Paul Ryan will accept the nomination at the Republican National Convention Wednesday night, though in a way he'll be introducing himself as the real leader of the Republican Party. Mitt Romney is seen as a transitional figure in the party, The Washington Post Karen Tumulty wrote last week. Ryan, and his budget plan endorsed by Romney in the primary, is the real Republican future. On the other hand, Politico argues that if Romney loses this election, Ryan would have a tough time in 2016. "What Ryan would be left with is four years between presidential elections as the highest profile star of a gridlocked and unpopular Congress," Politico says. So he'd better leave Americans with memories of a really awesome speech.
Other speakers Wednesday -- the "We Can Change It" night -- will include Condoleezza Rice, John McCain, Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, and some videos about Ron Paul and George H. W. Bush. We'll be liveblogging the event.
11:55p.m.: Recap: The second night of the convention started out so boring there was a chance we would fall over and die on our laptops before making it to prime time. But Condoleezza Rice and Paul Ryan delivered exciting speeches -- ones not written by a political slogan generator -- and Mike Huckabee had an interesting message to evangelicals. Ryan's speech got good reviews, especially from conservatives, though he didn't offer many of the details he's so famous for. The musical guests were horrible, and so was Ryan's playlist. Some attendees had cool glasses.
11:50p.m.: Ryan only mentioned the word "welfare" once -- "corporate welfare." The Romney campaign has been airing a ton of ads falsely accusing Obama of gutting welfare reform, which looks a lot like an appeal to racial resentment. But while that attack has been mentioned during the convention, Ryan didn't go near it.
11:42p.m.: Some thrilled conservatives responding to Ryan's speech:
"the libs in my twitter feed are all FREAKING THE HELL OUT!!!
#RomneyRyan2012" -- The Washington Examiner's Conn Carroll.
- "New Eeyore-ish concern: Does Joe Biden win debate merely by remaining upright for 90 minutes, as expectations are now so low?" -- Nathan Wurtzel.
- "Email frm friend, 'If women R as shallow as the Dems say & only think about their lady parts, they'll all be wanting Ryan's baby by 11pm'" -- RedState's Erick Erickson, winning the convention superlative Most Charming.
- "(Totally obvious) prediction: Paul Ryan will accept the GOP nomination for president some day." -- The Weekly Standard's Jay Cost. Also: "Best speech at a convo since Bill Clinton in 1992."
11:27p.m.: A mini-debate: Can Paul Ryan appeal to the youth? Here was one of his biggest applause line:
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.
He also mentioned heinous guitar music:
I said, I hope it’s not a deal-breaker Mitt, but my playlist starts with AC/DC, and ends with Zeppelin.
The youth will rally, some said. Fox News' Chad Pergram tweets, "Rep. Trent Duffy (R-WI) on Ryan: He's making an unabashed play for the youth vote. Why would they vote for Obama?" "Best Ryan line, hands down," University of Virginia's Larry Sabato tweets.
11:05p.m.: Ryan has a reputation as a "wonk" -- a numbers-obsessed policy nerd. He and Romney reportedly "geek out" together when talking about entitlement reform. And Ryan is supposed to be really good at explaining policy to the masses. But he didn't explain much policy tonight. There were way more applause lines.
Here are some of the specifics Ryan got into:
- To pay for Obamacare, "They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare. $716 billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama." The $716 billion is not cuts to beneficiaries, but mostly cuts in payments to providers. Ryan kept these cuts in his plan. Restoring the $716 billion would actually cause beneficiaries to pay more, The New York Times reported earlier this month. Here's a good explainer on the cuts from The Washington Post.
- "Medicare is a promise, and we will honor it. A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare, for my Mom’s generation, for my generation, and for my kids and yours." This is not very specific. Ryan's plan would give people born after 1957 the option to buy vouchers to subsidize insurance instead of using Medicare something like an insurance company.
- When explaining Obama's failures, Ryan said, "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." This last claim exploded liberal Twitters, because the reason the U.S. credit rating was lowered was the debt ceiling fight between Obama and House Republicans in 2011.
- "We have a plan for a stronger middle class, with the goal of generating 12 million new jobs over the next four years." Here is another number. The way he gets to the number would be more interesting than the number itself.
- "We will keep federal spending at 20 percent of GDP, or less."
These are all the most specific policy things Ryan said. His job tonight was to help tell the story of who Mitt Romney is, so maybe there wasn't room for specifics. But it shows you that so many people are bad at math that all you have to do is say you're good at math and everyone believes you.
10:57p.m.: "My playlist starts with AC/DC and ends with Zeppelin," Ryan says. This election has seen not one, but two middle-aged guys obsessed with prog rock. (Jon Huntsman was the other.)
10:47p.m.: Biggest Ryan applause line so far: "Ladies and gentlemen, these past four years we have suffered no shortage of words in the White House. What’s missing is leadership in the White House."
10:35p.m.: Ryan says that Obama predicted a GM plant in Ryan's hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin, could be around "another 100 years" with federal help. But it closed. What Ryan doesn't mention is that it announced it would close in 2008, before Obama was in office.
10:30p.m.: And finally, Paul Ryan appears. "With all their attack ads, the president is just throwing away money. And he's pretty experienced at that," he says. He has a very expressive face:
10:13p.m.: This is the closest we'll come to Rice talking about Iraq: "heart-wrenching choices in the aftermath of 9/11 that secured us and prevented the follow-on attacks that seemed preordained at the time."
10:04p.m.: Condoleezza Rice is one of the very few speakers to talk about foreign policy. But she doesn't stick to that. She also picks up Paul Ryan's "envy economics" theme:
Ours has never been a narrative of grievance and entitlement. We have not believed that I am doing poorly because you are doing well. We have not been envious of one another and jealous of each other’s success.
9:49p.m.: After the usual "we built that" stuff, there's actually an interesting passage in Huckabee's speech. He addresses the question of whether evangelicals will vote for a Mormon. His answer? The only evangelical running is Obama, and he's done terrible things:
Let me clear the air about whether guys like me would only support an evangelical. Of the four people on the two tickets, the only self-professed evangelical is Barack Obama, and he supports changing the definition of marriage, believes that human life is disposable and expendable at any time in the womb or even beyond the womb, and tells people of faith that they must bow their knees to the god of government and violate their faith and conscience in order to comply with what he calls health care.
The "beyond the womb" part is a reference to something often discussed on conservative blogs, that Obama opposed a bill in Illinois in the 2000s that would have given protection to babies that survived abortions. As PolitiFact explains, Illinois had a law like that on the books since 1975, but it required medical care only for viable fetuses. Obama said he opposed it because he thought it was intended to make it harder to get abortions.
9:45p.m.: Mike Huckabee is feeling sassy.
His speech is a relief to all those who could barely keep their eyes open through the other speakers.
9:34p.m.: Tim Pawlenty tries out his dad jokes. His longer one only gets chuckles. Voting for Obama in 2008 was "like a big tattoo, it looked cool when we were young, but later on, it doesn't look so good, and you wonder, 'What was I thinking?' But the worst part is you're going to have to explain it to your kids." Womp womp.
This one got huge laughs though: Obama hasn't turned around the economy, but, "It's understandable. A lot of people fail at their first job." Zing!
Lesson: Brevity is the soul of wit. Lesson 2: Die-hard Republicans will not think it's funny if you hint in any way that it was ever acceptable to vote for Obama.
9:22p.m.: "Listen, if Portman-Thune-McCain are putting you to sleep at the RNC, the good news is Tim Pawlenty is still to come!" Iowa radio host Steve Deace tweets. Republicans are not bringing it tonight.
9:12p.m.: Portman has a reputation for being boring, but he's really not bad at all. He is, on the other hand, quite squinty.
Portman argues we need a businessman as president:
So, you have one candidate who understands that success comes from working hard, competing and taking risks. And you have another candidate who believes success comes from government.
Which one do you think knows how to turn this economy around? Which one would you choose to invest your life's savings? Should it be any different for safeguarding our nation's economy?
9:04p.m: Ohio Sen. Rob Portman says that Obama thinks his economic policies have worked. "Not in this universe they haven't." We applaud Portman for not being willing to indulge in irresponsible speculation about parallel universes.
9:02p.m.: Some delegates had great glasses but not great rhythm.
8:48p.m.: The red dress Ann Romney wore during her speech Tuesday night was designed by Oscar de la Renta and cost $2,000, The New York Times' Bee-Shyuan Chang reports.
But if you're really looking to get your populist rage going, the jewelry is probably a better target:
(Photos via Reuters.)
8:41p.m.: A joint speech from Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was a little comical in their denouncing of Obamacare. Bondi, poor lady, is not so good with delivery. Or the teleprompter -- see her read it:
She had a bit of an air of a student council president candidate.
8:23p.m.: A Romney video says he will be a strong ally of Israel. There's some stock travel footage, video fo Romney at the Western Wall, lots of Israeli and American flags, and concludes with Romney saying, "iI's good to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel."
8:18p.m.: McCain, who reportedly couldn't stand Mitt Romney during the 2008 campaign, doesn't look all that happy to ask the delegate to elect Romney at the end of his speech.
8:13p.m.: McCain says when he travels around the world, people tell him "They still have faith in america, what they want to know is if we still have faith in ourselves." Romney will boost our self-esteem.
8:09p.m.: McCain accuses Obama of not supporting Neda, the Iranian woman whose death during election protests became a viral video.
8:02p.m.: Today is John McCain's birthday. He was introduced by veterans.
7:56p.m.: Beau Davidson sings "Blessed." The quality of the musical acts tonight is not entirely Republicans' fault, because most musicians will not let them play their songs. Still, the musical acts so far have been of one variety: white, male, and nails-on-the-chalkboard easy listening.
7:49p.m.: George W. Bush, the last Republican president, finally makes an appearance at the convention in a father-son video. The elder Bush says history will remember the younger Bush for his "integrity" -- "there was never a scandal around the Bush presidency." This must be a shot at Bill Clinton and mean sex scandal, because the younger Bush's presidency was definitely not scandal-free.
7:39p.m.: Rand Paul turns the "you didn't build that" debate into a chicken-and-egg question. Which came first: business or roads? He says business, and says Obama says roads. I imagine some people wh work for development agencies in developing countries would say it's complicated.
7:34p.m.: Rand Paul still thinks Obamacare is unconstitutional, for the record. He continues on last night's "you didn't build that theme" with a story about Cambodian immigrant donut makers in Bowling Green, Kentucky. (They built those donuts.) I thought tonight's theme was supposed to be "we can change it"?
7:25p.m.: The Los Angeles Times' Mike Memoli reports these totally not weird Paul Ryan masks will be worn by some Wisconsin delegates. How does one keep one's game face on while speaking to a crowd filled with one's own face?
7:15p.m.: After a video tribute to Ron Paul so his rabid fans don't burn the convention down, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the opening speech. Tone? Well he referred to "left-wing fever swamps."
(Photo via Reuters.)