On the final night of the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney accepted the Republican nomination for president. Romney’s acceptance speech focused on the policies of his opponent as well as intimate memories of his family, friends and church members. Other republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also spoke gave speeches alongside surprise guest Clint Eastwood who incorporated a chair into his presentation.
Sen. Ron Johnson who hails from Vice President Nominee Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin says overall through those speeches Republicans were able to convey that they “care about every American.” “We want to see very American have the opportunity to build a good life for themselves and their family,” says Johnson. “The way we do that is not the way President Obama has done it.”
When asked what the weakest part of Romney’s speech was, Johnson says “Some people may say he might not be as stylish as President Obama...if I had to choose style over substance in terms of the President of the United Sates, I’ll take substance every time. And I think that’s exactly what you see in Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney.”
Johnson went on to say “we need leadership” describe the Republican nominees as men of “real substance.” “[Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan] are not running to be president or vice president because they want to have the title,” says Johnson. “But because they care deeply about what’s happening in this country.”
"You deserve better" - that was the core theme of the biggest speech of Mitt Romney's political career. It happened right here in Tampa, Florida. He accepted the Republican nomination for president and accused President Obama of squandering the optimism that helped him win the Oval Office.
This morning on "Starting Point," Democratic National Committee chairwoman Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla) was here in Tampa for that speech. She says what she didn't hear in Romney's speech was any specifics on how he would lead the country.
"What is deeply concerning to me as an American is that Mitt Romney had the audacity to not layout specifics but nice platitudes about how he would create job, 12 million of people, get a handle on the economy and apply his economic wizardry to the nation's problems and did it in a way that didn't give us any specifics," she says.
When asked about Americans concerns that President Obama would not be able to turn the country around economically and create jobs, she said Obama knows it will take time.
"We have a long way to go and President Obama has said that. Simply saying the word jobs a whole bunch of times during the Republican national convention doesn't give Americans any understanding of how they would do that. And that's what's important. There are two paths and visions in front of voters," she says.
Wasserman Schultz also previewed what Americans can expect at the Democratic National Convention next week.
"We're going to have - very different from this week, which was an invitation-only, special interest funded, enthused affair. Our will start with a community festival celebrating the Carolinas and Virginia and close with President Obama accepting the party's nomination for a second term, also with an open to the public event in front of tens of thousands, because we believe that the people that should be celebrated are the working families of America and middle class and folks who really Mitt Romney and his party leadership think we should let the crumbs that trickle down eventually help them," she says.
The Republican National Convention has officially concluded with Mitt Romney accepting the GOP nomination for president. Many tuned in to view Romney’s moving speech which focused on various aspects of his personal life and also targeted President Obama’s promises over the last four years. It was however a surprise speech by actor Clint Eastwood that stole everyone’s attention.
Time Magazine Humor Columnist Joel Stein weighs in on the unscripted address from Eastwood with the “Starting Point” panelists. “I’ve been to eight conventions, that is the best moment I’ve ever been to at a convention,” Stein says. Directed at an empty chair, Stein wonders how the Romney Campaign allowed the speech to happen saying, “they’re such a scripted group.” “I’d love to hear the pitch that he made where everyone said, ‘Yes, let’s do that,’” Stein says.
“You only have a few opportunities in these campaigns to get your message out,” The New Yorker Washington Correspondent Ryan Lizza adds. “And we’re all sitting here talking about a somewhat crazy moment by Clint Eastwood rather than what was in Mitt Romney’s speech.”
“I’m not sure it really spoke to the critical issues,” Democratic Florida Congresswoman Kathy Castor adds. “It was a light moment.”
Mitt Romney delivered the defining speech of his life when he accepted the Republican nomination for president last night. Romney shared personal anecdotes and aimed at President Obama’s last four years in office in the attempt to win over undecided and Independent voters and allow the American public the opportunity to get to know him.
CNN Contributor and Contributing Editor of The Daily Beast/Newsweek David Frum joins Soledad O’Brien in Tampa to break down Romney’s big speech.
His speech “did exactly what Mitt Romney needed to do,” Frum says. “It told the people watching, ‘Yes, I’m human. No, I’m not scary,’” he says.
“Mitt Romney has given himself a very difficult platform to overcome,” Frum says, in regards to democrats focusing on Romney’s wealth at the Democratic National Convention next week. With running mate Paul Ryan, talk of tax cuts and the Ryan plan are “in the air.” “He’s got the symbol of the radicalism of the congressional republics at hand,” Frum says. Frum says Romney’s message is likely, ‘The country will be in safe hands. I am a safe choice.’ “But there are a lot of unsafe choices over his shoulder,” he says.
