The Week In Politics: Looking Back At The RNC, Looking Ahead To The DNC
Political convention season is in full swing, Republicans wrapped up theirs last night in Tampa. Next week, we’ll hear from Democrats…from right here in Charlotte. WFAE political analyst Michael Bitzer joins Duncan McFadyen to talk about the (particularly busy) week in politics.
MCFADYEN: So, who was your favorite speaker at the RNC? Who do you think was most effective at communicating the message?
BITZER: Someone we didn’t really expect was Condi Rice, former secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration. She really came out with a speech that laid out a fairly clear vision of what her interpretation of the American dream was. And that the country needed to return to it. And it was much more of an inspirational speech that got the delegates, really created a kind of buzz of “hey, maybe SHE needs to be a future candidate for our party for the presidency.” It was really something unexpected. WE typically tend to think, ok the keynote speaker, Gov. Chris Christie, he talked a lot about himself. Didn’t mention Mitt Romney until about two minutes at the end of his speech. But I think the delegates are really thinking, “maybe Condi Rice is someone they should seriously consider if Mitt Romney isn’t able
MCFADYEN: One thing it seemed like Condoleezza Rice did NOT do as much as some of the other speakers is attack the president.
BITZER: Yah, Condi kind of took the higher ground in her remarks. She Talked about herself, but she put it in the context of what Republicans believe is the American dream. That the ability of somebody growing up in segregated Alabama was able to rise to the position that she rose as Secretary of State. This is something that really touched a lot of people and made it a kind of connection on a personal level that a lot of the other speakers didn’t necessarily do in trying to bash the president.
MCFADYEN: You said Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, was the speech that everyone was sort of looking to, but he got mixed reviews.
BITZER: Everybody knew what the style of Christ Christie is, it’s very much a kind of in your face, gung-ho approach. But he kind of clashed with Ann Romney’s speech. Ann Romney was much more comfortable, much more personable, much more humanizing of Mitt Romney. And it took Chris Christie a while to even mention the candidate’s name, so he may have accomplished what he wanted to do. Maybe setting himself up for 2016, but I don’t think he’s getting the rave reviews that most keynote speakers get.
MCFADYEN: Is the keynote speaker’s job traditionally to gin up the party base, the party loyal, to support whoever the candidate is that year?
BITZER: Oh, definitely. I mean, it’s to lay out the vision, to lay out the idea of who we are as a political party. And certainly Chris Christie did that. But he did it in a kind of aggressive tone, and that has been kind of fitting into what we have seen at the RNC. Very aggressive against President Obama. Willing to go after him continuously. But it seemed a little too much in comparison to what Ann Romney was presenting.
MCFADYEN: What lessons from this week do you think the Democrats are going to take away as they look to their convention next week here in Charlotte?
BITZER: Oh, it’s going to a full-throated defense of the president and his policies. The republicans, every opportunity, every speaker has literally said, “yes, Mr. President, we did build that.” And the Democrats are going to come full force back. It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out rhetorical fight between the two political parties. And it’s only going to show the intensity and probably the negativism that we’re going to see over the next couple of weeks leading into November.
MCFADYEN: OK, is there anything not convention related that you want to talk about this week?
BITZER: You mean there’s something other than Tampa and Charlotte occurring outside in the world!? I make fun of that, and we’re cognizant of the after-effects of [hurricane] Isaac. But in the political world, this is Christmas, this is New Year’s, this is St. Patrick’s Day. Life ceases to exist outside of the political realm, I’m afraid.
MCFADYEN: Short of a Tuesday night in November, it doesn’t get any bigger than this.
BITZER: That’s right.