The 2012 Republican National Convention was a gathering held by the U.S. Republican Party during which delegates officially nominated former Massachusetts GovernorMitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for President and Vice President, respectively, for the 2012 election. Prominent members of the party delivered speeches and discussed the convention theme, "A Better Future." The convention was held during the week of August 27, 2012, in Tampa, Florida at the Tampa Bay Times Forum (now Amalie Arena). The city, which expected demonstrations and possible vandalism, used a federal grant to bolster its police force in preparation. Due to the approach of Hurricane Isaac, convention officials changed the convention schedule on August 26, 2012; the convention came to order on August 27, 2012 and then immediately recessed until the following afternoon because of the risk of Isaac hitting Tampa.
On August 14, 2009, the Republican National Committee named an eight-member Site Selection Committee to start the process of selecting a host city for the 2012 convention. News reports in early 2010 indicated that Tampa, as well as Salt Lake City, Utah and Phoenix, Arizona, had been selected as finalist candidates for the convention site. The decision was announced on May 12, 2010, when Tampa was selected as the host city. The 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee, a 501(c)(3)non-profit, was the official and federally designated presidential convention host committee for the convention, charged with the task of raising the necessary funds to hold the convention. The Host Committee was composed of 10 prominent Florida business executives, civic leaders, and other community leaders. Al Austin was chairman and Ken Jones served as the President and Chief Executive Officer. The Host Committee achieved its fundraising goal as of August 27, 2012, having raised more than $55,000,000 to host the 2012 Republican National Convention.
The convention theme was "A Better Future". Each day also had its own theme: Monday's was "We Can Do Better"; Tuesday's was "We Built It"; Wednesday's was "We Can Change It"; and Thursday's was "We Believe in America." In addition to these daily themes, the Republican National Committee announced that it would present a series of policy workshops to be hosted by former Speaker of the HouseNewt Gingrich called "Newt University". A primary objective of the convention, described both as Romney's "biggest election hurdle" and as Romney's "most urgent task" of concern by top Republicans, was to counter efforts to portray him as an out-of-touch elitist and to rehabilitate the image of his business career. The convention lasted from August 27–30, 2012. According to the convention website, it hosted 2,286 delegates, 2,125 alternates and 15,000 credentialed members of the media. The convention CEO was William D. Harris. Several notable Republican figures chose not to attend the convention, including former presidents George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush, and former vice-president Dick Cheney. However, a video tribute to George W. Bush, who has stayed out of the political arena since leaving office three years earlier, was shown at the convention on Wednesday night, in which Bush's family members praised him. In the tribute, Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, said of George W. Bush: "There was never a taint of scandal around his presidency. And I think we forget the importance of that."
Police surround protestors during a nighttime demonstration on August 30
The convention was designated as a National Special Security Event, which meant that ultimate authority over law enforcement went to the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security. The federal government provided $50 million for Convention security. Much of the money went to deputizing additional police. Other expenses included expanded surveillance technology and an armored SWAT vehicle. Tampa Bay disclosed specifically that it had spent $1.18 M on video linkages between ground police and helicopters. The city paid $16,500 to the Florida State Fairgrounds Authority in exchange for police use of local fairgrounds as a command center.
Dani Doane of the Heritage Foundation described the police presence as "unnerving" and "like a police state". Others reported a quiet week with small protests and few arrests. Police handed out bottles of water during the event and at one point served protestors a box lunch.
A committee, chaired by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, met in Tampa to draft a party platform. On August 21, 2012, the committee released a 60-page document for approval at the convention. The platform was enthusiastically approved at the convention on August 28. Policies include:
Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich formally released their delegates in the week before the convention and encouraged them to vote for Romney. Ron Paul retained his delegates, as part of an overall strategy to influence the party. The final composition of several delegations was subject to ruling of the Committee on Contests.
The traditional roll call of the states, which permits delegates to promote their home states, took place on Tuesday, August 28, 2012, the first full day of the convention.
The original plan called for speeches on Monday, but due to Tropical Storm Isaac most of the Monday program was cancelled and all the main speakers were rescheduled to speak later at the convention.
Ron Paul was offered a speech slot, under the conditions that the Romney campaign could pre-review his remarks and that he would fully endorse Romney. Paul declined the offer, saying that he remained an "undecided voter". Paul explained that "It wouldn't be my speech. That would undo everything I've done in the last 30 years. I don't fully endorse him for president." Instead, a tribute video to Paul was shown at the convention.
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers served as the official convention host, speaking at the start of each night of the convention to provide the theme of the speeches for each evening.
The most coveted speaking slot that was intended to close the Monday night program of the convention was scheduled to go to Ann Romney, Mitt Romney's wife. But since the major television networks had opted out on Monday's primetime coverage (prior to Monday's cancellation of activities), her speech was moved to Tuesday, August 28 after 10:00 pm EDT, when broadcast networks began coverage, with an introduction by Lucé Vela Fortuño, the First Lady of Puerto Rico. Ann Romney's task in her speech was described by Lois Romano of Politico as "to try to accomplish what the sharpest minds in Republican politics have failed to do: present her stiff and awkward husband as a likable guy."
Due to Tropical Storm Isaac, the scheduled activities on Monday were postponed or canceled; RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called the convention to order at 2:00 pm on Monday and started a debt clock in the arena, before putting the convention into recess at 2:10 pm.
