Mitt Romney has a reputation for being a straight-laced, conservative guy numbers cruncher, but the Republican National Convention will be a chance to change that impression. Except that the guy in charge of that event's pageantry? Mitt Romney himself.
The convention's action will mostly happen on a big fat stage. The details of the stage design matter, as the Obama campaign found out when everyone made fun of all the grandiose Greek columns at the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver. It's clear Romney's done a bit of thinking about conventions past, because he referenced those unfortunate columns in April, saying he doesn't expect to see them this time. Obama is "not going to want to remind anyone of Greece," Romney said, "because he's put us on a road to become more like Greece."
Romney was presented with six possible stage designs earlier this summer, and he nixed every single one of them, The Washington Post's Philip Rucker reports. Romney oversaw the opening ceremonies at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, so he "fancies himself as having a trained eye for stagecraft," and aides had to come up with something better.
The result? A $2.5 million stage inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, The New York Times' Jeremy W. Peters reports. The podium will be 6 feet high and staircases will slope up to it from the audience, as did the Denver stage in 2008. But instead of a row of columns, there will be a ton of dark wood and video screens -- screens in the rafters to imitate skylights, 13 screens on the podium, sized from 8 feet by 8 feet to 29 feet by 12 feet. All those screens will be wood-framed. When the speakers are talking about the bummer economy, sad Americans will flick across the screens. When they're talking about the candidate, Romney's kids will appear on the screens. A national debt clock will tick away on another screen. Romney personally approved the slogan, "A Better Future," Peters reports.
The dark wood is supposed to make the stage look cozy, like "you’re looking into someone’s living room," Romney adviser Russ Schriefer told The Times. "This is his moment," another adviser, Tom Rath, told The Post. "All the political stuff is gone in the eyes of most Americans…They’re going to look at this as who is this person? Can I wake up every morning for the next four years with this man as President of the United States?"