10 September 2012

Republicans Would Have Been Happy to Invite a Former President to Address Their Convention, If Only One Were Available

Some analysts say part of President Obama’s
post-convention “bounce” can be credited
to former President Clinton’s speech last week.

WASHINGTON, DC -- In the aftermath of the two nominating conventions and the wave of popular nostalgia that greeted a speech by former President Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, Republican political operatives now say that they, too, would have been pleased to invite a former Republican President to address their convention, if only one had been available.

“Say what you will about Clinton,” Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told reporters, “he did serve two terms as President of the United States. That commands a certain amount of attention. Unfortunately, we haven’t had anybody like that in our party since Ronald Reagan.”

“George H.W. Bush served only one term, from 1989 to 1993,” agreed Romney speechwriter Lindsay Hayes, “though of course he’d have been a wonderful convention speaker. We’re very lucky to have run a video tribute to him in Tampa two weeks ago, and his son Jeb was terrific in his speech. But there’s just nobody else in the Republican Party today with the Bushes’ stature.”

At former President Bush’s advanced age, Hayes said, giving a major speech might have been too much strain. “We didn’t want to impose on him,” Hayes said. “And after that, we just didn’t have any other comparable figure to call upon.”

Republican nominee Romney: Forced to go it alone.

Analysts agree that, even a few years after a President’s term has ended, voters tend to overlook the controversies of the past — just as relatively few voters listening to Clinton’s speech last week focused on his impeachment or the scandals that plagued his administration. Almost any misstep, no matter how grave, is forgotten over time, analysts say.

“There’s an aura of success, even invincibility, that attaches to a former two-term President of the United States,” Fehrnstrom said. “The average voter sees that. It’s not as if we could ask Clinton to speak at our convention. I just wish we had somebody like that, but it’s as if we’re working from a slate that’s basically wiped clean. I mean, can you think of anybody else we could have invited to speak?”

“It’s about star power,” said Romney strategist Stuart Stevens. “Any former two-term President — Commander in Chief, leader of the free world, regardless of his politics — is an unbeatable star. Sure, you run the risk of upstaging your own candidate, which personally I feel the Democrats did this time. But there’s an immense potential impact we could have gotten from seeing any former two-term President endorse Mitt Romney, if only we had one.

“Wow, I wish Reagan were still alive,” Stevens added. “What a great speech he’d have made! Wouldn’t he and Mitt have looked great together? At least we managed to get Clint Eastwood.”

“Miss me yet?”

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