How Democrats keep gate-crashing the GOP convention
Once upon a time, convention week was a chance for the opposing candidate to rest up. That began to change in 2008 – Obama and the Democrats are now running full tilt during the GOP convention.
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“There’s no delicate way to say this. Last night Paul Ryan lied – repeatedly, knowingly and brazenly,” Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter told reporters Thursday. She and other Democrats hammered on Ryan for his statements on Medicare, on the president’s debt commission, and on the closing of a GM plant in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wis., implying that Obama broke his promise to plant workers, when it actually closed under President Bush.Skip to next paragraph
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The surrogates in town are some of Obama’s most eloquent defenders, and they’re ready with memorable quotes to try to counter the cacophony of conservative rhetoric.
“I heard Governor Christie talk about the importance of truth-telling. I just didn’t hear any truth-telling out of him,” says Congressman Van Hollen. “I don’t think the American people will think it’s brave to give another round of tax cuts to the very wealthy, to people like Mitt Romney, at the expense of seniors on Medicare who have a median income of $23,000.”
Mayor Villaraigosa, meanwhile, has been taking aim at GOP diversity – and the roster of speakers in Tampa that overemphasizes Hispanics’ and other minorities’ role in the party.
"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," Villaraigosa said at a press conference Tuesday.
And full-page Democratic ads in the Tampa Tribune have assailed Romney’s record with the middle class and worked to link Romney and Ryan to Rep. Todd Akin, the Missouri Senate candidate who famously suggested “legitimate rape” won’t lead to pregnancy.
But more notable than the sharp defense game in Tampa, perhaps, is the fact that it hasn’t just been surrogates talking for Obama this week.
Unlike in the past, when George W. Bush retired to Crawford, Texas, for the week or Bill Clinton retreated to Jackson, Wyo. – getting a much-needed break along with ceding the spotlight to their opponents for a few days – Obama has stepped up campaign efforts, especially on college campuses, and grabbed a fair number of Internet headlines Wednesday with the surprise Reddit appearance.
“There are 70 days left to the election, and we’re not going to cede any one of them,” Cutter told reporters.
Michelle Obama appeared on David Letterman Wednesday night (she said she hasn’t been watching the convention), and if Biden had gone to Tampa as planned, that would have been the highest level surrogate to infiltrate a rival party’s convention.
The Obama campaign says he canceled the trip so that he wouldn’t get in the way of local security needs for the hurricane, but Professor MacManus wonders if a fear of bad press might have contributed as well.
“I think one of the reasons they might have pulled back is that it was beginning to look like it was bad form. People didn’t appreciate it,” she says.
Obama also has nothing planned that would conflict with Romney’s big speech Thursday night.
With an election this close, though, neither side seemed inclined to let tradition or etiquette get in the way of a chance to score points.
Next week, during the Democratic National Convention, Romney also plans to keep campaigning.
• Staff writer David Grant contributed to this report.
IN PICTURES: The Republican Convention 2012