Isaac and a Republican blow out

As the Republican Party prepared to open the doors to its 2012 convention, the week-long hoopla that officially launches its Presidential campaign, along came Hurricane Isaac which blew its way across Haiti (19 dead) and barreled toward Tampa, on Florida’s West coast, hosting the knees-up.

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Isaac took a turn to the left and is now heading toward New Orleans, the city that suffered so much in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina. That hurricane underwrote itself as a major failure of George W. Bush’s presidency. Mitt Romney, who so desperately wants to be President, will be hoping Isaac is neither a metaphor nor messenger.

The convention, no matter how Isaac affects it (events were cancelled on Monday), is Mitt Romney’s big opportunity to sell himself to American voters. In making his speech accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for Presidency, Romney has to connect with the American people, be Presidential, and not come across as a robot.

The divide is simple but it’s no easy pitch.

Is Romney the one-percenter ruthless job-cremating millionaire tax-evading former boss of a Boston management consultancy company, who believes God selected a 14-year-old American boy in 1820 as a messenger? Oh, and the guy who took a road trip with his pet dog on the roof of his car.

Or is Romney clearly the only man in America with the business experience required to dig the US out of its economic problems and the guy to boost the middle class and cut debt all at the same time? Oh, and come up with a healthcare plan that is better than the one Obama has introduced that’s based on Romney’s own plan implemented in Massachusetts when he was state governor?

What’s a guy to do?

Romney gets one hour to speak in Tampa and has a lot of options in where to take his speech. As The Washington Post asked, “Should he concentrate on making himself likable? Should he instead try to project himself as a leader and decision maker for difficult times? How much time should he spend outlining his policies? How much time should he spend criticising the president’s record?”

Romney will also call upon his vice-president nominee Paul Ryan to sell his story and Chris Christie, the overweight New Jersey governor some think is future Presidential material, to boost his cause with their speeches. Romney’s wife Ann will make address the partisan audience as will Florida pin-up Senator Marco Rubio, a play for the Latino vote that has so-far shown little interest in Romney.

Isaac ultimately missed Tampa but it has diverted a lot of national attention from the convention to New Orleans. Romney will be hoping – praying – Isaac is not some kind of omen. This week is THE moment to define himself and his campaign.

It has to be. Next week the Democrats hold their own convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. President Obama will state his case for reelection on the week after Labor Day. Obama will be hoping that, in an election where the economy is issue number one, Labor Day is as symbolic of his reelection bid as Isaac is for Romney’s campaign.

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