Live Blog: Republican National Convention 2012 Day 4; Mitt Romney’s Big Night

Aug 30, 2012 1:02pm

It’s the main event at the Republican National Convention! Mitt Romney will formally accept the GOP nomination in nationally televised remarks from Tampa tonight.

Read our full roundup of what Mitt Romney said.

Amy Walter’s Insta-Analysis – One speech is not going to alter the course of a campaign. But, it does help set up the kind of campaign message Romney is going to stress for the next 67 days.

This was a solid speech. But not a surprising speech.

That message is one of profound disappointment but not anger.

He went after Obama with a velvet glove, not a bare fist. He was speaking less to the folks in the Tampa Bay Times Forum  than to the Wal-Mart moms and suburban/exurban voters who supported Obama in 2008 – and still like him personally – but are disappointed in his record in office.

His most important line to these voters. “I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed.”

‘United America’ – Closing Passage -

Everywhere I go in America, there are monuments that list those who have given their lives for America. There is no mention of their race, their party affiliation, or what they did for a living. They lived and died under a single flag, fighting for a single purpose. They pledged allegiance to the UNITED States of America.

That America, that united America, can unleash an economy that will put Americans back to work, that will once again lead the world with innovation and productivity, and that will restore every father and mother’s confidence that their children’s future is brighter even than the past.

That America, that united America, will preserve a military that is so strong, no nation would ever dare to test it.

That America, that united America, will uphold the constellation of rights that were endowed by our Creator, and codified in our Constitution.

That united America will care for the poor and the sick, will honor and respect the elderly, and will give a helping hand to those in need.

That America is the best within each of us. That America we want for our children.

If I am elected President of these United States, I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future. That future is our destiny. That future is out there. It is waiting for us. Our children deserve it, our nation depends upon it, the peace and freedom of the world require it. And with your help we will deliver it. Let us begin that future together tonight.

 

A Promise of Practicality – 11:10 p.m. ET – President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise…is to help you and your family.

I will begin my presidency with a jobs tour. President Obama began with an apology tour. America, he said, had dictated to other nations. No Mr. President, America has freed other nations from dictators.

“I didn’t want to go to hell” – 11:00 p.m. ET – In talking about founding Bain Capital, Romney said he didn’t get his church’s retirement fund to invest because if he lost money he didn’t want to go to hell. That’s the first time our reporter Emily Friedman, who has been following Romney for a year, has heard him say “hell” and not “heck.”

“The centerpiece of the president’s entire campaign is attacking success” – 10:57 p.m. ET – Romney explains and defends his experience at Bain, pointing to success stories like Staples and Bright Horizons. But, he adds, “Business… its about dreams.”

Of Obama: “Jobs to Him are About Government” – 10:55 p.m. ET – And – “You know something’s wrong when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.”
Romney Chokes Up – 10:51 p.m. ET – Talking about raising young children, Romney chokes up talking about raising young children. Something, he says, every parent knows. And he laments traveling for work.

Of his wife Ann, Romney says, “I knew her job was a lot harder than mine and I knew her jobs was a lot more important than mine,” he said.

And he adds that she could have succeeded at any job she wanted.

You Didn’t Build That! – 10:48 p.m. ET – Michael Falcone reports: Certainly the most often-mentioned attack line against President Obama over the less three days was his “you didn’t build it” line.

Romney takes it up early in his speech when he talks about a “nation of immigrants” who came to America to enjoy various freedoms: “freedom of religion, freedom to speak their mind.”

“And yes freedom to build a business with their own hands,” Romney said to loud and sustained applause.

Disappointed in Obama – 10:40 p.m. ET – I wish President Obama had succeeded, because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn’t something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we CAN do something. With your help we will do something.

Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, “I’m an American. I make my destiny. And we deserve better! My children deserve better! My family deserves better. My country deserves better!”

Freedom! – 10:39 p.m. ET – Romney says Americans need freedom, freedom of life, freedom of religion and freedom to build a business.

Romney Enters Arena Left – 10:34 – Instead of marching on stage, Mitt Romney comes in on the floor and shakes hands in the crowd. He gives a big old hug to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.

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Marco Rubio Turns to Personal Story – Says of his father working in a bar – “He stood at the back of that bar so that I could stand at the font of the room.”

