off the idea of any hacking attempts. Fabrizio said the only way to break into the site would be to sit in front of a computer and just guess random numbes.  He also noted that the site was “encrypted” but gave no further details. He compared the security to the kind used for consumer surveys. Fabrizio promised that if a “Ukrainian hacker” attempted to break into the site the press would be the first to know.

Fabrizio is right, there isn’t much threat from a Ukrainian hacker, but a Ron Paul supporter from Portland is a much more credible possibility. This is nothing new; tech-tuned Paul supporters have been breaking into online polls for years. It’s easy to run a number sequencing program to look for acceptable pins (how do you think early hackers found accessible phone lines? Running a program that just dialed every number until one connected).  Nothing was said about how many possible pins can get into the site and how many were actually given out at CPAC, that discrepancy could leave multiple verified pins available. There was also no mention of any lock-out protocols, such as how erroneous pins could be entered before locking someone out.

Plenty of “encrypted” sites are broken into every day. So, what level of encryption is actually being used at CPAC? While ACU may have waved off the question of security, the issue is very real. CPAC’s straw poll draws huge headlines and would be worth tweaking the vote for. The bigger question, if CPAC or other organizations want to use this electronic polling model in the future, real technical details should be released about how secure the process truly is. In the meantime, don’t be surprised if Ron Paul manages to win the CPAC2012 Straw Poll.

Predictions for 2012/2016

This might be my last comment on the horse race.

Image by Ukanda

Without a Captain Republican, we lose. Therefore the outcome of 2012 looks inevitable.

A loss in 2012 will have one of two results:

  1. The candidate choices will improve in 2016. No one will need to run against Obama and his machine. The new tea-party favorites will have a few years of experience. Obama’s policies will be in full-swing and easier to counter. This should lead us to a candidate who truly embodies our conservative values. Once we find that candidate, we will win.


  1. We repeat 2012. We look for a perfect candidate and come up short. Our high standards get the best of us, and the search for the flawless Republican becomes hopeless. We lose to the invisible Democrat. We are forced to seriously re-evaluate our party and our principles or face certain oblivion.

Captain Republican: The Perfect Candidate

No one could predict how the Republican Primaries would go. It’s as if each state has decided to completely ignore early year projections from the professionals and derail the process, just to be difficult.

I think I have finally figured out why conservatives keep playing “gotcha” with the primaries instead of settling down and selecting one candidate. Not one of them reflects how Republicans see themselves. In fact, each candidate seems to reflect just one aspect of the perfect Republican nominee. It’s like each candidate represents one of the 4 elements. Or better yet, one power in a Saturday morning cartoon series. But with our powers combine, we make CAPTAIN REPUBLICAN.

Chart by Katrina Rice

When early polls showed “generic Republican” beating Obama, that’s exactly what we wanted: the generic Republican. Instead we have just one extreme element battling against another. Family values don’t outweigh business experience; most conservatives reflect both in their personal life. So why can’t our candidate? Is it too much to ask for a Superman? Isn’t that the point of a President: someone who embodies all the greatness of America as we envision it? Or is it impossible to find a Captain Republican?

I think that this primary proves that Republicans won’t be satisfied until that hero appears. We’ll continue to struggle with finding a substitute. We’re left electing a Robin when we really need a Batman. Republicans don’t have an identity crisis; they have a crisis of standards. We’ve set the bar (impossibly?) high. This internal conflict will probably cost us the election in 2012.

Romney Wins Florida, Loses America

Photo by Aaron Webb

My experiences during the Florida Primary left me doubting a Republican win for the Presidency. This morning, Romney reassumed his role as the inevitable nominee. Newspapers called it his “Big Win” in Florida. Taking 41% of the vote in the Sunshine state, with a close Iowa and New Hampshire in the bag, his victory in the primaries does look more likely than any of the competing candidates. But a win in the White House might not be in the cards.

Romney took off hi nice-guy face in Florida, throwing himself and all his money into an unabashedly negative campaign. And like my mother says, “You can’t drag someone through the mud unless you’re already down there yourself.” The ads in Florida were brutal and constant, bombarding voters with twists, speculation and outright lies, from all sides.

