Live Blog: Haaretz coverage of the U.S. Republican National Convention
Former U.S. Secretary of State says America's military and technological advantage will be 'safe in Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's hands.'
GOP candidate for Vice President Paul Ryan started his acceptance speech in a simple and quiet tone, humbly admitted to being "honored by the support of this convention for vice president of the United States," while sharing some stories about his personal life and presenting his family - wife Janna and three kids: Liza, Charlie and Sam, along with his mother, whom he later called is "role model."
Ryan kept his tone, saying that that Mitt Romney "is sure ready - his whole life has prepared him for this moment: to meet serious challenges in a serious way, without excuses and idle words."
But from there on, Ryan became more intense, at times almost angry, speaking about America's disappointment with President Obama, $16 trillion debt and his plans for more waste: "I have never seen opponents so silent about their record, and so desperate to keep their power. They’ve run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. Fear and division are all they’ve got left."
Mirroring the Obama administration's claim that the House Republicans ("the party of no"), blocked any attempt to find bipartisan solution to the problem, Ryan accused the administration of wasting time: "Back in 2008, candidate Obama called a $10 trillion national debt “unpatriotic” – serious talk from what looked to be a serious reformer. President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined. One president, one term, $5 trillion in new debt… He 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. Republicans stepped up with good-faith reforms and solutions equal to the problems. How did the president respond? By doing nothing – nothing except to dodge and demagogue the issue."
"These past four years we have suffered no shortage of words in the White House," Ryan added, stating that leadership is what is missing in the White House. "The man assumed office almost four years ago – isn’t it about time he assumed responsibility?"
At one point during his speech, Rep. Ryan acknowledged the generation gap between him and Mitt Romney. "In some ways, we’re a little different," he said. "There are the songs on his iPod, which I’ve heard on the campaign bus and on many hotel elevators. He actually urged me to play some of these songs at campaign rallies. I said, I hope it’s not a deal-breaker Mitt, but my playlist starts with AC/DC, and ends with Zeppelin. A generation apart. That makes us different, but not in any of the things that matter...We’ve had very different careers – mine mainly in public service, his mostly in the private sector."
Ryan, a Catholic, also referred to the difference between his and Romney's faith. "Mitt and I also go to different churches. But in any church, the best kind of preaching is done by example. And I’ve been watching that example. The man who will accept your nomination tomorrow is prayerful and faithful and honorable. Not only a defender of marriage, he offers an example of marriage at its best. Not only a fine businessman, he’s a fine man, worthy of leading this optimistic and good-hearted country."
At the end of his speech, Ryan pledged to "not duck the tough issues" but rather lead. "We will not spend four years blaming others, we will take responsibility. We will not try to replace our founding principles; we will reapply our founding principles...We can get this country working again. We can get this economy growing again. We can make the safety net safe again. We can do this."
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was the one to express his approval - or apathy - toward Mitt Romney's Mormon faith. While reminding the crowd of his religious principles, he attacked Obama, who, per Huckabee, "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."
"I less care about where Mitt Romney takes his family to church, but where he takes this country," added Huckabee.
At the same time, he took a jab at the intrepid Democratic National Committee Chair and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. "Tampa has been such a wonderful and hospitable city to us. The only hitch in an otherwise perfect week was the awful noise coming from the hotel room next door to mine. Turns out it was just Debbie Wasserman Schultz practicing her speech for the DNC in Charlotte next week."
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who currently teaches political science at Stanford University) gave one of the most impressive speeches at the Convention. Unlike those of many others, Rice's speech could actually appeal to independent voters by covering a wide range of topics, from recalling the day of 9/11, to America's competitiveness, the need to reform the education system and welcome the immigrants ("we must continue to welcome the world’s most ambitious people to be a part of us. In that way we stay perpetually young and optimistic and determined. We need immigration laws that protect our borders, meet our economic needs; and yet show that we are a compassionate people").
"The promise of the Arab Spring is engulfed in uncertainty," Rice said. "Internal strife and hostile neighbors are challenging the fragile democracy in Iraq; dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their own people and threaten the security of the region; China and Russia prevent a response. And all wonder, “Where does America stand?”
