Making The Soft Sell vs. The Hard Sell In Tampa (The Note)

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone ) and AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter )


  • UNDERWATER NEAR TAMPA BAY: Mitt Romney accepts the Republican nomination for president this week with the lowest personal popularity of any major-party nominee in polls dating to Ronald Reagan's presidency, a difficulty for Romney that's persisted throughout this election cycle, ABC News Pollster Gary Langer notes. Forty percent of registered voters in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll see Romney favorably overall, while 51 percent rate him unfavorably - 11 points underwater in this basic measure, with a majority unfavorable score for just the second time in polls since last fall. Barack Obama does better in this poll, but hardly well - 50-47 percent in favorable vs. unfavorable views among registered voters, essentially the same as his 2012 average in ABC/Post polls. On this, as on other measures, as hard as they've campaigned, views of the two hardly have budged. Romney's favorability rating is the lowest of any major-party nominee at roughly the time of his convention in available data back to 1984.
  • ISAAC MAKES LANDFALL, OVERTOPS LEVEE IN NEW ORLEANS. ABC's Anthony Castellano reports: The center of Hurricane Isaac made a second landfall over Port Fourchon, La., early Wednesday, overtopping a levee southeast of New Orleans, knocking down trees and cutting power to more than 400,000 homes. There were no reports of injuries as dawn broke over the Gulf Coast area. Property damage reports were just beginning to come in. There were scattered reports of people stranded in their homes by rising water in the New Orleans area. Dozens of residents of Plaquemines Parish, La. are stranded, while there are multiple reports of people trapped in attics.
  • CHRIS CHRISTIE: GOOD, BUT NOT 'WOW.' ABC's Amy Walter and Yahoo! News' David Chalian discussed Christie's speech with two former Rick Santorum aides, Alice Stewart and Hogan Gidley, who saw Christie starting the convention "with a bang." WATCH their analysis here:
  • TODAY IN TAMPA - ABC NEWS, UNIVISION AND NATIONAL JOURNAL JOIN FORCES: Univision News, ABC News and National Journal have joined forces to engage leaders at the political conventions on the demographic revolution remaking the face of the nation. These convention events will examine the political, economic and societal changes resulting from growth in the Hispanic community and other key demographic trends. Today Univision News Anchor Jorge Ramos, ABC News Anchor Diane Sawyer and National Journal Editorial Director Ron Brownstein will take the stage to moderate an engaging series of interviews with Mario Diaz-Balart, U.S. House of Representatives; The Honorable Mel Martinez; Mark L. Shurtleff, Utah Attorney General; Whit Ayres, President, North Star Opinion Research; Ana Navarro, Republican Strategist & Huntsman 2012 National Hispanic Co-Chair. Today's session takes place at the University Club of Tampa, 201 North Franklin Street, 10:00 - 11:30 AM.


TAMPA, Fla. - Last night at the Republican National Convention Ann Romney made the hard sell on behalf of her husband, who had earlier in the day been crowned official presidential nominee of his party.

Ann Romney's message: I love you, women, and you can trust Mitt Romney.

Yes, there was some romance there - she recounted the story of meeting her husband at a high school dance. "His name is Mitt Romney," Ann said, "and you really should get to know him."

"I could tell you why I fell in love with him," she continued, "he was tall, laughed a lot, was nervous - girls like that, it shows the guy's a little intimidated - and he was nice to my parents but he was really glad when my parents weren't around."

But Ann really got to business. She didn't try to tell people they should fall in love with Mitt Romney. But, they should trust him to be competent and successful.

"Let me say this to every American who is thinking about who should be our next President: No one will work harder. No one will care more. No one will move heaven and earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live," she said. "It's true that Mitt has been successful at each new challenge he has taken on. It amazes me to see his history of success actually being attacked. Are those really the values that made our country great? As a mom of five boys, do we want to raise our children to be afraid of success?"

If Ann's speech was about selling Mitt, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's remarks were about selling himself and the Republican Party.

"I know this simple truth and I'm not afraid to say it," Christie said to applause, "our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America."

Christie made the case not so much for Romney as he did for his brand of tell-it-like-it-is conservative principles. This is the same message that Paul Ryan has been pushing. It works well with the GOP faithful, but will it sell with swing voters?

And one smart Republican strategist offered an impression of Christie's speech:

"Chris Christie gave a great speech - to accept his own nomination," this strategist said. "It was surprising that with a national audience, the Romney camp allowed a prepared speech that took so long to spotlight the candidate."

(As it turns out, it took Christie more than 17 minutes to utter the word "Romney" and he did so only 7 times in a more than, 2,630 word speech).

Tonight is Paul Ryan's moment. The crowd here in Tampa is ready for a red meat speech. But, his bigger hurdle is his perception among those outside the hall - especially women and those concerned about his approach to reforming Medicare.

