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September 5th, 2012
01:03 PM ET

Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Patrick McHenry analyze opening night DNC speeches, rebut the Democrats' message

On Tuesday, Democrats capped the first night of their convention with a speech from First Lady Michelle Obama which spoke to the President’s character and accomplishments over his term in office. Earlier, rising-star San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro delivered the keynote address, praising the current president and taking jabs and Mitt Romney on health care. Other Democrats like Fmr. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland went so far as to compare Romney to a fictional character saying, ““If Mitt was Santa Claus he would fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.”

Democrats however are not the only ones in town for the convention. Republican teams are out in full force around Charlotte to counter the messages from the DNC and spread support for GOP candidate Mitt Romney. Two of those Republicans – Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and hometown Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) talk with Soledad O'Brien and the "Starting Point" panel about the DNC’s opening night.

Romney Campaign Surrogate Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) says the greatest weakness for opening night speeches at the DNC was not mentioning any “record of achievement for people getting back to work.” McHenry adds, that people from his district are “not talking about the issues that were brought up last night – they’re talking about whether they have a job.” The North Carolina congressman went on to say “everyone loves” First Lady Michelle Obama and “she’s a fantastic speaker” but Ann Romney is also a good choice for the role of First Lady.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) agreed with McHenry’s earlier comment saying, “For six hours worth of speeches no one overtly said ‘you are better off now than you were four years ago.’” “Of course they’re going to play to their base and get rousing applause in that arena,” says Chaffetz. “The reality is you have 23 million Americans who are either unemployed or underemployed.”

Panelist and CNN contributor Ron Brownstein weighs in and asks if “Obama is in position to hold those suburban voters in North Carolina that he won last time?”

"If you look at the suburbs of Charlotte, you’ve got a great example of one of my colleagues...Larry Kissel. He has refused to come to this convention. He’s one of the host Congressman," McHenry responds.“Larry Kissel is a vulnerable member of Congress because of those collar communities around Charlotte, suburban areas, folks that have simply rejected the president’s policies.”

Chaffetz concludes by saying he himself was inspired by Obama’s 2008 campaign centered on hope and change but “there is nothing you can point to to look at President Obama and say ‘oh my goodness, he actually did bridge places that were difficult.’”

September 3rd, 2012
10:54 AM ET

UPDATE: Ty Pennington on progress recruiting Republican and Democratic delegates to help build home for a military veteran

Former "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" host Ty Pennington is bringing both political parties together for one goal: To build a house for a deserving military veteran. The plan calls for one half of the home to be built at the Republican National Convention and the other half at the Democratic National Convention. The Craftsman Brand, (along with non-profit Rebuilding Together, as well as Heroes at Home, NextGen Home, Champion Builders and Bank of America,) have teamed up with Ty to encourage volunteers to build the home.

Last week, we checked in with Ty at the RNC in Tampa, where Republican delegates were helping build the first half of the house. In Charlotte, he updates Soledad and the "Starting Point" team on the goal of building the second half with help from Democratic delegates.

Folks at home can also help encourage state delegates to participate by signing a petition at

August 31st, 2012
12:38 PM ET

Sen. Ron Johnson says choosing Romney over Obama equates to 'substance' over 'style'

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.”

August 31st, 2012
12:23 PM ET

DNC chair Wasserman Schultz: 'Romney had audacity not to lay out specifics' in RNC speech

"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.

August 31st, 2012
12:08 PM ET

TIME's Joel Stein on Clint Eastwood's RNC speech: 'The best moment I've ever been to at a convention'

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.”

August 31st, 2012
12:06 PM ET

CNN contributor David Frum on Mitt Romney's acceptance speech: 'Not one for the ages, but one for right now'

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.

August 31st, 2012
11:37 AM ET

Rep. Kathy Castor: 'Republicans have really kept us stuck in the mud when it comes to job creation'

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.”

August 31st, 2012
11:21 AM ET

Rep. Jason Chaffetz: GOP has a lot of sucessful women that would make great role models

“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."

August 30th, 2012
12:25 PM ET

VIDEO: Watch CNN contributors Will Cain and Roland Martin debate 'factually challenged' claims from Ryan's GOP convention speech

CNN contributors Will Cain & Roland Martin debate the 'factually challenged' statements in Rep. Paul Ryan's RNC speech.

August 30th, 2012
12:14 PM ET

Fmr. Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush says Ryan GM plant mention in speech is not misleading, says Romney would best solve immigration issues

Fmr. Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) weighs in on GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan's speech at the Republican National Convention. John Berman asks Bush on "Starting Point" about one point that has fact checkers working hard this morning, where Ryan seems to blame President Barack Obama for the failure of a General Motors plant in Wisconsin. The plant was in fact closed in 2008, when Jeb's brother President George W. Bush was in office.

"Not at all," Bush says. "Those are the words that Barack Obama used. It was a campaign promise and yet another campaign promise unfulfilled."

Bush also addresses Ryan's mention of the Bowles-Simpson commission in his speech, which Ryan voted against.

"He voted against it because he did not have any aspect of it that included entitlement reform which is the most pressing budget issue that our country faces, and the Ryan budget does deal with that over the long haul. And so to suggest that Paul Ryan is not completely truthful when he is the only guy in Washington, D.C. that's actually put out a comprehensive plan with a budget attached to it I think is wrong," Bush says.

Towards the end of the interview, Bush says he thinks that if elected, Mitt Romney would be able to handle the immigration issue.

"I think he will be a president that will try to solve our immigration problem by securing the border, but then turning this conversation into how can we create sustained economic growth by using a catalytic converter for growth in the pursuit of dreams, and that's an immigration policy that allows people to come in legally and be able to add value and vitality to our country. President Obama has had four years, two of which he had Democratic control of Congress where he promised he was going to have comprehensive immigration reform. He hasn't even submitted it to Congress," he says.

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