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

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Eric Thayer / Reuters

The children of Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan are shown on a video screen as he address delegates in Tampa on Aug. 29, 2012

7 p.m. Beneath clusters of celebratory balloons, the second night of the Republican National Convention begins with a color guard of military amputees who are wearing shorts to show off their mechanical legs. It’s a discordantly solemn note for an event that is basically one part circus and two parts C-SPAN with a dash of street preaching. But it’s moving nonetheless.

7:08 p.m. Solemnity ends. Things get weird fast, with a video tribute to Ron Paul, the only Republican presidential candidate who has refused to endorse Mitt Romney. But the Establishment is going all in. Even Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who led the effort to defeat Paul’s son in his Senate primary, appears onscreen to praise the insurgent libertarian who would legalize marijuana. South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint says, “When I first got to the House, I thought Ron Paul was nuts.” Progress.

7:12 p.m. The Paul tribute is followed by McConnell, who turns in a speech composed of recycled clichés: “Help is on the way … the man for this moment . . . we get back up and try again … America cannot afford … it’s a choice about who we are … a country that is ready for a comeback.” He delivers the lines like a drowsy undertaker, and at some point even the clichés get confusing. “To call this a recovery is an insult to recoveries,” he says.

(PHOTOS: The Art of Political Stagecraft)

7:21 p.m. Jack Blades, a singer from the Damn Yankees who once played with Ted Nugent, gamely tries to rock the house. Who is he kidding? As he struts the stage, screaming and stretching and lifting his leg, the delegates simply stand there, bemused under their hats, as if queuing for a toilet.

7:28 p.m. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, the son of Ron, enters to power chords from the Canadian band Rush to praise a series of small-business men and women from South Asia. At one point he tells a story in which someone says, “Hello American sailor, hello freedom man.” Then he talks about a “lump between chin and belly button” and says it is wrong to “punish Mr. Exxon Mobil.” It’s as weird as it sounds. He endorses Romney for President and sideswipes former President George W. Bush. “We must never trade our liberty for any fleeting promise of security,” he says.

7:46 p.m. This segues into a video interview of the two former Presidents Bush. They talk about how the Oval Office needs to be treated with respect, without mentioning Monica Lewinsky by name. “There was never any kind of scandal around the presidency. I think we forget the importance of that,” says father Bush about his son’s term in office. They endorse Romney, prompting a country crooner to sing a song about blessings and the daughter of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to appear onstage with a paralympian who speaks about the need for a strong national defense.

8 p.m. It’s a blast from the past. “I had hopes, once, of addressing you under different circumstances,” Arizona Senator John McCain admits. It’s his birthday. Half the room is milling around, backs turned, applauding politely. Even the Romney interns hoisting “Happy birthday” signs look bored.

8:13 p.m. McCain is mercifully interrupted. Outside in the mezzanine hallway, Ron Paul loyalists are stirring up trouble. The Maine delegation is chanting, “As goes Maine, so goes the nation.” This is not true, but Paul supporters have a legitimate beef. Earlier in the year, Romney’s team displaced some Paul delegates. The crowd doesn’t seem irked by the intrusion.

8:15 p.m. McCain shuffles off as video footage shows Romney at the Western Wall. The Paul protesters are chanting louder now, partially drowning out the sound. So G.E. Smith, the house-band guitarist known for his years on Saturday Night Live, cranks up a long instrumental riff while security quashes the disturbance.

8:25 p.m. Occasional M.C. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers arrives to announce the evening’s theme: “We can change it.” Yes, we can. Then two attorneys general, Pam Bondi of Florida and Sam Olens of Georgia, remind us why the networks ignore the undercards. They tag-team what could be a speech to the Federalist Society. As Olens drones on, Bondi starts edging closer and closer to the lectern, glowering at him until he cedes the microphone.