Rubio says vote Romney so that you can tell future generations you helped “The American miracle live on.”

Marco Rubio Gets PersonalHope is Hard to Find - 10:21 p.m. ET – Marco Rubio has one of the most compelling personal stories in politics, but his speech tonight has been almost entirely focused on President Obama. He has made the  argument that Obama and his policies are keeping the individual down.

He has also weaved faith into the speech, mentioning his creator several times and including biblical verses.

Obama is not a bad person, he says. He’s a “bad president.”

Hang ‘Em High - 10:03 p.m. ET – Movie star Clint Eastwood came out as a pseudo-surprise guest to raucous applause.

 

“Save a little for Mitt,” Eastwood joked.

His speech was a mock conversation with an absent President Obama. At one point, Eastwood said if someone doesn’t do the job, “you gotta let ‘em go.” He then jokingly slashed his finger across his throat to applause from the crowd.

Eastwood said he knew what the crowd was thinking. “They’re all left-wingers out there,” he said, referring to those in Hollywood, but Eastwood assured the crowd there are plenty of conservatives and moderates in Hollywood.

All week, the buzz in Tampa had been that Eastwood would make a cameo appearance, and today  a sound-check for the night’s activities, the distinctive whistling theme to “The Good the Bad and the Ugly,” an Eastwood Western, confirmed the crowd’s suspicions.

Eastwood recounted crying on the night of Obama’s election alongside Oprah, and he said the last time he cried that hard was when he “found out there are 23 million unemployed people in this country.”

For about ten minutes the actor rambled on drawing laughter and applause for his knocks at the president and vice president.

He said he didn’t believe a lawyer should be president but that it was about time for a “stellar businessman” to take office.

It’s worth noting that in addition to his business degree, Mitt Romney – like Obama – has a law degree. Read the full story from Greg Krieg.

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ABC News

Speeches of Olympic Proportions – 9:45 p.m. ET – ABC News’ Chris Good reports 13 Olympians took the stage at the RNC tonight speaking in support of Romney. The speakers included double trap and skeet shooter Kim Rhode, hockey player Mike Eurizione and inline skater Derek Parra.

Earlier tonight Rhode tweeted this photo of her and other Olympians at the RNC.

“We are here onstage because we know Americans need the leadership of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan,” Rhode said.

ABC News’ Emily Friedman reports Parra remembered how he was chosen to carry the flag from the World Trade Center at the 2002 Utah Olympics.

This is a story Romney uses to tell voters about his time at the helm of the Olympics, Friedman writes. Romney says this was one of the most moving moments of his life.

Both Parra and Tagg Romney became extremely emotional during the speech, Tagg with tears running down his face.

“For a brief time I lived with him and his family. I know Mitt, I know him well,” Parra said. “I am proud to say that I know him as a friend.”

An Ad for the Young - 9:34 p.m. ET –  Remember Paul Ryan’s line last night about all those recent college grads moving back into their parents’ homes? Crossroads Generation, an offshoot of Karl Rove’s super PAC American Crossroads that targets younger voters, has already made a web ad showcasing those remarks.

Ryan said, “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”

 

Taylor Hicks sings ‘Takin’ It To the Streets’, Plays Harmonica

Comedy Central Star Poked – 9:31 p.m. ET – Jason Jones of Comedy Central poked by man with cane during ABC’s live stream:

 

 

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Immigrant Song – 9:11 p.m. ET – Amy Bingham has a broader look at the large number of people telling immigration stories on the stage at the RNC and how that factors into Republicans’ often difficult policy relationship with recent immigrants. Read it here.

“It’s easy to forget that the story of my father’s success begins with the story of two immigrants – my grandfathers – who came to this country with little more than hope in the opportunity of America,” he said.

Craig Romney’s heartfelt story of his family’s immigrant roots was among more than half a dozen convention speakers who highlighted their immigrant backgrounds, but it has created what one expert describes as an “awkward dance” because of the GOP’s reputation for being hostile to immigration.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune told of his Norwegian grandfather immigrating through Ellis Island and changing his name along the way. Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum recounted how his father immigrated “from the mountains of northern Italy, on a ship named Providence.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told of his great grandfather who arrived penniless to live the “American Dream,” and also cited struggles and triumphs of friends — a Cambodian family in Kentucky and Vietnamese brothers who arrived on a “leaky boat.”

