TOPICS > Politics

On Day 2 of Republican Convention, Rice and Ryan Speeches Were Standouts

August 30, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
Jeffrey Brown recaps speeches by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, standouts from day three of the Republican convention. Mark Shields and David Brooks weigh in on Mitt Romney's need to show off his authenticity and on Paul Ryan's factual errors.
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TRANSCRIPT

JUDY WOODRUFF: As the Republican National Convention draws to a close, the centerpiece of tonight’s agenda is the appearance by the candidate himself. The delegates, the campaign officials and Mitt Romney spent the day getting ready.

Jeffrey Brown begins our coverage.

JEFFREY BROWN: At the Tampa Bay Times Forum this morning, a different kind of racket, as workers set up a new podium designed to offer a more intimate feel for Mitt Romney in the big hall.

On this final day of the convention, Republican officials were hoping to carry forward momentum from last night. The crowd gave former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a boisterous embrace. And she responded with a speech focused first on America’s role in the world, with a sharp jab at President Obama’s record.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, Former U.S. Secretary of State: We cannot be reluctant to lead, and you cannot lead from behind.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand this reality. Our well-being at home and our leadership abroad are inextricably linked. They know what to do. They know that our friends and allies must again be able to trust us.

JEFFREY BROWN: It was Rice’s own personal story that brought the audience to its feet.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: A little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham, the segregated city of the South, where her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or to a restaurant, but they have her absolutely convinced that even if she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworths lunch counter, she could be president of the United States if she wanted to be, and she becomes the secretary of state.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

JEFFREY BROWN: Tom Cotton, a veteran making his first run for Congress from Arkansas, was in the crowd.

TOM COTTON (R), Arkansas Congressional Candidate: Condi Rice was great. She really emphasized the need for American leadership in the world, to restore a sense of respect among our allies and fear among our enemies, but also the appeal that she had growing up in the Jim Crow South, and growing up to be secretary of state and, as she said, possibly even president that her parents instilled with her.

It’s a great testament to the ideas of the Republican Party and what it can mean for individuals.

JEFFREY BROWN: Top billing for the night went to the party’s nominee for vice president, Paul Ryan.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-Wi.), Vice Presidential Candidate: Ladies and gentlemen, these past four years, we have suffered no shortage of words in the White House. What is missing is leadership in the White House.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

JEFFREY BROWN: Ryan closed with a call that tried to reach beyond the convention hall.

PAUL RYAN: Together, we can do this. We can get this country working again. We can get this economy growing again.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PAUL RYAN: We can make the safety safe again.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PAUL RYAN: We can do this.

Whatever your political party, let’s come together for the sake of our country. Join Mitt Romney and me. Let’s give this effort everything we have.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PAUL RYAN: Let’s see this thing all the way through. Let’s get this done.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

TOM COTTON: He obviously motivated the party base very well. But I think he appealed to a broad swathe of independents and even Democrats watching on TV as well.

JEFFREY BROWN: Delegates we talked to today, like Kevin Krick of California, agreed.

KEVIN KRICK, Republican Delegate: The guy came up there, showed himself as poised, put-together, smart, on target, focused, and plenty of empathy. He’s got his family back there, his mom, his greatest hero. You can’t get better than that.

JEFFREY BROWN: But not everyone was thrilled. Juliette Jordal of Minnesota is a Ron Paul delegate.

JULIETTE JORDAL, Republican Delegate: My vote was not counted. I wasn’t heard and I’m not feeling like Ryan really brought me into the party today.

JEFFREY BROWN: Tonight, before the balloons fall, the final sale must come from the head of the ticket, Mitt Romney.

We asked several delegates what they want to hear.

RICK MORLEN, Republican Delegate: Really showing that contrast between his promise, his ability to make his promises come true, like he did really in the Olympics, a tremendous turnaround.

LINDA JEWELL, Republican Delegate: He’s a very warm man. And — but the main thing is he’s not going to go out there and toot his own horn. And it’s up to us that know him personally to toot his horn for him, because that’s not the type of person he is.

JEFFREY BROWN: This afternoon, the candidate himself, joined by his running mate, toured the convention floor, where he will address the party faithful and the nation later this evening.

GWEN IFILL: And with us tonight once again are Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

The big question of the night is, what’s going to happen in the big speech and what to expect and what does Mitt Romney, Mark, need to accomplish.

We have had a chance to look at some of the — the embargo was just lifted on his speech that was released, excerpts of his speech tonight.

