What You Missed While Not Watching the First Night of the Republican Convention

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Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, his wife, Ann Romney and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice listen as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers the keynote address during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 28, 2012.

7:14 p.m. The hurricane couldn’t stop it. The weak economy didn’t underfund it. The orange-bottomed girls at the Hooters down the street won’t distract from it. Day One of the 2012 Republican National Convention has arrived, with House Speaker John Boehner walking onstage to fire the prime-time starting gun. “We begin tonight with a fundamental question: Can we do better?” he calls out. Crickets from the crowd. They aren’t really paying attention yet. Still shuffling to their seats. But Boehner looks good up there, his tanned skin neatly matching the stained wood of the stage.
7:16 p.m. Boehner’s speech is a bunch of guy-walks-into-a-bar jokes. It’s a bit convoluted. Stay with us. Boehner is the bar owner. Barack Obama is the guy. The President tells the bar room things about his economic plan, health care reform and, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build it.” After each utterance, Boehner says, “You know what we would do with him, don’t you? We’d throw him out.” Some in the crowd are following along.

7:20 p.m. Boehner is still talking when a woman’s voice comes through the speakers. “Testing one-two-three. Testing one-two-three. Can you hear me?” Boehner is a total pro. Doesn’t even flinch.

(PHOTOS: The RNC’s Kickoff in Pictures)

7:21 p.m. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus appears to the music of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” a song that presumably meant something different to the singer, Freddy Mercury. Priebus’ voice is going hoarse, as if he has been smoking cigarettes packs at a time backstage with Boehner. He nonetheless strings together a chain of insult tweets directed at the Democrats. He ribs Joe Biden for “pulling his foot out of his mouth.” He knocks the “Obama apologists in the mainstream media.” He says, “Barack Obama has a problem with the American Dream.”

7:31 p.m. The next act is Neal Boyd, the 2008 winner of America’s Got Talent. He sits on a stool and sings Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” People stand. Hands go into the air. Everyone sings the chorus together. As he reaches the chorus for the last time — “I gladly stand up next to you, and defend her still today” — Boyd stands from his stool. Everyone is going crazy. Boyd rocks. America does have talent. The crowd is awake.

7:38 p.m. Thus begins the potpourri section of the program. Utah congressional candidate Mia Love, a rare black Republican, says, “This is the America we love because we built it. Janine Turner, who played the love interest on Northern Exposure, talks about the Constitution and patriotism. Country crooner Lane Turner sings a song called “I Built It.” A candidate from Delaware talks about her small business. Vocal group the Oak Ridge Boys talk about “an element that exists that is trying to push God further and further out of our lives” and then sing “Amazing Grace.”

8:07 p.m. All that was just introduction. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, from Washington State, appears to say, “Tonight we are going to do things a little differently.” In politics, this means that nothing unexpected will happen.

8:12 p.m. New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte drops a few more “You didn’t build it” beats. Also, Obama is bad for small business, she says, because he “has never even run a lemonade stand.” She is followed by a small-business owner without a jacket or tie. “Help us elect Mitt Lomley as the next President of the United States,” he shouts. Oh well.

8:24 p.m. Ohio Governor John Kasich’s moment to shine. He opens with a Black Eyed Peas joke that no one gets, then talks for five minutes about how great Ohio’s economy is. This is awkward because Romney’s campaign spent most of the year talking about how awful the economy has been under Obama.

8:34 p.m. The lights come down for a video montage about — wait for it — Obama’s “You didn’t build it” line. A business owner from Ohio says he’s “ticked off.”

8:35 p.m. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin gives a history lesson about her state disguised as a convention speech. The state was settled during the land run of 1889, she says. Its first oil well was called the Nellie Johnstone. A wildcat well that produces 75 barrels of oil an hour is known as a “gusher.” Vote Mitt Romney.

8:43 p.m. Another “You didn’t build it” video.

8:45 p.m. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell: His hair is perfectly parted, his tie is shiny aquamarine, his speech is utterly forgettable. “We need President Romney,” he says. The crowd claps politely.

