It took the second day of the Republican convention in Tampa for the fireworks to go off. Condoleezza Rice got a rise from the crowd, and Paul Ryan brought down the house. There were a number of themes, but the one that seemed most prevalent was that Romney and Ryan can win. This produced elation from the political right and left progressives noticeably shaken.
The night began with a peace offering to the convention’s numerous Ron Paul supporters in the form of a short Ron Paul video, lauding the longtime U.S. Senator, soon to be followed by a speech by Paul’s son, Rand. Paul supporters have been upset due to a disagreement with the Republican Party over the presidential nomination process.
Rand Paul’s speech included a number of issues, first of which was President Obama’s health care law. Paul stated that, after the Supreme Court ruling, “I still think it’s unconstitutional… The whole damn thing is still unconstitutional.” He mentioned the “You didn’t build that” line that was the tag line of the previous night’s speeches and which was peppered throughout this second night. As well, he made a number of veiled references to his opposition of the Patriot Act, which appeared out of place at this convention but was red meat for his dad’s followers. “We should never trade our liberty for any promise of security,” he stated to large applause.
It seemed appropriate that, right after Rand Paul, a video presentation was shown featuring President George W. Bush along with a reference to the 9/11 attacks spoken by former First Lady Laura Bush.
Senator John McCain excoriated President Obama on actions regarding defense and foreign policy. He took issue with the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel (“a nation under existential threat”), Russia and China policy, the leaking of military secrets, and massive cuts to America’s defense. He stated that the President “missed an opportunity” regarding Iran and failed to protect Syrians from the Assad government, which he described as a “savage and unfair fight.” McCain spoke with the toughness that many consider was lacking in his personal run for President in 2008.
The issue of energy independence was only mentioned in passing the first night, but the issue was given a little more prominence on Wednesday. Tad True, the Vice President of Belle Fourche and Bridger Pipelines, located in Caspar, Wyoming, criticized Obama during his speech, stating that the President’s “policies are driving us away from energy independence, not towards it.” He spoke about “rebuilding a nation that can once again power itself” and that he believes Mitt Romney “understands that America needs that pipeline,” alluding to the Keystone Project that Obama shut down.
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio spoke of the differences between Governor Romney and President Obama. He stated that Obama hasn’t passed a budget in the nearly four years he has been in office. Portman said, in that same time period, “FDR and Truman won an entire war.” He reminded the audience that Obama “got zero votes” for his personal budget and called it a “lack of leadership.”
The Hispanic community was featured prominently Wednesday night, as it was the night before. Governor Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico spoke, stating that “Freedom is the essence of who we are as Americans.” And Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico spoke, voicing in Spanish, “En America todo es possible” (“In America everything is possible”). She said that, if President Obama can “take credit for government building small business, then he can accept responsibility for breaking his promise and adding $5 trillion to the national debt – because he did build that.”