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) shares her reaction to Mitt Romney’s speech and discusses the policies of the Republican Party with the “Starting Point” panel this morning.
“I think it was very important for Mitt to have a warm performance and I think he accomplished that but now we’re going to have a real debate over policy,” says Castor. “And I think the best example is to go back and look at the republican congress and their policies” and “the fights and debates we’ve been having in Congress.”
Castor went on to refer to the Republican Party as an obstacle for job creation and the economy. “Republicans have really kept us stuck in the mud when it comes to job creation,” says Castor. “They have opposed President Obama’s job bill which was going to put teachers back in the classroom, help repair school buildings.”
Another panelist, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) disagrees and says that Democrats had all the levers of power for two years. Chaffetz continued, “The Democrats didn’t pass some of the things I think this country does need. They overspent. They spent over $800 billion on stimulus with the promise that the unemployment rate would go below the 8% it’s been more than 42 months. It’s been above 8%.”
Chaffetz concluded by saying “you can’t keep just blaming the House Hepublicans. People want leadership. They want results.”
“Starting Point” guest panelist Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) discusses highlights from the Republican National Convention dealing with immigration and women’s issues.
“Over the course of the last three days, you saw very strong, accomplished women take the stage - center stage. I think the Governor of New Mexico...I thought she was absolutely fabulous. She talked about how she thought she was a Democrat but when she really sat down with somebody and went through what she believed in, she realized ‘I’m actually a Republican.’ And she went on to great success,” says Chaffetz. “I think the strength of Ann Romney's presentation really gave a glimpse into the greater Romney family.”
Chaffetz went on to say he hoped “that as people look at the principles" of the Republican Party, they see "a lot of women that have been very successful" and "great role models for people moving forward."
Is the big question of the 2012 presidential race who can best lead the country, or does it come down to which candidate's economic philosophy will win over voters?
On "Starting Point" this morning, Christine O'Donnell, fmr. Republican Senate Candidate from Delaware, discusses this point in a heated debate over the role of government, and also reflects on Mitt Romney's speech before the convention.
"Governor Romney wasn't negative against Obama," O'Donnell says. "He talked about Obama's mistakes, but he didn't attack President Obama. And I thought that that was a very gentlemanly, very diplomatic way to demonstrate the two contrasts between our two candidates. It's capitalism versus collectivism. And collectivism has failed."
Soledad challenges O'Donnell on her point about collectivism, and asks if O'Donnell thinks the Democrats represent communism.
"No. The two different tracks that America is on, restoring a truly authentic, benevolent free market where the entrepreneur can flourish, and the hard work is what creates the jobs that [Romney] promised. As opposed to the collective whole where half your paycheck goes to the government, and they give you everything, and that kind of punitive tax code that snuffs out the individual entrepreneur spirit that has made the American dream," O'Donnell says.
She adds, "I do want to clarify. I didn't say the Democrats are communists. I did not use that phrase. I don't want people to misunderstand what I'm saying. But if you look at the policies that are coming out of this administration, not all Democrats but this administration, we are definitely headed into the direction of more government control. President Obama, himself, has said that he wants to nationalize more of the private sector. And that's not what America is all about. That is not the American dream. The American dream isn't to have a car and to have a house. The American dream is that if you work hard, and you save, and you prepare for the future, and you put the next generation ahead of yourself, you can earn a car and earn a house."
Soledad and O'Donnell then entered into a feisty discussion over whether government investment in infrastructure and in the private sector amounts to communism. O'Donnell continues to explain her point.
"I'm saying these words, redistribute the wealth, economic equality, are buzz words that our president, our own president, has used. And the problem that there is history, there's quantifiable data, to prove that these buzz words, this economic philosophy that he's touting, does not work," O'Donnell says.
Read the entire exchange in the transcript below.
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: Christine O'Donnell is a former Republican Senate candidate from Delaware. She’s also the producer of the Troublemaker Fest that took place here at the exact same time in Tampa. Nice to have you with us.
CHRISTINE O’DONNELL, FORMER REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE: Thank you.
O’BRIEN: - highlights and lowlights of the speech last night.
O’DONNELL: For me, the highlights were watching the family afterwards, watching the kids chase the balloons. There was such an innocence and an excitement. And at one point, Mrs. Romney was trying to corral the grandkids, and it was such an honest moment. And it was just beautiful to sit there and watch and absorb it. And I think, at least for me, and hopefully, the voters got the same feeling that grownups are in charge now. You know, the grownups are here, and it was just a wonderful moment.