(PHOTOS: Presidential-Election Covers Through TIME)

8:56 p.m. More “You didn’t build it” video.

8:58 p.m. Wisconsin Governor (and recall-election survivor) Scott Walker comes out onstage to the loudest applause of the night so far. All business, he launches into his speech, which no one can hear because everyone’s still clapping. He brags about Wisconsin’s economy and praises Romney for picking Paul Ryan as his running mate. “With this pick, he showed us that the R next to his name doesn’t just stand for Republican, it stands for reformer,” he says.

9:04 p.m. Country singer Lane Turner is back, singing about the Constitution and small business. The song is called “Blood, Sweat and Freedom.” Only two more hours to go.

9:06 p.m. Nevada’s Brian Sandoval talks about how he became governor. He can’t brag about the economy in his state because it has the highest unemployment rate in the country.

9:17 p.m. A new, selectively edited Obama-clip montage. This one suggests that Obama called unemployed Americans “a bump in the road,” which he didn’t.

9:19 p.m. It’s Rick Santorum, who ran against Romney in the primary. He’s back in the swing of things, talking about how people probably won’t be poor if they get married and how he came from a family of self-reliant immigrants. “In 1923 there were no government benefits for immigrants except one: freedom,” he says. Then things begin to get weird. He talks about hands. “I shook the hand of the American Dream, and it had a strong grip,” he says of his presidential run. Dreams don’t have hands, but it’s already too late. He talks about hands that “work in restaurants and hotels, in hospitals, banks and grocery stores,” hands “looking for the dignity of a good job.” All this weaves directly into a touching discussion of his disabled daughter, Bella. Then another pivot. “A vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will put our country back in the hands of leaders who understand what America can and, for the sake of our children, must be to keep the dream alive,” he says.

9:34 p.m. The lectern magically disappears, swallowed by the floor of the stage. Ted Cruz, the Republican Senate candidate from Texas, appears to praise the Tea Party, without saying the words Tea Party. “We are seeing something extraordinary,” he says. “Something that has dumbfounded the chattering class.” He paces the stage like a motivational speaker. He’s a talented guy. He runs through the history of freedom, says it’s a love story, and then praises his immigrant father, who escaped Cuba, in Spanish. “When he came to America el no tenía nada, pero tenía corazon,” he says. The speech ends with an appropriation of Obama’s old slogans, including a call-and-response “Yes, we can” chant. “It’s tragic how far we have come from hope and change,” he says. The crowd loves him.

9:46 p.m. The ghost of Zell Miller takes the stage. Artur Davis, a former Democratic Congressman who praised Obama at the 2008 convention and ran for governor of Alabama using the Obama playbook, has come to tear apart what he once claimed to believe. “The last time I spoke at a convention, it turned out I was in the wrong place,” he says, a laugh line that gets the awkwardness out of the way. The party faithful love converts.

9:55 p.m. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley comes out to talk about all the good things that her state tried to do that Obama sought to ruin, including a law allowing police to ask for immigration papers of anyone they suspect to be undocumented, a law requiring voters to present government identification to vote and an effort by Boeing to build its new jets in a nonunion factory. The union-bashing and voter-ID stuff goes down particularly well.

10:07 p.m. Lucé Vela Gutierrez, the First Lady of Puerto Rico, checks two boxes: she’s a woman and she’s Hispanic. Which happen to be the two reasons she was chosen to introduce Ann Romney, the woman the crowd has been waiting for.

(MORE: The Ascent of Ann Romney)

10:11 p.m. Romney appears onstage in a red A-line dress. She waves to the crowd, which is dotted with hand-painted “We love you, Ann” signs that were probably made by overworked interns. “This is going to be so exciting!” she says, and immediately veers off script with an ad-libbed tribute to the Gulf Coast communities in the path of Hurricane Isaac. Then: “Tonight, I want to talk to you about love.” Hers and Mitt’s, that is.