8:35 p.m. John Thune, who rivals Romney as a central-casting President, starts with a joke. Thune is a basketball player who’s never scored an invitation to ball with the President. But Obama would be easy to defend. Why? “Because you know he’s always going to go to his left.” He beams a movie-star smile. Bill Pullman couldn’t do it better.

8:44 p.m. It’s interview-with-a-delegate time. An Indian engineer from Wisconsin who arrived in the U.S. with “a few dollars in my pocket and a dream in my heart” delivers a testimonial to the promise of America that could have come from a Romney stump speech. He’s got a huge, heart-warming smile. This is a great addition to the program. Let’s do more of these.

8:50 p.m. Another delegate interview with a mom from Michigan. “First, let me say that Obama did not build my business,” she begins. Then she pauses to peer down at her script. “But he is doing everything he can to tear it down.” She looks like she’s recording a hostage video.

(MORE: What You Missed While Not Watching the First Night of the Republican Convention)

8:52 p.m. Another 10-minute instrumental number from G.E. Smith. He’s earning his keep tonight.

9 p.m. Ohio Senator Rob Portman is up. He looks like a cross between Ron Howard and Steve Martin, but he’s not funny. “They say I was on Governor Romney’s short list of vice-presidential candidates. Apparently it wasn’t short enough,” he says, pausing for a laugh. None comes, so Portman begins steamrolling Obama’s economic policy. “We can’t afford four more years,” Portman says. “How about no more years?” The crowd is getting into it. Chants of “No more years” break out on the floor.

9:12 p.m. House majority leader Eric Cantor comes out to Starship’s “We Built This City.” Except it’s not actually Cantor, but rather a small-business owner who looks just like him. This guy doesn’t like Obama either.

9:15 p.m. The camera cuts to the middle of the crowd, where a woman introduces the next speaker, Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño. His is the American Dream: he governs a territory that pays no federal income tax. The gist of the speech is that Big Government is bad and everyone likes freedom. “We share the same undying spirit that all Americans have,” he says. “We will never give up.” Like all good speakers, he starts a chant.

9:24 p.m. A Christian rock band called the Katinas asks the crowd to “clap your hands this evening, come on y’all.” No one claps their hands, but a few delegates begin to sway.

9:27 p.m. A brief but stirring montage of Romney, Ronald Reagan and cornfields flashes across the screen. Real ‘merica.

9:28 p.m. It’s time for Tim Pawlenty, whom both McCain and Romney nearly picked to be their running mate, to appear. Pawlenty has appointed himself Secretary of One-Liners as a consolation prize. “Welcome to Barack Obama’s retirement party,” he begins. Rookie mistake: he opened with his best line and has nowhere to go. Obama is “the first President to create more excuses than jobs,” Pawlenty says. And, “Barack Obama is the tattoo President” because he seems cool when you’re young and you regret him when you’re old. And, “The President takes more vacations than the guy on the bizarre-food show.” It’s awful stuff, but the crowd eats it up. You know. Like the guy on the bizarre-food show.

9:38 p.m. Mike Huckabee, the Republican Party’s nice-guy Baptist preacher, opens with a petty joke about the sound of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s voice. He mentions Bono and “good old Uncle Sugar,” whoever that is. But then Huckabee gets serious and gives Romney a gift: the evangelical endorsement. “I care far less as to where Mitt Romney takes his family to church,” Huckabee says, “than I do about where he takes this country.”

9:54 p.m. The crowd welcomes former George W. Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with a standing ovation. She doesn’t disappoint. Without the aid of a teleprompter, Rice delivers the serious party vision no other speaker has offered. Her points are nuanced, and she barely glances down at her notes. She hits on education, immigration and terrorism. She never mentions Obama by name, but her critique of the President’s foreign policy is sharp. “Where does America stand?” she says. “You see, when friends or foes alike don’t know the answer to that question unambiguously and clearly, the world is likely to be a more dangerous and chaotic place.” The convention hall is in awe.

