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RNC Day 2: The Night's Biggest Speakers

Dawn Megli |
August 28, 2012 | 8:06 p.m. PDT

Staff Columnist

The night's speeches were more a referendum on Obama than an endorsement of Romney. (Courtesy Creative Commons/ Dawn Megli)
The night's speeches were more a referendum on Obama than an endorsement of Romney. (Courtesy Creative Commons/ Dawn Megli)
The stage was busy Tuesday as two nights' worth of speakers addressed the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Speakers rattled off a litany of criticisms against the Obama administration and were generous with calls to restore America but resisted offering a firm policy to fix the lagging economy and clear the legislative stalemate in Congress. Here's a roundup of night's biggest speakers.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who gained clout in the GOP by rolling back union rights and surviving a recall election, focused his remarks on job creation. Obama has seized on Romney's own lackluster record of putting people to work while governor. Massachusetts ranked 47 out of the 50 states for job creation during his tenure.

"Mitt Romney understands, like I understand, that people - not governments - create jobs," Walker said.

Since the prerecession high in 2009, more than 706,000 public sector jobs have been lost due to government spending cuts.

Rick Santorum, Romney's former bitter-campaign-rival-turned-reluctant-supporter, addressed the convention on welfare reform. The topic was a departure from his signature social issue talking points but he spent his remarks framing the economy in family terms.

"Many Americans don't succeed because the family that should be there to guide them, and serve as the first rung on the ladder of success, isn't there or is badly broken," Santorum said.

Santorum mentioned Obama more than Romney, repeating an inaccurate claim that Obama had waived the work requirement for welfare. His administration said the Department of Health and Human Services would consider granting waivers to states to explore alternatives to the work requirement if the state could demonstrate it would move more people into jobs than the work requirement. 

Ann Romney took on the behemoth role of humanizing her husband. Dressed in red, she bucked the prevailing notion of her "storybook marriage" and told the story of her "real marriage," including battles with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. She also listed the John and Abigail Adams scholarships among her husband's accomplishments.

On closer inspection, the scholarships, which give high-performing high school graduates a four-year tuition-free scholarship could be a potential misstep in an address to the party of limited government. The program allocates government funds for students to attend government universities. Such government spending is out of step with the slash-spending zealotry of the Tea party wing of the GOP.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie didn't mention Mitt Romney until he was 1,800 words into his 2,600-word speech. He used his own family story as an example of American exceptionalism.

"This stage and this moment are very improbable for me," Christie said of his parents' struggle against poverty. 

In a faux pas similar to Ann Romney's, Christie touted the virtues of the GI Bill, a government scholarship program, as a tool which helped his father improve the economic situation of their family. And in a political punchline which failed to turn the speech into a barnburner, Christie invoked the Greatest Generation and called for "a second American Century where real American exceptionalism is not a political punch line."


Reach Staff Columnist Dawn Megli here

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