O’BRIEN: Do you think that there was anything missing in that speech? What did not -
O’BRIEN: - deliver?
O’DONNELL: No. I think that he was - what was missing was actually a good thing. He wasn't - or Governor Romney wasn't negative against Obama. He talked about Obama's mistakes, but he didn't attack President Obama.
And I thought that that was a very gentlemanly, very diplomatic way to demonstrate the two contrasts between our two candidates. It's capitalism versus collectivism. And collectivism has failed.
O’BRIEN: So, you're saying that the Republicans represent capitalism, and the Democrats represent collectivism or communism?
O’DONNELL: No. The two different tracks that America is on, restoring a truly authentic, benevolent free market where the entrepreneur can flourish, and the hard work is what creates the jobs that he promised as opposed to the collective whole where half your paycheck goes to the government, and they give you everything, and that kind of punitive tax code that snuffs out the individual entrepreneur spirit that has made the American dream.
O’BRIEN: So, Congressman Chaffetz, she’s describing the Democrats as communists. You're saying collectivism. That's communism. And you're saying - do you believe that's true?
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: I wouldn't word it like that. I think we have two different visions. I wouldn't phrase it exactly like that. But I do believe there are two divergent approaches. Do we want to believe in bigger government, more government? Barack Obama has supported a budget that never balances.
There are 143,000 additional federal workers on the federal payroll since President Obama took office. I just think, fundamentally, he believes that government is more of the solution, where I think a candidate Romney believes that we're going to have to have - there's a proper role for government, but it's a limited role of government.
O’DONNELL: And I do want to clarify. I didn't say the Democrats are communists. I did not use that phrase. I don't want people to misunderstand what I'm saying. But if you look at the policies that are coming out of this administration, not all Democrats, but this administration, we are definitely headed into the direction of more government control.
President Obama, himself, has said that he wants to nationalize more of the private sector. And that's not what America is all about. That is not the American dream. The American dream isn't to have a car and to have a house.
The American dream is that if you work hard, and you save, and you prepare for the future, and you put the next generation ahead of yourself, you can earn a car and earn a house.
O’BRIEN: I think Democrats would say that's their message as well.
O’DONNELL: Absolutely. That's why I said -
O’BRIEN: It sounds like you're calling the administration then that collectivism is another word for communism, right?
O’DONNELL: Coming from President Obama's own mouth are some of these statements. When he says redistribute the wealth. This is what is turning off so many independent voters and so many common sense Democrats. When they’re taking a closer look at what the two candidates have to offer.
And you don't need stats or professional economists to tell you that gas prices have doubled under this administration. Grocery prices have risen.
O’BRIEN: And at the same time, the administration has put a lot of money into the private sector, right? So, if you're heading toward communism, you would not be doing that. You would be taking over. I mean, my mother is Cuban, right? So, I can talk a lot about communism to you. I know a lot about it.
O’DONNELL: Right, right.
O’BRIEN: So, I would say, if you're putting money into the private sector, which has been done -
O’DONNELL: You're putting government dollars into the private sector, and that’s -
O’BRIEN: - so it can flourish.
O’DONNELL: It's nationalizing these private businesses.
O’BRIEN: But that that is not nationalizing. If you - I spent this week while everybody was here. I was walking along, you know, levees, right, that have been built with federal money, to protect oil companies, to protect companies in the Gulf Coast.
O’DONNELL: There's a role for the federal government. Just as congressman -
O’BRIEN: But that's not nationalizing.
O’DONNELL: That's infrastructure. We were supposed to build infrastructure. We’re supposed to take care of state-to-state transportation.
O’BRIEN: - is a path to communism giving people healthcare ?
O’DONNELL: I didn't say that. When we talk about healthcare, we’re missing a point. The problem with healthcare is we need to address the cost. We need -
O’BRIEN: - which people would say the ACA is doing. So, when you talk about nationalizing something, and you're really taking sort of the words that they use in Cuba, frankly, communism. I mean, really.
O’DONNELL: I'm talking about - you're saying that the words they use in cuba are coming from President Obama.
O’BRIEN: Oh, certainly not. You're saying that.
O’DONNELL: I'm saying these words, redistribute the wealth, economic equality, are buzz words that our president, our own president, has used. And the problem that there is history, there's quantifiable data, to prove that these buzz words, this economic philosophy that he's touting, does not work. They sound noble and they sound appealing.