10:14 p.m. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has a tough act to follow, but she finds her footing. “En America, todo es posible,” she tells the party with a platform that calls for English as an official language and “unifying force.” But she has a wonderful story, from border-town child to state prosecutor to governor. “Little girls, they often come up to me in the grocery and the mall. They look and they point,” she says. “They need to know: no more barriers.”

(PHOTOS: Republican National Convention 2012)

10:25 p.m. Time for the main event. Vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan comes out like a conquering hero, but the first line on the teleprompter reads like it’s missing a word: “I am honored by the support of this convention for the Vice President of the United States.” He powers through, sips water and begins to lay out his case: “Right now, 23 million men and women are struggling to find work. Twenty-three million people, unemployed or underemployed. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans is in poverty. Millions of young Americans have graduated from college during the Obama presidency, ready to use their gifts and get moving in life. Half of them can’t find the work they studied for, or any work at all. So here’s the question: Without a change in leadership, why would the next four years be any different from the last four years?”

10:38 p.m. Ryan plays fast and loose. “The biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly,” he says. “They just took it all away from Medicare — $716 billion funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.” Ryan makes no mention of the fact that his own budget supported those cuts. Instead, he says, “The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.”

10:41 p.m. In another nice thesis statement for the campaign, Ryan riffs on Obama’s time in office: “It began with a financial crisis. It ends with a job crisis. It began with a housing crisis they alone didn’t cause. It ends with a housing crisis they didn’t correct. It began with a perfect triple-A credit rating for the United States. It ends with a downgraded America.”

10:50 p.m. Ryan promises that Romney will create 12 million jobs over the next four years and keep federal spending under 20% of the nation’s gross domestic product. Then he conjures another nice image: “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”

10:56 p.m. Ryan mocks Romney’s music choices, saying his iPod sounds like “many hotel elevators.” This is humanizing. Then Ryan brags about his own iPod playlist, which “starts with AC/DC and ends with Zeppelin.” That is VH1.

11:03 p.m. Ryan soars out of the speech by declaring, “Whatever your political party, let’s come together for the sake of the country.” His family appears onstage, and the kids are adorable, ages 7, 8 and 9. They rush to hug him. Can’t beat that. Nothing ever does. The whole family waves to the crowd, which is wild with joy. The second night is done.

MORE: Potemkin Conventions: Why Are We Doing This Again?

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

74 comments
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Existentialist1
Existentialist1

If wanted to see a couple of clowns in suits - the RNC would have been my top choice. Given the fact that the circus is usually a travelling show,  I didn't feel the urgency to tune in as there will be plenty  more opportunities to come. 

It is beyond me how grown men can pat themselves on the shoulder, creating a cult called 'republican convention' and then actually believe they are facing a REAL america!! All we are missing is the Ringmaster : Oh, I know - we can nominate Clint Eastwood ! 

Gail Wishna
Gail Wishna

they obviously don't know good music...amp; neither do you...Jack Blades has been with Night Ranger for 30 years...side project was Damn Yankees with Tommy Shaw amp; Ted Nugent...and his fans thought he ROCKED it last night...the ONLY good thing about the convention!

Tynkyr Belle
Tynkyr Belle

WHAT I MISSED:  Lying, steaming piles of crap.

73yearoldVet
73yearoldVet

If we ever needed an example to show how extremely partisan TIME JournOlist are this garbage of a story proves it.

I watched the convention and it was a great. Success.

SmilingSmartBlonde
SmilingSmartBlonde

Former George W. Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may have made  nuanced points, and she may have offered a sharp critique of President Obama’s foreign policy, asking : “Where does America stand?”  BUT, ahem , isn’t this  very cocky of her? Let’s please revisit the 9/11 Commission Transcripts:

BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?

RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

hankbask
hankbask

I just threw up a little in my mouth..Wait, no, a lot!

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

Where did the curious Republican wave at the ceiling come from?  Did it originate with Sarah Palin?

