Politics, government and public life for Southern California

RNC: LA Mayor is Democratic lamb in GOP lion's den on a quiet day one

Larry Mantle interviews Antonio Villaraigosa at RNC

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AirTalk host Larry Mantle interviews Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida on Aug. 27, 2012.

Today’s nominal first day of the convention featured an eerily quiet Tampa Bay Times Forum — where the prime time convention events will take place — and a bustling Radio Row in the Convention Center across the street. 

Republican officials with a free day took advantage of row after row of broadcasters vying for the chance to interview them. It’s extremely competitive, and an oddly paradoxical environment of tension and revelry.

An example of that was when L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa arrived on the Row late this afternoon. I was in our distant workspace doing a post-show wrapup with our producers, when producer Jasmin Tuffaha called to let us know the mayor was in the house. 

I walked over to say “Hi” and found the Democrat in the lion’s den surrounded by about a dozen journalists clamoring for interviews. I caught the mayor’s eye, and he stopped mid-sentence to call out a greeting. The other journalists didn’t look too thrilled, so I quickly moved out of sight. The mayor agreeably answered the questions fired at him, then quickly pivoted to sit down for a scheduled interview with Univision radio.


California lawmakers voting on hundreds of bills to meet a Friday midnight deadline

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State legislators are frantically trying to get through hundreds of bills in Sacramento as Friday's end-of-session looms.

Q: What do a movie shoot and the final week of a state legislative session have in common?

A: Nothing happens 'til the director yells “Action!”—and, during downtime, the actors/lawmakers wait around and rehearse their lines.

Ok, so that's not entirely fair. There's actually a lot going on in Sacramento this week. Lawmakers are casting their votes on hundreds of bills before a Friday midnight deadline. But the big finale—the Democrats' promised pension reform—is still being written. 

Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Monday bills on those changes will be heard in committee Tuesday, and brought to a vote Friday. Steinberg also promised the changes will be “robust.”

“I think there are going to be some people—a lot of people in organized labor, frankly—that are not going to be thrilled with it.” Steinberg said. “It deals with every piece of the puzzle.”


Pete Wilson still smarts at 187 questions

Meg Whitman And Supporters Attend Election Night Gathering

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Former Governor Pete Wilson is chairman of the California delegation at the GOP Convention in Tampa.

At 79, he is one of the oldest California delegates to this week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa. He is also perhaps the most prominent—a former governor still lauded by many as one of the party’s great leaders from the Golden State.

But some also fault Pete Wilson, who officially chairs the California delegation, as the man who most hurt the party’s standing with Latinos. 

Wilson begs to differ.

“Hell no!” Wilson snapped, his bright blue eyes flashing as he stood in the lobby of the TradeWinds Hotel in St. Pete Beach, where the delegation is staying. “That’s not fair.”

A good number of political analysts say Wilson’s support of Proposition 187 left many Latinos with a bad taste in their mouth for the GOP. That 1994 voter initiative sought to stop the state from providing public education and other social services to illegal immigrants. Latinos overwhelmingly voted against it. Activists launched citizenship drives in its wake that resulted in greater participation by Latinos—as Democrats.


What would the Monday of the Republican convention have looked like? (VIDEO)


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Delegates watch campaign videos of presidential candidate Mitt Romney after the chairman of the Republican National Convention (RNC) Reince Priebus gaveled the convention to order at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, on Aug. 27, 2012. Due to tropical storm Isaac, the convention was called to order and then immediate recess until the afternoon on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

With Tropical Storm Isaac bearing down on Florida, Republicans largely canceled plans for the first day of the Republican National Convention, though the idea of extending the convention is reportedly being considered.

While most of Monday's speakers have been rescheduled for Tuesday or, in a few cases, Wednesday, what would the Monday evening schedule have looked like? Here's a look at video of the originally announced Monday evening speakers to help give you a feel for what that original message might have been.

  • With the theme for the day "We Can Do Better," House Speaker John Boehner was the first scheduled evening speaker.

  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been one of the most outspoken opponents of Obamacare, but he's the only Monday evening speaker yet to be rescheduled. Here's what he had to say about Obamacare and his support for Mitt Romney on Fox News:

  • A recent interview with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus saying that President Obama has not met his promises and "he's not a man of his word":

  • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, just gave the weekly Republican address over the weekend, so his convention speech is likely to contain elements of this recent speech:

  • Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers discussing the "War on Women" on MSNBC:

  • Former Rep. Artur Davis, an African-American representative who switched from being a Democrat to being a Republican, explains why he switched parties:

  • Ted Cruz, a Republican Senate candidate, offered a preview of his convention speech to a local news affiliate just days ago:

  • South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley endorsed Mitt Romney last December; here she is appearing with Mitt Romney explaining why she chose to support Romney:

  • Former governor, former presidential candidate and current Fox News host Mike Huckabee spoke at the Faith and Freedom rally just before the convention, including joking about his original convention slot being canceled:

  • Puerto Rican First Lady Lucé Vela Fortuño was up next. Video of Fortuño is harder to come by, especially in English (about the best we could find is a PSA advising texting friends and family following a disaster or emergency rather than calling when sharing non-emergency messages), but she'll be introducing Mitt Romney's wife Ann Romney:

  • Ann Romney's speech was originally scheduled for Monday, though she'd already been set to swap to Tuesday with Jeb Bush moving to Monday to give Ann Romney a primetime network slot. Instead, Jeb's been bumped once again to Thursday. Here's a recent stump speech he gave in support of Mitt Romney:


California Republicans host New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who never disappoints

Chris Christie Gives Speech On Financial Integrity And Accountability In DC

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers remarks and answers questions at the Brookings Institution, a non-partisan, public policy think tank, July 9, 2012 in Washington, DC.

The New Jersey governor never disappoints.

On a Hollywood campaign stop two years ago with Meg Whitman during her run for governor, Chris Christie confronted a heckler. He was twice the man’s size — at least in width — and loomed over him.  The man quickly quieted down.

Christie’s a big get for the California delegation’s opening breakfast. He is the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention and a possible future presidential candidate (after declining to run this year). 

Christie could also benefit from the appearance, strengthening his ties with Golden State political donors. The California contingent includes 172 delegates and upwards of several hundred dignitaries and invited guests.   

I’m not sure where Christie is staying, but if it's in Tampa, he could have faced a difficult early morning drive over a long bridge over the bay to the breakfast at the delegation’s hotel in low-lying St. Pete Beach.