CHARLOTTE, NC – Former President Bill Clinton set the table. His nominating speech on Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention refuted much of what Republicans alleged at their convention last week in Tampa. That clears the table for President Obama to talk about what is to come.
Americans are very uneasy about the economy, uneasy about the jobs picture and uneasy about their health care. The president will need to ease America’s fears. He could say, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” but it’s been taken. He could say, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for the country,” but in the case of health care it may not apply. He could say, “I feel your pain,” but that might seem a little trite today with 23 million Americans out of work. That is too many. He could promise 12 million new jobs, but that rings hollow for the jobless who have grown weary of political promises.
At this point I don’t think Americans care if someone grew up poor, saved the Olympics or is a nice guy or an egomaniac. They want vision, direction and hope.
These are the moments you cannot teach. You either have it or you don’t. Tonight Americans will tune in and judge for themselves.
It was a very interesting and times revealing night. I purposely waited to write any reaction to Thursday night’s final night of the GOP Convention in Tampa because to be frank, I don’t know if I really knew how I felt about it all.
Clearly it was supposed to be a night for Mitt Romney, but just as clearly it didn’t turn out that way.
As I look back in reflection, the thing I cannot get out of my mind is the Clint Eastwood speech or skit or whatever it was. He was at his best when he looked directly at the audience and stated simply, “If you can’t do the job you should be let go.”
It got a rousing response from the faithful, but when he turned and started talking to the empty chair I started to think I was watching a bad skit on the Tonight Show. I began to wonder how the Romney people who shamelessly touted the appearance were going to get “The Clint Eastwood” off the stage in a way that would save face for everyone. Many people in the Forum struggled to hear Eastwood because he would turn away from the directional microphone, making him hard to hear.
Then he turned to face the front again and delivered another direct blow about how bad it is to have over 20 million Americans without jobs. Unfortunately just when you thought it was going to end, he turned back to his imaginary routine and once again you began to worry about an 82-year-old legend who may have finally found a role he shouldn’t play.
Sen. Marco Rubio benefited from the Eastwood warm-up act and delivered the speech of the night. Any other time, Americans might be talking about his speech in the same breath with Mario Cuomo and Barack Obama. Would it fuel unfulfilled stirrings of the former or a presidential run of the latter. It stirred with passion, with vigor and made me begin to imagine that America could very well have a president of Cuban descent in my lifetime.
As I remember the surprise guest’s speech wasn’t even acknowledged during Romney’s speech and little wonder why. He was probably hoping for a little separation at that point but it may have been too late.
Anticipation built all day for the Eastwood appearance. His voice was used in a Chrysler TV commercial during the Super Bowl and many took that as a tacit endorsement of President Obama. Now he was going to make their day by setting the record straight. Everyone was buying in, including me. It was going to be great theater. I can tell you the hallways on the fifth floor where I was hunkered down in waiting were empty with anticipation for his speech.
After the night was over, people left with mixed emotions. They felt good about their presidential candidate, felt good about the party’s future, but they left talking about the actor’s speech. Years later delegates will tell their family and friends they were in the Forum in Tampa, Florida for that speech by Clint Eastwood. You know – the one with the empty chair.
That may get you ratings but it won’t win you an election.
Roll Call is reporting that reporting the second quarter fundraising numbers for US Senate from April 1 to June 30th.
The cash on hand column is revealing. It shows Republican Richard Lugar with over $3.5 million, challenger Richard Mourdock with $214,000 and Democrat Joe Donnelly with $686,000.
Overall Lugar raised $912,000 in the second quarter and spent $375,000 of it. Mourdock raised $312,000 and spent $221,000. Donnelly raised $453,000 and spent $106,000.
Money does not always translate into a win but it does show a serious gap. It will also be curious to see how much of that money Sen. Lugar will feel he needs to spend. If he has to spend most of it in the primary it may be difficult to raise that kind of money for a general election. This primary will be an interesting race to watch.
I am trying to think of how many times I have seen opportunity knock only to have someone refuse to answer. Nationwide Republicans have moved on. They are already talking about Pawlenty or longing for Palin.