MARK SHIELDS: Mitt Romney has the take task he had coming in: What will he do? How would his presidency be different? How would he improve the nation? And tell us who you really are.

GWEN IFILL: What does that mean, who you really are?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, the fact is, people don’t know Mitt Romney and they have got an unfavorable personal impression of him. He’s got to give the sense of what really moves him.

I thought he blew a chance, quite honestly, after Ann Romney’s speech to come up and say a word or two and just say, you know, you can understand now why this is the best wife in the world or whatever, just sort of an authentic response. That’s what’s missing, I think.

And I think that people are looking for it. They want to be comfortable with the president.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think his job is tonight?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I would say he’s got to give a story where he says this was a pivotal moment in my life, this was a moving moment when my soul was transformed and this is how I felt and this is how I then reacted.

A lot of the speeches have mentioned him sort of like a dear occupant letter, where it says dear and then in a different font it says David Brooks, and then it goes back. It’s as if our nominee, Mitt Romney, and then it could be any nominee. And they’re running a pretty generic race. I think he’s got to be a lot more specific about something specific that happened to him.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We have had a chance, as Gwen said, to look at a couple of the excerpts from the speech tonight. He is going to talk about his faith. He’s going to talk about his work. Do you see anything in these excerpts that tell you what we’re going to learn?

DAVID BROOKS: You should never judge by excerpts, because they’re always duller than the speech.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, on purpose.

DAVID BROOKS: That said, I don’t see much. It’s reasonably generic so far, what we have seen.

It is true and has been widely reported that he wrote it himself, which is always a bad sign, frankly. And he did it reasonably late in the process. It wasn’t an early thing, where he did it months ago, as earlier candidates have done. He’s done it in the last week or so.

GWEN IFILL: I saw something, Mark, in a couple of references in the excerpts, which, of course, are not reliable, in which he sounded more in sadness than in anger, that formulation: I wanted President Obama to succeed. What about the college graduates who now have to move back home? Something — echoing something Paul Ryan said the other night.

MARK SHIELDS: Right. Probably Paul Ryan’s best line in the hall were, college graduates are returned to their childhood bedroom and their lie looking up at the fading Obama posters on their wall, waiting for their lives to begin.

It’s a similar — I think the anger factor has been maximized. They are going to get as many votes who are angry at President Obama. And what they’re looking for, to give permission to people who had voted for President Obama in 2008, who like President Obama, but have been disappointed. And they want to convince that Mitt Romney could be better, and that it’s not a question of disloyalty to the president or animosity, but that just for the country’s sake that you wanted — that’s what he’s trying to communicate, I believe.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Does that change the job then or how does it affect the job that Mitt Romney has tonight, what Paul Ryan told us last night?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he did the indictment, and I thought he did it pretty well.

There’s been some criticism of Ryan that there were some factual errors, and he didn’t tell it the way a journalist would tell it. He described the Simpson-Bowles commission, which was not — didn’t go through as if it was Obama’s fault, neglecting to mention that he voted against it. So there were some things like that. That’s politics.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Selective, rather than…

DAVID BROOKS: One would say he was selective. If you were editing him for a college paper, you would say you have to give the other side here. But this is politics.

But I thought what he did was lay out the prosecutorial case. But, again, all Mitt Romney has to do is hit a threshold, a threshold of acceptability, of, I mirror you. And that’s what he hasn’t done so far. It’s the I mirror you that he really has to do.

MARK SHIELDS: Just one thing. The crowd in the room swooned over Paul Ryan.

And the one thing that — the mistake I thought they made in the speech was Paul Ryan’s reputation is built upon intellectual, rigorous honesty. He’s the truth-teller. He’s the guy that says things. And when you get PolitiFact and Fact Check coming back the next day and saying, wait a minute, that plant in Janesville he spoke so movingly about, the GM plant that closed, didn’t close under Barack Obama, it closed under George W. Bush — and $716 billion that Mitt Romney has promised to restore in Medicare spending was endorsed — the cutting of it was endorsed by Paul Ryan.

So, in other words, he’s got to restore President Obama’s cut, but he’s not going to — he’s ignoring Paul Ryan’s cut. So, I mean, I just think you’re playing at the edges. You shouldn’t do this with his reputation. You don’t want to introduce him to the nation as a trimmer, because his credentials are as a truth-teller.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we are going to continue to talk to the two of you for the rest of the night.

Right now, though, we have more on the convention coming up after this.