In less than a week, the Republican Party will kick off the most important event of the 2012 political season. The GOP Convention is set to go live in Tampa, Florida, one of a number of political key swing states that is being heavily targeted by both parties in their quest for taking possession of the White House.
Democrats are also busy preparing for their fête in Charlotte, North Carolina; their party, like most family affairs, is not without controversy as North Carolina has shown not to be a friend of Labor, which has been a longtime ally of the Democratic Party.
Both parties are cognizant the conventions will undoubtedly attract heavy attention from the media and voters, and thus are carefully choreographing their events; after all, in politics, as in life, first impressions are always important.
Republicans and Democrats alike will be playing their cards heavily to not only assuage their constituencies, but also to make a last-ditch appeal to attract undecided and independent voters, displaying a cadre of high-stake political figures.
“A Better Future,” the theme of the GOP convention, aims at reminding voters that under Obama’s leadership most Americans have not fared well. A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted between August 6 and 13 among swing state voters shows that 56 percent of respondents believe they are not better off than four years ago against 40 percent who said they are.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez are two of the other GOP stars that have been tapped to speak– a decision filled with symbolism. Rubio’s premium position in the schedule –he’s set to introduce Romney is aimed at showing the GOP really cares about Latinos despite the generalized perception among many in that community that most Republicans are not sensitive to its needs. Immigration is “the” issue that continues to keep Latinos and Republicans apart. Furthermore, Rubio means Florida, and Florida is yet again a state that is up for grabs.
The selection of Gov. Martinez not only reinforces that concept, she also plays well with Latina voters, a segment of the electorate that is heavily aligned with Obama, and she’s also the governor of another battleground state where Hispanics count for almost half of its population. Also of importance is the fact that 35 percent of New Mexico’s registered voters are Hispanic, according to the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials – NALEO.
A recent state-by-state analysis conducted by the Los Angeles Times shows a majority of New Mexico’s residents favoring Obama by a two digit margin over Romney, potentially adding its five electoral votes to the Obama camp.
The GOP convention wouldn’t be a “perfect” Republican gathering without heavy dose of Latino family effect and good Christian values; to build on that concept, the Republican leadership recruited the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Luce Vela, wife of Puerto Rico’s Governor, Luis Fortuño. With her inclusion on Monday’s primetime’s slot (she’ll be introducing Anne Romney) the party leaders hope to win a trifecta: The Puerto Rican vote in the US, Latino families who care about “good family” values and Catholics, who have been lukewarm about Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith.
On the Democratic side, Bill Clinton will be once again at the top of the primetime slot; it never hurts to be a popular former president, especially one that governed the nation during prolific economic times. Clinton, always a powerful speaker, still has that ability to energize people to work harder for their party.
Some new faces will be part of the Dem convention; one of these faces is San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who is the poster child for the Latino arrival to positions of power, a vision that has been cultivated for many years by organizations like NALEO.
Elizabeth Warren, the brains behind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and former chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel of the bailout, will also be on hand to remind all who want to hear that the economic morass we are all immersed in started during the last Republican administration, and that the Romney-Ryan “America’s Comeback Team” wants to take everyone back in time. Warren, who is running a very tough campaign against Massachusetts’s Jr. Senator Scott Brown, will undoubtedly benefit with this air time.
All in all, the conventions will be yet another step toward that crucial day in November when voters will be left alone in the electoral booths and forced to choose between two candidates who will lead the Nation for the next four years.
Hernan Molina is a political analyst based in Southern California. He appears regularly in MundoFox 22 Los Angeles as guest political analyst and commentator, and other television and radio shows in So Cal and National television networks. He has written extensively about politics and health-related policy matters. He is the former host of Time Warner Cable’s Local Edition under the CNN Headline News channel. More recently, Mr. Molina has hosted LA COMMUNITY, a weekly community affairs TV show in Los Angeles, which focused on current affairs impacting the Latino community of LA.
Follow Molina on Twitter @Hernan_Molina or visit his blog @: http://clavesdelapolitica.blogspot.com/