10:14 p.m. She first fell for him because he was tall. “I love you, women!” she cries out in a singsong voice. Then a long riff intended to scuff up a sparkling life: their parents’ humble origins, the basement apartment where she and Mitt ate pasta and tuna fish on a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. Message: the Romneys feel your pain. She invokes the metaphorical collective sigh of the American family, weary from balancing work and family and “the price at the pump you just can’t believe.” That last one may be a stretch for someone who is worth a few hundred million dollars.

10:23 p.m. But Romney is winning them now, regaling the crowd with tales of her wonderful husband. “I’m still in love with that boy I met at a high school dance, and he still makes me laugh,” she says. She mentions her struggles with breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. “A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.” There’s a standing ovation, louder this time. She tells them “no one will work harder. No one will care more. No one will move heaven and earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live.” She’s rolling now. “This man will not fail,” she says.

10:32 p.m. Having humanized her husband, Romney returns to the political sell, trying to hoist Mitt into plausible President territory. “You can trust Mitt,” she says. “Give him that chance. Give America that chance.” And with that, Mitt Romney walks onstage to “My Girl.” It’s the first genuine goose-bump moment of the convention. But the Romneys offer only a brief wave before wandering offstage, or trying to. They are confused about how to leave. They eventually find their way.

10:30 p.m. The Chris Christie trailer starts to play, like a movie trailer, except the star doesn’t look like the ones in Hollywood. “This is who I am,” Christie says. And then he appears onstage, clapping hard, like his hands have been bad and must be punished.

10:35 p.m. He opens with an ahistorical joke. “A New Jersey Republican delivering the keynote address!” he says, as if this is surprising. But Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, gave the convention keynote in 2008. Then it’s on to Christie’s speech about himself, his family and his accomplishments as governor. Romney has taken his place in a box overlooking the stage but is suddenly absent from the program. It’s all about Christie. “Tonight we are going to choose respect over love,” Christie says, just minutes after Ann Romney said she was going to talk about love.

10:46 p.m. Christie is feeling brave. “I know this simple truth. And I am not afraid to say it,” he says. “Our ideas are right for America, and their ideas have failed America.” He’s taking a risk. The crowd may not leave if he keeps talking like this. He goes on to talk about why teachers’ unions are bad. Living dangerously.

10:52 p.m. Christie finally mentions Romney.

10:55 p.m. Christie says, “You see, Mr. President, real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls.” This may be an acknowledgement that the GOP platform does not poll that well. But let’s not overthink this. It’s late.

10:58 p.m. Christie decides to do some calisthenics. “It’s now time to stand up,” he says. Everyone does, including the Romneys in their box. Christie means it metaphorically too, as in, support Romney.

11 p.m. Christie finishes in time for the networks to cut to local news. The band 3 Doors Down take the stage with a new song that sounds like every other 3 Doors Down song. The Romney family exits.

11:03 p.m. Priebus is back. He introduces the benediction. Calls are made for contributions to the Red Cross. But no one is watching anymore. The cable channels have moved on. The crowd is streaming out of the hall. The first night of the 2012 Republican National Convention has come to an end.

MORE: TIME Talks to Romney About Business, Budgets and Beliefs

TIME’s new book, The Essential Voters Guide, offers a revealing look into the 2012 presidential campaign. Learn about the hot-button issues and get to know the candidates and their families. Get your ringside seat to the election here

89 comments
prestalex
prestalex

I must say that Ann Romney is a brave and wondrous woman who obviously loves her husband a great deal. And Mitt appears to be the consumate husband - caring and loving and faithful - I admire him for that.

But none of this changes my deep aversion to the Republican agenda, a plan suposedly to put our country back on solid economic ground while bringing back morality and God.

The problems with this agenda, however, is that it is narrowly-focused. Their formula for economic repair simply puts more bucks into the hands of the wealthiest few while taking benefits from those who can least afford to lose them. And a return to God's principles is Old/New Testament-centered. Too bad if you are a Muslim, Jew or Hindu, your God is not the one they are speaking of.