 (I really am not criticizing Paul Ryan's daughter, who can hardly be blamed for how she learned how to wave. )

jefflz
jefflz

RomneyRyan world is one where up is down, black is white and bad is good. A world where you destroy Medicare and claim you are saving it. A world where slashing taxes for the very rich while eliminating Social Security as we know it and cutting education is good for all  the people.  What is astounding is the large number of Americans who accept this false Romney Ryan world as their own. 

thebobbob
thebobbob

A list of lies and distortions by Lyin' Ryan and the Republican Rat Pack.

RYAN: "And the biggest, coldest

power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly. ... So they

just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars,

funneled out of Medicare by President Obama."

THE FACTS: Ryan ignores the fact

that he incorporated the same cuts into budgets he steered through the House in

the past two years as chairman of its Budget Committee, using the money for

deficit reduction. And the cuts do not affect Medicare recipients directly, but

rather reduce payments to hospitals, health insurance plans and other service

providers.

In addition, Ryan's own plan would

squeeze Meicare’s  spending even more

than the changes Obama made, shifting future retirees into a system in which

they would get a fixed payment to shop for coverage among private insurance

plans. Critics charge that would expose the elderly to more out-of-pocket

costs.

RYAN: "The stimulus was a case

of political patronage, corporate welfare and cronyism at their worst. You, the

working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal."

THE FACTS: Ryan himself asked for

stimulus funds shortly after Congress approved the $800 billion American

Recovery and Reinvestment Act plan. Ryan's pleas to federal agencies included

letters to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis seeking

stimulus grant money for two Wisconsin energy conservation companies.

The nonprofit Wisconsin Energy

Conservation Corp., received $20.3 million from the Energy Department to help

homes and businesses improve energy efficiency, according to federal records. Ryan

said in his letter, it would build "sustainable demand for green

jobs." The Energy Center of Wisconsin, received about $365,000.

RYAN: Said Obama misled the people

in  Janesville, Wis., by making them

think a General Motors plant there threatened with closure could be saved.

"A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right

there at that plant, candidate Obama said: 'I believe that if our government is

there to support you ... this plant will be here for another hundred years.'

That's what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last

another year."

THE FACTS: The plant halted

production in December 2008, weeks before Obama took office and well before he

enacted a more robust auto industry bailout that rescued GM and Chrysler and

allowed the majority of their plants — though not the Janesville facility — to

stay in operation. Ryan himself voted for an auto bailout under President

George W. Bush that was designed to help GM, but he was a vocal critic of the

one pushed through by Obama that has been widely credited with revitalizing

both GM and Chrysler.

RYAN: Obama "created a

bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked

them, sent them on their way and then did exactly nothing."

THE FACTS: It's true that Obama

hasn't heeded his commission's recommendations, but Ryan's not the best one to

complain. He was a member of the commission and voted against its final report.

———

CHRISTIE: "Mitt Romney will

tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the torrent of debt that is

compromising our future and burying our economy. ... Tonight, our duty is to

tell the American people the truth. Our problems are big and the solutions will

not be painless. We all must share in the sacrifice. Any leader that tells us

differently is simply not telling the truth."

THE FACTS: Romney has made a core

promise to cut $500 billion per year from the federal budget by 2016 to bring

spending below 20 percent of the U.S. economy, and to balance it entirely by

2020.

His campaign manifesto, however, is

almost completely devoid of the "hard truths" Christie promises. In

fact, Romney is promising to reverse $716 billion in Medicare savings achieved

by Obama over the coming decade and promises big increases in military

spending, as well, along with extending tax cuts for everyone, including the

wealthiest.

The few specifics Romney offers

include repealing Obama's health care law, cutting federal payrolls, weaning

Amtrak from subsidies, cutting foreign aid and curbing the Medicaid health care

program for the poor and disabled.

But it'll take a lot more than those

steps for Romney to keep his vague promises, which are unrealistic if he's

unwilling to touch Medicare and Social Security in the coming decade. Even the

controversial budget plan of his vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan,

R-Wis., largely endorsed by Romney, leaves Medicare virtually untouched over

the next 10 years.

