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Ready, Set, Wait! Republican Convention Kicks Off — Sort Of

Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff talk with analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks during a rehearsal at the convention. Photo by Tom Kennedy.

The Morning Line

TAMPA, Fla. | The Republican National Convention gets underway Monday but the session will be over almost as soon as it begins after officials decided to delay the start of the nominating festivities due to looming Tropical Storm Isaac.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will call the convention to order at 2 p.m. and recess about 10 minutes later. The major order of business: starting a national debt clock that will track how much debt was added during the convention.

Heading into back-to-back convention weeks, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll forecasts a neck-and-neck contest between Republican presumptive nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama in November.

The survey found the GOP hopeful leading the Democratic incumbent 47 percent to 46 percent among registered voters, well within the plus-or-minus 4 percentage point margin of sampling error of the poll.

The Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Jon Cohen note the dynamic of the race has hardly shifted despite a torrent of negative advertising and hot rhetoric on the stump:

The findings continue a months-long pattern, with neither the incumbent nor the challenger able to sustain clear momentum, despite airing hundreds of millions of dollars in television ads — most of them negative — and exchanging some of the harshest early rhetoric seen in a modern presidential campaign.

Another poll released Friday by CNN-ORC International gave the president a 49 percent to 47 percent edge among likely voters, but a 52 percent to 43 percent lead among registered voters.

The next two weeks will give both candidates an opportunity to promote their strengths, address their weaknesses and make the case to the American people why they should occupy the White House for the next four years — and your NewsHour political crew will be with you every step of the way in Tampa and Charlotte, N.C.


Watch for these features in our livestream which kicks off Monday around 10 a.m.

  • The Political Checklist with senior correspondents Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff and politics editor Christina Bellantoni around 10:30 a.m.
  • NewsHour correspondent Hari Sreenivasan with Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks around noon.
  • The Doubleheader with Sreenivasan and NewsHour regular political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks around 5 p.m.
  • Reports and photos from Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul’s rally in Tampa on Sunday.

Check out this awesome slide show from Team NewsHour, including photographer Mallory Benedict.

And keep an eye on our Flickr feed.

Senior correspondent Jeffrey Brown was on the convention floor during a technical rehearsal Sunday. Watch his report here or below.

Mark Shields and David Brooks gave their take Friday night on the state of the race, what Romney needs to do this week, and how the Rep. Todd Akin abortion dustup will affect the campaign. Watch that conversation here.

Bellantoni talked with Shields and Brooks Friday night in the Doubleheader, musing on Romney’s sense of humor. Watch to the end and see Morning Line co-pilot Terence Burlij present the guys with a special gift.

Economics correspondent Paul Solman devoted his latest Making Sen$e piece to the economy in Tampa, and how Romney’s plan would change things.

Watch here or below.


  • Are you an undecided voter in Virginia? Here’s your chance to weigh in on the convention and help us with our reporting. If you’re willing to talk to the NewsHour after each nomination speech, fill out this form.

  • Where do you fit? Introducing the Pew Research Center/NewsHour Political Party ID quiz. Take it here.

  • Ifill hosted a Washington Week town hall meeting in St. Petersburg on Friday night. Check out the highlights.



  • Romney talked with Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei about his leadership style, governing plan and how the attacks from the president have put a dent in his likability rating.

  • The New York Times’ Sheryl Stolberg offers rich detail about major events that shaped Romney’s life as a young man.

  • The Center for Public Integrity investigated and found that $6 million was donated by financial institutions that received bailout money, including American International Group and Freddie Mac, to both party conventions. That’s $3.4 million to Republicans and $2.6 million to Democrats.

  • Stu Rothenberg notes the latest unemployment figures will be out 12 hours after the president concludes his nomination speech in Charlotte and wonders if that will affect any bounce coming out of the convention.

  • Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin’s support has nose-dived following his comments last week about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy with a new St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll showing the Republican congressman trailing Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill by nine points (50 percent to 41 percent) in the Show Me State’s Senate race


Tropical Storm Isaac soaked the GOP’s plans for Monday. The Republicans have been scrambling the last few days to adjust, then readjust, the convention schedule. What was a four-day event, is now a three-day event and there are rumblings, though unconfirmed by the RNC and the Romney campaign, of the party stretching to Friday.

Monday’s original prime time schedule included House Speaker John Boehner, Sen. Rand Paul, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and headliner Ann Romney. Each of those speakers has been moved and will be in a prime time slot later in the week. The most up-to-date schedule for the convention is here.

The bottom line? Watch our livestream below.

And tune into the NewsHour at 6 p.m. ET with special live coverage of the convention beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Alex Bruns contributed to this report.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.

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