Can he get out from under the "extremist" label Democrats have slapped on him? Stay tuned.

PAUL RYAN COUNTER-PROGRAMMING: Ahead of Paul Ryan's speech tonight, the Obama camp is out with a black and white, 1940s newsreel-style video that paints him as from a "very different era," ABC's Devin Dwyer reports. "It's clear that Paul Ryan's vision for America is one that would take the nation back to a very different era," the narrator says. There's an emphasis on his "out of step views" from a "bygone era" and the author of the "extreme GOP budget." WATCH:


ABC's RICK KLEIN: Ann Romney took the man, and Chris Christie took the message. Yet neither is in full focus after the first full day of the Republican National Convention - a gathering where Mitt Romney himself is of course the focus, though not necessarily the star. The candidate can bask in the reflected glory of his wife and his top surrogates, which is what a convention has to be about. But the messages the top speakers have delivered - be authentic, be loveable - do as much to highlight what Mitt Romney isn't as they help him become what he has to be. That part will have to come from the principals: Romney and Paul Ryan, who gets his turn tonight.


-ABC VIDEO: ISAAC IN NEW ORLEANS. Watch the "Good Morning America" report on Isaac's landfall, location, and impact from ABC's Sam Champion:

-TRACKING ISAAC: LIVE STORM-PATH UPDATES. Ad Hurricane Isaac becomes the major national story while Republicans have gathered in Tampa, Fla., follow ABC's live hurricane tracker for updates on Isaac's path and position.


with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)

MARCO RUBIO: GOP HAS IMMIGRATION 'CHALLENGE.' Slated to address the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., today, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio appeared on "Good Morning America," where ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked him about the Republican Party's standing with Hispanic voters. George Stephanopoulos reports on the interview: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told me this morning that he agreed with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who said Tuesday that "you can't just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname and expect people are going to vote for your party or your candidate." … "I think what he's saying, quite frankly, is true for both parties," said Rubio, who spoke to me this morning on "Good Morning America." "Policies matter and, look, the Republican Party does have a challenge. We can't just be the anti-illegal immigration party, we have to be the pro-legal immigration party. "We have a broken system of immigration that needs to be fixed and we have a legal immigration problem because we have millions of people who are in this country without documents and we have to deal with that in a way that honors our legacy both as a nation of compassion and a nation of immigrants but also as a nation of laws. That's a real challenge. That's not an easy thing to do. We're going to confront that not by pandering, not by making unrealistic promises but by trying to find a balanced approach to how to deal with it."

RYAN, PALIN FILL SIMILAR ROLES AS RUNNING MATES. ABC's Gregory J. Krieg and Shushannah Walshe report: they both appeal to a part of the Republican Party that's caused fits for McCain and Mitt Romney: The base. Ryan, with his deficit-hawk bible called "The Roadmap," is Romney's inside man. Question Romney's dedication to the conservative cause? Well, your answer is Ryan. Palin was unfamiliar to the national media but, like Ryan, her mere presence quieted internal worries about McCain's interest in keeping the party line. "They both acknowledge the problem," Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin told ABC News. "Ryan is definitely a wonk and a numbers guy, but Sarah Palin doesn't just talk. She took down the entire 'good old boys' establishment in Alaska. You don't do that by just talking."

CHRISTIE: ROMNEY WILL TELL US HARD TRUTHS. It took New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie 17 minutes to mention Mitt Romney in his keynote address at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., but the combative GOP star delivered applause lines and rallied the crowd by calling for a second American century. Here's what he had to say about the GOP's nominee: "I know Mitt Romney, and Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to put us back on a path to growth and create good paying private-sector jobs again in America. Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the torrent of debt that is compromising our future and burying our economy. Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the debacle of putting the world's greatest health-care system in the hands of federal bureaucrats, and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor." WATCH highlights of Christie's speech here:

ANN ROMNEY'S DIRECT APPEAL TO WOMEN. In delivering her primetime speech to the Republican National Convention, Ann Romney made a direct appeal to women voters, whom Democrats have sought to turn away from the GOP ticket. Romney, onstage: "… if you listen carefully, you'll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It's how it is, isn't it? It's the moms who always have to work a little harder to make everything right. It's the moms of this nation - single, married, widowed - who really hold this country together. We're the mothers, we're the wives, we're the grandmothers, we're the big sisters, we're the little sisters, and we are the daughters. You know it's true, don't you? I love you, women! And I hear your voices … Tonight, we salute you and sing your praises." WATCH Ann Romney's speech to the convention here:

