Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • Ann Romney is today’s Nancy Reagan, GOP delegate says

    Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, talks with convention officials as she tours the stage before the second session of the Republican National Convention. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

    TAMPA—A few hours before Ann Romney's prime-time speech to the Republican National Convention, excitement was building in the crowd at the prospect of hearing from a woman one delegate described as a Nancy Reagan for today who has "made motherhood honorable again."

    Ann Romney's mission was to warm up her husband's sometimes aloof image, soften some of the edges honed by months of Democratic attack ads, and help win over up-for-grabs voters with a speech reaching well beyond the cavernous convention hall.

    Her fans had no doubt she would succeed.

    "She is like the Nancy Reagan of the 21st century," said Melissa Gay, a delegate from Tennessee.

    Gay was originally a Rick Santorum supporter, but she voted unanimously with the rest of the state's delegates to nominate Romney tonight. Gay said she relates to Ann Romney because she also chose to be a stay-at-home mom. "She's made motherhood honorable again. Still, in the 21st century, people look down on people who want to stay home and raise

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  • At GOP convention, cries of a cheesehead revolution!

    Republican convention delegate Sol Grosskopf of Wisconsin (Liz Goodwin)

    TAMPA—"We're in the midst of a cheesehead revolution!"

    That's the happy message from Sol Grosskopf, 25, a delegate from Wisconsin to the Republican presidential nominating convention. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Gov. Scott Walker, and presumptive vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan are all Badgers. Grosskapf says he's excited to hear them speak—and the state's delegation has front row seats.

  • Hawaii delegate against birtherism: ‘It inspires people to a polarization’

    Kimo Sutton (Goodwin/Yahoo News)Kimo Sutton, a delegate from Hawaii who helped run Rick Santorum's campaign in the state, said he's excited to be surrounded by Republicans since his state is one of the bluest in the nation.

    The Hawaii delegates, all wearing Hawaiian shirts and leis, are seated in the far back of the floor, reflecting their low position on the GOP totem pole.

    Sutton said he would have a beer with President Barack Obama, who was born in the same hospital and attended the same high school as Sutton did in Honolulu. But he thinks he's been a terrible president. Still, the Hawaii delegate is against the strain of birtherism in the party. "It's the wrong way to go because it inspires people to a polarization," Sutton, who now backs Mitt Romney, said.

    As if on cue, a few minutes later, a Nebraska delegate walked by and leaned over. "I have a question for Hawaii—have you found his birth certificate yet?" She laughed and kept walking.

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  • How Ann Romney learned to stop worrying and love politics

    Ann and Mitt Romney in a visit to Poland, Warsaw in July. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

    TAMPA--When the three major news networks announced last week that they would not air Ann Romney's Republican National Convention Monday night speech in Tampa, Republicans started scrambling. Romney's likeable wife of 43 years needed a primetime spot, they decided, and party leaders were reportedly ready to bump the popular Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to make that happen. Eventually, they moved New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez's appearance to another night so that Ann could steal the spotlight on Tuesday. Meanwhile, party officials denied they had ever considered dumping Rubio.

    This last minute jockeying is a testament to just how vital the campaign considers Ann to her husband's election efforts, something that wasn't always the case over the course of Romney's political career. Back in 1994, during Romney's failed U.S. Senate bid (and first run for office), the new political spouse on the block was a gaffe-prone potential liability without the polish or PR skills to handle the press.

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  • Romney folks reach deal with Texans, floor fight averted

    TAMPA—A potential floor fight over new party rules that weakened grassroots candidates has been averted after Romney surrogates offered a compromise that softens the original change.

    The entire Texas delegation, as well as delegates supporting Ron Paul, were opposed to the rules put forward last week by Romney supporters. The new rules would have allowed the GOP presidential candidate to dismiss and replace state-elected delegates at his or her whim. In the compromise version of the rule, delegates who are pledged to vote for a certain candidate at the national convention and yet do not can be dismissed. Gov. Haley Barbour's nephew, Henry Barbour, hashed out the compromise with delegates from Indiana last night to avoid a floor fight over the proposed change.

    "We are satisfied with the compromise," said Texas delegate Melinda Fredricks. "We now can freely elect our delegates." Fredricks is a member of the RNC rules committee and led opposition to the original rule. Even with the

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  • Texas delegates planning floor mutiny over RNC rule changes

    Members of the Texas delegation on Monday. (Goodwin/Yahoo)

    TAMPA--On Monday morning, at a meeting of more than 100 Texas delegates and alternates at the Saddlebrook Resort 20 miles north of Tampa, one topic got the crowd more fired up than any other. Delegate Melinda Fredricks read aloud a letter condemning recent changes to the national Republican Party's rules that would allow the GOP presidential candidate to veto and replace state delegates.

    "Our delegates are in shock that such an amendment even would be presented before the Rules Committee much less passed into rule," Fredricks said. "Please know from the Texas delegation standpoint that the only way a floor fight can be avoided is for this rule to be stricken."

    At that point, the entire Texas delegation stood up and applauded.

