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Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley may have temporarily hurt his chances at higher office with a flat speech Tuesday night at the DNC. His hometown paper the Baltimore Sun said “It was too big and felt far too artificial and gimmicky for the intimacy of TV.” But that’s not what the Ohio delegation heard when he gave virtually the same speech to them at breakfast on Monday morning. Ditto for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (daughter of OH Gov. John Gilligan) http://www.wksu.org/news/story/32966
who spoke to Ohioans Tuesday morning and to the full convention later that night.

Both these smart, polished speakers sounded funny, engaged, and natural in the morning but stiff and flat in the evening. Stage fright? No, it’s the teleprompter, stupid. Both locked eyes on that teleprompter in the evening and held on for dear life. It’s understandable for civilians like Lilly Ledbetter who would have been a little nervous at any podium. But O’Malley and Sebelius clearly can talk – if they don’t worry about reading their speech.

Talking to people via teleprompters is difficult so give it up. Few people can work it as well as Bill Clinton or Michelle Obama. The question is: where did she learn to do that?

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Remember when Obama sounded too much like Osama? A real liability 4 years ago but Dems have now made it an asset.
Also Keep on Truckin? An appeal to the youth vote if you were a youth in the 60′s. Poor Robert Crumb, he’s probaby getting stiffed once again on royalties for his drawing.

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Near the hotels where the Ohio delegates are staying is JM Keynes Blvd and Drive. Are North Carolinians fans of the British economist John Maynard Keynes or did they just name the street for visiting Democrats.

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Ashley Judd had a formal role speaking to the Ohio delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

Celebrities of the more political variety were spotted in the halls of the convention in Charlotte. Among them: Jesse Jackson (look way to the back right)

 

 

 

 

 

and a former Massachusetts governor (no not that one) … Michael Dukakis.

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As at the Republican convention in Tampa last week, utilities are big sponsors of events at the Democratic convention. Many of the social functions sponsored during convention weeks by lobbyists and industry groups are closed to the press.

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A little gamesmanship occurred this week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.   The head of the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfern,  explained to his delegates at breakfast:

“Our friends in the Ohio Republican Party had delivered a cake to the back of the room, marking something having to do with the president’s schedule. They thought it was cute. There’s something ironic; the party of John Kasich sending cake. It reminds me of Marie Antoinette.”

The cake read “It’s irresponsible; it’s unpatriotic; we’re not better off. “

The most confused person had to have been the cake decorator.

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The signs, speeches  and videos at the Republican presidential convention are laser focused on the economy. But the GOP still must acknowledge a platform that includes some core social issue planks, including a ban on abortion with no exceptions. It also has to make room for the social conservatives represented by speakers like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, who are key to the get-out-the-vote effort come November.

Former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery says she thinks the party can stay focused, despite some differences.

“There are many of us who are Republicans who don’t always agree with the platform. But we agree with the fundamental structure of this party, which is limited government, the ability to win the American Dream, social mobility, the individual responsibility. And that’s the structure we hang all the ornaments on.”

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In a quick press conference after her speech to the Ohio delegation at the Republican National Convention, Condoleezza Rice was blunt about her successor, Hillary Clinton (“great”) and U.S. foreign policy (too timid). She said she’s not interested in “boots on the ground” in Syria, but more needs to be done.

Rice also said she has no reservations about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s lack of foreign policy experience, but a lot of concern about the national debt.

Where she tread more carefully is when she was asked how the Browns will do this year. She’s a huge Browns fan, and of the University of Alabama, whose alum was drafted by the Browns this year.

“I’m very excited about the prospects. I’m crossing my fingers for Trent Richardson to get out there because you know I’m a big Tide fan, too. So this is the perfect marriage for me, Trent Richardson and the Browns.”

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Two items got special prayers this morning at the Ohio delegation breakfast… that the levees in Louisiana hold, and that the shuttle bus schedule in Tampa gets straightened out.  A major snafu last night left delegates circling the convention center and walking blocks in one direction only to be sent back the other way.

Chairman Bill Bennett says all has been addressed, and his staff spent mostof  the night– and well into the moring — trying to ensure no repeat tonight.

Bennett also asked delegates to be polite about the snafu when Reince Priebus, the chairman of the national GOP, shows up to speak here this morning.

