Republicans party despite Isaac raining on parade
THE REPUBLICAN Party formally nominated Mitt Romney as its presidential candidate last night, when the most eagerly awaited speeches were to be delivered by Romney’s wife, Ann, and the audacious governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie.
Three unknowns provided suspense for the 50,000-strong convention. The question of whether Mitt can carry the day on November 6th was temporarily set aside. The latest Real Clear Politics average shows Barack Obama at 46.7 per cent to Romney’s 45.7 per cent: too close to call.
Romney’s closing address tomorrow night was a more immediate source of speculation. Will Romney be upstaged by Christie? By his running mate Paul Ryan? By his wife? Or will he somehow manage to stir the masses?
Hurricane Isaac, which doused Tampa and forced the Republicans to postpone the opening by a day, caused the most immediate angst. Republican politicians fretted about “the optics” if they are seen to party while catastrophe again strikes New Orleans, on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh accused the Obama administration of exaggerating the danger to dampen Republican spirits.
Actor Ellen Barkin scandalised some by tweeting: “C’mon Isaac! Wash every pro-life, anti-education, anti-woman, xenophobic, gay-bashing, racist SOB right into the ocean!”
Security seems modelled on the Green Zone in Baghdad, with visitors obliged to navigate checkpoints, chain-link fences and cement barriers to reach the convention centre. A three-day parking pass at the Marriott Hotel costs $225. Undaunted, donors, delegates, lobbyists, politicians and journalists partied like there was no tomorrow.