O’BRIEN: - economic philosophy meaning what? Are you saying - you sound like you're saying you think the president is a communist.
O’DONNELL: That's not what I'm saying.
O’BRIEN: Economic philosophy, right? What do you mean by that?
O’DONNELL: When he says tax the wealthy, it's only fair, you have to look at -
O’BRIEN: - get rid of tax cuts for the wealthy. When you look under other people's proposals, and Mitt Romney and other - when we looked during the primary, there are plenty of people who would - at the tax center, for example, who would say the middle class, actually, is hurt more by what Governor Romney proposes.
O’DONNELL: That's not true -
O’BRIEN: They do, absolutely.
O’DONNELL: These principles of lower taxes, lower regulation, and cutting government spending. When those three are coupled together, they work, whether it's a Democrat -
O’DONNELL: These principles work whether it's a Democrat such as Kennedy and Clinton who’s implementing them, and they don't work when it's a - even when it's a Republican, such as Nixon and Bush, who are violating them. So, there are basic economic principles on which the American economy was established and built.
Both parties have strayed from these, and it's going to take a radical ideological reawakening to get back and fix the American economy.
O’BRIEN: Is Mitt Romney the radical ideological reawakening?
O’DONNELL: I am not saying that Governor Romney is that. Again, you're putting words in my mouth.
O’BRIEN: I'm just asking questions.
O’DONNELL: That's what it's going to take. It’s going to take drastic cuts.
RYAN LIZZA, "THE NEW YORKER": If Mitt Romney won - if he wins, would you -
O’DONNELL: I can't hear you. I'm sorry.
LIZZA: If Mitt Romney wins, would you serve in his administration if asked, and if so, what kind of job would you be interested in?
O’DONNELL: I don't think that's even an appropriate question. Right now, we got to make sure that it's when Governor Romney wins.
LIZZA: So, when he wins, would you serve in his administration if he asks?
O’DONNELL: Are you in a position to offer jobs?
LIZZA: I'm asking you as a Republican who endorsed him -
O’DONNELL: Well, who knows? I mean, that's asking what I'm going to do with my life in the next year, and it depends on what happens in this country. And I'm going to go where I'm best need. And it might be to continue to play a pundit role. It might be in Washington. Who knows?
LIZZA: Would you serve in the Romney administration if he asks?
O’DONNELL: I don't know. I don't know. I want to go where I'm called to go. And who knows?
O’BRIEN: Christine O'Donnell, nice to have you with us.
O’DONNELL: Thank you, Soledad.
Team Romney will head to Louisiana today to view storm damage from Isaac after he wraps up a campaign event in Florida later this morning. After the tour, Romney will begin the final phase of his presidential campaign.
Last night, Romney closed out the Republican Convention with the biggest speech of his political career. It included a Reagan-esque attack on President Obama's performance.
This morning on "Starting Point," CNN's Candy Crowley interviews Ann Romney, Mitt Romney's wife, about how she felt he did during the speech. She says she knew he'd done a great job. "Mitt was confident, he felt very good about his speech," she says. She said after the speech they reflected on their family members who had passed and what they would have thought about his candidacy.
Crowley also asks Ann whether the Republican party has an image issue with women, and what she thinks female voters are looking for in the next President.
“I will tell you what I’m hearing from women across the country right now. Those that may not have voted for a Republican in the past are coming up and telling me this. That enough is enough. That they care not about their own job, and their children’s job and their husband’s job, which they do care about because they’re worried about those. They are also caring about the legacy of debt that we’re leaving their children. I think they recognize that it’s time for someone that understands the economy, understands job creation, understands how responsible he’s going to be in making sure that their children are not going to be burdened with the debts,” Romney says.
She adds, “I’m hearing from so many women that may not have considered voting for a Republican before that said it’s time for the grown up to come. The man that’s going to take this very seriously. And take the future of our children very, very seriously. I very much believe it’s going to be an economic election. And I think a lot of women may be voting this cycle around in a different way than they usually are. And that is thinking about the economy. Thinking about their own jobs, their husbands jobs, but also thinking about the future.”
We've opened a live blog for "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien" this morning, with Soledad live from Pach's Place in Tampa with a full recap of the last night of the Republican National Convention, and the latest on the devastation from what is now tropical depression Isaac. Soledad and our Starting Point producers will be moderating.
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CNN contributors Will Cain & Roland Martin debate the 'factually challenged' statements in Rep. Paul Ryan's RNC speech.