Also on the list of speakers this morning, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

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The U.S. Forest Service announced Monday that it will allow fracking in the Wayne National Forest in southeast Ohio. The announcement hit about the same time that Republicans in Tampa were blasting President Obama for not allow more of the shale drilling on public lands. They also were going over polls and strategies that suggest Mitt Romney could swing Ohio by backing more drilling. Kellyann Conway of Polling Group Inc. said Ohioans are three times more likely to vote for a politician who backs more drilling.

In  its announcement, the Forest Service says the Wayne forest’s management plan could adequately address any damage and risks from the drilling and there is no need for a new environmental study. Environmental groups say the plan never contemplated the fracking, and Athens County, Ohio University and the city of Athens oppose it.

Republicans, including Senate candidate Josh Mandel, have dismissed the critics as extremists.

 

 

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Sen. Rob Portman and the Ohio Republican Party hosted two receptions tonight, to which reporters were invited on one condition… that they not report anything they gathered there.

Portman, by the way, has once again been picked for a key bit of role-playing. He’s expected to be President Obama’s surrogate as Mitt Romney practices for the upcoming debates. He did the same thing in 2004 when he played Al Gore and he also was Obama four years ago for John McCain.

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Sen. Rob Portman recounted the impact of Neil Armstrong, the Ohioan who was the first man to step onto the moon, at this morning’s breakfast, and Armstrong is expected to be featured prominently when the Republican National Convention officially launces tomorrow.

Portman is the first of a lineup of speakers at the Ohio delegation breakfast. After talking of Armstrong as a modest man who inspried America, he praised Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as his running mate and moved onto the need to get out the Republican vote in Ohio.

 

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Lots of love for the Ohio delegation from Mitt Romney…

The middle of  Mitt Romney’s five sons, Josh, is taking his younger brother’s place at the first of the Ohio delegation breakfasts this morning. He’ll be joined by Ari Fleischer, who was President George W. Bush’s press secretary and accompanied Romney on his trip to Israel last month.

Also speaking in a room set up for more than 300 will be Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who was considered a top candidate to be Romney’s running mate until he went with Paul Ryan.

And the other Republican candidates for president at also meeting with Ohio. Newt Gingrich will be speaking in an unusual afternoon session at 12:45, and Rick Santorum is the breakfast speaker tomorrow morning.

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The latest on Hurricane Isaac, which delayed the Republican National Convention for a day, is that it’s heading west. That’s generally good news for Tampa and the RNC. But the irony is that forecasters now see Isaac heading toward New Orleans, and hitting land Wednesday, the seventh anniversary of Katrina.

Four years ago, Gustav hit Houston. And though the Republican convention was far to the north– St. Paul — the business of the convention was delayed for a day. Jo Ann Davidson, the Ohio Republican who co-chaired the convention then, along with now Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine helped steer the delegates toward collecting money and other help for Texans.

It’s expected that, if Isaac does major damage later this week to the Gulf Coast, Democrats gathering in Charlotte next week may spend some of the early hours of their convention in a relief effort as well.

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Despite concerns about overwhelmed polling places as record numbers of voters are expected to cast ballots, no major problems have been reported in Cuyahoga County.   Long lines greeted many poll workers this morning, but the volume dropped considerably during the afternoon.  Elections director Jane Platten credits the 270,000 early voters for easing congestion today. But she expects long lines to form this evening before voting wraps up at 7:30.

Platten says anyone still line when the polls officially close will be allowed to vote.

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Voting was slowing down late this morning at polling places in Akron and Cleveland. And despite a few glitches, most elections officials say the day has gone smoothly.

Cuyahoga County elections chief Jane Platten said expanded early voting in Ohio may have relieved the pressure and problems in Cuyahoga today. At a press conference, she said as much as 30 percent of the county’s voters may have cast ballots before today. What problems cropped up today were quickly resolved, she added.

Turnout was heavy early this morning throughout northeast Ohio. Parking lots were packed and waits to vote stretched up to an hour. But the traffic tailed off late this morning.

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Early voters obviously got the message on the presidential race. Asked why they voted how they voted, backers of Barack Obama say the country needs change, especially when it comes to the economy and international relations. Those who back John McCain say experience is what matters. Also cited as reasons for presidential votes: anti-abortion, education, healthcare, war and balance of power.

Both sides say this election is a historic one.

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Among those standing just outside the 100-foot mark at some polling places in Ohio are representatives of the payday-lending industry. They’re trying to get Ohioans to vote against a 28 percent a year cap on interest rates on industry loans. The workers say they aren’t allowed to comment to the press, referring all questions to their public affairs departments.

