- News in Brief
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The Romneys and the Ryans have arrived in Tampa, starting the hard work of shifting a city’s focus from storm coverage to the job at hand — anointing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as the Republican standard-bearers.
And, weather-permitting, throwing one heck of a party.
Romney’s wife Ann, upon landing, immediately went to the convention site, the Tampa Bay Times Forum, for a walk-through ahead of her major speech Tuesday night. She did a quick sound-check, reading the opening of the Gettysburg Address from a teleprompter placed at the back of the room.
On the flight to Tampa, she described her speech as “heartfelt.”
The former first lady of Massachusetts is one of several big speakers on deck whose task is to rally the party around Mitt Romney, who is expected to be formally nominated on the floor late Tuesday afternoon.
With Mrs. Romney poised to tell the American public a bit about her husband’s personal side — and perhaps rebut the Democratic narrative that his candidacy is a threat to women — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is in town preparing for his keynote.
Speaking to the Michigan delegation Tuesday morning, Christie joked that his staff had done “a fabulous job of lowering expectations.”
Far from it, the anticipation has been building around his speech, with the party relying on Christie to light a fire under delegates and viewers — and send everyone home eager to hear the rest of the Republican 2012 story from Ryan tomorrow and Romney himself on closing night.
The entire affair has competition, though, not just from now-Hurricane Isaac, but President Obama.
The president was beginning a three-state counter-programming tour Tuesday with two visits later in the day in Ames, Iowa, and Fort Collins, Colo.
Though planned visits by Vice President Biden to Florida this week were canceled due to the storm, Obama is charging ahead with rallies aimed at depriving the Republicans of coverage all to themselves.
Polls show Romney and Obama running about even, but each man holds significant leads with voters in important subtexts that could sway the roughly 10 percent of Americans who say they haven’t settled yet on one man or the other.
Obama holds a big lead as the candidate who best relates to the needs of poor and middle-class Americans. That advantage could come into sharper focus as Isaac moves slowly toward the U.S. Gulf Coast after forcing Monday’s convention opening to be delayed.
The storm was expected to come ashore late Tuesday or Wednesday somewhere near New Orleans. That resurrected the ghost of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city and killed 1,800 people exactly seven years ago.
Trying to balance leadership with campaigning, Obama delivered a brief update on Isaac from the White House before leaving. “Now is not the time to tempt fate,” he said. “You need to take this seriously.”
Partisanship had not subsided with Isaac’s gathering strength. Republicans were determined to play to Romney’s strengths this week. He is more highly regarded as the candidate who can restore the economy, the top issue for voters
Ultimately, it will be up to Romney himself “to let the American people see who he is,” said Christie.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders will try to convince Americans that Obama is a failed president, unable to keep his promise to restore economic vitality and reduce stubbornly high unemployment — still at 8.3 percent three years after the Great Recession.