Locally Republicans have enjoyed having one of their own touted as the candidate on the white horse who was going to ride in and save the day but all that ended Sunday. After months of joking about jockeying for position, Governor Mitch Daniels decided not mount up at all. He said the five girls in his house have veto power and so it is over.
Democrat gubernatorial candidate John Gregg joked that he hoped Mitch Daniels ran for president and took a lot of young Indiana Republican talent with him to Iowa and New Hampshire. He didn’t stop there. If you are a Republican and going to write one check, he said, write it to Mitch Daniels.
Well, now the state’s popular governor will be staying home, focusing on Indiana issues and Indiana campaigns. He will be able to raise money for GOP candidates in the state and work to solidify the changes he has implemented. That may not be good news for Indiana Democrats.
On the other hand some Democrats will tell you that may not be all bad. Many believe Mitch Daniels stirred up a hornet’s nest in the last general assembly, motivating the unions, teachers and women’s groups to get politically involved. He put together the perfect resume to run for president but left an agitated electorate behind. Minority Leader Pat Bauer said he was getting more calls from angry Democrats wanting to get involved during the legislative session than he has even seen before.
I read a long time ago that we are not always responsible for the situations in which we find ourselves but we are responsible for how we react to them. This will be interesting to watch. The man who wanted to be president elected not to answer when opportunity knocked. Now it will be interesting to see how he reacts to it.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says there will be no announcement about his political future on Friday. It appears he wants to enjoy the moment.
Earlier in the day it was announced that the states unemployment rate fell to 8.2% April. That is 0.8 below the national average, which is very big news in Indiana. It marks the first time since June of 2003 that Indiana’s unemployment rate has dropped below that benchmark. He can now take the weekend and add that to his resume.
If there is one thing Mitch Daniels knows it is how to play to his audience. Declining unemployment, balanced budgets, slashed spending, capped property taxes, limited collective bargaining for teachers, school vouchers and the defunding Planned Parenthood looks more like a GOP wish list. It hardly reads like a man who angered conservatives by calling for a truce on social issues.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will be announcing his candidacy for President in Iowa on Monday. Meanwhile Gov. Daniels will be espousing the party line at the National Republican Senatorial Committee meeting in Washington, DC on Wednesday.
After that he will return to Indianapolis where the Indianapolis 500 will be celebrating its 100th anniversary. If someone wanted to take advantage of a national audience it would be the perfect time to launch a campaign.
When he was first elected governor in 2004 Mitch Daniels told Hoosiers to “buckle up” for change. He reiterated it two months later in his first inaugural address. He was using a phrase he knew Hoosiers would relate to.
Now he may have yet a third opportunity to use it right before the nation’s biggest auto race and before his biggest audience.
Update: Daniels’ mishap involving a swinging door could end up postponing any plans to announce. See the story here.
The speculation is building about Gov. Mitch Daniels. Will he or won’t he?
When his wife Cheri spoke to Indiana Republicans last week, folks were hanging on every word waiting for some kind of a clue to her husbands political future – and not realizing that just giving that speech spoke volumes. She got up in front of a convention like crowd and succeeded in just being herself.
Fast forward to the next week. Bloggers are starting to imply Governor Daniels has made a decision. Meanwhile the Governor tells Statehouse reporters in Indianapolis Tuesday not to believe all the Twitter buzz out there.
While we wait, Romney raises ten million dollars in one day. Chuck Todd at NBC says that Daniels is probably the only player right now who could get in this month and raise more than ten million for the quarter, thanks to Bush 43′s donor list.
Meanwhile in Iowa, Newt Gingrich gets blasted by potential voter who calls him an embarrassment to the Republican party. Even though the media is in a rush to get all the players in the hunt, reality is it may be June or July before we see a complete field.
Mitch Daniels, Sarah Palin and a surprise or two could still be out there. The only thing that could move that schedule up would be impressive fund raising numbers. Romney flexed some muscle there. If in the coming days he is able to back that up with substantial numbers that could force the hands of some and cause others to fold.
