Conventional Wisdom: Florida GOP Dishes Up Victory Talk
FlaglerLive | August 30, 2012
Florida delegates to the Republican National Convention dined on French toast Thursday morning. But it might as well have been big slabs of red meat.
With the convention in its final day and the GOP trying to fire up the faithful for the November elections, delegates heard from a parade of national conservative figures that could make Fox News blush: Congressman Allen West, former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The quartet touched on a variety of hot-button issues — foreign policy, energy and shrinking government, among others — but the speeches largely boiled down to the same idea. Elect Mitt Romney. Defeat President Obama.
Christie, who gave a keynote convention speech Tuesday night, said Republicans need to aggressively make the case for Romney, instead of simply arguing against Obama.
“Our problems are too big to be playing charades,” Christie said. “Our problems are too big to be sending smoke signals. Our problems are too big for the old political games of the past.”
West, whose provocative statements have drawn widespread attention since he got elected in 2010 in South Florida, also tried to drive home what he described as the “criticality” of the state in the presidential race.
“No one can win the presidency without the electoral votes, without this great state,” said West, who is being challenged by Democrat Patrick Murphy this fall in a district that includes parts of Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties.
Republican activists are clearly united in their desire to oust Obama, a point that has been made in gathering after gathering during the convention. But with Romney speaking to the convention Thursday night, perhaps a bigger question is how excited party loyalists are about his candidacy — and whether they will be able to convince crucial swing voters to back the former Massachusetts governor.
Later Thursday, Republican pollster Jim McLaughlin told delegates that his surveys of likely voters show Republicans are solidly behind Romney. But he also cautioned that a significant number of other Florida voters could still be persuaded to support either candidate.
“The map does not add up for us if we don’t win Florida (and) we don’t win Ohio,” McLaughlin said.
The Obama campaign contends that Republicans are using the Tampa convention to distort the president’s positions. It posted a note Thursday on its website from 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, who said this year’s election is different because “the other side doesn’t have to wait for an outside group to come along with false attacks.”
“If you tune into the convention, you’ll see that Mitt Romney and his allies have no qualms about misleading voters if it means defeating President Obama,” Kerry said in the statement, which was part of a fund-raising effort.
During the breakfast gathering, West, Bolton, Christie and Gingrich touched on several issues to try to argue that Romney should replace Obama.
Bolton said the country needs a president who is “proud of the United States of America, and you need a president who believes in American exceptionalism.” He also criticized Obama for his foreign policy dealing with countries such as Iran and Israel.
“You can bet the first thing he would like to do (if re-elected) is lift the embargo against Cuba,” said Bolton, who served as U.N. ambassador under former President George W. Bush.
Gingrich, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination this year, discussed energy issues. He also said Republicans can “win on the facts” of such issues this fall.
“We have a chance in November to win a crushing, decisive election,” Gingrich said.
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida