Think Political Conventions Don't Matter? Think Again Argue Robert Weiner And Jaime Ravenet ; Ex-White House Spokesman Weiner has attended every Dem Convention since '72; Op-Ed in Charlotte Observer today

Jul 15, 2012, 07:01 ET from Robert Weiner Associates

WASHINGTON, and CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an article in the Charlotte Observer today, "Think Political Conventions Don't Matter?  Think Again," Robert Weiner and Jaime Ravenet contend that "even with an incumbent President guaranteed nomination and the Republican nominee assured, both the upcoming Democratic event in Charlotte and Republican enclave in Tampa will have major impact."  Ex-White House spokesman Weiner has attended every Democratic National Convention since '1972.  He and policy analyst Jaime Ravenet make the case that "Despite what many think, national political conventions make a message and can have significant impact on elections and policy," and they cite examples.

Weiner and Ravenet recount Sarah Palin's nomination as VP-candidate by John McCain, timed for the convention, and assert, "The un-vetted way McCain made his VP decision, required to be timed for the convention, cost him and his party dearly."

Weiner and Ravenet turn back the clock 40 years to George McGovern's July 14th, 1974 2 AM nomination-acceptance speech. "Nobody at home was up to watch the speech on TV, and the Democratic Party was left with no unifying message.  They never recovered. Loss of the usual 'bounce' was one reason McGovern lost every state but Massachusetts." 

Weiner and Ravenet also recall President Clinton's 1988 speech nominating Michael Dukakis. "He spoke for 34 minutes that seemed like an hour. Bored, everybody broke into a din of talk over him. Delegates applauded the end of the speech—not its content."  They note, Americans "eventually grew to love President Clinton and his brilliance, but it took years for the future President to reestablish his reputation as a public speaker," chalking it up to "proof one can learn."

Party convention platforms give lots of opportunity for press and controversy, the two argue. "Republicans have a history of inserting opposition to women's choice and cost themselves five points in the polls," they say, pointing out that "when 99% of women use some form of contraception, opposition to it is hardly a winning issue regardless of party." They add, "Conversely, Democrats have routinely inserted gay rights issues into the platform.  Until now, it has not helped.  But with President Barack Obama's leadership position on the issue, the polls are shifting.  For the first time, a majority support gay marriage, so it may help."

Looking back to 1964, Weiner and Ravenet call Sen. Everett Dirksen's speech nominating Barry Goldwater a "unique rhetorical masterpiece that recast his party's direction and launched their candidate's nomination and reinvigorated the American conservative movement." Similarly, they say that President Obama's 2004 keynote speech "lifted the delegates and Americans everywhere to their highest aspirations. The statement, 'There's not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America; there is the United States off America,' electrified the delegates and became the making of a President."

They also note the impact of convention locations. "The Democrats' convention in the swing state of Colorado in 2008 made a difference in that state's going for Obama," they say. "It's certainly possible that holding the convention in Charlotte in 2012 will make a similar difference."

Weiner and Ravenet warn of extremism during conventions, noting that "While conventions are by definition partisan, they also are patriotic, American events." They contend, "The Republicans could be setting themselves up for another 1964 Goldwater-like 'Extremism ... is no vice ... Moderation is no virtue!' moment in the current election year. This tactic helped lose the general election for Republicans in 1964, but is eerily similar to today's tone epitomized by Sen. Richard Mourdock's, R-Ind.," who expressed what they call "a radical redefinition of bipartisanship when he said, 'Bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.'"

They conclude, "While conventions are by definition partisan, they also are patriotic events. Both parties want to improve the country. Before Charlotte and Tampa begin their rituals, one hopes the message of both is that governing is a public service, not a party loyalty test, and that compromise is not a dirty word. Whoever provides those messages at their convention and inspires, while all the world is watching, just might win the election."

 Contact: Robert Weiner/Jaime Ravenet 301-283-0821, cell 202-306-1200

SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates