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Convention Kick-Off

We are in Tampa, with the GOP, raising the curtain on the Republican National Convention and the race for the White House.

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP)

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP)

Where the sun has been out today and Republicans are eager to roll.  A day late, with Isaac churning on north, the real business – convention business and show business, politics – kicks off today.  Tough speeches from Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Rick Santorum to go after President Obama.

A warm speech from Ann Romney to warm up and humanize the country’s understanding of her husband.  And then there is Mitt Romney.  In the wings but on everybody’s mind.  Can he, could he, rally the party and country?  Around what?

This hour, On Point:  From Tampa, Mitt Romney and the Republican moment.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Michael Kranish, Washington Bureau Deputy Chief of The Boston Globe. He is co-author of The Real Romney.

Jennifer Rubin, columnist and a blogger for the Washington Post.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Republican Congressman representing Utah’s 3rd District.

David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN and has served as an adviser to four U.S. presidents. He is a professor of public service and the director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Highlights

Americans are having to make a bad choice, said veteran political analyst David Gergen. “Between a party that got us into this mess and a party that doesn’t know how to get us out.”

On the GOP side, Mitt Romney is running as a “severe conservative.”

Political tradition holds that candidates for the White House court their bases during the primaries, then tack to the political center during the general election. Mitt Romney appears to have bucked that trend, by adding Paul Ryan to the ticket. “For those of us on the conservative side of the aisle, we loved that choice,” said Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

Mitt Romney’s ideological evolution is a far cry from the political trajectory of his father, Gov. George Romney, who walked out of the 1964 GOP convention as Barry Goldwater roared that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

“Mitt Romney doesn’t represent the Romney legacy of moderation, that people in Massachusetts know very well from his years as governor. He now represents the Goldwater wing of the party,” said Michael Kranish, a journalist with the Boston Globe who coauthored the biography, The Real Romney. Romney’s father George, famously walked out of the GOP convention in 1964, in protest of Goldwater’s extremism.

Gergen said that Goldwater’s loss in 1964 to Lyndon Johnson, coupled with Ronald Reagan’s win in 1980, setup 2012 as a “rubber match” between liberals and conservatives aiming to expand or shrink the size and scope of government. Indeed, the degree of Romney’s conservatism might be hurting him in the polls. “[Some voters] are not sure that he won’t become a hostage to the Tea Party,” he said.

“Romney is center-right candidate, the country is a center-right country,” said columnist Jennifer Rubin, adding that the GOP is a “right party.” Romney, she said, wants to go down in history as the person who pulled the country back from the fiscal cliff, a problem only solvable in a bipartisan way.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times “In interviews, Republican leaders said they were united and energized by the prospect of defeating President Obama and enacting bedrock Republican principles: shrinking the government and reducing spending and taxes.”

National Review “Mitt Romney wants this year’s election to be about jobs and the economy. Barack Obama wants it to be about fairness and the need for a more equitable relation between classes. Voters appear to favor Romney’s view. When a July USA Today/Gallup poll asked Americans to rate the importance of twelve issues in the coming election, “increasing taxes on wealthy Americans” ranked last; “creating good jobs” ranked first, followed by “reducing corruption in the federal government” and “reducing the federal budget deficit.””

The New Yorker “As fans of political sparring will recall, these two have mixed it up before—numerous times, in fact, mainly over the Obama stimulus. The cause of their latest spat: a characteristically overstated Newsweek cover story by Ferguson arguing that it’s time to replace Obama. (Headline: “Hit the Road Barack: Why We Need a New President.”) Krugman, who has been spending the last few weeks hiking through some pretty-looking hills, interrupted his vacation to accuse his old nemesis of misrepresenting the facts in claiming that Obamacare will add more than a trillion dollars to the deficit over the next ten years.”

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