Utah House candidate Mia Love had only two minutes to speak, but managed to mention her parents immigrating from Haiti “with $10 in their pocket.”

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s said she is the “proud daughter of Indian immigrants,” while Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz told a “love story of freedom” about his Irish-Italian working-class mom and his Cuban refugee dad.

Romney Republicans Already Eying Moderate Democrats – 9:05 p.m. ET – Over at our live stream Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. tells Rick Klein and Amy Walter that Romney supporters on Capitol Hill are already compiling lists of Democrats they can work with in a lame duck session between a Barack Obama  loss and a Romney inauguration. Watch the ABC News / Yahoo! News live stream at http://abcnews.go.com/politics/live

Heartbreaking Stories From Romney’s Church – 8:52 p.m. ET – From Shush Walshe – An older couple, the Oparowskis, from Romney’s church had most of the convention silent during their agonizing story. They got a standing ovation at the end.  They told the story of their dying 14 year old son David who passed away 30 yrs ago and how Romney helped him craft his will.

On one of his visits, Mitt discovered that David was very fond of fireworks. He went out and bought a box full of “BIG TIME” fireworks that had to sit on the closet shelf because they couldn’t be set off in the city. We waited until we were able to go to Ogunquit, Maine, where we set them off on the sand dunes – with permission from the fire and police departments.

How many men do you know would take the time out of their busy lives to visit a terminally ill 14 year old and help him settle his affairs?

David also helped us plan his funeral. He wanted to be buried in his Boy Scout uniform. He wanted Mitt to pronounce his eulogy. Mitt was there to honor that request. We will be ever grateful to Mitt for his love and concern.

Intro to Mormonism – 8:37 p.m. ET – From Michael Falcone: Romney’s friend and church mate Grant Bennett talks about worshiping with Romney. He also introduces two families from the congregation.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an unpaid, lay clergy. While raising his family and pursuing his career, Mitt Romney served in our church, devoting 10, 15, even 20 hours a week doing so,” said Bennett

So, what specifically did Mitt Romney do as our pastor?

“For one or two evenings each week and several hours every weekend — week after week and year after year — he met with those seeking help with the burdens of real life, burdens we all face at one time or another: unemployment, sickness, financial distress, loneliness. Mitt prayed with and counseled with church members seeking spiritual direction, single mothers raising children, couples with marital problems, youth with addictions, immigrants separated from their families, and individuals whose heat had been shut off.”

Here’s more on Mormonism – “The Least You Should Know” – from ABC’s Greg Krieg.

Got Milk? - 8:24 p.m. ET – ABC News’ Michael Falcone picked up on this extended metaphor from the former Florida governor – all in service of his support for “school choice”:

“So here’s another thing we can do: Let’s give every parent in America a choice about where their child attends school. Everywhere in our lives, we get the chance to choose. Go down any supermarket aisle – you’ll find an incredible selection of milk. You can get whole milk, 2% milk, low-fat milk or skim milk. Organic milk and milk with extra Vitamin D. There’s flavored milk– chocolate, strawberry or vanilla – and it doesn’t even taste like milk. They even make milk for people who can’t drink milk. Shouldn’t parents have that kind of choice in schools?”

Jeb Bush Focuses on Education – 8:08 p.m. – It’s a pet issue for him. And he is the third primetime speaker – along with Condoleezza Rice and Chris Christie – to make education a focus of their speech. Education, by the way, is an area where Jeb has praised President Obama. More on that here.

On school choice – “There’s even milk that doesn’t taste like milk. Shouldn’t parents have that kind of choice?”

ABC News’ Chris Good notes Bush is known as one of the GOP’s most skilled politicians in reaching out to Latinos, and in discussing education, Bush edged into some Latino outreach onstage:

“And among Latino students, the gains were so big, they required a new metric. Right now, Florida’s fourth grade Hispanic students read as well or better than the average of all students in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

“These kids were once written off. But today thanks to teachers like Sean Duffy we’re changing that.”

Latino outreach has been a theme for Republicans at this convention, and tonight especially. Craig Romney spoke Spanish. A video touted Hispanic GOP “juntos” onscreen tonight. The GOP has showcased some of its rising Hispanic stars throughout the convention.