ANN'S SPEECH: MITT'S REACTION. From the floor of the GOP convention, ABC's David Muir told Amy Walter and Yahoo! News' David Chalian, in our live-streamed ABC/Yahoo! convention webcast: "I did just talk to a senior strategist who helped work with Ann Romney on that speech, and as he was walking toward me, a giant smile on his face. He said he was behind the stage with Gov. Romney, he's worked with him for a very long time, and said he had never seen the governor as nervous as he was tonight as Ann Romney began that speech, but it wasn't long before that nervousness melted behind stage. And of course he emerged onto the stage as we thought might happen here at the convention hall to embrace his

THE MISSION FOR ANN ROMNEY: WIN WOMEN. ABC's David Muir reports from Tampa, Fla., that Ann Romney's goal in addressing the GOP convention Tuesday night was to win over women voters. Muir reported: "Her speech comes at a much-needed time for the Romney campaign: The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, showing only 35 percent of women voters in this country have a favorable view of Mitt Romney-54 percent actually have an unfavorable view of him, which is why the stakes are so high for Mrs. Romney tonight, who plans to try and lure some of those women voters." WATCH Muir's "World News" report:

ANN ROMNEY TO DIANE SAWYER: SO MANY ARE COUNTING ON US. In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer on "World News," before her speech Ann Romney described what it's like to watch her husband receive the GOP nominatoin: "It's not like we are jubilant, happy. It's not that at all. It's a settling in of the awesomeness of how many people are counting on us-it's sort of a humility that millions of people have put the trust in us, and we don't want to disappoint, but we are not feeling overjoyed or those kinds of emotions aren't there."

ANN ROMNEY ALWAYS WANTED A GIRL. Ann Romney also tells ABC's Diane Sawyer: "When the fifth baby came out and it was a boy, I'm like, 'Ohhh no!' But one thing I can say about boys is they taught me much more than I think I would have learned by being a mother of girls. They taught me to be real, to have no baloney, and to just say it straight and then get over it, and that was a great lesson."

PHOTOS: ANN ROMNEY'S MOMENT IN THE SPOTLIGHT. See photos of Ann Romney on the trail and at the Tampa convention in this OTUS slidehshow:

OBAMA: DON'T BOO THE RNC, VOTE. ABC's Mary Bruce reports from Fort Collins, Colo.: As Republicans began their first night of convention speakers, President Obama told supporters his opponents will put on an "entertaining" show in Tampa with lots of glitz, but little substance. "The show in Tampa I'm sure will be very entertaining and I'm sure they'll have wonderful things to say about me," Obama jokingly said at Colorado State University. "It will be well-produced. You know, they've hired all kinds of fancy TV producers… The only problem is it won't offer a path forward." The crowd of roughly 13,000 started to boo as the president mentioned the GOP convention. "Don't boo. Vote," he replied, which brought cheers. "That's the best response. Vote and get some of your friends to vote."

GROUP OBTAINS MORE RECORDS ON BIN LADEN FILM PROJECT. ABC's Jake Tapper reports: The conservative government watchdog Judicial Watch released more documents about the Obama administration's cooperation with director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, the Oscar-winning team behind "The Hurt Locker" who are currently working on a project, "Zero Dark Thirty," about the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden. … "These new documents provide more backing to the serious charge that the Obama administration played fast and loose with national security information to help Hollywood filmmakers," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "No wonder we've had to fight one year of stonewalling from the administration. These new documents show there is no doubt that Obama White House was intensely interested in this film that was set to portray President Obama as 'gutsy.'"

BIGGEST APPLAUSE OF THE NIGHT IN TAMPA: SCOTT WALKER. ABC's Michael Falcone and Shushannah Walshe report from Tampa, Fla.: Turns out Chris Christie is not the only rock star governor speaking at the RNC tonight. Enter Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who successfully fought off a recall attempt this year. "As was the case in Wisconsin two years ago, too many Americans think our country is headed in the wrong direction," Walker said. "But Mitt Romney understands, like I understand, that people - not governments - create jobs." Walker also offered a well-received nod to fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan, a vice presidential pick that Walker said "showed that he has the experience and the skill needed to become president" and "the courage and the passion to be an exceptional president."

FORE! KASICH QUESTIONS BIDEN'S GOLF GAME. ABC's Z. Byron Wolf and Arlette Saenz report: In his address to the Republican National Convention tonight, Ohio Gov. John Kasich talked a lot about policy, about unions, about debt and surpluses and budget deficits. And then, at the end, he turned to a what seems to be a very personal subject among Ohio politicians and the current administration Kasich would like to be see voted out of office: Golf. "Folks, let me tell you this - Joe Biden disputes a lot of those facts, but Joe Biden told me that he was a good golfer. And I've played golf with Joe Biden, I can tell you that's not true, as well as all of the other things that he says," Kasich said Tuesday at the Republican convention.

