September 09, 2012

Antonio Villaraigosa plays Democrat empty suit to Clint Eastwood's GOP empty chair

The Democratic National Convention had its Clint Eastwood.

His name: Antonio Villaraigosa.

Like Eastwood arguing onstage with an empty chair at the GOP convention, Villaraigosa provided an unscripted moment that led to mockery and political trouble.

Specifically, the Democratic convention chairman messed up a political no-brainer: rewording the party platform to reinsert a reference to God and another concerning Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The language got in the platform.

But it took three chaotic voice votes, all called by a flat-footed Villaraigosa — the mayor of Los Angeles — who was caught grinning in confusion after a surprising number of Democratic delegates repeatedly shouted “No!” on the convention floor as TV cameras rolled.

Suddenly, a pro-forma vote that normally garners relatively little negative attention turned into drama. Lots of drama. It was satirized roundly on the liberal-leaning The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

A needless and unforced error, it was a gift to Republicans. Just as Eastwood’s performance allowed Democrats to try to cast the GOP as a party of angry old white guys, the Jerusalem issue allowed Republicans to try to cast the Democrats as too hostile to Israel.

Like his fellow Californian Eastwood, Villaraigosa refused to acknowledge any error. “Not one person objected. It’s more a media concern than a delegate concern. I can tell you this — the president of the United States said, ‘Wow.’ The president said, ‘You showed why you were speaker of the California Assembly,’” Villaraigosa later told The Los Angeles Times. “The president, the vice president, Mrs. Obama, all of them acknowledged the decisive way I handled that.”

Did the president say “Wow!” or “Wow?”

The way Villaraigosa managed the situation gives an indication of why California is so messed up. And if Obama thought he did a great job, it speaks volumes about Illinois and the Democratic Party in general — especially when it comes to handling Jewish voters.

At the least, the incident underscores the needless political risk the party took in omitting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

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August 30, 2012

Bush appeals for new dedication to equal education, wants Obama to stop blaming his brother

TAMPA _ Former Florida governor Jeb Bush used his prime time spotlight at the Republican National Convention Thursday to pass a symbolic torch to his party’s nominees, defend his brother, and urge the nation to rededicate its promise of an equal education. 

 “If we want to continue to be the greatest nation on the planet, we must give our kids what we promise them: An equal opportunity,’’ he said, opening the third night of the GOP’s three-day pep rally. “That starts in the classroom. It starts in our communities. It starts where you live.” 

Bush spent most of his 15-minute speech focused on the need to reform education, an issue he has devoted himself to since he retired as governor in 2007. Working through the Foundation for Excellence in Education, he has pushed for expanding school choice and classroom accountability.

But before he began his prepared remarks, he said he had to get something off his chest – the defense of his brother, former President George W. Bush.

“He is a man of integrity, courage and honor and during incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe,’’ he said to loud applause. “So Mr. President [Obama], Mr. President, it is about time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies .. In the fourth year of your presidency, a real leader would accept responsibility for his actions and you haven’t done it.”

Continue reading "Bush appeals for new dedication to equal education, wants Obama to stop blaming his brother" »

Chris Christie tells the party faithful to focus on 'big things'

PALM HARBOR _ Maybe the spicy chorizo sausage woke up Florida's delegates, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie brought them to their feet Thursday morning as he delighted the crowd with his comical story-telling and blunt-talking admonitions.

“I don’t think our convention needs to be about making the case for Barack Obama. The case has been made against Barack Obama,” he said. Republicans must persuade voters they are '"the party of big ideas," and can-do leaders, he said, and counter the people who have become cynical and say "it doesn’t matter who you vote for, they’re all the same.’’

Christie repeated many of the themes of his Prime Time convention speech from Tuesday night and urged the party faithful to "do the big things," "tell the truth" and communicate a broad message.

That message, he said, should not sugar coat. "We can’t any longer just whistle a happy tune to folks because the public is a lot smarter than the politicians give them credit for.”

He listed the GOP state leaders who have made a difference, Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Susana Martinez of New Mexico. (Notably absent from his list was Gov. Rick Scott of Florida.)

By contrast, he said, Obama doesn't know how to lead and instead comes across "like a guys walking around in a dark room searching for the light switch of leadership."

He drew peels of laughter from the crowd when he described how Mitt and Ann Romney came to visit on short notice last October, in search of Christie's endorsement. The couple scrambled to clean the house and "have the talk" with their four kids. When the Romney's arrived, their middle child, 12-year-old Patrick, greeted them on roller blades, practically careening into Mitt while their 9-year-old daughter, Bridget, competed for attention by showing off her gymnastics in the year.

