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Ann Romney, Chris Christie hope to embolden party with key RNC speeches

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We’ve completed Tuesday’s two hours of KPCC local coverage from the GOP convention, but our workday is far from done. 

AirTalk producer Jasmin Tuffaha and I will head over shortly from our workspace in the Tampa Convention Center to the Tampa Bay Times Forum where this evening’s program will take place. As you know by now, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have been officially nominated by the delegates, so now the attention turns to making the Party’s case and showcasing its leaders.

Tonight, we’ll see Ann Romney talk about her husband as she sees him, and as Republicans hope the nation will see him. Then New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will offer the typically bell-ringing keynote speech to wrap up the night. 

The keynote is where each party highlights a strong speaker who’s also a rising star.

We all know how Senator Barack Obama became known overnight from his knockout performance at the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston. I was there and still vividly remember how the audience responded to his speech and the sense of observers that a star was born. 

Republicans have high hopes for Governor Christie to launch himself to higher prominence tonight, and to ratchet up the passion level for Mitt Romney that’s lacking so far.  

How I’m hearing Republicans talk about Romney here reminds me of how Democrats talked about John Kerry in Boston eight years ago — desperate for a win for the party, but not on fire for the candidate. It’s a stark contrast to the Democratic convention in Denver four years ago. 

There, Obama was talked about in the tones reserved for cultural icons. His appeal went beyond the typical candidate’s, as folks could project onto him the qualities of a fantasy candidate — the man who could solve the nation’s problems and bring people together at the same time. That, obviously, hasn’t happened.  So now we have President Obama, a human, non-fantasy, candidate running for re-election against a human, non-fantasy, Republican.  It’s clearly a very different race.

The narratives of the election are also pretty clear. Republicans argue that the President has had nearly four years to improve the nation’s economy and has been unsuccessful. Their argument is that Mitt Romney can significantly improve things by cutting taxes and regulation, while coming up with other creative ideas to get things going. 

Democrats argue that things are slowly getting better and that a President Romney would make the nation’s long-term economy far worse by cutting government programs and refusing to raise taxes. 

There’ll be a lot of other week-by-week back and forth over other matters, but the economy is pretty clearly what will decide this race. The competing narratives will be hammered home over the next two weeks.

We’ll see soon who made the stronger case at their respective conventions.

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