In Defense of George W. Bush -8:13 p.m. ET -  “And my brother, well, I love my brother. He is a man of integrity, courage and honor and during incredibly challenging times he kept us safe. So Mr. President, it is time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies. You were dealt a tough hand -you were dealt a tough hand, but your policies have not worked. A real leader would accept responsibilities for your actions.”

Jeb Bush Speaks Spanish, Too – 8:05 p.m. – Tells the crowd, on its feet, to sit down.

Craig Romney Takes the Stage, En Espanol – 8:02 p.m. – Mitt and Ann Romney’s son speaks Spanish and talks about his father, the family man. Then, in English, he talks about his grandparents moving to the U.S. from Mexico. And he calls it not a campaign, but the “Romney / Ryan comeback.”

Odes to Ronald Reagan – 7:55 p.m. ET – Michael Falcone writes: We’ll hear a lot about the legacy of Ronald Reagan early in the program.

Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fl, began and ended his speech by quoting the Republican icon’s famous “morning in America” line:

“Once again, it’s morning in America. There are new leaders on the horizon – Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan – America’s comeback team.”

And later:

“This is America.  And it’s morning once again.”

Now a tribute video to Ronald Reagan – scenes from his presidency, and his own voice. Newt and Callista Gingrich now paying their respects to the Gipper too.

The Newt and Callista Reagan Lecture – 7:51 p.m. – The former House Speaker and his wife are giving a lecture on the legacy of Ronald Reagan. They’re bringing it around welfare reform, which actually wasn’t passed under Reagan.

Newt’s Welfare Attack – 8:32 p.m. ET – From ABC’s Chris Good -Newt Gingrich repeated the Romney campaign’s attacks on HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s recent request for state welfare waiver proposals—an attack line that is certainly hyperbolic.

After Callista noted Reagan’s toughening of welfare requirements in California, and crediting him with the eventual passage of Clinton-era reforms, Gingrich blamed Obama for attacking Reagan’s push for work requirements.

Gingrich:   “Tragically, President Obama gutted this achievement and, like Jimmy Carter, over four years he produced little effective legislation that brought the two parties together … waiving the work requirements in welfare reform is just one example of his direct repudiation [?] of President Reagan’s values. Obama is prous od what he’s done and of his politically motivated partisanship….”

Worth noting:

  1. The welfare reform attack has been somewhat debunked. It’s gross hyperbole to say Obama has “gutted” welfare reforms. While the White House has claimed that its request for waivers will not weaken work requirements, the WH has also been stubborn in not acknowledging HHS’s request that states effectively propose alternatives to them. That said, Sebelius has said she will not approve anything that rolls back work requirements. These are pilot programs. Republicans have blown the waiver request—which was prompted by Republican governors’ desire for more welfare felexibility—way out of proportion.
  2. Obama as Carter has been a meme among conservatives. This is the first I’ve seen that analogy made in a prominent spot at this convention, but I could be wrong.

George Stephanopoulos Asked Clint Eastwood About Being Considered for Veep Under George H. W. Bush – Last November:

 

The Disappointment Theme – 7:26 p.m. ET – From Russell Goldman: Romney will say, according to released excerpts of the speech, that he wishes “President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed.”

“But his promises gave way to disappointment and division,” he will say.

His speech cites Obama’s campaign mantra from four years ago of “Hope and Change,” and acknowledges it had a “powerful appeal.”

“You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had, was the day you voted for him,” he will say.

What’s on tap tonight? – 7:25 p.m. ET – Romney’s address comes after a primetime introduction by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, viewed by many in the party as the future of the GOP with his Hispanic heritage and his ties to the Tea Party. There will also be a “TBA” mystery speaker.

A GOP sources tells Jon Karl it’s Clint Eastwood, confirming what the convention hall has suspected for days.

@JakeTapper tweets: #EastwoodFactCheck = A fistful of dollars is actually not that many dollars.

Rick Klein’s first thoughts on Romney’s speech excerpts: “The excerpts, at least, are largely optimistic. He is, though, playing heavily off of that signature Obama campaign line, “hope and change,” turning it around by noting the disappointment four years later. ”

Diane Sawyer Interviewed Paul Ryan – 6:30 p.m. ET – From Shush Walshe: Paul Ryan says he hopes that when Mitt Romney speaks tonight America will “get to meet the man I know” from their time on the campaign trail.

