It’s a wrap.
The Republican National Convention closed Thursday on a mixed bag of tricks that started with a hurricane and ended with a whimper.
If you don’t count the post-Romney speech rock concert by Journey, that is. How we touched and went our separate ways, indeed.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
The high note, at least for Hispanics, was the crystallization of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as the poster child for the changing (read: increasingly less white) face of the Republican Party and his almost sure-thing future POTUS nomination of his own.
The low note left hundreds of delegates and guests disgusted with a change in the rules that disenfranchised Ron Paul supporters (more on that later).
But there were other beneficiaries aside from Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney—who had been gaining momentum and closing poll margins heading into the political powwow in Tampa.
And there were some casualties other than Monday, which was scrapped as the program shortened to accommodate nasty weather from Hurricane Isaac.
Here, then, is VOXXI’s list of the GOP Convention 2012 winners and losers.
AND THE WINNERS ARE:
- Marco Rubio. Can I say it? Please? Told ya so. The Florida Senator and one-time VP contender was a star alright, proving what many people suspected—that he is a superstar headed for political prowess and, perhaps, the White House as No. 1 in four years if Romney doesn’t win, eight years if he does. It’s just a matter of time. Many people said he stole Romney’s thunder—but that would mean the Massachusetts governor had any thunder to begin with. Still, did you see Rubio there in front of thousands of his brethren elephants and millions of national TV viewers? Hurricane Marco—who was everywhere in Tampa, making several speeches a day—looked like he was right at home. Wrote Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post: “He seemed entirely at ease in the massive national spotlight—compellingly telling his life story and mixing in jabs at Obama in a more-than-sorrow-than-anger tone that made the hits more powerful… It’s uniquely possible that we will look back in four or eight years to this night as the time when it became clear Rubio had that something special that made him a force to be reckoned with in presidential politics.” Ahem, Chris. I called it first.
- Gary Johnson. No, the two-term Governor of New Mexico wasn’t at the convention. But he will be on the presidential ballot as the Libertarian candidate and likely earned thousands of votes—and increased momentum—after the Republican Party snubbed the Ron Paul supporters and both the Minnesota and Maine delegations with a rule change that is meant to squash any independent Republican grassroots movements, like the Tea Party and the Paul Revolution. You cannot buy this kind of advertising or political consulting. Johnson must be thanking the GOP Gods.
- The Libertarian Party. This up-and-coming option has suddenly become the quiet but pretty girl at the prom and could get a boost of support—and new members—following Tuesday’s antics against Ron Paul and his purple people.
- Paul Ryan. The Wisconsin congressman has gained luster, not lost it, in the weeks following his rise to running mate status and this national TV address just put a booster pack on his butt. His face and words reached millions of living rooms instantly. It’s safe to say that Ryan is far better known today than he was Wednesday morning, before he gave what some pundits have called one of the best speeches of the three-day political marathon. That’s both good for the campaign and good for him—as a young 42-year-old with a promising future no matter what happens Nov. 6.
- Susana Martinez: Like Ryan, the New Mexico governor was barely known outside her state until Wednesday night. Even though she is the first Hispanic woman elected governor in the U.S. Her plain-speak, natural delivery and confident self-awareness made her a favorite of the media and the Republican delegates and guests—most of whom had never heard of Martinez before, despite being floated as a potential, even if it was really unlikely, ballot partner for Romney.
- Tampa. The Florida West Coast city of 335,709 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, got an estimated $150-million boost in the local economy. This includes hotels, restaurants, bars, cigar shops, event planners—and, probably, strip clubs. But it also got some valuable PR as thousands of journalists reported live from and taped interviews in on-the-scene locations, picturesque or not, that also gave the millions of TV viewers another character to check out: Tampa.
- The environment. Climate concerns and clean air haven’t taken a back seat in the convention—they’ve been tossed from the moving car. Even though the GOP had some reform initiatives in its 2008 platform, they’ve all but disappeared this year. In fact, many Texan and Floridian delegates said they couldn’t wait for Romney to get elected so they could start drilling for oil pretty much wherever they want. Romney himself dissed environmental issues in his lackluster address. “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise…is to help you and your family.” Looks like the Republican presidential candidate doesn’t care about destroying the Earth if it means you and I can make a buck or create a job.
- Dreamers. It’s strange that a room full of elephants couldn’t see the big, fat, exploding elephant in the room. But immigration never became a topic during the convention. Not really. Not in any real way. While it was alluded to here and there, particularly in Rubio’s speech and a handful of others, immigration reform was not a topic mentioned by either the Florida Senator—who actually has a really good middle-of-the-road position that middle America needs to hear—or by Romney himself, which we knew would happen. But it wasn’t like Dreamers—the young illegal immigrants brought here as children who can now apply to defer their deportation under a presidential order—were completely ignored. No, they got to protest the lack of any real immigration reform on the Republican Party platform (read: Romney’s philosophy of making their lives miserable so they self deport) and a visit from their nemesis: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-described “toughest sheriff in the U.S.A.,” who wasn’t invited to the convention as a speaker but decided to have his own press conference to announce that he and Romney are kindred spirits. As if we didn’t know.
- The Florida delegation. Maine and Minnesota weren’t the only states to get spanked. Florida delegates had to stay at the Innesbrook Golf Resort, which is a nice place—but an hour or 90 minutes away from the convention center of activities in downtown Tampa. This was seen as obvious punishment for the state legislature having voted on an early primary. Several of the Sunshine State Republicans felt so bad about their “room assignments” they moved their digs to other locations, including the Hardrock Hotel, to be closer to the action. Wonder if they played any poker.
Wish I had. With this two to one ratio on winners to losers, maybe I would have left a bit richer.