Live-blogging the final night of the RNC

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Florida delegates and others at the Republican National Convention will hear the culminating speech tonight as Republican Mitt Romney accepts the nomination in a speech scheduled to start after 10 p.m. The speech wraps up the convention in Tampa, which was shortened by the possibility that Tropical Storm Isaac might hit the area. Romney will be introduced by Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention tonight. The Republican, now in the private sector, is expected to largely talk about education – one of his main pet issues when he led the state from 1999 to 2007 and since then in a private foundation.

Keep checking back here for previewing and live-blogging of the final night of the RNC.

9:34 p.m. – Rule of thumb: If you have to call someone “authentic”, he probably isn’t.

9:27 p.m. – For the third time, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been tripped up by an anonymous leaker connected to Mitt Romney’s presidential bid.

This time, Rubio’s much-anticipated speech introducing Romney was leaked in its entirety hours before the show to the Weekly Standard. It’s the only leak of its kind during the Republican National Convention.

8:59 p.m. – Noah Millman expects Romney would be “a leader that nobody wants to follow”:

Mitt Romney has few demonstrable political (as opposed to managerial) skills, and commands no particular loyalty. His two campaigns for the Presidential nomination have been characterized by widespread mistrust and an eagerness, on the candidate’s part, to placate critics. From my perspective, all signs point to him being a weak President. And regardless of what one thinks about his agenda, and whether or not one wishes to see a structurally weaker presidency, a weak President is, in and of itself, not an asset to the Republic, particularly not when unexpected contingencies present themselves.

8:50 p.m. – The Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll finds Mitt Romney has moved into a narrow two point lead over President Obama in a small bounce for him from the Republican National Convention, 44% to 42%. Romney entered the week with Obama leading by four points, 46% to 42%.

8:36 p.m. – “Human would be helpful,” said one senior Republican when asked what Romney needs to accomplish in his speech. It was a typical response.

8:23 p.m. – The New York Times offers a look at how often speakers at the RNC have used certain words and phrases so far, based on an analysis of transcripts from the Federal News Service.

8:06 p.m. – Jeb Bush: “I love my brother.”

8:04 p.m. – Evidently, this is the portion of the program where Fred Thompson shills for reverse mortgages.

7:54 p.m. – Gingrich: energy independence is what we need now. Obama has passion for taxing middle class

7:43 p.m. – I’ve seen better delivery out of a postman on Sunday that what I’m watching from @ConnieMackIV right now.

7:15 p.m. – Charlie Cook explains what Romney must do: “They don’t need to consider him a guy they would like to have a beer with, but they need to feel that if he were a neighbor, they could comfortably ask him to collect the newspapers and the mail while they were away.”

7:13 p.m. – In excerpts of remarks he will deliver Thursday night, Romney expresses sadness in what he says was Obama’s inability to confront the nation’s economic problems. And he urges voters to reflect on whether they remain as excited by Obama’s election as they did four years ago. Read more.

6:49 p.m. – “Honest” was the term most often volunteered when the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post asked about 1,000 people to describe Mitt Romney in one word.

6:46 p.m. – A word cloud based on excerpts from Mitt Romney’s speech tonight (via Alex Leary).

4:51 p.m. – Just received email soliciting dollars for Mitt Romney, who writes: “America can do better, because decline is not our destiny.”

4:38 p.m. – The ratings are in from last night … Rep. Paul Ryan drew just slightly more than 20 million viewers for his speech last night at the GOP convention, significantly fewer than the 37.2 million that Sarah Palin attracted four years ago, Businessweek reports.

4:34 p.m. – It’s time to stop talking about Obama, and start talking about what Republican Mitt Romney would do differently, several Florida observers said this week as the GOP nominee prepared to give the convention’s biggest speech, his Thursday night address accepting the party’s nomination for president.

4:29 p.m. – Florida Republicans strategist Rick Wilson via The Tampa Bay Times. “They will make a judgment tonight of ‘Is this the guy I want to see in my living room on TV for the next four years? Is this a guy who I feel his heart and his philosophy are in the right place?’ This doesn’t have to be a grand slam, home run, over the top, over the moon, Greek columns, hope and change speech. This has to be something where Mitt Romney shows America he’s not the caricature of the evil vampire capitalist, Bain corporate raider that the Obama have been trying to show.”

2:58 p.m. – @FixAaron: CNN reports that Clint Eastwood is indeed the mystery speaker for tonight. #GOP2012

2:55 p.m. – This morning on Morning Joe, Chuck Todd explained that Democrats wish they had as deep a bench of non-white office-holders as the GOP. “Democrats wish they had the diversity of speakers and deep bench [of the GOP] to show America …”

1:52 p.m. – If you need a laugh, here are the worst jokes of Night 3, including Tim Pawlenty’s riff, “The president takes more vacations than that guy on the Bizarre Foods show.”

