5 Takeaways From the GOP Convention

The Washington Post/Getty Images
The Washington Post/Getty Images

(The Root) — Everyone knows that the most important parts of any book, movie or TV show are the beginning and the end. Those are the parts people tend to remember most vividly after the last page has been turned or the credits have begun to roll.


The same can be said for political conventions.

The Republican National Convention kicked off its first official night (thanks to Hurricane Isaac) with a bang — showcasing some of the most famous conservatives in the nation, as well as a few that they hope one day will be. Below, a look at the five biggest takeaways Republicans were aiming for from the night. 

1) The GOP is really, really racially diverse.

On the heels of a controversial poll that indicated that Gov. Mitt Romney will earn zero  percent of the black vote in the upcoming election, the GOP made a serious effort to show just how diverse its party is by featuring multiple speakers of color — including former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis and congressional candidate Mia Love, both of whom are black. Other speakers of color included Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz, who is part Cuban; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is Indian; and the first lady of Puerto Rico, who is Latina.

However, these colorful faces cannot mask the reality of the numbers. According to data, the Republican Party is becoming older and whiter. In other words, it is becoming a party that bears very little resemblance to the diversity of the faces that appeared on the stage.

2) Women love Romney, and the Republican Party loves them. OK?

Romney has been trailing President Obama among female voters by double digits throughout much of the presidential race — a gap the Romney campaign knows it must overcome in order to win in November. Battles over birth-control coverage earlier this year, dubbed part of the GOP's "war on women," combined with recent controversial comments by Senate candidate Todd Akin regarding rape, have not made wooing female voters an easy task for Republicans.


Tuesday night, the Romney campaign strived to fight back against the "war on women" label with a slew of Republican women warriors. From Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to actress-turned-conservative activist Janine Turner and, the star of the evening, Ann Romney, they might as well have said, "Tonight we want the 'g' in G-O-P to stand for ‘girl power.' " Besides Mia Love and Ann Romney, few of these women gave particularly memorable speeches, reminding all of us that for all her flaws, Sarah Palin could actually give a great speech. But the presence of so many women was notable. It remains to be seen if voters took enough notice to remember their presence come November.

3)   White men are where it's at.

Though the faces speaking on the stage were relatively diverse racially and ethnically, the faces featured in campaign ads throughout the evening told another story. Ad after ad featured a cross section of Americans — white male Americans, that is. One after the other, they told their story of building a business on their own — the message being that entrepreneurship is something President Obama clearly does not appreciate or understand.


While their businesses were diverse, as were their backgrounds and geographical locations, they all had one thing in common: They looked like the majority of Republicans: white, male and older. These ads gave tremendous insight into which voters the Romney campaign is hoping to appeal to and counting on to win in November.

4) The Romneys are relatable.

Ann Romney has been called her husband's "secret weapon," there to humanize him with voters in a way that he has so far been unable to do so himself. As part of this effort on Tuesday, she spoke of their first meeting at a dance and their early lean years of eating tuna while living in a basement apartment. These details were clearly intended to say to voters, "We may be mansion dwellers now, but we started out just like you."


That might be an effective message, especially coming from someone with Ann Romney's likability, if only the message were actually true. Though she was not born into wealth, her husband was, meaning that they are unlikely to relate to those Americans who truly have no options beyond tuna and a basement apartment because their parents can't afford to put them through Harvard and buy them a house. Pretending otherwise is unlikely to convince those voters who know what real economic struggle feels like.

5) "We built it."

Every election has one slogan that defines it. The Clinton campaign had "It's the economy, stupid," and four years ago the Obama campaign had "Yes we can." The Romney campaign has "We built it." These three words served as a rallying cry for the convention's audience, a rebuttal to the suggestion by President Obama that all successful Americans had help. The phrase was repeated so often, the arena began to sound a bit like an echo chamber.


But for every "Yes we can" that catches on and becomes iconic, there are a ton of other slogans that do not. It's too early to tell if "We built it" will become three of the most memorable words in political history or yet another political trivia question by Thanksgiving Day.

Keli Goff is The Root's political correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.

Keli Goff is The Root’s special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter