Entries in Republican National Convention (61)


Clint Eastwood Explains Empty-Chair Speech

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In his first interview since the infamous invisible Obama empty chair routine that transfixed the Republican National Convention last month, Clint Eastwood says the Romney campaign didn’t know what he was going to say and he didn’t come up with the empty chair idea until he was about to go on stage.

“They vet most of the people, but I told them, ‘You can’t do that with me, because I don’t know what I’m going to say,’” Eastwood told the Carmel Pine Cone of Carmel, California.

He says he came up with the idea to interview an absent Obama just before taking the stage.

“There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down,” Eastwood said. “When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea. I’ll just put the stool out there and I’ll talk to Mr. Obama and ask him why he didn’t keep all of the promises he made to everybody.”

The only person he told about the idea was the stage hand, he said.

“The guy said, ‘You mean you want it at the podium?’ and I said, ‘No, just put it right there next to it.’”

Eastwood said he’s not used to giving speeches, but in his estimation, that was supposed to be part of his draw for independent voters that might be watching.

“It was supposed to be a contrast with all the scripted speeches, because I’m Joe Citizen,” Eastwood said. “I’m a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there,” he said.

Check out the entire interview from the Carmel Pine Cone.

Watch Eastwood’s empty chair speech:

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Clint Eastwood Inspires Twitter Buzz After Convention Speech

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Clint Eastwood caused quite the stir on the national stage of the Republican National Convention Thursday night when he interviewed an empty chair, addressing it as “President Obama.”  The off-color interview sparked a rush of Internet buzz and produced at least two new twitter trends.

The twitter handle @invisibleobama inspired by the empty seat that accompanied Eastwood on the stage in Tampa, Fla., has generated more than 37,000 followers and counting.

The account had gained more than 20,000 followers in 45 minutes and had been mentioned more than 10,000 times on Twitter.  And its counterpart, #eastwooding, has prompted tweeters to post pictures of empty chairs either in support of or to mock Eastwood’s provocative “interview.”

Republicans aren’t the only ones having the cyber fun.  Supporters of President Obama have also been tweet-sharing a digitally altered image from an episode of The Simpsons.  The original image from the episode shows a picture of Grandpa Simpson below the headline, “Old man yells at chair.”

Now, Obama supporters have made the image their own, adding Eastwood’s mug below the newspaper headline.

The 82-year-old actor’s performance even enticed the Obama campaign to play along, tweeting, “This seat’s taken” at about 12:30 a.m. Friday morning.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ann Romney: ‘Our Love’ Is with Robin Roberts

Robin poses with her sister and doctor. ABC/Fred Lee(NEW YORK) -- Ann Romney Friday morning sent a message of love and support to ABC's Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts, whose mother, Lucimarian Tolliver Roberts, passed away Thursday night.  The news came just hours after Robin Roberts began an extended medical leave in preparation for a bone marrow transplant.

“Our love is with her.  She’s lost her mother.  I don’t think there’s a harder thing we do in our lives than to lose our mothers so our thoughts and prayers, Robin, they’re with you,” said Romney, who tweeted a message of support to Robin Roberts earlier this week as well.

Speaking to ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America, Mrs. Romney said she spent the time after her husband’s speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., with her grandchildren, who she said couldn’t be prouder of their grandfather, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“As you might imagine, with all the grandchildren again, all these little ones, I don’t think they had more fun in their life than that balloon drop and I don’t know if you know, George, but they were down in the stairs and some of them are pretty little and when the third, oh my gosh, balloons were flying.  I was in my heels and I was diving down because I thought some of them, they were, they were buried in there,” Mrs. Romney said.  ”We couldn’t even find them but they had such a great time.  And then afterwards they all came up to the room.  It was very late for them, as you might imagine, they were very little but it didn’t matter, they were screaming and jumping on their grandfather and were so proud of him.”

When Stephanopoulos asked her about how she envisioned her role as first lady should her husband win the election, Mrs. Romney said that the issue of at-risk youth was close to her heart.

“For a long time, many years, I’ve spent with at-risk youth and my concern is making sure that every child lives their fullest potential and we have so many people in this country right now that are not getting the proper education, that are not having perhaps the kind of family life that leads them to having the total support and my heart goes out to those kids,” she said.  “They have such potential.  We have such great kids in this country and some of them just aren’t able to reach their full potential so I would hope that I’d be able to work with at-risk youth.”

Stephanopoulos asked Mrs. Romney to weigh in on Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood’s speech Thursday night that left many scratching their heads.  She said she had not given the speech much thought and was unaware he would be coming on stage at all.

“I, frankly, hadn’t given it much thought.  I didn’t know he was even going to come on stage,” she said, adding that she was grateful for the support of Eastwood.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fact Check: Obama ‘Gutted’ Welfare Reform, Gingrich Says

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Newt Gingrich, speaking alongside his wife, Callista, Thursday night in Tampa, Fla., revived the Romney camp’s claims that the Obama administration had “gutted” welfare reform by offering waivers for states seeking more flexibility in meeting federal work requirements.

On Aug. 7, Romney released an ad claiming that “under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job.  They just send you your welfare check.”

But as Gingrich himself told CNN just two days later, “We have no proof today, but I would say to you under Obama’s ideology it is absolutely true he would be comfortable sending a lot of people checks for doing nothing.”

On Thursday night, Gingrich doubled down.

“Tragically, President Obama gutted this achievement and, like Jimmy Carter, over four years he produced little effective legislation that brought the two parties together,” he said.  “Waiving the work requirements in welfare reform is just one example of his direct repudiation of President Reagan’s values.”

The language from the memo in question, though, belies much of the Republican claim.

The Health and Human Services department “will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of [the 1996 reform legislation],” it says.

In effect, the Obama administration has stated it would be willing to give states the option to propose more efficient ways to get welfare recipients back to work.  Any such plan would require the state to increase the number of people moving from welfare to work by 20 percent.

Among the states to file for the waivers so far are Utah and Nevada.  Both have Republican governors.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney's Son Chokes Up Over Family's Immigrant Past

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Mitt Romney's son Craig choked up Thursday night when he recounted for the Republican National Convention how his grandparents immigrated from Mexico to live the American dream.

"It's easy to forget that the story of my father's success begins with the story of two immigrants -- my grandfathers -- who came to this country with little more than hope in the opportunity of America," he said.

Craig Romney's heartfelt story of his family's immigrant roots was among more than half a dozen convention speakers who highlighted their immigrant backgrounds, but it has created what one expert describes as an "awkward dance" because of the GOP's reputation for being hostile to immigration.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune told of his Norwegian grandfather immigrating through Ellis Island and changing his name along the way.  Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum recounted how his father immigrated "from the mountains of northern Italy, on a ship named Providence."

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told of his great grandfather who arrived penniless to live the "American Dream," and also cited struggles and triumphs of friends -- a Cambodian family in Kentucky and Vietnamese brothers who arrived on a "leaky boat."

Utah House candidate Mia Love had only two minutes to speak, but managed to mention her parents immigrating from Haiti "with $10 in their pocket."

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's said she is the "proud daughter of Indian immigrants," while Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz told a "love story of freedom" about his Irish-Italian working-class mom and his Cuban refugee dad.

"They made a good effort at trying to have their stage build bridges to those communities they are trying to reach out to," said Clarissa Martinez, director of civic engagement and immigration at the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group.

"While they simultaneously were doing that, they were unveiling a Republican platform that in many ways detracts from what they were doing on the stage... There is a little bit of a mixed signal or a mixed message being sent here," Martinez said.

She said the convention speeches "up the ante" on Romney to clarify where he stands on immigration.

"Is he the candidate that the Republican platform would convey or is he the candidate that some of the speakers on that stage that would represent," Martinez said.

The official party platform is seen as unfriendly to immigration, although it is specifically tailored to illegal immigration.  It supports self-deportation, encouraging "illegal aliens to return home voluntarily" by making it nearly impossible to support themselves in America.

It calls for building a "double-layer fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border, implementing a nationwide E-Verify system to prevent undocumented workers from being hired and making English the official language.

