Posted on August 31, 2012 in Countdown


Greetings from Tampa, where the Republican National Convention just wrapped up. This is a special RNC edition of Countdown, which we built ourselves with very hard work and no one can take it from us (but you can still read it). Enjoy!

Arab Americans at the RNC

Arab Americans were in full force at this year's convention. Nick Hawatmeh, Michigan's youngest delegate, was front and center on the floor of the convention. If you were watching C-SPAN throughout the week, there's a good chance you saw Nick. He even made it on to the front page of The New York Times (on the left). Way to go, Nick!  Traveling with Governor Christie (who keynoted the RNC), New Jersey Delegate Sherine El-Abed and Senate contender Joe Kyrillos were also in the spotlight. David Imad Ramadan, recently elected to the Virginia State House of Delegates, was also a key player during this convention, as his home state of Virginia is very much in play this election and his work for the party and community is evidence of Arab Americans' critical role in key battleground states. Justin Sayfie, Co-Chair of Mitt Romeny's campaign in Florida, is another Arab American working hard because he believes that whoever wins Florida will win the presidency (check out his awesome website for updates on Florida politics). Former New Hampshire Governor and Romney surrogate John Sununu is about as close to the Romney Campaign as one can get, and he joined us, along with AAI Chairman George Salem, for a luncheon and strategy session on Arab American involvement in the GOP. We met up with Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, a rock star for many young Libertarian Republicans. AAI Board Member Randa Fahmy Hudome joined Suhail Khan to speak at our RNC panel on religious liberty. Check out our  RNC page for more info.

GOP Can't Decide On Love

Not much happened on Monday night because some guy named Isaac was driving through town. On Tuesday night, Ann Romney gave a very moving speech that she specified was not about politics, but about love. It was about love of women, love of family, and mostly about love of Romney. Too bad for her, the keynote delivered right after by Governor Chris Christie had a slightly different theme: forget about love. Yup, Christie came with the simple message "Tonight, we choose respect over love." Further complicating the message, George W. Bush delivered the following speech, declaring that "now, we must choose faith over respect." Yeah, we're kidding. Respect got the last word of the night, and it was delivered forcefully by a very effective Chris Christie who, despite not talking much about Romney, brought the audience to their feet several times. By the way, isn't it cool that Christie, who stood up against bigotry, got to keynote the convention and the Bachmanns and Palins didn't get to speak at all? We think it is, and Romney deserves credit for that.

Paul Ryan Gives Fact Checkers a Run for Their Money

On Wednesday night, the man of the hour was Vice-Presidential pick Paul Ryan. The budget hawk hit Obama on all kinds of failings.. well, on both kinds of failings: those the President was responsible for, and those he wasn't. There was the story of the Janesville auto plant that the President didn't save which, "it turns out, closed before Obama was president." Ryan also went after Obama's Medicare cuts without mentioning that he supports similar cuts in his own plan. Republican pundits went after fact checkers for pointing out these inconsistencies, accusing them of bias against the Republicans and opening another media front to the electoral battle. But let's get serious for second: it's political season and you can't expect Republicans and Democrats to be more fair in their attacks or more forthcoming about their own unpopular ideas, because as we all know democracy is about winning elections, not helping voters make informed choices.

Surprise Guest Gives Surprising Performance

When Clint Eastwood walked on stage, the atmosphere was more electric than during the final scene of "A Few Dollars More." More surprising than his appearance (which was leaked to the media in advance) was his performance, which consisted of a conversation with an imaginary Obama sitting on the empty chair next to him. Eastwood's demeanor was totally strange, eliciting an all caps "EASTWOOD UNHINGED" headline from the Huffington Post and similar assessments from others. On a couple of occasions during the heated conversation with the imaginary Obama, Clint Eastwood said "I can't do that to myself," implying that the President had told him to go… you know! In an odd moment, Eastwood sent the crowd reluctantly cheering in favor of an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan when he said "I think Mr. Romney asked the only sensible question, you know, he says, 'Why are you giving the date out now? Why don't you just bring them home tomorrow morning?'" Ron Paul's delegates, who were creating all sorts of commotion for the GOP over what they saw as the improper marginalization of Ron Paul by the party establishment, must've been happy with that one.

And Then He Spoke

The RNC climaxed into a rousing speech by the man himself, Mitt Romney, who called on America to "turn the page" on the last 4 years by electing him. Romney painted himself as the more sensible, reality-bound candidate by saying "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet,” Romney said. “My promise is to help you and your family.” Romney said he would guarantee religious liberty (yay), but also repeated the mantra about Obama having allegedly "thrown allies like Israel under the bus," and criticized the President's engagement with Iran over the nuclear issue (conveniently, no mention of the crippling sanctions currently imposed by the Administration). Interestingly, this comes on the same day that our top military general, General Martin Dempsey, warned about the ineffectiveness and dangers of an Israeli attack on Iran. Back to the speech, two heckling attempts did nothing to sidetrack the nominee, or take away from the bump he just got in the polls. Can the Democrats shift the tide back in their favor? Stay tuned for a DNC edition of Countdown next week.

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