Democrats have a different vision for this great country. We believe in inclusivity - everyone has the right to practice religion as they choose...even to not practice it if they so choose. And everyone deserves equal treatment - that includes the right to marry whomever they so choose to love. Democrats also believe that the environment deserves to be cared for and presevered, not polluted or abused for profit by the few. Climate change will affect everyone so democrats are seeking a sensible solution, not spending time and money denying that a problem even exists.

So go on, have a heart-warming convention Republicans - you deserve it. But leave the real world to those who invite everyone into the big tent, not just the few and privileged.

Susan Burke
Susan Burke

"You can trust  Mitt."    This in from ABC news: 

Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign toasted its top donors Wednesday aboard a 150-foot yacht flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.

Yeah...Mitt, we're gonna need to see those tax returns.

Jaime Layng
Jaime Layng

Gotta love this line from Christie: "10:55 p.m. Christie says, “You see, Mr. President, real

leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls.”"

Ahh, so that's why the GOP ignores what polls have shown the American people to support, such as higher taxes for the wealthy, gay rights, and abortion rights. I guess it's all because they're great leaders who know what's best, not because they are totally disrespecting the wishes of the people who elected them to carry out those wishes.

sacredh
sacredh

OT, but it's off to the fair. Have fun folks. I'll eat like a pig for everybody.

Robert Williams
Robert Williams

First I check the comic books for a touch of reality then even though I cancelled my Time subscription several years ago I come to the comment sections for a good laugh...

davecorsaro
davecorsaro

The GOP is now always about "me".  "Why should my taxes pay for this or that".  Half are so out of touch with anyone that earns less than $300K a year and the other half are predjudiced against anyone who doesn't look, feel or believe anything they do.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

I did watch to count the lies told by each speaker.  Many are not noted here.  Much of the rhetoric is pure unadulterated hypocrisy and deceit.

Begin with the overdone "you didn't build that" taken out of context.  They are telling the world that President Obama said something he did not say.  And it's plastered all over the hall and on the screens.  It is an insult to those who know the facts.

Ann Romney  wouldn't know how to operate a gas pump if her life depended on it;  Santorum wouldn't know the meaning of "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" and equality, which he quoted, if it crashed through his church roof; Ted Cruz implies that his father was tortured by Castro and the communists, when it was Basista, and his father left Cuba in 1957, long before Castro ousted Bastista; Christie and most of the others are there to promote themselves above all else, including Romney.  

Featuring Queen songs is just too much.  The whole spectacle is one giant lie and flimflam.

David Armstrong
David Armstrong

This is so typical of the C**p Time produces. I used to read and subscribe, but now they are just another liberal hack job.

cconover1
cconover1

So, they based the whole convention on distortions and lies?  Why not just say that Obama hasn't done a great job on the economy?  That is their position, isn't it?  Or, maybe that reflects on them because it was GOP policies that got us into the mess in the first place?

COG7958
COG7958

 How long are you going to ride the "hate George Bush" horse? Obama knew what he was getting into.  He said if I don't fix it in three years I will be a one term president. Let's hold him to his word, for a change.

BobJan
BobJan

 You're right, Obama said things that were way out of his league. Trying to straighten up an economy that was battered for close to 8 years, a spending binge by republicans that was totally out of control, a drug giveaway to the "Big Pharma's",  two(2) wars. WOW! And then Obama comes in with the "I can fix it quick" sentence. Did you even notice that the republican party doesn't even mention the name of GW Bush, let alone have him stump for any republican candidates. You're right, Obama let us down. But if you think the republicans can do better, well they've done a heck of a lot worse than any democrat has done in the last 60 years. If Romney gets in will he create jobs that pay more than $9.75/hr or is he just going to create jobs to make the rich richer. And if you say that they can get it done in some other country for $1.00/hr then you also better look at what costs are in those countries compared to here. When a business pays a wage earner poverty wages that family is eligible for governmental (taxpayer) help with food, utilities, rent, etc. So in effect there is a redistribution of wealth. The taxpayers subsidize the business owner who refuses to pay a living wage. There's your redistribution of wealth.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

You know, you'd make a GREAT "used car" salesman... and everyone knows what we think of THOSE..