Rice also stressed the importance of American leadership in the world, saying that "We cannot be reluctant to lead and you cannot lead from behind. Our friends and allies must be able to trust us. From Israel to Poland to the Philippines to Colombia and across the world — they must know that we are reliable and consistent and determined. And our adversaries must have no reason to doubt our resolve, because peace really does come through strength. Our military capability and technological advantage will be safe in Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s hands. The world today see American government cannot live within it means. When nation loses controls of its finances it loses control of its destiny. This is not America."
At the end of her speech, Rice mentioned the "little girl from segregated Birmingham in Alabama" (herself), who believed that "she can be the president if she wants to, and she becomes a secretary of state."
There was one person who stood on the Convention stage four years ago - former Republican presidential candidate John McCain - who acknowledged he would prefer to greet the crowd this year under different circumstances, but he "accepted people's decision."
Following his defeat in 2008, McCain gave an impressive and gracious speech. This year, he launched an attack against his former rival's policies. "We've always led from the front, not from behind," hinting at the term that stuck to Obama's foreign policy following America's intervention in Libya's crisis. "That is what makes America an exceptional nation. It's the record of what we've done. It is a cause that many Americans have sacrificed everything to defend - knowing that the country that sent them is worth their sacrifice."
McCain compared voting for Obama with "choosing to follow the decline," because "problems at home and abroad have become more difficult to solve", and called the audience not let the world doubt American leadership "especially in Israel - a nation under existential threat".
Senator McCain also accused the Obama administration of leaking sensitive information (for political gain, as it was claimed before): "We can't afford to have the security of our nation endangered because the government leaks details of their secret operations to the media", McCain said.
He also accused Obama of missing the "historic opportunity" to support protests in Iran and "rid the world of a brutal dictatorship that terrorizes the Middle East and threatens the world."
"People still have faith in America," McCain adding that he trusts Romney "to have this faith and to lead this nation. If America doesn't lead, our adversaries will, and the world will go darker, poorer and much more dangerous."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his first appearance on one of the huge screens on the stage - albeit in a photo only - smiling and hugging Mitt Romney during a video tribute to Israel, which combined some visuals from Jerusalem and excerpts from Romney's speech during his recent visit to the Holy Land.
Former President George W. Bush skipped this convention, like the previous one in 2008, although a video tribute to him and his father, George H.W. Bush, was played, with both former presidents' wives participating in the film.
Floor speeches at the first two days of the RNC could definitely be used as examples in communications studies lecture halls. One unfortunate phrase ("You didn't build this") was taken out of context and given a life of its own. It returned again and again, including - several times - in Senator Rand Paul speech, in which he attacked Obama's healthcare reform, arguing that Obama insulted "all Americans" (after he previously said that "Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen"). Paul addressed Obama directly, saying that he would not allow the president to "bankrupt this great nation." The younger Paul (his father, veteran crusading lawmaker Ron Paul, got a separate video tribute on Wednesday for on his hard work in Congress as well as his dedication to constitutional principles), called on both parties to adhere to principles of fiscal discipline, noting that "Republicans must admit that not every dollar spent on military is necessary", and announcing to the loud cheering of the audience that "we must never trade our liberty for any fleeting promise of security."
The National Jewish Democratic Council attacked both Ron and Rand Paul in a statement, saying that "despite all claims to the contrary…the GOP appeared tonight to be doing everything possible to drive away every last American Jewish voter who might be watching. Tonight, American Jews saw an over-the-top tribute to one of the greatest opponents of the U.S.-Israel relationship on Capitol Hill - Rep. Ron Paul - with Republican official after Republican official, up to and including Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), singing his praises. Then Jewish voters, whom the GOP claims to prize, got the privilege of hearing from his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who shares so many of his father's policy positions albeit with less baggage."
The first day's invocation at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida was made by a Rabbi, while the second was made by a Sikh religious leader. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell mistakenly combined the two names on the Republican ticket to make "Mitt Ryan", and proclaimed that "America is about to turn the page on Obama's four years experiment with the government".