“I hope people get to meet the kind of leader I know,” Ryan told ABC News’ anchor Diane Sawyer. “We need someone who is going to give us honest leadership, courageous leadership, a man of achievement and integrity. A man you enjoy listening to because he is telling you the truth. That’s the guy I know and that’s what I think America will hear tonight.”

Access Restricted: Jonathan Karl Goes Backstage At The RNC - 6:16 p.m. ET – Do NOT try to keep Jon Karl out of the speech prep room:

 

Catch Up - Read about Monday (convention delayed by Isaac), Tuesday (with Ann Romney and Chris Christie) and Wednesday (with Paul Ryan and Condoleezza Rice).

Will Mitt Say ‘Mormon?’ – 6:01 p.m. ET – It’s an open question and Michael Falcone has this:

Romney has gone through almost the entire campaign cycle without using the word “Mormon.”

When asked in an April 2012 interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer whether he was reluctant to talk about his faith, Romney responded:  ”I don’t think there’s anyone particularly in the Republican primaries that doesn’t know that I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon church and happy to talk about my experiences– working as– if you will, a pastor.”

Romney hasn’t gone much further than that all year. During the last election cycle, however, Romney gave an entire speech on his faith in December 2007.

Nevertheless, in an October 2011 Pew Research Center-Washington Post poll the word respondents most often associated with Romney was “Mormon.” That has since changed.

Issues of faith have been stitched into the fabric of this week’s convention. Several speakers have spoken religion, and the most high-profile one to use the word “Mormon” was Ann Romney.

6:00 p.m. ET – Romney on “Unconditional Love” – From excerpts of his speech scheduled for later tonight:

My mom and dad gave their kids the greatest gift of all – the gift of unconditional love. They cared deeply about who we would BE, and much less about what we would DO.

Unconditional love is a gift that Ann and I have tried to pass on to our sons and now to our grandchildren.  All the laws and legislation in the world will never heal this world like the loving hearts and arms of mothers and fathers. If every child could drift to sleep feeling wrapped in the love of their family – and God’s love- this world would be a far more gentle and better place.

The Difference? Republicans More Likely to Have Dental, Possibly Family Support – 5:35 p.m. ET – ABC Pollster Gargy Langer writes on a new Gallup survey:

“Democrats and independents struggle more than Republicans do with access to basic necessities. Republicans are more likely to have health insurance, visit the dentist regularly, and have enough money for food, medicine, and shelter.”

They note that this is largely about income and other socioeconomic measures – but not exclusively so. Analytical points of interest:”The fact that Republicans are in a better position on these measures… has potential political implications. Republicans, at least in theory, could be less supportive of government programs designed to focus on healthcare issues, for example, because they are more likely to have access to health care as it stands now.

“There appears, however, to be more than just demographic differences that divide the three partisan groups in terms of their access to necessities. Even when controlling for income and other demographic factors, Republicans still maintain an advantage over Democrats and independents, possibly suggesting a more robust social support infrastructure of family and friends.”

 

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What Will Romney Say? – Bain, Faith, Business – 4:45 p.m. ET – Michael Falcone has the outline:

The speech is divided into four parts: Romney’s philosophical and world view; his biography; his disappointment with the Obama years; and his vision for the country.

Bain – “We know that the Democrats want to try to make Bain a negative for us,” one Romney campaign strategist told ABC News. “It’s not.”

Faith – Romney’s faith will also be front and center on Thursday night.  Grant Bennett, a friend of Romney’s and a fellow member of the Mormon church, will address the convention. And although Romney’s religion will be a key part of tonight’s program it’s unclear to what extent speakers — including Romney, himself — will discuss faith, generally, rather than Mormonism, in particular.

Asked whether the word “Mormon” would be uttered tonight, the Romney adviser said, “I can’t believe it won’t be uttered in the faith section,” but declined to say whether it will make an appearance in Romney’s speech.

Politically Dressed: Fashion at the RNC – An inside look at the kooky side of Republican fashion with Shush Walshe and GOP operative Hogan Gidley:

 

3 Balloon Drops and ‘America the Beautiful’ – 4:40 p.m. – From Michael Falcone -

Tonight’s program will end with not one but three balloon drops as Romney, his wife, Ann and their family and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, his wife Janna and their family take the stage in successive waves.