What's left for Romney to cut is

benefit programs other than Medicare and Social Security, which include food

stamps, welfare, farm subsidies and retirement benefits for federal workers.

The remaining pot of money includes the day-to-day budgets of domestic

agencies, which have already borne cuts under last year's budget deal. There's

also widespread congressional aversion to cutting most of what remains on the

chopping block, which includes health research, NASA, transportation, air

traffic control, homeland security, education, food inspection, housing and

heating subsidies for the poor, food aid for pregnant women, the FBI, grants to

local governments, national parks and veterans' health care.

———

PORTMAN: "Take trade with

China. China manipulates its currency, giving it an unfair trade advantage. So

why doesn't the president do something about it? I'll tell you one reason.

President Obama could not run up his record trillion-dollar deficits if the

Chinese didn't buy our bonds to finance them. Folks, we are as beholden to

China for bonds as we are to the Middle East for oil. This will end under Mitt

Romney."

THE FACTS: Portman is an expert on

commerce, having served as President George W. Bush's trade representative from

May 2005 to May 2006. But he didn't fare particularly well in stemming China's

trade advantage, either.

Under Portman's watch, the U.S.

trade deficit with China soared 25 percent in 2005, and the next year it

climbed more than 15 percent. By contrast, the deficit rose 10 percent over the

first three years of Obama's presidency, according to U.S. government figures.

Both the Bush and Obama

administrations have launched unfair trade cases against China at the World

Trade Organization, but neither has been able to rebalance the relationship.

———

SANTORUM: "This summer (Obama)

showed us once again he believes in government handouts and dependency by

waiving the work requirement for welfare. Now, I helped write the welfare

reform bill. We made a lot crystal clear. No president can waive the work

requirement, but as with his refusal to enforce our immigration laws, President

Obama rules like he is above the law."

THE FACTS: The administration did

not waive the work requirement. Instead, it invited governors to apply on

behalf of their states for waivers of administrative requirements in the 1996

law. Some states have complained those rules tie up caseworkers who could be

helping clients directly.

In a July 18 letter to congressional

leaders, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that to be

eligible for a waiver, governors must commit that their plans will move at

least 20 percent more people from welfare to work. Moreover, states must show

clear progress toward the goal within a year, or lose the waiver.

"We will not accept any changes

that undercut employment-focused welfare reforms that were signed into law

fifteen years ago," Sebelius wrote.

Ron Haskins, a former senior

Republican House aide who helped write the welfare-to-work law, has said

"there is merit" to the administration's proposal and "I don't

see how you can get to the conclusion that the waiver provision undermines

welfare reform and it eliminates the work requirement."

Haskins, now co-director of the

Brookings Center on Children and Families, says the administration was wrong to

roll out its proposal without first getting Republicans to sign off on it. But

he said the idea itself is one both parties should be able to agree on, were it

not for the bitter political divisions that rule Washington.

 

SoCalUtahFan
SoCalUtahFan

Rice outperformed Hillary Clinton as Sec of State. She was my number choice for VP as well.  http://wp.me/p28mLX-kK But Ryan pick is also terrific.  2020 will be the year for Ryan-Rice ticket. 

Romney-Ryan look good with a new winnableelectoral map...http://wp.me/p28mLX-nI

zzz05
zzz05

"Rice outperformed Hillary Clinton as Sec of State"

Shutting down Bill Clinton's bin Laden hunt, concentrating on the threat from Russia, ignoring  “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” memo, aluminum tubes as rocket casings, war in Iraq, bungled reconstruction of Iraq, Iran unchained from Saddam's albatross around its neck, North Korean nukes, world opinion of US at record lows, extraordinary rendition; yeah, heckofajob Condi.

Ron Helton
Ron Helton

Knowing that there would be a lot of patting each other on the buttocks; I have opted out of watching any of the convention.

Just what we need another war president for Israel.

zzz05
zzz05

Israel doesn't need another war president either.