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A look back at the GOP convention...

Photo: RNC

I don't generally like to do retrospective posts, but there are a lot of opinions out there regarding to this week's Republican National Convention so, as always, I feel compelled to voice my own.

When the convention finally kicked off after its hurricane delay, the line-up of speakers on Monday seemed like it would be impossible to top.  Artur Davis, Nikki Haley, Rick Santorum, Bob McDonnell and Scott Walker made up the impressive line-up that ushered in outstanding speeches from Ann Romney and Chris Christie.

Most everyone has praised Ann Romney for her eloquent remarks and the praise is well-deserved.  But Christie has come under a bit of scrutiny for an underwhelming performance.  On this point, I heartily disagree.  When it comes to Chris Christie, I'm rarely left feeling unsatisfied -- his pointed keynote was the perfect punctuation to follow Mrs. Romney's soft-yet-inspired remarks.

Christie has also been hit in analyses for not speaking more about the GOP's presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.  This is another point where I have to disagree.  I think Christie did a fantastic job conveying to the public watching at home what the GOP stands for, the problems we face today and why the GOP is the party with the experience, drive and passion to solve those problems.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered one of the week's best speeches, in my opinion.  She commanded the microphone with a determined spirit that was truly impressive.  Having been thrust into the national spotlight as a member of a relatively unpopular administration, I seriously admired Ms. Rice's unapologetic tone: This is why I'm a Republican.  These are the things I believe in.  

If there were a couple of let-downs to be pointed out from Wednesday evening's line-up, I'd point to Tim Pawlenty and Rob Portman.  For two people who had been considered to fill the No. 2 spot on the GOP ticket, their remarks were real snoozefests.  If nothing else, the monotonous oratory of Portman and Pawlenty solidified support for Paul Ryan.

And what the heck happened to Newt Gingrich?  The fiery debater conservatives came to love during the primary debates looked more like a domesticated animal, reading prepared remarks from a teleprompter with no emotional inflection in his robot-like delivery.  Sorry Newt -- you've lost your mojo.

I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the inspiring strength of Susana Martinez and Mia Love -- two newly minted superstars of the Republican Party.  Both Republican women oozed class while shooting down stereotypes of the party of old, white men.  Love, especially, grabbed viewers' attention and Google came alive as Americans across the country clicked on to see who this dynamic newcomer was on the national stage.

Rick Santorum offered nothing really new, which to most people would be considered a negative attribute.  But Santorum's strengths have never come from preaching policy, but the passion with which he preaches.  The repeated "hands" meme of his speech, I believe, would've fallen flat had it been delivered by anyone else.  But Santorum's principled passion lends a kind of seriousness to his words; they demand your attention and don't let go until they've left a real impression.

What can you say about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker other than "rockstar"?  I'm pretty sure his future role in the GOP won't be confined to the state capitol in Madison.

By the time Paul Ryan accepted the party's nomination for vice president, convention delegates were salivating in anticipation of some good red meat attacks on President Obama.  But here we saw Ryan's skills as a politician, dangling a juicy talking point in front of the crowd and pulling back just as the room's excitement swelled to capacity.  Ryan skillfully balanced his remarks, splitting his time attacking Obama, praising Romney and relating the debates to Americans' shared values and traditions.  I dare say, Ryan's remarks ranked among the best delivered by any vice presidential contender.

When Mitt Romney took the stage late Thursday evening, I couldn't help but wonder if the compelling and impassioned remarks of Marco Rubio wouldn't overshadow the presidential hopeful.  Rubio solidified his place as a stalwart  leader in the GOP and, I believe, as a young leader with a lot to offer for the future of the country.

Romney took the stage and seemed a bit stiff -- probably worried the networks would drop him from their coverage after Clint Eastwood went a bit over time.  But as soon as the former Massachusetts governor began talking about his family, especially his parents, he hit his stride and relaxed; right before our eyes, the stiff politician loosened his grip on emotions and really connected with the audience on a personal level.  Romney wasn't just speaking to a crowd or a television audience -- he was speaking to me.  To you.

It's this connection that beckons undecided voters to give a candidate a second look.  It's this connection that mobilizes supporters.  It's this connection that strikes fear in your opponents.  We'll know soon enough whether or not America was listening.

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