The GOP opposes "any form of amnesty" and supports denying federal funding to universities that, as the platform says, "provide instate tuition rates to illegal aliens, in open defiance of federal law."

"It's a really kind of an awkward dance," said Stephen Nuno, an expert on minority political participation and assistant politics professor at Northern Arizona University.  "You can't on the one hand say we love these people, we love this story, we love the character this story creates and builds, but we are going to do everything we can to discourage more people from immigrating like this again.  And if they are here we are going to make life so miserable that they want to leave."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


DNC Chair Calls RNC ‘Crass’ for Partying in Face of Hurricane Isaac

Vallery Jean/FilmMagic(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke out on Thursday against the Republican National Convention’s handling of Hurricane Isaac, which is causing havoc along the Gulf Coast.  Wasserman Schultz said the RNC “could have taken things down a notch,” during their speeches.

“I think it probably was an example of their continued focus of winning at all costs,” Wasserman Schultz said.

While Wasserman Schultz said she gave the RNC credit for cancelling the first day to put safety first, she noted the parties of special interest groups still went on.

“The bashes were not cancelled [and] went on despite the fact that our state was getting hit with a hurricane and Tampa was still in the path of the storm,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Wasserman said even though the RNC was in a challenging situation of having a convention during a devastating storm, there are “other ways they could have handled it other than the path, the way they chose.”

When asked what she thought the RNC should have done, Wasserman Schultz told ABC News that the Republicans could have toned down their program, “certainly in the face of millions getting battered by a storm, they could have been less crass and been a little bit more muted.”

Wednesday night, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez asked for those watching the speeches to contribute to the Red Cross.

“Before I begin tonight, let’s keep in our thoughts and prayers the families impacted by the storm affecting the Gulf Coast.  If you haven’t done so already, please donate to the Red Cross,” Martinez said.

Wasserman Schultz said the RNC should have been even more sensitive to the devastation.

“I think there were adjustments in their program they could have made that would have been more sensitive to the fact the Gulf Coast region was getting pounded by a storm and yet they continued to party,” Wasserman said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jeb Bush’s Advice to Romney on RNC Speech: Show Your ‘Heart’

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush offered Mitt Romney some advice Thursday morning on ABC's Good Morning America just hours before the GOP presidential nominee will make the most important speech of his political career.

“It’s hard for him to show his heart.  I respect that.  I was brought up being told not to brag, not to open up and show your frailties and show your emotions, but he has to,” Bush told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.  “Where it matters is connecting with other people’s concerns.  I don’t think he has to be like this New Age kind of guy all of a sudden.  He’s not going to be that way.”

Romney will address the Republican National Convention Thursday evening in Tampa, Fla., and formally accept the Republican nomination for president.  The speech offers the former governor of Massachusetts -- often attacked as wooden by his critics -- a chance to boost his favorability among voters, which seems critical given that a new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that Romney is the least popular major-party nominee since 1984.

Bush -- both the son and brother to former presidents -- told Stephanopoulos during the interview that connecting emotionally to people is the first step Romney must take in order to make a case for himself as a viable alternative to President Obama.

“It’s important to connect emotionally.  That gives you the chance to allow people in…he has to do that for sure,” Bush said.  “But it doesn’t have to be, the standards that the observers will have will be so high and so psycho-babbly that he won’t be able to reach that for sure but connecting well and he has a great chance tonight to offer an alternative.  Not just to point out the president’s failings but to offer an alternative that lifts the spirits of the country.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan Links Obama Policies to GM Plant Closed Under Bush

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- In his speech Wednesday evening, Rep. Paul Ryan referenced a Janesville, Wis., GM plant that was shut down, linking its closure to President Obama, who gave a speech there in 2008.  But it turns out the last GM vehicle produced at the plant was in late 2008 when George W. Bush was still president.

“My home state voted for President Obama.  When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory,” Ryan said in his convention speech Wednesday night.  “A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant.  Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: ‘I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.’  That’s what he said in 2008.”

“Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year.  It is locked up and empty to this day.  And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight,” Ryan continued.

The plant Ryan referenced, which he also brought up at an event earlier this month, made its last GM automobile in December 2008 while President George W. Bush was still in office.  The plant remained open for a few months in 2009 to complete orders on Isuzu vehicles, a company with which GM had a partnership.

In February 2008, Obama told employees at the plant “if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years,” according to USA Today.

The Romney/Ryan campaign noted the plant did not close but went into”standby” in 2008 and remains in that status today, as is noted in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article.  The campaign also pointed to a statement released in 2008 by Obama’s campaign that said it would help “retool” plants like the one scheduled to shut down in Janesville.

“I will lead an effort to retool plants like the GM facility in Janesville so we can build the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow and create good-paying jobs in Wisconsin and all across America,” an Obama campaign statement from 2008 reads.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Is Clint Eastwood the Mystery Convention Speaker?

Indigo/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- There’s a big mystery in Tampa, Fla.: Who is the “TBA” who will address the Republican National Convention Thursday night just before Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney?

It’s a prime slot on the final night of the convention.  The convention hall has been buzzing with the possibility -- almost the expectation at this point -- that it will be Clint Eastwood, who endorsed Romney earlier this year.

You may recall that some Republicans were frustrated by Eastwood’s appearance in a Chrysler Super Bowl ad about “halftime” in America.  Romney, of course, opposed the auto bailout that saved Chrysler.

ABC's George Stephanopoulos talked with Diane Sawyer about the Eastwood question on World News.  Watch below for more.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Senate Candidate Ted Cruz Sees Tea Party as 'the Future'

Douglas Graham/Roll Call(TAMPA, Fla.) -- With the help of the Tea Party, Ted Cruz bucked the establishment in Texas this summer when he knocked a long-term state politician out of the Republican Senate primary, sending a message that the Tea Party is here to stay.

"I think it is absolutely the future," Cruz told ABC's Nightline anchor Terry Moran.  "In 2010, the Tea Party had a lot of protests in the blazing hot sun.  In 2011 and 2012, the Tea Party went to work.  They rolled up their sleeves.  They got involved in the parties.  They got involved in campaigns.  They started block walking, phone banking."

"In my race, thousands and thousands of Tea Party activists made the difference in the race and it's a fundamental shift.  It's getting the Republican Party back to the principles we should have been standing for in the first place," Cruz told Moran.

Cruz, 41, has never held elective office, but with the support of the Tea Party and prominent Republicans such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, he was catapulted to victory this summer in a bitter run-off with Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for a Senate seat left open by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.

When he entered the race, Cruz was polling at just single digits, but he forced Dewhurst, who was backed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, into a run-off in July, demonstrating the frustration Texans had towards the establishment.

"There is a sense that the folks who have been in office for a long time, they don't get it.  And it is both parties have let us down.  Barack Obama is the most radical president we've ever seen but a lot of Republicans have been complicit with the Democrats in growing spending out of control," Cruz told Moran.  "I think the voters are saying to both parties, 'Get back to the basic, founding principles of our country -- limited government, free markets, individual liberty,' and I think that's what this movement all across the country is about."

A few blocks from the main convention proceedings in Tampa, Fla., hundreds of delegates streamed into a revival style tent on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for an even more conservative Republican future, grooming a whole new crop of leaders, like Cruz, who spoke before the crowd as he was accompanied by his father.

"The stakes have never been higher.  Americans are uniting to turn the country around," Cruz said.

A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School who attended Princeton University as an undergrad, Cruz served as solicitor general in Texas from 2003 to 2008.  Prior to that, Cruz worked for the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department, and he clerked for former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, making Cruz the first Latino to clerk for a chief justice.

Cruz is the son of a Cuban immigrant whose story the Texan shared at the convention Tuesday night, even speaking in Spanish -- a language in which Cruz is not fluent -- to describe his father's determination to achieve the American dream.

"He fled to Texas in 1957, not speaking English, with $100 sewn into his underwear.  He washed dishes making 50 cents an hour to pay his way through the University of Texas and to start a small business in the oil and gas industry," Cruz said of his father in a speech at the RNC Tuesday night.  "When he came to America, el no tenia nada, pero tenia corazon.  He had nothing, but he had heart.  A heart for freedom.  Thank you, Dad."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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