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Early voting seems to have done what it was designed to do — take the pressure off the polls on voting day. Polling locations throughout Northeast Ohio were reporting steady voting today and waits of up to an hour when the polls opened at 6:30 a.m. But most voters say they ran into only small snafus, and expected even longer waits.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner says calm and steady has been the rule across the state. Among the exceptions: One polling place in northwest Canton didn’t have electronic voting machines in place when the polls opened. Voters had the option of waiting or taking out paper ballots, but it took a while for pollworkers to realize the paper ballots were two pages long. By 7 a.m., the problems were straigtened out.

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Women and politics

Jo Ann Davidson’s job this week was to put together the logistics of a convention that involved 45-thousand people and ended with the nomination of John McCain and Sarah Palin for U.S. president and vice president.

In a previous political life, Davidson was speaker of the Ohio House. She talked with Ohio reporters Thursday about expectations for women in politics. To hear exerpts, click below.

davidson-on-being-first-female

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There may be plenty of real emotion behind those standing O’s at political conventions. But the props are often supplied and their displays are stage-managed. Even the hand-made-looking posters are often supplied by event organizers. But it appears that the odd hats really are a labor of love.

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Here are exerpts released by the McCain campaign of John McCain’s accceptance speech tonight.

McCain  joins Palin family


On running mate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin:

“I’m very proud to have introduced our next Vice President to the country. But I can’t wait until I introduce her to Washington. And let me offer an advance warning to the old, big spending, do nothing, me first, country second Washington crowd: change is coming.”

On solving problems in Washington:

“The constant partisan rancor that stops us from solving these problems isn’t a cause, it’s a symptom. It’s what happens when people go to Washington to work for themselves and not you.

Again and again, I’ve worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That’s how I will govern as President. I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again. I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not.”

On love of country:

“I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.”

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Former Rep. Rob Portman didn’t have a Sean Hannity. So Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett came right out and said it this morning. Portman is running for governor in 2010.

Kacich sponsored yesterday’s Ohio delegate breakfast featuring the Fox TV host, Hannity. And Hannity used the stage to push Kasich’s candidacy for governor. And Kacich acknowledged afterwards he’s strongly leaning toward a run against Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland.

Not so fast.

Portman sponsored today’s breakfast and besides the pitch by Bennett, he also got backing from Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic senator who spoke at this morning’s breakfast. Portman was President Bush’s budget director, the U.S. trade representative and congressman from Cincinnati. He had been considered for running mate by John McCain.

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Horseback riot police sweep the streets

Buses bringing Ohio’s Republican conventioners back from St. Paul to Minneapolis tonight had to stop a couple blocks from the Radisson Plaza hotel. …

I started to write this just before I heard shouts outside the hotel, ran down to see what was going on, and was forced with a crowd of mostly young people away from the hotel by police. Mounted police, bike patrols, and officers in full riot gear moved in when a crowd leaving a Rage Against the Machine concert (one block away at the Target Center) started chanting anti-war slogans and marching down the center of the street. One officer said I’d been given plenty of opportunity to go back to my hotel and I should have stopped interviewing those in the crowd.

Tear gas lingered over several blocks. Mounted and bike patrols divided the crowd in two, forcing them away from the downtown hotels where many of the delegates are staying. The convention has been dogged by a series of street protests — some violent and some not — all week. An armored vehicle is parked in front of the hotel, as are troops with riot shields. Police sirens continue throughout the night.

Horse patrols in riot gear
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Sarah Palin’s speech tonight is even more anticipated than John McCain’s speech tomorrow night. Delegates are still getting used to her (some still call her Sarah Payton, Sarah Patacki or “the woman”) but they’re determined to embrace her and celebrate what they’ve heard about her.

Here are some exerpts from her speech released by the Republican national Committee:

On her experience as a public servant:

“I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids’ public education better. When I ran for city council, I didn’t need focus groups and voter profiles because I knew those voters, and knew their families, too. Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”

On why she is going to Washington, D.C.:

“I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment. And I’ve learned quickly, these past few days, that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone. But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion – I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country.”

On energy policies that the McCain-Palin administration will implement:

“Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems – as if we all didn’t know that already. But the fact that drilling won’t solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all. Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we’re going to lay more pipelines…build more nuclear plants…create jobs with clean coal…and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources. We need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers.”

On John McCain:

“Here’s how I look at the choice Americans face in this election. In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.”

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Remember former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell? The guy on the fast national track for the GOP? The guy who Ted Strickland trounced in the 2006 gubernatorial race?