Romney engaged the kids, spoke to them with sincerity and won Christie over with his heart. "He's characterized so unfairly as a CEO, reserved, a person who doesn't show his heart,'' he said. "My kids were drawn to him and if I had any doubt in my mind who I was going to endorse after his interaction with my two children I had no doubt left."

"The one thing you can’t get on a resume is what’s in here,’’ he said, patting his heart.

The crowd loved it and, as Christie left, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam had to pause the morning program as people rushed to the stage to shake Christie's hand and get a photo. "The Boss is in the house," Putnam joked. "But he has to leave to get to the South Carolina delegation,'' he said, referring to New Jersey's other famous son, Bruce Springsteen.

Christie's remarks were preceded by speeches from U.S. Rep. Allan West, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and followed by Republican Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack and Newt Gingrich.

August 29, 2012

Ron Paul supporters walk out of RNC in protest: 'we've put up with enough'

Ron Paul supporters walked out en masse from the Republican National Convention late Wednesday in protest of a rule change by Republican officials that removed some of Maine’s delegates in an attempt to suppress the group’s movement.

Chanting, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation,’’ about 200 delegates and supporters marched around the perimeter of the Tampa Bay Times Forum and out the door as U.S. Sen. John McCain gave his prepared remarks to the convention.

“We aren’t coming back,’’ said Brandon Wilkerson of Virginia. “We are trying to show the audience and rule committee that mitt Romney eliminating duly elected delegates does not win the nomination and will not win the November election.’’

The protest was barely noticed inside the convention hall as the party faithful continued a well-scripted night aimed at attacking President Barack Obama,that was to culminate in a speech by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

Continue reading "Ron Paul supporters walk out of RNC in protest: 'we've put up with enough'" »

Rubio's speech: A dream fulfilled. And deferred.

The son of a Cuban immigrant bartender and maid, Marco Rubio stands on the biggest stage of his life Thursday when he introduces himself – and the Republican presidential nominee -- to the nation.
It’s a dream fulfilled. And deferred.
The freshmen Florida Senator from West Miami said he’s grateful for the high-profile spot. But Rubio not-so-secretly wanted more: the vice-presidential slot on Mitt Romney’s ticket or the keynote address at the Republican National Convention.
Rubio, whose sites are ultimately on the White House, got the next best thing: the introduction of Romney on a night when nearly everyone who wants to vote for president is watching. Story here.

Continue reading "Rubio's speech: A dream fulfilled. And deferred." »

Bondi and Olens team up for a two-person punching session on Obama

Attorney General Pam Bondi teamed up with the Georgia attorney general for a two-person, six-minute rope-a-dope on Barack Obama Wednesday in the second night of the Republican National Convention. 

Bondi’s debut on the Prime Time national stage was a carefully scripted warning to the party faithful, suggesting that liberties will be lost if the president is re-elected and she renewed a call to repeal Obamacare. 

“The President can't bring himself to acknowledge publicly that the only reason his ‘Unaffordable Care Act’ still stands - is because it is a tax,’’ Bondi said. “This is what happens when a President has such total disregard for our individual liberty that he knowingly and purposely imposes unwarranted restrictions against the will of the people.” 

Bondi was joined on stage with Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, two of the 26 states that challenged the federal health care law that the U.S. Supreme Court partially validated in June.

Their low-key presentation connected with the crowd, however, when they asked a series of questions:

“Do you want skyrocketing health insurance premiums?,'' Bondi asked. "No," the crowd shouted.

"Do you want enormous new financial burdens on young people who already shoulder our nation's crushing debt?,'' Olen asked. "No,'' the crowd answered.

“Do you want the government to force individuals and religious institutions to violate the tenets of their faith?,'' Bondi asked. "No,'' the crowd said again.

Olens acknowledged that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law with the vote of Chief Justice John Roberts and Republicans “fundamentally disagree with his decision,’’ but, he added, “Chief Justice Roberts did observe that it is not the Supreme Court's ‘job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.’” 

Bondi then said: “It is our job to make a new choice. It is time to repeal Obamacare! It is time to stop those who ignore the Constitution when it's expedient!”

Bondi was scheduled to finish the evening on Fox News, as a guest on the 11:30 p.m. edition of Greta Van Susteren’s show, On the Record.

Activists plan protest in Miami to rally against Romney's approach to economy

As Mitt Romney delivers his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday evening, a group of Miami residents and activists are planning a protest.