NOISE ON THE FLOOR: RON PAUL CHEERED, NEW RULES BOOED. ABC's Rick Klein reports: They'll surely get their convention back by the time the prime time program begins and the boldfaced names talk up Mitt Romney. But the mood on the floor is surprisingly hostile to Romney and the forces engaged in a rules fight with Ron Paul forces. Ron Paul was received like a rock star when he roamed the floor earlier creating a huge roving mass of humanity, including reporters, but mostly supporters eager to express their support. Delegates have been chanting, "Let him speak" because Ron Paul is not scheduled to speak, although his son, Sen. Rand Paul, is scheduled to address the convention.

LESS BUMP FOR ROMNEY? ABC's Emily Friedman reports from Tampa, Fla.: Mitt Romney's chief strategist Stuart Stevens today downplayed the prospect of a big bump in the polls for the Republican candidate following the GOP convention, contradicting a senior adviser who had earlier cited previous conventions and predicted a boost as big as 11 points. "I just think all bets are off about any kind of past performance being a predictor of the future," said Stevens, aboard the Romney charter heading to Tampa earlier today. "I think it's extraordinary going into the convention tied or with the lead."

DNC COUNTERPROGRAMMING: CASTING A SHADOW ON TAMPA. ABC's Elicia Dover reports from Tampa, Fla.: Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and a full staff from the Democratic National Committee appeared in Tampa today in an attempt to cast a shadow over the first day of the Republican National Convention. "You're going to hear tonight, I'm sure, one very small side and sliver of this story," Gibbs said, referring to the first night of RNC speeches. A shadow literally was expected to be cast over the convention center today because a DNC-sponsored plane was scheduled to fly over the first GOP meeting this afternoon carrying a banner that read, "Romney, Ryan, Akin Too Extreme for Women" - referring to Romney, his vice presidential nominee and Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who recently made controversial remarks about abortion and rape. This morning, the DNC passed out gift bags that contained a fake passport with stamps for the countries of Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Switzerland, referring to Mitt Romney's offshore bank accounts. The bag also contained a "100 Grand" candy bar.

HIGH HOPES FOR CHER VALENZUELA. ABC's John Parkinson reports from Tampa, Fla.: Tonight, Republicans believe one of their star candidates, Sher Valenzuela, will burst into the national spotlight when she delivers a primetime address during the Republican National Convention. Valenzuela, who is running for lieutenant governor of Delaware, is a small businesswoman who runs an industrial upholstery facility that manufactures everything from padding for Major League Baseball umpires to bulletproof vests for the Israeli military and protective covering for the U.S. military's Boeing V-22 Osprey. Tonight, she has one of the best speaking slots. She is slated to address the convention for eight minutes beginning at 7:50 p.m. ET on the moral defense of free enterprise.


-PLANNED PARENTHOOD COMES TO TAMPA: From the group: "Planned Parenthood Action Fund's 'Women are Watching' bus tour will make a stop in Tampa, Florida during the Republican National Convention today to rally support and make sure voters know how much is at stake for women's health this November. The rally will take place at the Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, 2-4pm."

-DEM SUPER PAC HITS TOMMY THOMPSON WITH NEW AD. Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC that focuses on Senate races, has released a new ad hitting GOP candidate Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin's Senate race. A narrator says: "Meet Tommy Thompson, influence peddler. He's made millions of dollars selling his influence in Washington, D.C. for pharmaceuticals and other multinational corporations. He's still working hard for them, promising to give his billion-dollar buddies huge tax breaks by making struggling middle-class families pay for it …" Watch the ad here:

-TIM KAINE GOES POSITIVE IN NEW ECONOMIC AD. In Virginia, Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine released a new TV ad touting his economic plan. In it, he tells viewers: "I know we can create jobs right away by investing in small businesses and rebuilding our roads and bridges. But we can't stop there. Education and training are the keys to the jobs of tomorrow. We need to remain the most talented nation on earth, and I have a plan to keep us there. … By listening to our businesses, we can improve the economy and create jobs." Watch the ad here:


@samyoungman : Good morning from Tampa where I'm trying to remember the last time I got on an elevator that didn't contain a Romney son

@MaeveReston : More behind-the-scenes RT @dgjackson: From earlier: Gov and @AnnDRomney watching the convention speeches from hotel.

@HotlineAlberta : Makes an awful lot of sense RT @BuzzFeedBen Eastwood as surprise speaker? …

@TheFix : The most common words mentioned about Paul Ryan? "Conservative", "intelligent", "unknown", "energetic".

@RyanGOP : RT @PounderFile: WaPo: "Why the GOP is winning the battle over Paul Ryan"


- Mitt Romney travels to Indiana from Tampa for a campaign event there at the American Legion.

- Paul Ryan delivers his address to the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

- President Obama continues his college town tour today in the battleground state of Virginia. Obama rallies students in Charlottesville and later, he returns to the White House.

- Vice President Joe Biden spends the day in meetings in Washington.

Check out The Note's Futures Calendar :

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