Bad news for Romney: More interest in GOP platform than in speech, poll says

A Pew poll finds 52 percent of Americans are interested in the GOP platform, while 44 percent are interested in Romney's acceptance speech. This bodes ill for his ability to shake up the close race.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
In this Aug. 11 photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, with his wife Ann, and his newly announced vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, far right, and his wife, Janna, during a campaign rally in Manassas, Va.

More Americans are interested in the Republican Party’s platform than in the address that soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will deliver on Thursday, according to a poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center.

That’s not good news for Mr. Romney, who needs Americans to hear his message – which, he hopes, will help voters get to know and like him.

But apparently all the publicity around the Republican platform – particularly the social issues that have leapt to the fore in the past week – has piqued the public’s interest. Usually, the platform is a pro forma document of party positions that many candidates, including presidential nominees, choose to ignore. Now, 52 percent of Americans tell Pew they’re either very or somewhat interested in the GOP platform, compared with 44 percent who say they’re interested in Romney’s acceptance speech.

Some 46 percent are interested in the speech that Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin will deliver Wednesday, when he accepts the Republican nomination for vice president. About three in four Republicans are interested in Romney’s speech, versus 28 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of independents.

“Republican interest in Romney’s acceptance speech is as high as for [2008 Republican nominee John] McCain’s speech four years ago, or for [George W.] Bush’s in 2000,” Pew reports. “However, Democrats are far less interested in hearing the Republican nominee’s speech this year than in the past, and independents’ interest is down as well.”

So while it appears Romney will have the same opportunity to energize Republicans as Senator McCain did in 2008, the former Massachusetts governor may have a harder time getting through to undecided voters, many of whom are not affiliated with either party. However, it should be noted that some voters’ party affiliation, or lack thereof, does not coincide with how they might vote or how strongly they feel about a candidate.

Last week, the GOP’s platform committee met in Tampa to work out the various planks dealing with the gamut of policy matters, and prepare the document for approval by convention delegates. The convention is expected to approve the platform on Tuesday.

The platform burst into the news last week when Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri made abortion rights a central campaign topic – and severely damaged his Senate candidacy. He asserted that women’s bodies have the ability to prevent pregnancy during “legitimate rape,” by way of explaining why he believes there should be no rape exception for women seeking an abortion. It so happened that the “abortion plank” was up for review last week by the platform committee.

The platform calls for a “Human Life Amendment,” which gives legal protection to the unborn and is silent on the issue of exceptions. A majority of Republicans do not support abortion rights, but a minority believe there should be no exceptions. Romney approves of exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and threats to the life of the mother.

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