Day One of the shortened Republican National Convention in Tampa was highlighted by the final two speeches that aired on the broadcast networks: Ann Romney and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
But the theme for the evening portion of Tuesday's marathon nine-hour session was a slam at President Obama's now infamous "You didn’t build that” remark he made in Roanoke, Virginia last month.
The RNC announced last week that Tuesday's convention theme would be "You Built It," and there was no way humanly possible to forget it. The theme recurred not only during the first two hours of evening speeches, but in comments by "regular folks" recruited to speak or star in short videos displayed on the slick LED screens (a design that CBS' Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer compared to a Swedish sauna).
Point taken. It wasn't really good television. That is, if most of the country was watching it — but they weren't, except for PBS & C-Span fans. Delegates followed suit by dancing poorly with their arms extended holding signs that read "We Built It."
Chris Christie's keynote address wasn't as devastating a takedown of President Obama as some had predicted, though Christie had told reporters in advance that he would be speaking in more positive tones, taking more subtle shots at the president.
I believe we have become paralyzed by our desire to be loved.
Our founding fathers had the wisdom to know that social acceptance and popularity is fleeting and that this country’s principles needed to be rooted in strengths greater than the passions and emotions of the times.
Our leaders today have decided it is more important to be popular, to do what is easy and say “yes,” rather than to say no when “no” is what’s required.
In recent years, we as a country have too often chosen the same path.
It’s been easy for our leaders to say not us, and not now, in taking on the tough issues. And we’ve stood silently by and let them get away with it.
But tonight, I say enough.
I say, together, let’s make a much different choice. Tonight, we are speaking up for ourselves and stepping up.
Hours before Christie's speech, Democrats bashed his selection, sending reporters copies of an L.A. Times story reporting that under his leadership, New Jersey is one of just two states to have hit a new high in unemployment in the past four years.
Mittens' better half, Ann Romney, took the stage at 10:10 p.m., when she announced her speech would not be about politics or parties, but about love. But she did talk politics.
There is a definite gender gap in the polling between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and Mrs. Romney's job was to help women feel comfortable with her long-time man.
She talked about the dating years, "the best days," as she called them, recalling consumption of large amounts of pasta and tuna.
Mrs. Romney said that, living in Massachusetts, she's used to people not liking her husband's politics. And she added that even though Mitt was the son of a successful businessman and politician, he wasn't handed his success. No — "He built it!"
Cue the loud cheers. Her speech ended dramatically with Mitt Romney entering from the wings to join his wife and wave to the thrilled crowd.
Earlier speakers included Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (who received two thunderous ovations during the day), Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and House Speaker John Boehner.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley received thunderous applause after talking about her state
passing one of the most "innovative" illegal immigration bills in the country (for which the Justice Department is suing South Carolina). Haley said if you need to show ID to buy Sudafed or step on an airplane, the least someone can do is show that same identification to prove their U.S. citizenship.
She also got huge cheers when talking about the non-union Boeing workforce in her home state.
This reporter's impression: Ann Romney, relatively solid. I mean, she's not a professional speaker and that was part of her charm.
Christie? Not so much about Mitt, was it? Maybe we'll hear more about him on Wednesday, and less about the man he wants to replace in November.