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The GOP Convention: What They're Doing Right and Wrong

Sara Taylor Fagen |Partner at DDC Advocacy and CNBC Contributor
Thursday, 30 Aug 2012 | 10:42 AM ET
Workers mount a giant banner at the Tampa Bay Times Forum ahead of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, on August 24, 2012.
Mladen Antonov | AFP | Getty Images
Workers mount a giant banner at the Tampa Bay Times Forum ahead of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, on August 24, 2012.

The Republican convention came alive on Wednesday night with powerful speeches by Former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan.

At this point in the convention, you’d expect the delegates to be hoarse from screaming too much.

That much is not surprising.

But there have been a few unexpected moments and the press has missed a few things and overreacted at others.

Here are four things that have stuck me this week:

• Just how good Dr. Rice was on the podium. She’s always been a strong and confident speaker. But, she really stole the show, effortlessly talking about education, the economy, and America’s role in the world. Some convention operatives were worried the Ron Paul delegates were going to boo her or make a scene because of her role in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But, they were too busy being mesmerized by her. I’ve always found Dr. Rice to be a straight shooter, and she says she has no intent to seek future office. But, it’s hard to imagine there’s not a twinge of wonder somewhere in the back of her mind after being received by the Party with so much excitement. (Watch More: Can Condoleezza Rice Help Mitt Romney?)

• There was a section in Congressman Ryan’s speech about how he and Mitt Romney came from different religions, but how they shared the same moral creed. He talked about how Mitt was prayerful and born in the image of Jesus Christ. I haven’t seen much coverage of this, but it seemed to me like Paul Ryan was inoculating against the attacks to come against Mitt Romney’s Morman faith. (Read More:Why Larry Kudlow Was Disappointed by Ryan's Speech)

• The GOP gets no credit for the diversity of its leadership. There is much focus on the tea party; But, little focus on leaders like Susanna Martinez, Condi Rice, Ted Cruz, Mia Love, and Luis Fortuno – just to name a few. I remember past conventions where the party had minority speakers, but they were often business folks or the heads of interest groups. Now, they are Governors, mayors, and legislators. The GOP should get more credit for this.

• Finally, I think the press has gotten it all wrong on Chris Christie. This is the biggest example of groupthink I’ve seen in a long time. His speech was terrific. He took the bark off President Obama and talked about the importance of reforming the federal government. He spoke hard truths about how we are all going to make sacrifices to get the country’s fiscal house in order. He stressed the importance of electing Romney and Ryan. He hit on everything he needed to and laid out a vision for the Republican Party over the next nine weeks and the next twenty years. That’s the job of the keynote speaker. Plenty of other people will devote their entire speeches to Mitt Romney’s virtues.

Sara Taylor Fagen is a partner at DDC Advocacy and a former Political Director for President George W. Bush. She is also a CNBC contributor.

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