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Ryan's moment

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.
August 29, 2012 12:49:19 PM PDT
The country's eyes and hearts are once again focused on the Gulf Coast, as Hurricane Isaac batters a swath of land and a flock of people who have seen enough battering to last a lifetime.

Our Jim Dolan is in New Orleans, with the latest from there, at 11, and Meteorologist Lee Goldberg is tracking Isaac's future.

Meanwhile, across the Gulf of Mexico and south here in Tampa, the Republicans aren't mentioning Isaac much. In fact, only Ann Romney said anything. It was at the top of her speech - apparently not written by her and her first attempt at using a teleprompter (she did that very well) - and she offered hope and thoughts to the people in Isaac's sights.

It was surprising not to hear others talk about the hurricane - especially because Isaac had so affected this convention earlier this week, and because many Republicans in the Gulf states are at home, dealing with the storm.

This is a divided party and a divided convention. They can't agree on lunch, let alone a dozen or so critical issues facing the country. But they are united on one issue. One big issue. Defeating Pres. Obama on Nov. 6.

Is that enough to get a man elected? That's the conundrum facing Republicans. And it remains their toughest obstacle.

It's fascinating to hear the delegates talk about these issues that they debate. They love Chris Christie, although not his stance on abortion and gay rights. Just like they loved Rudy Giuliani - same differences. In fact, I interviewed the former Mayor today about a host of things - including the divided party, with many of the arch-conservatives holding their noses to support Mitt Romney, and about the similarities between the careers of Gov. Christie and Mayor Giuliani. (They both were U.S. Attorneys who, for their first and only - so far - political office were elected to, respectively, Governor of New Jersey and Mayor of New York.) You can see some of my interview throughout the day on Eyewitness News, and this Sunday on Diana Williams' Up Close show at 11 a.m.

Tonight, the man the conservatives idealize, Paul Ryan, tops the speeches. While the party's base knows the nominee for Vice President, America doesn't. And this will be Ryan's chance to introduce himself.

He is the reincarnation and 2.0 version of the old supply siders. He was an intern for Jack Kemp and William Bennett's group that focused on cutting taxes back in the 1980s under Reagan. And he has advanced their platform.

Does Romney expand his base by selecting Ryan, or just make sure that the party's base gets on board the Romney ticket? And can Romney win if the answer to either of those questions is "no?"

One other note about this confab: There's a "mystery speaker" supposedly set for Thursday night. Who is it? No one is saying, although the speculation is rampant that it might be Clint Eastwood, who is reportedly heading to Tampa tonight. We'll see.

We'll have the latest from tonight's convention, tonight at 11.

And I hope you join us.

BILL RITTER

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