Aug 24 - The Republican Convention kicks off next week in Tampa, Florida providing what may be Mitt Romney's best chance yet to define himself, his policy, and his message if he’s not upstaged by Tropical Storm Isaac. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Building the convention floor for the Republican National Convention, which begins in Tampa, Florida on Monday - could serve as a metaphor for Mitt Romney. The presumptive presidential nominee has to use this platform to build and define his message, his policies and his image, say political experts like Brookings Institution's Stephen Hess. SOUNDBITE: STEPHEN HESS, SENIOR FELLOW EMERITUS, GOVERNANCE STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION (ENGLISH) SAYING: "In many countries likeability isn't much of a factor choosing their chief of state. But it is to some degree in the United States. Barack Obama is considered a very likable person. So one thing Romney has to do is somehow break through that barrier until Americans say 'yeah, I would be comfortable having him in the White House for the next four years.' And that means not only conveying the right image, but the right message, adds Gregory Valliere of the Potomac Research Group. SOUNDBITE: GREGORY VALLIERE, CHIEF POLITICAL STRATEGIST, POTOMAC RESEARCH GROUP (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's very difficult to understand why the Republicans don't just focus on jobs and the economy that's the weakest point for Obama, that's the strongest argument for the Republicans but instead they're talking about Medicare reform we're now in a very nasty debate over abortion. We may get into a debate over fundamental tax reform." Political pundits say Romney can use his early-than-normal Monday nomination to give new details on his plans to revive the economy, giving him a possible advantage with independent and undecided voters. SOUNDBITE: STEPHEN HESS, SENIOR FELLOW EMERITUS, GOVERNANCE STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION (ENGLISH) SAYING: "He's been running and running for the Republican nomination now for many, many, many months but still it would be remarkable how many Americans still have not watched him give a speech. So I think it can be important for him." Also important for Romney- his running mate Paul Ryan has to extend energy beyond the base, by winning voters worried about Social Security and Medicare. But there's one force of nature who could steal the spotlight. Tropical Storm Isaac may blow away the Republican's time in the sun. Conway Gittens, Reuters