Tuesday, August 28 - Ann Romney and Chris Christie
Ron Paul supporters protest outside the convention
On Tuesday afternoon, the bulk of the Maine delegates walked out of the convention in protest of the decision to replace 10 Ron Paul delegates with 10 Romney delegates. This action by the RNC came in response[not in citation given] to a takeover of Maine's Republican State Convention by Paul supporters which resulted in Paul's percentage of delegates being doubled over the percentage of delegates to which he would have been entitled by the caucus vote count[not in citation given]; the additional ten delegates came at the expense of Romney.
Originally scheduled to speak at the closing of Monday night's program, Ann Romney spoke in front of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, August 28, 2012. Romney started off by stating that her speech was not about politics or party, but about love. She spoke about her husband, Mitt Romney, in an attempt to present her husband as likeable and relatable, responding in part to his opponents' depiction of him as an out-of-touch elitist.
The single dad who's working extra hours tonight so that his kids can buy some new clothes to go back to school, can take a school trip, or play a school sport, so his kids can feel, you know, just like other kids.
Wednesday saw a speech from vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. The accuracy of some of Ryan's statements was widely challenged by the media, fact-checkers, and political opponents. The Associated Press criticized Ryan for taking "factual shortcuts", and the speech was criticized in other outlets for being "misleading" and "dishonest". The most widely challenged portion of Ryan's speech occurred when Ryan criticized Obama for supposedly claiming, at a 2008 campaign appearance at a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin (which was slated for closure), that he (Obama) would keep that plant open if he became President. GM began a phased plant closing for the Janesville facility during the 2008 presidential campaign, laying off nearly all of its 1,200 workers on December 23, 2008. 57 workers remained employed at the plant during final assembly and another 40 to 50 in the decommissioning of the plant. On September 19, 2011, GM reported that the Janesville plant was on standby status, as part of a contract between itself and the UAW.
Actor and director Clint Eastwood made a planned surprise appearance at the convention, speaking at the top of the final hour. He spent much of his speech time on a largely improvised routine addressing an empty chair representing President Obama. In at least two instances, Eastwood implied the President had uttered profanities directed both at Romney and Eastwood. Eastwood's remarks were well-received within the convention hall, but responses were mixed in the media. Film critic Roger Ebert commented "Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic. He didn't need to do this to himself. It's unworthy of him". Comedian Bob Newhart, who had popularized empty-chair interviews in the 1960s, tweeted in his deadpan humor style, "I heard that Clint Eastwood was channeling me at the RNC. My lawyers and I are drafting our lawsuit".
Thursday night concluded with Romney's acceptance speech. He announced that if elected, a Romney administration energy policy would take "full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables". Romney also joked about the Obama administration's policies on climate change, saying "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet", a line which elicited laughter from the convention audience. By way of contrast, Romney continued "MY promise...is to help you and your family."
In October 2011, Tampa city officials began planning for anticipated protests, and discussions centered around small prior protests by the Occupy movement. According to former Tampa City Council member John Dingfelder, then the senior staff attorney for the mid-Florida office of the American Civil Liberties Union, the convention should expect to draw far more protestors and the city should plan on up to 10,000. Dingfelder encouraged the city to be proactive regarding where protests could occur and protestors could sleep. Tampa's Mayor Bob Buckhorn's response was "If they want a place to sleep, they can go home or to a hotel.... Just because they want to occupy something doesn't mean we are obligated to provide them with an opportunity to camp out in a public park or on a sidewalk."
The city of Tampa has banned puppets from downtown during the convention, a decision which some puppet-makers say violates their civil liberties. Police claimed that puppets could be used to conceal weapons—at the 2000 RNC, police charged a group of puppet-makers in Philadelphia with conspiracy to resist arrest.
In early August, the city announced plans to provide delegates and protestors alike with potable water and toilets.
Various groups began demonstrating on July 27 in Tampa and Tallahassee as part of a one-month countdown to the convention, calling for "good jobs, healthcare, affordable education, equality and peace."
Unlike the 2004 Republican National Convention which saw 1800 individuals arrested in New York City, the Occupy Tampa demonstrators were met with tolerance by Tampa officials.
^Republican National Convention (August 17, 2012). ""A Better Future" to be Republican Convention Theme". Retrieved August 20, 2012. "After four years of high unemployment and skyrocketing debt, we need America's 'Comeback Team' to get the country working again and protect the American Dream for our children and grandchildren," said Priebus. "During our convention, the American people will hear about the priorities, experience and knowhow of our nominees and their plans to secure a better future for our country.
^"A Republican Administration and Congress [...] will consider, in light of both current needs and historic practice, the utility of a legal and reliable source of foreign labor where needed through a new guest worker program."
^"We support Republican legislation to give the Department of Homeland Security long-term detention authority to keep dangerous but undeportable aliens off our streets, expedite expulsion of criminal aliens, and make gang membership a deportable offense." Platform, p. 26. See: Johnson, Fawn (August 21, 2012). "Republican Platform Calls for Guest-Worker Program". National Journal. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
^In any restructuring of federal taxation, to guard against hypertaxation of the American people, any value added tax or national sales tax must be tied to the simultaneous repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, which established the federal income tax. Platform, p. 3