The first night of the Republican National Convention featured two key speeches that aimed at raising the curtain for Mitt Romney. So, how did they do?
Here's a sampling of some of the reactions to—and a little Wednesday morning quarterbacking of—the speeches from Ann Romney and Chris Christie:
"A perfect blend caps off a perfect night for the GOP faithful," The New York Post's John Podhoretz:
Well, the first night of the Republican convention couldn’t possibly have gone any better for Mitt Romney. The evening showcased two speeches that represented two key aspects of the American electorate — the two aspects of the American voter to which he needs to appeal if he is to win in November. One is the heart. The other is the spine.
"Why Ann Romney succeeded and Chris Christie didn’t," Washington Examiner's Byron York:
Perhaps the Romney campaign, unbeknownst to Christie, should have paid someone to heckle him midway through his speech. Then the audience might have gotten a glimpse of the Chris Christie they know and love.
"Ann Romney: Love Mitt, please," Salon's Irin Carmon:
A campaign that has stubbornly declared that there is no such thing as women’s issues, that women care about jobs and gas prices, is forced to make an appeal relying both on gender essentialism and the explicit admission that women face structural challenges. ... Her pitch for her husband once again boiled down to the fact that because she loves him, we should too, and because she has struggled with MS and cancer and once lived in a basement apartment, she and her husband understand America’s pain.
"Ann Romney and Chris Christie," The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan:
But it was scattered, full of declarations — “Tonight I want to talk to you about love” — that weren’t built upon but abandoned. Strong as the impression of personal beauty is, I think [Romney] missed an opportunity. ... I want to tell you they marched out of the hall Tuesday night on fire for their side. But I was there and they did not.
Where Romney was fairly natural with the teleprompter and her speech could be enjoyed without any distraction, Gov. Chris Christie, seemed nervous and thus upped the register of his voice somewhat unnaturally. I don't think his keynote came across as well, even though it brought more applause. But it does not matter how often the delegates applaud.... What Christie tried to do was sketch out what he did in New Jersey, try to claim it as his party's legacy, and imply that Mitt Romney will do the same.
"Is Ann Romney the Asset Everyone Assumes?," The New Republic's Alec MacGillis:
It strikes me as unlikely that Ann Romney will be able to shoulder the load of making her husband more personally appealing to the electorate. Why? Because Ann Romney is not exactly the ideal messenger herself. ... Simply put, Mitt Romney is not alone in his tone-deafness as a very wealthy person in an era of gaping inequality.
"Stepping Out of a Husband’s Shadow, and Perhaps Overshadowing Him," The New York Times' Alessandra Stanley:
She was electric — when Mitt Romney came to her side at the end, he somehow sapped the energy from the moment.
Following in the footsteps of Mitt Romney’s campaign, rarely have so many convention speeches been based on such shaky foundations. ... [Christie] said his state needed his austere discipline of slashed budgets, canceled public projects and broken public unions, but did not mention that New Jersey now has a higher unemployment rate than when he took over, and never had the revenue boom he promised from tax cut
Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs:
“I’m kind of flabbergasted at the whole night. It seemed first and foremost like this was a very angry convention tonight full of insults.”
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Christie's speech:
"An act of political selfishness."
Unnamed senior Romney advisor:
"Gov. Christie did exactly what we asked, which was lay out the problems facing the nation and close with Governor Romney as the solution."
"Grading the big speeches" — Christian Heinze, The Hill
Ann Romney: A. Ann should’ve introduced Mitt on Thursday night. That’s all there is to it. She wouldn’t have upstaged him, she would have handed him a much softened stage with a much softer glow – like a presidential commercial for cotton.
Chris Christie: D. He didn't pass ... It’s hard to think of another politician more impressive than Christie, so that only makes his failure more complete. It’s like going to hear Vladimir Horowitz play Tchaikovsky, and getting a merry rendition of chopsticks, instead. Chopsticks is great in a living room, just not in Carnegie Hall.
In fact, Ann Romney’s most powerful lines were not about how Mitt Romney is just like the rest of us — but how he has shown himself to be very different
."The night Republicans had to get their voice above the hurricane," The Guardian's Gary Younge:
While Ann channelled her inner Oprah, the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, channelled his inner Soprano. After explaining how his Sicilian mother taught him to talk plainly, he chose respect over love. While Ann vouched for Mitt as a man of empathy, Christie was supposed to vouch for his steadfast principle. In the end Christie vouched more for his own record in New Jersey than Romney's candidacy. With his barnstorming style and resolute oratory, by the end of the week his enduring legacy may prove to be the warm-up act that eclipsed the main event.
"The Case for Noblesse Oblige," The New York Times' Ross Douthat:
It's an argument for Ann Romney's husband that could have been made on behalf of the old White Anglo Saxon ruling class with whose Social Registered members he shares so many qualities. You don't have to love him, the more effective parts of her speech implied, or relate to him, or even always necessarily agree with him. But you can trust him with the presidency, because he's suited to public service, and he was born and raised and trained to do this job.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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