Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By CALVIN WOODWARD/Associated Press
By DONNA CASSATA/Associated Press
TAMPA, Fla. — With the Republican National Convention at last in full-throated roar, nominee Mitt Romney and his team reached out Wednesday to connect with critical voting groups — veterans, Hispanics and women — while gleefully mocking the man he is out to defeat in November.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his wife Ann applaud with Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, second right, and Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan's wife Janna, right, following New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's speech to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Romney himself was ducking out of his own convention in Tampa to address the American Legion Convention in Indianapolis. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a top Hispanic voice in the GOP, made the round of morning talk shows to defend the GOP nominee's policies. And Ann Romney and Janna Ryan, the wife of Romney's running mate, teamed up to headline a "Women for Romney" event.
His nomination now official, Romney was free at last to start dipping into his general-election pot of campaign cash.
"We're excited that now he's going to be able to spend money, both in English and in Spanish, to explain to people how his policies will help grow the economy, help small business, help people have the confidence to invest in the future," Rubio said on "CBS This Morning."
To ensure the cash keeps rolling in, Ann Romney emailed supporters a fundraising appeal that echoed her Tuesday night speech to the convention.
"This man will not fail," she promised in the plea.
The main draw Wednesday night is vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, the 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman and author of a tough budget that remakes the way the government spends money. A poll by the Pew Research Center and The Washington Post found Americans deeply divided about Ryan, whom they described as conservative, intelligent, fake, phony.
President Barack Obama, for his part, was courting another key voting group — young voters — with a second day of campaigning in college towns. He had hoped to speak on the University of Virginia campus, but the school rejected that idea, saying it would disrupt classes on the second day of the semester. He'll speak in an off-campus pavilion instead.
The politics played out as Hurricane Isaac blew ashore on the Gulf Coast, casting uncertainty into a convention that scrubbed the first day of events out of fear it would swipe Tampa. Any scenes of destruction along the Gulf Coast were sure to temper the celebratory tone, and further compression of the schedule was possible if the storm proved disastrous.
The latest economic news suggested weak growth in the second half of the year, fodder for Republicans who blame Obama for the sluggish recovery. The U.S. economy grew at a tepid 1.7 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, the government reported Wednesday, a bit better than expected due to slightly stronger consumer spending and greater exports.
The GOP's outreach effort went into full gear after Ann Romney offered convention delegates — and a national TV audience — a soft-sided portrayal of the Republican candidate in her convention address. Her appearance was paired with a parade of gleeful Obama-bashers as the GOP seized its moment after days of worry about the hurricane.
Beyond Ryan, Wednesday's lineup includes 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Romney speaks Thursday night to bring down the curtain-closing balloons. Obama's Democratic National Convention follows next week in Charlotte, N.C.
Rubio held out Ryan as a "serious policy thinker" who's "going to have a bunch of new fans across this country" after he speaks.
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