Daniels told Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reporter Niki Kelly Tuesday that he is not going to take much longer with it. Good idea. One thing you don’t want to give to the competition is time to establish momentum.
There are a lot of very interesting political stories looming on the horizon.
First and foremost will Governor Mitch Daniels run for President? For the longest time he has said he would not make any decision until after the legislative session. Well, now it’s over and you can certainly see why he wanted to wait.
Lawmakers have given him the perfect platform to campaign on. A $1.1 billion budget surplus, education reform and the strictest abortion law in America. Now Gov. Daniels is asking the far right in his party to take another look. He can no longer be written off as the man who called for a truce on social issues. Now he is the man who acted, on the budget, education with charter schools, vouchers, early graduation scholarships and incentives for teachers and last but not least on abortion.
“It’s the economy, stupid” still fits. But now he has a more complete resume. Now he needs to circulate it to see if there are any takers. I think that is what he is currently doing.
When it comes to the governor’s race, I think Republicans and Democrats will want to keep the number of candidates down to keep interest and donations up. Rep. Mike Pence will announce by the end of the week on the Republican side. John Gregg appears to be the front runner on the Democratic side. If this proves to be reality this will be one of the most interesting races to cover in a long time – a conservative Republican against a right-to-life Democrat.
Mike Pence will have to overcome his Washington, DC success, which doesn’t always play well with the locals, and John Gregg is as old boy local as you can get. Gregg, on the other hand, will have to reintroduce himself to the voters while Mike Pence has kept his name out there all across the state.
Both have extensive media experience and are very comfortable in front of the media and big crowds. I expect money to flow to both candidates for television but one on one campaigning might be the difference here. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to these possibilities. Let’s get on with it!
As the golf cart motored by the cottage in Sun Lakes, Arizona, you could hear the exchange over the hum of the battery powered cart.
“I just like Butler. They seem to never quit.”
I thought this vacation to the sunny southwest would regenerate my battery after five weeks of watching and listening as politicians blamed each other for the lack of activity at the Indiana Statehouse. But for the second year in a row my plans were thwarted.
A year ago I didn’t even want to go the beach in Florida because I was missing out. While I was supposed to be sunning myself everyone back home in Indiana was basking in the sunlight of Butler’s improbable run and I was missing out. How was I supposed to know that Spring Break meant Butler Basketball?
You would think I would have learned my lesson. Now one year later I am visiting with my in-laws, sitting along the 7th hole, experiencing a strange deja vu. It is not the first time an underdog has captured the imagination of the country.
During another recession, in fact an actual depression, a small horse with a big heart ran the race for the common man. There is a great line in the movie Sea Biscuit where the trainer tells the jockey to slack off coming around the second turn to let the horse look into the eyes of its competition. Then hold on. For some reason that I was I think of when I watch Butler.
There wasn’t supposed to be a thoroughbred in the bunch except for Shelvin Mack, but he didn’t start that way. He willed himself that way. Matt Howard carries the hopes of the town of Connersville, Indiana and every other small town in America – where people know and like their mailman enough to make sure he has the ability to take his family to watch his son deliver.
You feel good about yourself when you see the shot of the Howard family watching the game. Hard work makes good. Family makes right. Matt Howard is the one I think of most when I remember that line from the movie Sea Biscuit. Just slack off a bit and let him look in the eyes of his competition. Then hang on. We are all hanging on.
From the world of politics, from the golf courses across America, to a lot of folks going out to pick up their mail. All rooting for a team of unlikely basketball players who haven’t realized they are not supposed to be able to do this. Certainly not two years in a row. They may not win Monday night either, but for a lot of their fans it is not always about surviving. Monday night it will be about thriving again.
Looking into the eyes of that thoroughbred next to you and then taking off. What does that popular television commercial say? It’s just my way of sticking it to the man. I can’t wait until Tuesday morning. I can almost hear it now. Just over the hum of the passing golf cart, or on the mail route in Connersville. “I knew they could do it” someone will say in a tone that belies what that really implies. I can do it too. Just let me at ‘em.