“Turn California Red”: Fontana Mayor Warren, California delegation energized
By Chris Levister
Amid an atmosphere of nonstop Obama bashing, Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney swept to the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday night, praised by his wife Ann from the Tampa national convention stage as the “man America needs”. “This man will not fail. This man will not let us down,” Mrs. Romney said in a prime-time speech.
With the roll call vote complete, delegates from Inland Southern California and around the country celebrated their candidate with a night of cheers, music and speeches lying out the party’s case against President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy.
Republicans emphatically approved a toughly worded party platform that would ban all abortions and gay marriages, reshape Medicare into a voucher-like program and cut taxes to energize the economy and create jobs. The conservative platform warns that while the American Dream has long been of equal opportunity for everyone, “Today that American Dream is at risk.” It pledges that the GOP will “begin anew, with profound changes in the way government operates; the way it budgets, taxes and regulates.”
Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren was among those who signed the nominating papers for Mitt Romney and VP running-mate Paul Ryan. Independently elected Warren is mayor of the largest city in the U.S. headed by an African American Republican. “America is on the wrong track. This is the first step in turning our country around,” Warren said moments after Romney collected the last of 1,144 delegate votes needed to clinch the nomination. “Everyone is going to vote on the economy — and they’re going to vote for Mitt Romney.”
The California delegation did not make it in time for the opening of the Republican National Convention. The buses designated to take the delegates from their hotel in St. Pete Beach to the forum in Tampa Bay were delayed by an hour. The delay is being blamed on security checks and traffic closures. Warren insisted the bus delay combined with Monday’s scheduled opening day delay caused by Hurricane Isaac failed to dampened spirits. “Today, every speaker is telling Americans we can still have opportunity. Our GOP ‘Great Opportunity Party’ is the party to get America back to work,” Warren said on an online post from the convention. The evening was capped with a raucous keynote speech from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who said change in the White House is needed to alleviate the “doubt and fear” that has crept into “every corner of our country.” “Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear,” he said. “Tonight, we stand up for Mitt Romney as the next president of the United States.” Earlier, at the delegation's beachfront hotel, the combative Christie ripped into California Gov. Jerry Brown, calling him an "old retread" and suggesting - to the delight of Warren and other California Republicans - that his own election in a Democratic state is proof Republicans in California could rebound. “I cannot believe you people elected Jerry Brown over Meg Whitman. Jerry Brown? I mean, he won the New Jersey presidential primary over Jimmy Carter when I was 14 years old.” Christie overcame a Democratic voter registration advantage in New Jersey to win election in 2009.
Christie has enacted billions of dollars in spending cuts to balance that state's budget, and his bombastic style and outspoken criticism of public employee unions and teachers, among other groups, has made him popular among conservatives nationwide. “The message I want to deliver to California this morning is: There is hope," Christie said. “Don't give up on the fact that California can be governed. You've seen it governed before, and you've seen it governed effectively ... California once did have great governors, like Gov. Pete Wilson, who knew how to govern the state.” “Governor Christie gave me so much hope,” said Warren. “I’ve been texting my kids and telling them, ‘Don’t give up on California. We have to keep our hopes high that when he (Romney) becomes President, he steps in and helps California regain its place in this nation as one of the economic forces in the world. I refuse to accept their (Democrats) version that California cannot be governed and that our problems are too big.” The Republican gathering, followed by next week's Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, comes as opinion polls show the presidential race about even, with each candidate possessing distinct and important advantages: Mr. Obama is the more likable or empathetic leader; Mr. Romney is a former businessman more highly regarded as the candidate who can fix the economy.
Polls have shown that the election will probably be decided by a razor-thin margin, with voters casting ballots primarily on their views of which candidate can create more jobs and boost the slow US economic recovery.
Democrats were also on the ground in Tampa to fight the Republican message. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Republican efforts to use Latino speakers at the convention to win over Hispanic voters won't work. “You can't just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname and expect people are going to vote for your party or your candidate,” he said. “Window dressing doesn't do much for a candidate. It's your policies, your platform.”
Villaraigosa called the platform's stances on abortion and immigration “draconian” and “extreme” and blamed Romney. "What you have seen from him is that he does one thing, he says another,” Villaraigosa said. “He has taken one position after another, time and again you know, and you can't have it both ways.”
In the run up to the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Obama and his party will intensify attacks on Romney's flip flops on abortion, gun control, gay marriage and social welfare, and target his business experience, claiming that the private equity firm he once headed, Bain Capital, made a fortune for investors while bankrupting some companies and laying off workers.