1:31 p.m. – What one word best describes Mitt Romney? This infographic from the Pew Research Center and Washington Post has the answer.

1:28 p.m. – Romney adviser Russ Schriefer wasn’t very revealing when asked about tonight’s convention speaker that has not yet been announced: “If there was a mystery speaker, then it wouldn’t be a mystery anymore.”

12:34 p.m. – Sara Fagen, a partner with DDC Advocacy and another former George W. Bush campaign strategist, says Romney needs to refresh his pitch. “What we most importantly need in addition to the human side of this, is something new,” she said. “There hasn’t been anything new from a policy perspective that has really broken through in the last many months … He’s got to boil it down to two or three things tonight that resonate, that feel like they are new.” Fagen was part of a National Journal/The Atlantic/CBS News event in Ybor City.

12:24 p.m. – John Brabender of Brabender Cox, a former senior advisor for Rick Santorum, believes Romney can’t just talk about himself. “The biography point needs to be something that illustrates a bigger point,” he said. “What he in some sense has to do is let people into his heart and mind a little bit and make a personal judgment about him. The second is, I really think he has to rally people, to say, ‘You know that this guy is going to take us some place as a country, this guy is going to impact me personally’ … If this simply becomes an hour-long biography where he simply defends himself on Bain Capital and everything else, that’s not the way to go.”

12:14 p.m. – Romney lacks a clear picture, said Terry Nelson of FP1 Strategies, who was political director for George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign. “They have not gotten to the point where they have said to the American people what Mitt Romney’s vision is for the future of the country. Most people know what he is against and what he will undo, but they don’t yet know what he is going to do and how he is going to do it, and that is the big challenge for tonight’s speech … He doesn’t have to be liked to get someone’s vote. They just have to think they’ll be better off if he’s president of the United States.”

11:59 a.m. –  Paul Glastris was on NPR’s Talk of the Nation yesterday with former Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson commenting on prospects for Romney’s acceptance speech. Here’s a link to the audio. Glastris feels there is a conflict between Romney’s need to connect with voters and and also to show some authenticity. He also gave this succinct response to the perennial question as to whether such speeches should be about “character” or “policy:”

When a politican is asking to be put in charge of the country, it is a mark of his or her character to tell the American people what they intend to do with that power.

11:47 a.m. – Steve Otto offers some local flavor, writing that Mitt Romney must convince “his flock that he is not just the man but one of compassion with an ability to relate to the rest of us and not the calculating machine or some animatronic escapee from Disney World.”

11:42 a.m. – Jeb Bush said he would open his speech to the Republican National Convention tonight “with a defense of his brother George because President Obama keeps running him down,” Politico reports.

“I just feel compelled to do this because almost every day I hear the current incumbent feeling compelled to push down the past to make himself look better,” said Bush. “When I was growing up, we were spanked when that happened.”

10:24 a.m. – The RNC lists “To Be Announced” as a speaker just before Sen. Marco Rubio and presidential nominee Mitt Romney address delegates. Since the schedule came out, media and delegates have taken their shots at filling in that blank. … Several reports on Wednesday cite party sources as saying it could be actor-director Clint Eastwood, of “Dirty Harry” and “Million Dollar Baby” fame. … There’s even a rumor it could be New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. The Jets play a preseason game tonight, but the former Florida Gators’ star isn’t expected to play and team owner Woody Johnson is a Romney supporter, according to the New York Post.

10:05 a.m. – Four things Mitt Romney must do tonight via First Read: “If tonight’s speech is to be successful, Romney has to meet four objectives. One, he has to better introduce himself to the American public; it remains striking that after running for president for much of the past five years, voters still don’t have more than a two-dimensional understanding of the soon-to-be nominee. Two, he needs to convince the public that, while he looks the part, he’s the man Americans are comfortable seeing on their TVs for the next four years. Three, he has to try to close the empathy gap; our most recent NBC/WSJ poll found President Obama holding a 22-point advantage on who cares more about average people. And four, he needs to put some meat on the policy bone to make the case how his plans could actually work better than Obama’s — and how they are different from the past Republican administration. If four hours are going to decide this presidential election, the first hour comes tonight.”

7:50 a.m. – Charlie Cook: “For whatever reason, his campaign is just now getting around to attempting to establish a personal connection between Romney and the public. That connection cannot be made in a debate; the format doesn’t lend itself to it. Romney desperately needs to leave Tampa having created that relationship.” … “Focus groups show that people perceive Romney as aloof and wonder whether he would even speak to them. His friends say that this is ridiculous, that he’s a terrific guy. But the doubts persist. Tonight is the night Romney needs to fix that.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.