Palin told Fox News that this kind of campaigning hurts the image of the Republican Party. “A lot of that negativity didn’t paint the party and cause in very attractive colors. I think that hurts the electorate, diminishes the energy to head into a general. Hopefully everybody will start to focus on what is important as we go forward.” It turns off Independents and Republicans alike and gives fuel to the opposition. (Don’t think the Democrats aren’t taking notes.) And it might have been this behavior that will hand Obama the presidency.

Despite Romney’s flaws, before yesterday, I would have said Romney was still electable. In the end, conservatives would vote for whoever had an R behind his name just to get rid of Obama. But this morning, my confidence is badly shaken. As I stood outside my polling location yesterday, I got the first wave of doubt. A group of Gingrich supporters had gathered to wave signs. They confided to me, “I just can’t vote for Mitt.” The reasons varied from his behavior in Florida (a strong contributing factor), to Romneycare, to his inconsistencies as a conservative, to overall electability. They told me they would consider protest voting for an independent or maybe not voting at all. Only a handful responded that they would absolutely vote Republican no matter who won the nomination.

These answers surprised me. But then, after Romeny’s numbers started coming in, I saw the response from my conservative connections online. Paul, Gingrich, Santorum and none-of-the-above supporters slammed my Twitter/Facebook/Blog feeds with anger and resentment. Many of these people came right out and said they would do the same as my sign-waving friends: not vote for Mitt, one way or another. Instead of the Big-Tent Republican feeling, they swore revenge on the Party by refusing to vote for a candidate they couldn’t believe in.

There aren’t numbers on this reaction. The numbers we do have, look like this: Romney won Florida, but over half of voters wouldn’t put him on the ballot. Romney topped at just over 40%. And a little over 50,000 Republicans (about 3%) didn’t even vote for a candidate still officially running. The overall turn out in Florida was depressingly low, with only 40% voting, the majority of Republicans didn’t even bother.

This leads me to believe that Romney’s victory for America looks farfetched and many Republicans will choose to sit at home rather than vote for him. I don’t have a poll to back up this claim, I’m basing it off of what I heard from connections in my town, my state, my organizations and my political party, and what I heard came through loud and clear: “We won’t vote Romney.”

Welcome to another 4 years of Obama; reset 2016.

Jacksonvillle Debate Anaylsis: Neither Passion Nor Anger Can Save Santorum

Photo by David S. Holloway / CNN

CNN’s debate brought about a fierce and unbridled response from Republican candidates last night in Jacksonville. At the very least, the event provided a full dose of entertainment for the politically-inclined. Despite the handful of recycled questions, the debate actually provided some new information to voters with insightful questions on a range of topics including foreign policy and Puerto Rican statehood.

The downside was, no clear winner emerged. This debate incited heated reactions from the candidates and their supporters. Already today, pundits and shills have claimed victory for their favored nominee. Every camp, from Paul to Gingrich wants America to know their candidate achieved an inevitable Florida win last night while every opponent stumbled.

The loser last night had to be Santorum. Not for lack of execution, his debate performance was stellar. His quote with CNN commentators after the debate, “Don’t confuse passion with anger,” might sum up his entire night. Santorum brought his A-game, but Floridians will give him pity before they give him their vote. Polls don’t put Santorum in a favorable light; between his previous social conservative bull-dogging and his poor performance in South Carolina, Florida just isn’t prepared to vote for someone who isn’t Obama-ready. As my counterpart Daniel Ruoss is fond of saying, “Florida likes to vote for a winner.”

The reason doesn’t matter, be it media influence, experience or electability, but the primary leaves Florida with one choice: Mitt or Newt. These two “established” Republicans, each with vice and voice, slide easily into the role of the Republican knight challenging Obama’s dragon. Santorum just doesn’t fit the story book ending (even if that ending is a tragic one).

