Editor’s Note: Alex Castellanos, a CNN contributor, is a Republican consultant and the co-founder of Purple Strategies. Follow him on Twitter: @alexcast
Alex Castellanos: It's not too early to name the winners and losers of the RNC
He says Ann Romney and Paul Ryan helped Mitt's cause
He says holding convention in a hurricane zone is a mistake, but shortened conventions work
Castellanos: Chris Christie is a force but not yet a leader
The 2012 GOP convention in Tampa has just ended. It is not too early, however, to draw a few conclusions.
My takeaways from this fine event are as follows:
Ann Romney added dimension to Mitt Romney. We see more in him now, through her eyes, if not our own.
Paul Ryan passed the first and most important test of a VP nominee, “Do no harm.” Ryan did not say he could see the deficit from his porch.
Ryan helps because he adds the prospect of action and reform to the ticket, helping lead them into the future. He is an agent of change. What Barack Obama had last time in a slogan, “hope and change,” Mitt Romney has now in a running mate.
Condoleezza Rice would have been a great VP pick and needs to be somewhere in a Romney administration. This woman can play more than golf.
Susana Martinez is moving up fast on the outside rail for national office but has a long way to go.
President Obama tried to send Joe Biden to Tampa, but our VP had to cancel because of the storm. Both the Obama campaign and Republicans were disappointed.
Conventions are ridiculously overburdened with security. Note to the Secret Service: If you put “Secret Service” on your vest in big yellow letters, it is no longer a secret.
When you start talking about humanizing your candidate, you are dehumanizing your candidate.
If Obama loses, “you didn’t build that” may become the biggest gaffe in presidential campaign history, and the most revealing, too.
If nothing else, the Christie speech proved we are the party of the Big Tent.
There is a great bar in Ybor City, the Bad Monkey. You don’t have to bring a bad monkey to enter. They have plenty and, upon request, will fly a screaming “bad monkey” for you.
Conventions, as part of a campaign, have to change what people think. Nearly 70% of Americans think we are on the wrong track. Chris Christie told us we were on the wrong track. If you tell voters what they already know, they stay where they already are.
Wisconsin may lose a congressman, but Romney has gained a son. If anything happens to Romney, Ryan will become president and inherit one-sixth of Romney’s money.
Rand Paul’s speech was chloroform via teleprompter. He lacks his father’s wit and humor. The next lap of Paulites are in big trouble.
In politics, winning isn’t everything: You can still lose by winning the wrong war. Republicans may win the war over Medicare while they should be fighting a more relevant conflict, the war to create jobs and growth.
Ryan is a catfish noodler. He wades into a muddy river, sticks his hand in a catfish’s mouth and pulls it out of a hole. We now have a perfectly balanced ticket because my guess is Romney has never done that.
The next Republican to place a convention in a hurricane zone in August will have his head held under water for the duration of any storm.
Chris Christie may be a force, but he is not yet a leader. Babe Ruth, disappointingly, bunted.
Marco Rubio is “The Natural.” The most important part of his wonderful speech was its generosity. He toned his speech down to serve his primary purpose. Rubio set up the man he was nominating, Romney.
Clint Eastwood can’t do improv. He may have hurt Clint Eastwood, but he didn’t hurt Mitt Romney. If Woody Allen is right and 80% of success is showing up, then Eastwood was successful. Joe Six Pack in Ohio will remember that Gunnery Sergeant Highway showed up.
Mitt Romney’s speech met the moment. It left the impression that a good and decent family man is ready to go to work. That may be enough. It framed this year’s choice in a thought: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise … is to help you and your family.”
At some point in a debate, Obama is going to turn and challenge Romney, saying, “Mitt, you have nothing new to offer. In fact, on social issues, foreign policy, taxes, spending, Medicare and everything else, you have nothing different to offer than taking us back to what George Bush proposed. That’s what got us into this mess.” Romney has yet to answer that question. He has until the first presidential debate October 3, in Denver, to find a response.
Conventions are fading into the past, and this may be the last great parade of GOP elephants. Any convention that can be shortened to three days can be abridged to two days, one day and then none.
Lastly, New Democrats have, for the first time, a counterpart: In Tampa in 2012, the New Republican was born. It turns out, we do believe in evolution.
Stay tuned. We have 67 days yet to go.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alex Castellanos.