If appearance has anything to do with it, no one here remembers him. Though he’s in town, Blackwell’s been absent from all Ohio GOP events. Asked where he’s been, Ohio GOP spokesman John McClelland said simply: “I have nothing to do with Ken Blackwell.”

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Ohio political observers have been struck by the relatively cordial relationship between Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and the Republican dominated Legislature. Expect that to change. Former Congressman John Kasich and Fox News host Sean Hannity lauched some strong salvos at Strickland today, and mildly chided their own party legislative leaders for cooperating with him.

Kasich all but announced he’s running for governor, and his non-announcement blasted Ohio’s taxes, poverty rate and business climate.

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Running for governor?

Former Congressman and current Fox TV host John Kasich came close this morning to announcing he’s running for governor. And fellow Fox host Sean Hannity pledged $10,000 to his not-yet campaign.

Kasich sponsored the Ohio delegation breakfast this morning at which Hannity was the featured speaker. The first hint of an announcement came in Kasich’s direct criticism of popular Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland as a caretaker governor and his more muted criticism of Republican legislative leaders for working with him. Then Hannity took the stand, took more shots at the condition of Ohio under Strickland’s leadership and called to Kasich across the room to run for governor. He then pledged to put up the most money the law allows to help Kasich do it.

After the breakfast, Kasich acknowledged he’s thinking hard about running, but says he won’t make a formal announcement until late next year. Meanwhile, he and his scheduler are gathering dates and names for GOP gatherings around the state.

GOP Chairman Bob Bennett says other names mentioned for governor include Cincinnati Congressman Rob Portman and Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted.

kasich-strickland-cut

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Change is the theme of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. But the Republicans in Minnesota have adapted and adopted it as their own. For all that their party has held the White House for eight years, Republicans talk about John McCain as a needed reformer. Ask what they like about his running mate, Sarah Palin, and it’s a toss up what you’ll hear first: reformer or pro-lifer. And a couple delegates sheepishly acknowledged they were happier to see Laura Bush in person on the stage at the Xcel center than George Bush.

Still, for all the talk of a need for change, one member of the old guard is held in high regard. Karl Rove got a standing ovation from many on the convention floor tonight, and a warm welcome from the Ohio delegation at its breakfast this morning. That’s where he gave a speech praising Sarah Palin as… a reformer

rove-on-palin-as-reformer-for-web

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Barack Obama may be painted as a celebrity, but the GOP answers with its own celeb tonight. Former Senator, former presidential candidate and former-and-current actor Fred Thompson takes the stage tonight. Here are some exerpts the GOP has provided:

On John McCain’s qualifications to be president:
“This is the kind of character that civilizations from the beginning of history have sought in their leaders. Strength. Courage. Humility. Wisdom. Duty. Honor. It’s pretty clear there are two questions we will never have to ask ourselves, ‘Who is this man?’ and ‘Can we trust this man with the presidency?’”

On John McCain’s dedication to doing what is right – not what is popular:
“He has been to Iraq eight times since 2003. He went seeking truth, not publicity. When he travels abroad, he prefers quietly speaking to the troops amidst the heat and hardship of their daily lives. And the same character that marked John McCain’s military career has also marked his political career. This man, John McCain, is not intimidated by what the polls say or by what is politically safe or popular.”

On John McCain’s commitment to taking real action to reform Washington:
“But while others were talking reform, John McCain led the effort to make reform happen – always pressing, always moving for what he believed was right and necessary to restore the people’s faith in their government. Confronting when necessary, reaching across the aisle when possible, John personified why we came to Washington in the first place.”

On John McCain’s ability to restore integrity to our government:
“My role is to help remind you of the man behind the vision. Because tonight our country is calling to all of us to step up, stand up, and put ‘Country First’ with John McCain. Tonight we are being called upon to do what is right for our country.”

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Past and future?
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Engineering Ohio for 2008

Karl Rove walks fast, says he and John McCain got over the hurts of 2000 by campaigning together in 2004, and says Ohio will make it three in a row as the crucial state in the presidential election. Rove entertained the Ohio delegation at this morning’s breakfast with a blend of funny stories and the story of Bud Day, a Vietnam vet from South Dakota who says John McCain saved his life. But Rove wasn’t taking questions from reporters on any issue — not Sarah Palin, not even on how the GOP plans to win Ohio. As he waited for the elevator doors at the Radisson Plaza hotel to close, Rove did give a one-word answer to the question: Did he campaign to keep Joe Lieberman off the ticket with John McCain? “No.”

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