by Carolyn Coleman
As Isaac, weakened from a hurricane to a tropical depression, swept through southeastern Louisiana on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, 50,000 delegates and other guests, including NLC President Ted Ellis, mayor, Bluffton, IN, gathered in Tampa, FL, for the Republican National Convention.
"The national political conventions are a deep and enduring political tradition in our country, and local governments and NLC have a vested interest in the outcome of our national elections," said Ellis. "Our presence at the conventions, where candidates for federal office are articulating their positions on federal policy issues and their approaches to governing, is important."
After nominating Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) to be their party's candidates for President and Vice President respectively, convention delegates adopted the 2012 Republican Party Platform, which is the definitive statement of the party's principles and ideals.
In addition to convention activities, during his visit to Tampa, President Ellis met with representatives from ANGA, an NLC corporate partner, and learned about the natural gas vehicles the group provided to the Tampa convention and will be providing to the Democrats' convention in Charlotte, NC, this week. He also met with Tampa host city mayor, Bob Buckhorn, to commend him on the city's comprehensive planning efforts in support of the convention. In another meeting, Ellis and representatives from the National Restaurant Association, another NLC corporate partner, discussed the impact the economy is having on the hospitality industry in cities.
In his convention acceptance speech, Romney shared stories of his childhood growing up in Michigan, and how he struck out on his own to build his business career. In a direct appeal to those who supported President Obama in 2008, he offered them a reason to change their vote in 2012. "The President hasn't disappointed you because he wanted to," said Romney. "The President has disappointed America because he hasn't led America in the right direction. He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government."
Although he offered few details on specific strategies, Romney presented his five-step plan as President to create 12 million jobs:
He also pledged not to raise taxes on the middle class, to protect the sanctity of life and the institution of marriage, and to guarantee freedom of religion. In conclusion, he pledged, "If I am elected President of these United States, I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future."
The three day convention, which was cut short due to the weather, also featured speeches from old and new leaders of the Republican party that energized the crowd in Tampa, including: former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Mayor Mia Love of Sarasota Springs, UT, who, if elected, would be the first Republican African-American woman elected to Congress; former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL); former Speaker of the House and presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich; Governor Susana Martinez (R-NM); Senate candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL); Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH); Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ); actor Clint Eastwood; and Romney's wife, Ann.
While drawing upon the convention campaign themes of "We Built It," "We Can Do Better," and "We Can Change It," the speeches also underscored the stark differences between Romney and President Obama on pressing federal policy issues including the healthcare law, Medicare reform, strategies to stimulate the economy, tax reform, and fiscal policy. On the last night of the convention, family, friends, business partners, and former Olympians shared personal anecdotes about Romney's faith and commitment to service that had touched each one of their lives.
Democrats will have their chance to rebut the Republican claims about President Obama's leadership and make their case to voters for another term for President Obama when their convention gets underway next week in Charlotte. An NLC delegation, led by President Ellis, will attend this convention as well.
Over the remaining months of both campaigns, NLC will be studying the positions of both candidates to assess the impact they would have on cities and towns.