Get the next owner to accept responsibility for a problem, even though it was much worse than you told him it was.... then tell everyone that YOU can't be blamed because HE now owns it.

Too bad that, unlike bad cars, presidencies can't come with a "Lemon Law" sort of guarantee that the existing owner isn't passing off HIS problems to his successor.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

YOU'RE the one saying Obama knew what he was getting in to...

Bush "sunsetted" his tax breaks, leaving them for Obama to deal with... his wars were "off the books"... the GOP refuses to cooperate... how is any of that about Obama "knowing what he was getting in to"?

Or was he just supposed to know that a "refusal to legislate" was going to be the official GOP position AFTER he was elected? Facts are facts?

Idiot.

COG7958
COG7958

Facts are facts. The truth is just the truth. You can make up simple "used car salesmen" anecdotes until the cows come home. The new president said if I don't fix this in the next three years it will be a one term proposition.  That was his assessment not mine! I just think we should hold him to his word.

Almira Albizu
Almira Albizu

Lucé Vela is a woman, right, however, she do not consider herself

as “Hispanic” as none of the Puerto Rican that would like statehood for the Caribbean

island.   This woman is hated in Puerto Rico and she and

her husband have become millionaires while in office…. As American I am ashame

of this woman in the Republican Convention… bad idea for the republican party. 

 

http://whoislucevela.com

NavyMom21
NavyMom21

RE: John Boehner - I said to my husband last night - he is acting like Dean Martin!  I expected him to start crooning "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime" as his closing number.

COG7958
COG7958

What a smug piece of drivel. Great job diverting attention from the fact that the current president is incompetent and divisive.   His only skill sets are giving speeches and spending other peoples money. While the US speeds toward bankruptcy and collapse he wants voters to be envious of success, fear failure and like him.  Disgusting and dangerous!

bob3905
bob3905

Headline assumes we didn't watch. How could we not? It was on most all channels but if you wanted to avoid it Hillybilly Handfishin' was on (I saw it on the guide). I watched  a lot of the post speech wrap on MSNBC for the laughs.

frankly58
frankly58

Boring, boring, boring and boring the whole thing made me search my TV for anything but Romney lies and his croonies too - boring it made me want to shot my TV - boring it made me go to bed early - just boring!

frankly58
frankly58

Boring, boring and boring i watched the news and anything but the Joker last night - it just looked to boring to watch - no nothing but a lot of rich old people that hate everybody!

Triangle Choke
Triangle Choke

What their little debt clock won't tell you is that government spending has decreased while the Bush tax cuts and on going war spending has continued to pile onto our debt.  In fact, by 2019 the Bush tax cuts and war spending will account for 50% of our total debt.

Source: CBO

mnominous
mnominous

A Democracy is only as strong as its electorate is informed. The role of the media should be to present the facts on both sides so people can make informed decision. Sadly, the media has decided to un-ethically take sides. In a time when Obama is proposing fundamental changes to the country, the media shifts power, not to the people, but to those few who control information. The media thinks american people are stupid and can't think for themselves. So, they tell us what they want us to hear and hide from us what they don't want us to hear. The media is corrupt. CNN, TIME, US NEWS, all are in bed with socialism and they are shoving it on our face. Shame on the media.

Diecash1
Diecash1

 How exactly can a news outlet be "in bed with socialism"?  That's a patently ridiculous accusation that demonstrates how out of touch you are. 

tel00
tel00

hmmm. 

Taking the opposite view of most people on the site, yet clearly not a rant.

Mentioning obama in a negative way that is obviously not true, but avoiding hateful personal attacks.

Taking a stance that mimics reality, but is the complete opposite.

Yes,  I believe this is the best troll i've ever seen.  It's subtle and still invokes a powerful negative emotional reaction. 

Cudos to you Mnominous.

