HOW THE REPUBLICANS BUILT IT
NEW YORK TIMES
It was appropriate that “We built it,” the needling slogan of the evening, was painted on the side of the convention hall. Speaker after speaker alluded to the phrase in an entire day based on the thinnest of reeds — a poorly phrased remark by the president, deliberately taken out of context. President Obama was making the obvious point that all businesses rely to some extent on the work and services of government. But Mr. Romney has twisted it to suggest that Mr. Obama believes all businesses are creatures of the government, and so the convention had to parrot the line. … That was far from the only piece of nonsense on the menu, only the most frequently repeated one. Conventions are always full of cheap applause lines and over-the-top attacks, but it was startling to hear how many speakers in Tampa considered it acceptable to make points that had no basis in reality.
THE LIKABILITY GAP
On the…measure of which candidate seems more friendly and likable, President Obama trounced Romney 61 percent to 27 percent among registered voters, with margins slightly larger in tossup states and among independents. Even 33 percent of Republicans found Obama more likable. … Romney’s challenge with voters may be similar to that of Ronald Reagan in 1980, except that Romney needs to cross a threshold of minimum likability rather than that of competence. Portman and Graham both set the bar at Romney proving himself “acceptable” to voters. “It’s almost an acceptability standard,” Portman said, rather than persuading voters to “swoon” for him, as they did for Obama in 2008. In other words, Romney doesn’t have to make himself likable. Just likable enough.
Ann Romney’s most powerful lines were not about how Mitt Romney is just like the rest of us — but how he has shown himself to be very different. … The greatest argument for Mitt Romney is not that he’d be fun to get a beer with, or that he is rock-solid in his ideological principles. No one can really believe either. Mitt Romney’s most impressive and consistently manifest attribute is his inhuman work ethic. That also points to one of Mitt Romney’s greatest weaknesses — it remains utterly mysterious to what end, beyond his own advancement, he wants to apply all that talent and drive.
CHRIS CHRISTIE’S BARN-BURNER
If Ann Romney was empathetic, [Gov. Chris Christie] was tough. If she vouched for her husband, he vouched for Americans. They were the yin and yang of the first night of the convention. … Christie turned likability, or as he called it, popularity, into a liability. His was a tough message, repeatedly drawing contrasts with the Democrats. … Christie isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But he was the crowd’s hero tonight, a big, brash fellow unafraid to voice a conservative message and unconcerned with being take as too tough, too forthright and too dismissive of the president. … He’s a force to be reckoned with now and in the future. Romney and Ryan have their work cut out to top Christie. On a scale of 1 to 10, his was an 11.
CHRISTIE, ROMNEY GET THE JOB DONE
The Republicans capped off the first day of their convention Tuesday with two made-for-network speakers: Ann Romney, and then Chris Christie. Neither did anything to scare off Republicans; to the contrary, if the first job of the convention is to show the people who are normally inclined to vote for you but have their doubts that the party and the nominee are not scary, then the one-two punch surely met that bar. And that’s not nothing. … Christie’s theme was the importance of respect over love, which directly contradicted Ann Romney’s theme of love. Moreover, the Mitt Romney that his wife began to construct – a can-do turnaround artist who can get America home safely – was nothing like the truth-telling, poll-rejecting, sacrifice-accepting leader that Christie claimed that the United States needs.