Just before the final benediction led by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, the singer Bebe Winans and the Tampa Bay City Life Church Chorus will lead the entire convention hall in singing “America the Beautiful.”

Obama Campaign Shreds ‘Lies’ in Ryan Speech – 4:16 p.m. ET – Devin Dwyer reports:

One word describes Democrats’ view of Rep. Paul Ryan’s address Wednesday night to the Republican National Convention: “lies.”

The Obama campaign is criticizing the GOP vice presidential nominee, backed by reports from independent fact-checkers that claim Ryan repeatedly took liberty with the facts.

“There’s no delicate way to say this. Last night, Paul Ryan lied. Repeatedly, knowingly and brazenly,” deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter told reporters today. More here.

Romney, Ryan Pose for Campaign Class Photo – 4:11 p.m. ET – Emily Friedman reports from the convention floor:

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan greeted staff members on the floor of the RNC today. The staffers were ready to take a group photo and the nominee and his running mate drew a loud round of applause upon entering.

Romney and Ryan stood in the front row front and center, campaign manager Matt Rhoades standing next to the candidate.

Ryan joked as the photographer took photo after photo that he’d “like to blink sometime soon.”

Before walking out Romney turned to his staff – nearly his entire senior staff as well as members of his advance team – and exclaimed, “Thanks, guys!”

Go Ahead, Barack. Make My… It’s Clint! – 4:01 p.m. ET -  A GOP source confirms to ABC’s Jonathan Karl that Clint Eastwood, the actor, director and former Republican mayor of Carmel, Calif., will make a special appearance at the Republican National Convention before Mitt Romney speaks Thursday night.  More here.

Meet the Director of 2016 – 3:52 p.m. – The anti-Obama documentary has been making millions at the box office. ABC’s David Wright interviewed the director on Nightline. Dinesh D’Souza wants the film to be like a conservative “Farenheit 9/11.”

 

D.C. Court Blocks Texas Voter ID Law – 3:14 p.m. ET This will have some people talking at the convention. The federal c ourt essentially barred the law from taking effect, according to ABC’s Ariane de Vogue:

In the weeks leading up to the election, the law — passed by a Republican-led Texas legislature — has gained particular attention as supporters said it was meant to protect voter integrity, while critics claimed it would lead to voter suppression. The Voter ID law requires people voting in person to provide certain government-issued photo IDs when the come to the polls.

… The law was passed in 2011, but was subject to approval by federal officials as required by the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Section 5 of the VRA requires certain jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination to “pre-clear” any changes to voting laws with the Department of Justice or a federal Court in Washington. Covered jurisdictions include 9 states and parts of 7 additional states.

…The case has been of interest to election law experts because not only is Abbott defending his state’s voter ID law, but Texas is also challenging the constitutionality of Section 5.

Convention Ratings – Who’s Watching? – 3:00 p.m. – From the AP:

The first night of the Republican National Convention drew an estimated 22.3 million television viewers, the vast majority over age 55.

The Nielsen ratings company said Wednesday that the audience, spread over nine TV networks, was down from the 23.1 million who watched the first full night of the 2008 convention, which nominated John McCain to run for president against eventual winner Barack Obama. Seven networks showed the 2008 convention, with CNBC and Current TV the newcomers this year.

‘I accept your nomination’ – 2:44 p.m. ET – A C-SPAN mash-up of every nominee since Reagan:

 

Obama Praises Romney’s Adherence to Religion -2:31 p.m. ET – Devin Dwyer writes about a new Obama interview in Time in which the president says he appreciates that Romney “seems to walk the walk” when it comes to participating in Church. Obama referred to his own Christian faith. But he didn’t quite use the ‘M’ word – Mormon – to describe Romney. Two high profile GOP convention speakers – Mike Huckabee, who is evangelical, and Paul Ryan, who is Catholic, referred to the fact that Romney attends a different church than them during speeches Wednesday night. Most Americans, according to a recent PEW poll, don’t have a problem voting for a Mormon, but it is interesting to hear Barack Obama talk about it, perhaps subliminally contrasting his faith with a religion largely unknown to most Americans. Of course, that same PEW poll found  only half of Americans – 49 percent – think Obama is a Christian.

Read the Pew poll here.