Before I close, a quick note on Ron Paul. Paul’s rabid fan base will loudly tell you that Paul obviously won the debate last night. However, Paul paced himself out of the race. His only possible game plan to win the nomination would be to wait for an economic collapse. Much more likely, he only continues to run because he wants his message proclaimed on national television as often as possible. Paul hardly made an effort at public appearances or even press interviews in Florida. He has become a parody of his own ambition as he waits for Rand to take up his mantle.

If I had to arrange the order of last night’s debate performance it would be: Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, Paul. I put Romney second strictly due to his new-found aggression. He deserves a hat-tip for that at least. However, I do not think Romney has soundly trashed Gingrich, only proved he can plan ahead in a debate. Florida is still up for grabs which leaves us walking into an uncertain Tuesday primary.


The Jacksonville Debate: Live

Want an immediate response to something I said? Tweet me http://www.twitter.com/veribatim


Already the the first question at the Jacksonville debate is one we’ve heard thousands of times before. I would be willing to forgive if I thought that maybe someone had not heard the candidate’s answers before. (You know, if we had only seen 2 debates so far.)

Thank god the candidates are actually trying to twist the answer to define what “self deportation” means instead of restating their position for the thousandth time.


Gingrich may have overstepped his boundaries on labeling Mitt Romney as the most anti-immigration candidate on the stage. He gave Romney the chance to truly stab back. Gingrich’s turn of phrase was less impressive than it usually is. Perhaps Romney came prepared tonight.


The pace of the debate picked up. The stop and go is like a tennis match, one point to Romney, one point to Gingrich. As I posted earlier today, this is a two-man debate. The other two candidates don’t exist and are now irrelevant in this debate.


Paul has a strange cognitive dissonance on foreign policy. He proclaims isolationism but pushes the idea of wanting to talk to other countries and trade with them. He wants to be friends without dealing with any of the consequences that inevitably rise from foreign policy.


Not sure Mitt should admit that he doesn’t make his own investments. Also, I would argue that the Freddie Mac stuff is not the strongest argument Mitt could be making. But I do appreciate no one bringing up the personal stuff.


Its obvious after Paul’s lack of participation in Florida that he has no expectation of winning the nomination. All he is doing is using the primary as a podium to push his message. However, it can be argued that this is not always a bad thing. As long as he keeps his crazy in check. Just stick with economics, Ron, its what you’re best at.


Santorum’s comment on focusing on the issues was amazing and centers him back in the debate. He should get points for that (question is: too late?).


Patterns: Gingrich gets indignant when’s caught and has no tolerance for press. Romney stutters when he hasn’t planned out an answer.


Medical Records is a stupid question, Wolf.


NASA!!! (That is all.)


Based on how this debate is going, Gingrich and Romney will make Florida really think on Tuesday.


Santorum again, going after Obama instead of the other candidates. This is working in his favor and is something we all need to be reminded of. I just feel like most of Florida has already written him off as not-a-contender.


The thing is, no one has a real solution to the jobs problem, not a short term one. Unless you can literally turn around and hire someone, you aren’t fixing their problem. Its not the politician’s faults either, its the way things are. But we all want to pretend that some magic formula will save everything.


Santorum needs to be assertive to put himself in the debate but I think attacking Romney or Newt just helps the other frontrunner. He’s focusing on Mitt, and Newt is benefiting.


The wife round is an uncomfortable lifetime special.


Santorum’s moment of religious and prolife focus might have taken away from his strong economics center in the previous parts of the debates.


Let’s quit with the “I’m not an insider but I know enough on how to fix this country”. You are all politicians. Only Cain could possibly have claimed not to be. Shut up.


There is not enough foreign policy in these debates. Its debate 19 and we’ve talked about Russia once. Cuba, a handful of times. Iran and Iraq get mentioned and China lots. But there is not enough. These issues are real and the only person talking about them is Paul saying the exact opposite of what conservatives want to hear.


Most stunning question so far: Palestinian conservative asking Republicans to recognize him. Unexpected, you can tell Romney was slightly thrown but he recovered. I think that Newt hit it out of the park.


Puerto Rico is a great question to ask and one we have not heard in the debate thus far. Many conservatives in Puerto Rico are fans of statehood but there is hardly any outreach there from U. S. politicians. They get no vote but follow our laws the point about “second rate citizens” is accurate and most people on the mainland are completely unaware of this.