From the 1Miami press release:

The residents, representing working families across the city, reject the economic plan
put forth by Romney because it gives massive tax breaks to the wealthy while
placing a bigger burden on the middle class.

“We’re going to start a march from Bain owned stores because they foreshadow
the economy Romney wants to create,” said Eric Brakken, director of
1Miami. “He always gloats about how successful his business career was with
Bain, but the truth is he and his billionaire buddies created minimum wage
jobs while simultaneously killing good jobs or outsourcing them. This is not the
economic recovery Americans have in mind!”

Activists are upset with Romney’s economic proposals and they intend to show
their displeasure as they march from a shopping plaza filled with three Bain
owned stores to his campaign headquarters on SW 8th St. and SW 87th Ave,
where they will deliver the message that they won’t stand for a Romney

Pam Bondi's 'ready for the moment' in Prime Time

Attorney General Pam Bondi will take center stage tonight at 8:30 p.m., as one of Florida’s Republican all-stars chosen for a prime time speech to the party faithful.

The nine-minute appearance – between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. tonight – will be a try-out of sorts for Bondi. While it’s not her first foray on the national stage – she debuted there in her role before the U.S. Supreme Court when she led Florida’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act -- it is her first national presence before the estimated 30 million viewers.

“It’s an incredible honor that Pam has been asked to be one of the Prime Time speakers of the convention,’’ said Adam Goodman, a longtime political consultant and advisor to Bondi. “She’s ready for the moment.”

Bondi won’t deliver a traditional speech but instead will engage in what she called an entertaining “give and take” with Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. They are expected to highlight why the GOP wants to continue to work to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush will also get a prime time speaking slot Thursday night and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has the top spot, offering up the GOP introduction to Mitt Romney.

Bondi, a regular guest of various Fox News shows, will cap the evening Wednesday on a special 11:30 p.m. edition of Greta Van Susteren’s show, On the Record.


Rubio previews his speech: America's choice

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio took some time out Wednesday to talk to reporters after he did a brief walk-through of his speech scheduled for the final night of the convention to introduce Republican Mitt Romney.  

Speaking from the convention floor, a gaggle of about three dozen reporters swarmed the Republican rock-star, nearly knocking each other over as they scrambled to hear him.

“This election is about the choice the country has about the role government should play in this election,’’ he said. “It’s not a choice between a Republican or Democrat. It’s about much more than that. My job is to introduce the next president of the United States, and to do so in a way that makes it clear to people the choices.”

When asked what makes this different from the many other speeches he has given over his career, he said, “I don’t know, 39 million people probably.”

“It’s a tremendous honor to be able to give this speech in my home state in front of a lot of family and friends who have been involved with me on a personal level. I hope for my mom, who’s watching from home, and my dad, wherever he’s watching from, it will be affirmation that their lives mattered.”

He said that each night of the convention will “have a purpose” and while Tuesday night was about “Mitt Romney the person” and about leadership. “Tonight that will be reinforced when America gets to meet Paul Ryan, someone who’s in politics to do something, to make a difference.”

Continue reading "Rubio previews his speech: America's choice" »

August 28, 2012

Jeb Bush appeals to GOP grassroots and tells party: 'stop acting stupid' courting Hispanics

With Mitt Romney trailing Barack Obama badly among Hispanic voters in the polls, Republicans paraded out their top Hispanic political celebrities Tuesday and tapped the financial and influential heft of former Gov. Jeb Bush to help suture the gap. \

Speaking at a panel discussion at the Republican National Convention, Bush repeated his frequent warning that the party must change its tone, an admonition he has frequently raised about the party’s hardline position on immigration.

“The future of our party is to reach out consistently to have a tone that is open and hospitable to people who share values,’’ he said, adding “the conservative cause would be the governing philosophy as far as the eye could see … and that’s doable if we just stop acting stupid.”

Bush was joined by two Latino governors in an event organized by the Hispanic Leadership Network, a newly formed advocacy group associated with the American Action Network. The group will finance issue ads and promote what it calls a “center-right” agenda.

Bush’s youngest son, Jeb Bush Jr, announced the emergence of SunPac, a Coral Gables–based organization that targets young Hispanics in Florida to support their issues and get involved in politics.

And the prime time television schedule included two of the convention’s five Hispanics headliners: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz. The others, Gov. Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico and Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, will follow Wednesday. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will introduce Mitt Romney on Thursday.

The top draw for Republicans showcasing their Hispanic bonafides: Rubio. More here.