Read Dwyer’s report on Obama’s interview with TIME:

“He strikes me as somebody who is very disciplined. And I think that that is a quality that obviously contributed to his success as a private equity guy,” Obama said in an interview with TIME magazine ahead of the Democratic National Convention next week.

“I think he takes his faith very seriously. And as somebody who takes my Christian faith seriously, I appreciate that he seems to walk the walk and not just be talking the talk when it comes to his participation in his church,” he said.

The personal praise for Romney — and rare mention of his religious practice — goes beyond what Obama has  publicly offered heretofore on the campaign trail.  He regularly refers to his rival as a patriotic family man,  even though he vehemently disagrees with his policies.

“My expectation is that there will be some popping of the blister after this election, because it will have been such a stark choice.” – More from that Obama TIME interview.

 

Vote: Who is GOP’s Mystery Speaker – 12:16 p.m. ET -

 

“Because if it was a mystery speaker, it wouldn’t be a mystery anymore.” – 12:08 p.m. ET – Romney adviser explaining why campaign won’t talk about the mystery speaker. Read the full story from Chris Good.

 

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Twitter / @JParkABC (ABC's John Parkinson)

Rubio is Part Attack Dog, Part Uniter – 11:18 p.m. ET – ABC’s Arlette Saenz has this profile of Marco Rubio, who will introduce Romney at the convention:

Rubio, 41, is part of the new wave of young, diverse Republicans who are on display at this year’s convention. The Florida junior senator, who is considered one of the GOP’s most electrifying speakers, is expected to add to the chorus of testimony touting Romney’s personal and leadership qualities as the GOP works to woo undecided voters, including women and Latinos.

Rubio, whose family immigrated to the United States from Cuba in the 1950s, experienced a meteoric rise within the GOP ranks during the swell of the Tea Party movement in 2010, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate, a seat he’s held for less than two years. Many believe Rubio’s calls for rising above petty politics, and his growing popularity among the GOP faithful, coupled with his youth and Latin roots signal a potential presidential bid of his own down the line.

Rubio is part attack dog, part party uniter, all while touting his Cuban descent and family’s story of achieving the American dream. Romney has even taken to incorporating Rubio’s American dream narrative into his stump speeches.

Here’s his conversation with George Stephanopoulos from Wednesday morning:

 

Fact Check: Paul Ryan Misleads on Stimulus, Medicare, GM Plant -  10:02 a.m. ET – The AP has a thoroughly researched look at several claims from Paul Ryan’s convention speech that didn’t tell the whole story. They looked at Ryan’s claims about the economic stimulus as an example of political patronage, his dissection of Medicare, and his mention of a GM plant that closed in his hometown.

GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took some factual shortcuts during the Republican convention when he attacked President Barack Obama’s policies on Medicare, the economic stimulus and the budget deficit. His running mate, Mitt Romney, was expected to speak later Thursday in the convention’s culmination.

AP’s first example:

RYAN: “And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly. … So they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.”

THE FACTS: Ryan’s claim ignores the fact that Ryan himself incorporated the same cuts into budgets he steered through the House in the past two years as chairman of its Budget Committee, using the money for deficit reduction. And the cuts do not affect Medicare recipients directly, but rather reduce payments to hospitals, health insurance plans and other service providers.

In addition, Ryan’s own plan to remake Medicare would squeeze the program’s spending even more than the changes Obama made, shifting future retirees into a system in which they would get a fixed payment to shop for coverage among private insurance plans. Critics charge that would expose the elderly to more out-of-pocket costs.

Read the full fact check here.

Primary Flashback: 452 Days, 9 Competitors and 37 States: Romney’s Road to the Nomination

Jeb Explains How Republicans Are Being ‘Stupid’ – 8:00 a.m. ET – Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and brother and son to former presidents talked this morning to George Stephanopoulos on GMA.

Bush, who will speak at the convention tonight, argued that Paul Ryan was right to so prominently feature his plan to alter Medicare for future generations. But he defended his recent comment that Republicans are being “stupid” on issues like immigration, where they are focused so entirely on border protection instead of economic growth. Take a look:

 

 

Wednesday Rewind: Ryan and Condi – 7:55 a.m. ET – Here’s a re-cap of Paul Ryan’s conservative manifesto and Condoleezza Rice’s plea for education reform from Wednesday night:

 

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