A lot of these questions are recycled or just plain dumb. The questions about Puerto Rico and Palestine were new and important. Every candidate should have had the opportunity to answer those.


I feel like there is no strong conclusion to this debate. But expect to see deeper analysis later tonight. Feel free to tell me who YOU thought won.

Waiting On The Killing Blow in Jacksonville

The battle for the Republican nomination is in no way over, expect the field to be littered with bodies by the time it ends. Tonight, I will cover the second debate in the Sunshine State. I will be live tweeting from the CNN Press room in Jacksonville and will have follow-up analysis for you right after. However, let’s quickly discuss what you can expect to see tonight.

Gingrich forced Romney to take the race seriously in South Carolina. Romney planned to not even attend the Florida debates. Now he has to take a stand. The polling numbers between Newt and Mitt tip one way or the other depending on the hour. The focus of the debate will be on these two contenders, making this a two man race and the debate will certainly reflect that.

Despite Santorum’s Iowa win and his fiery performance in Charleston, he has not asserted himself in Florida (proof of this in the Tampa debate earlier this week). Without the money or the boost in numbers, he has become a second string player in this race. He may try to pull out the performance we got from him last week but it will most likely come too little, too late. Right now, Santorum’s only chance to affect the outcome of the primary is to withdraw and endorse another candidate.

At first, it looked like Paul might pull the Republican protest vote. But he waved off South Carolina and has not made a single appearance in Florida in the past week. Paul not making Florida a priority only proves his message is ideological and not a serious attempt to win the nomination. Expect all his debate responses to be propaganda and a chance to throw mud in the eyes of the Republican “establishment”. He will continue to run and pull 10% of the vote, but the idea that he might actually be the Republican nominee is a fantasy only perpetuated by his small but vocal cult following.

What I can promise is a dirty debate. The two-man race between Gingrich and Romney has disintegrated into an insults contest in political ads. Both men will go into tonight’s debate with the bitter taste of personal attacks still fresh on their tongues. Gingrich has been playing defender but expect him to try to take Romney to task on what he says are false allegations. I’m sure he’ll also have some choice words for Nancy Pelosi, his new villain.

This will be a great test for Romney to see how he handles a debate post-negative onslaught (which surely would happen in a competition with Obama). Romney has been building up to more aggressive debates, and tonight is his opportunity to deliver a killing blow if he is capable.

The gloves will be off between Romney and Gingrich, tonight. But the winner will not walk away with the gold, there is no longer an inevitable nominee in this Republican race. But another stunning debate performance could boost any candidate closer to that goal.

Santorum: Genuine But Unorganized

Santorum exitng SRLC

Santorum campaign organizers reached out to their volunteers on Thursday of this past week in Charleston, South Carolina. They asked volunteers to line up outside the SRLC Arena with signs to usher the Senator into the building for his speech. Two hours later, Santorum showed up at the back press entrance and was rushed inside before his supporters could even glimpse him. So when the Senator finally did interact with his volunteers, only a few loyalists remained.

Santorum Supporters Follwing Him Behind the TD Arena

Supporters reported that this lack of organization was not unusual for the campaign. The “rally” was rescheduled at least three times and even then, no one saw Santorum until he left TD Arena. Of course, once Santorum finally appeared, he really an effort to get to know the crowd. But his friendly smiles went mostly unnoticed except for die-hard fans.

Unlike other candidates, who either kept their distance from crowds or looked too tired to care, Santorum genuinely inquired after each potential voter that approached him. He smiled, interacted, and generally warmed to South Carolina’s southern hospitality. In this one-on-one situation, it was easy to see why Santorum’s on-the-ground campaign won Iowa.

The Duggars Campaigning for Rick Santorum in Charleston

However, a gentle spirit does not compete with money and organization in larger states such as Florida. The Santorum campaign’s issues with scheduling and coordination will certainly hurt him in the Sunshine State. A smaller venue which allows Santorum more personal interaction with voters would probably suit him better. Not a good sign for the next primary.

Supporters Wait on Santorum to Arrive