 

mnominous
mnominous

Teloo, you are missing the point. I know you would've loved it if everyone reading the blogg had your views. In other words, you guys don't like discent. Very good. Where is Democracy? You talk about lies but never pointed them out. In other words, you are full of it. Throw some facts, you Teloo.

jason024
jason024

Come on you list the liberal ones and completely leave out the conservative ones. If you want to be taken seriously about elimianting  bias you should talk about all media. 

mnominous
mnominous

Have you read the latest polls on Americans opinion of the media?  60% of americans feel the media is way bias towards the left. What kind of a media is that? Are we living in a democracy or dictatorship of the media?

BigAl1825
BigAl1825

CNN and Time are assuredly not liberal.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

You're right. They are Centrist, not liberal.

If you want to see liberal, check Charlie Pierce's blog at Esquire magazine.

COG7958
COG7958

 I have some swamp land in Florida for sale at a great price. Call me.

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

The RNC hangs a BIG, OL' SIGN out front: WHITES ONLY, KEEP OUT!

COG7958
COG7958

The Republican party is open to all. Unfortunately liberals

and the Democrat party, have convinced so many non-whites that they are

failures and need not try to succeed. Obama is now running a full court press to generate envy and hatred for success among them.  There are many minority Republicans who have shed the fear of failure (self imposed shackles of bondage) and become successful.  If you had watched an unbiased news channel, you would have seen many of their faces. These minorities have not fallen for this ruse.  Herman Cain, Condalisa Rice, Allen West, Marco Rubio and Arthur Davis come to mind, just to name a few.

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

"According to Pew, 87% of Republicans are white, a figure that has held steady since 2000."

Enough said.

COG7958
COG7958

So you mean the Democrat ruse is working.  You can fool most of the people most of the time.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

They certainly demonstrated some of that "openness" to the CNN camera-woman.

And the Latina speaker who couldn't get a word in until the RNC chair told then to let her finish.

You're forgetting... there's a video record of the convention.  We don't have to rely on "historians" such as yourself that are trying to portray events as they WANT them to be.

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

The RNC: where men are WIMPS and women are CHATTEL.

Ira Thurby-Wright
Ira Thurby-Wright

The DNC: where EVERYONE but the elite are CHATTEL. Know your true enemy!

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

"According to Pew, 87% of Republicans are white, a figure that has held steady since 2000."

Enough said.

Shirley Gallagher
Shirley Gallagher

Chris Christie said that Mitt Romney would tell us the HARD-TRUTH, i say REALLY.

Did Romney tell us the hard truth about his taxes, 2002 Olympic and how lobbed for Earmark money, and left the Utah Taxpayers holding the tap, why he Housed money off Shore,  Why so many Americans' lost job,benefits, and 401k saving.

Mr Christie thats the hard truth some American people wants to know.

I wouldn't believe anything the Romney's say or the Republicans for that matter, they lie too much and there are to many secrets, people with that many secrets has something to HIDE.

lary7
lary7

I agree with most of your assessment, but, I hope you are as hard on the Dem's at their convention. I have no problem with your sarcastic comments and conclusions, if you do the same to the Obama-ites. They both deserve equal treatment. I hope you will but it is what it is, isn't it.

COG7958
COG7958

 Lary7, you are dreaming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

frankly58
frankly58

Who died and left you in charge and who are you to tell us how we should rate the conventions, if you suck you just suck and if you good you just good and they don't deserve equal treatment unless you don't earn it and i'm going to tell the truth it was just plain boring and lack feeling for the American people, i just plainly don't trust Mikie Mouse and rhino - he and his vp looks evil they scare me!

chupkar
chupkar

Oh they will. It will also be entertaining.

grape_crush
grape_crush

Ah, good. Was missing this kind of snark.

Thanks.

brenro
brenro

Wow, Christie barely fits on the screen, and is that something caught in his teeth?

ERenger
ERenger

Whatever it is, it's not lettuce. 

KP_ENVY
KP_ENVY

'you din't build that'??? so the entire campaign is based on out of context lies?? and still GOP accuses Obama on honesty?? 

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

The Republicans built the economic mess we're in for sure.   They are way overdoing the out of context line.