Energy is starting to pulse in the Tampa Convention Center as the GOP delegates intone their roll calls, announcing their votes for Romney. And yes, votes for Ron Paul, too. Early in the count Alaska named six of its 24 delegates for Ron Paul, to a mix of boos and cheers, and then six states went on to cast a majority of votes for Paul: Oregon, Virgin Islands, Minnesota, Iowa, Nevada.
Notably -- and, it must be said, strangely -- only the Romney votes are being called out and confirmed in the official count from the podium, creating a stir of confusion in the room.
But Republican National Convention Co-Chair Sharon Day isn’t focused on the possibility of full-scale floor fights. Instead, she’s focused on the youth and diversity and energy that the GOP is showcasing in the large cast of speakers today. “I think it’s a different energy [this year]. I think our average age is 15 to 20 years younger. The speakers are just dynamic, they’re energized, they’re young. We’ve never had so many young people. It’s so exciting!”
(Photo: Julie Ross Godar)
Day demurred when asked about tonight’s being labeled “Ladies’ Night” for the number of women speakers lining the docket, all leading to headliner Ann Romney, who is tasked with the job of making her husband warm and approachable, considered a critical campaign goal for this convention. “I don’t think tonight is ladies’ night. I think tonight is 'We Built It!',” she said, citing the day’s theme. But a whopping 18 women are scheduled to speak today and tonight, including rising GOP stars South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (of Indian descent) and New Mexico Governor (and Latina) Susana Martinez.
Day says that the GOP is the party for women, because the economic downturn has disproportionately impacted women. “Women have been hurt more by this president than any other time,” said Day, citing that more women have lost their jobs than men in this downturn, and that men are going back to work faster than women.
Day believes that the economy is the primary issue for women, as polls are showing is the case. “When I get asked, ‘As a woman how do you feel about the issues on women?’, I always say the same thing: the economy -- how I put food on the table for my children –- national security, and education. Those are women’s issues.” But when asked about the Republican platform’s stance on the other woman’s issue -- abortion, and the GOP’s decision to make it illegal in all cases, even for a pregnancy resulting from rape -- Day called out the Democrats and Obama for making this a central debate in the elections this year. “What Obama has tried to do is run away from the issues he can’t defend, from his failed policies, his overreaching regulations and the fact that he doesn’t think small businesses are built by the small business owner.”
Aug. 28, 2012 - Tampa, Florida, U.S. - Minnesota delegates Melissa Valeriano and Marianne Stebbins, pledged to Ron Paul, yell "point of order" and "division" after the Republican National Committee voted to change the rules of the convention and take away their rights of the state delegation at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. (Credit Image: © Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com)
But despite the diversity that Day wants to celebrate, the faces in the room are still largely white men and blonde women (only two percent of delegates are African-American, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies). As the roll call continues down through the alphabet, and the Romney votes pile up on stage (and the Ron Paul votes are cast and then cast aside) it’s hard not to see that the GOP is not presenting the unified message and diverse membership –- at least on the delegates’ floor -- that Sharon Day and the Republican Convention Committee worked so hard to promote at the convention this year.
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