    Texans don't necessarily want to have an ugly floor fight on the same day the party officially nominates Mitt Romney. But they're willing to do it if their concerns about the rule aren't satisfied. The changes, which Mitt Romney's top lawyer put forward last week and Gov. Haley Barbour along with some other Romney supporters have embraced, are seen by opponents as intended to significantly weaken the power of grassroots politics and insurgent candidates such as Ron Paul. Many against the move worry that it would give national candidates the power to replace delegates--often grassroots party faithfuls--with big-time donors or friends.

    "We truly consider that an infringement on our rights," Fredricks, a member of the rules committee, told Yahoo News of the changes. Today, states generally choose their delegates at state conventions, and then those individuals travel to the national convention to cast their vote for a candidate based on the share the candidate won of the primary or caucus vote of each state. But the changes could allow a candidate such as Mitt Romney to boot out any delegates who are assigned to vote for him and replace them.

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  • Haley Barbour on RNC hurricane threat: ‘Everybody here’s got one eye on the storm’

    Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in Tampa for the RNC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)TAMPA—Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour told reporters Monday that even though the tropical storm raging in the Gulf of Mexico looks like it will hit New Orleans in the next two days, he does not anticipate it will significantly affect the already-delayed Republican National Convention in Tampa.

    "I don't think [Tropical Storm Isaac] will have any significant impact on the capacity for this to be a springboard for Romney and Ryan," Barbour said at a breakfast at Tampa's Hyatt Regency, a few blocks away from where the Republican National Convention was supposed to kick off Monday. RNC leaders decided to delay the beginning speeches until Tuesday because of the storm. "It may take some adjustment, and everybody here's got one eye on the storm," he said.

    "Right now we're praying for the best and preparing for the worst," he added.

    Barbour dismissed the idea that Romney could look callous if he continues the convention while others on the Gulf Coast are being hit by the storm. Barbour, whose reputation was built in part on handling storms in Mississippi, said that the convention is a crucial opportunity for Romney to sell himself to the nation and combat negative messages that portray him as an out-of-touch "plutocrat" who is married to a "known equestrian"—a joking reference to Democrats' ill-fated jab at Ann Romney for enjoying the sport of dressage, which helps her cope with her multiple sclerosis.

    But the Boston Globe reported Monday that Romney's top advisers say the candidate is considering calling the entire convention off, depending on the storm's strength:

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  • Rep. Todd Akin says he’s staying in the race

    Embattled Rep. Todd Akin reaffirmed his intention to stay in the Missouri Senate race Friday evening after a week of fellow Republicans calling on him to step aside and be replaced because of his damaging comments about rape.

    "I may not be the favorite candidate of some people within the Republican establishment," Akin said in a press conference in Chesterfield, a suburb of St. Louis. "But the voters made the decision, and this is an election not a selection."

    Akin's campaign has raised $150,000 in thousands of small donations since he came under fire for suggesting that women rarely become pregnant from rape and thus don't need access to abortions. "From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin said Sunday. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

    Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, every living current or former GOP senator from Missouri, and several other prominent Republicans have asked Akin to step down and let the party

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  • Shrinking middle class less optimistic about future

    Middle-class incomes for a family of three have fallen. (Pew Research Center)How has the economic meltdown changed the mindset of average Americans? Most middle class adults say it's harder to maintain their standard of living and to "get ahead" than it was 10 years ago, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

    The dip in optimism compared to before the recession began in 2008 is most pronounced among middle class people nearing retirement. Median income and net worth fell precipitously for middle class Americans over the past 10 years, which explains the gloomier attitudes about the future. (The percentage of Americans who self-identify as middle class has also shrunk, from 53 percent in 2008 to 49 percent in 2011.) Only 43 percent of middle class folks said they think their children will have a better standard of living than they did, down from 51 percent who said the same just four years ago.

    Nevertheless, 60 percent of respondents said their standard of living is better than their parents was when they were of the same age, and two-thirds of middle class people agree that "most people who want to get ahead can make it if they are willing to work hard."

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  • What did Rep. Akin mean by ‘legitimate rape’?

    Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, R-Missouri, waves to the crowd. (Orlin Wagner/AP)Rep. Todd Akin Tuesday affirmed his intention to stay in the Missouri Senate race saying he would not let "one word spoken in one day in one sentence" derail his career.

    Which one word is Akin talking about? That would be "legitimate." On Sunday, Akin said in a televised interview that victims of "legitimate rape" very rarely become pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." He used that misinterpretation of female anatomy as support for his stance that rape victims should not have access to legal abortions, because for the most part they would not become pregnant. (The comment has led to scores of his fellow Republicans asking him to drop out of the Missouri Senate race, which would allow party leaders to appoint someone else.) Though Akin said Monday that he understands that women can become pregnant from rape, he also said that his main mistake was using the word "legitimate," not implying that rape can't result in pregnancy. The word he meant to use, he told Mike Huckabee on Monday, is "forcible."

    "Forcible rape" is not defined in federal law, and is described in different ways in state codes. The term made national news in January when House Republicans, including vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) along with Akin, co-sponsored a bill that would change federal law to prevent Medicaid recipients from getting taxpayer funded abortions unless their lives were in danger or they were victims of "forcible rape." (The current law only allows Medicaid abortions in cases of incest, rape or to save the mother's life, without the "forcible" language.) Pro-abortion rights groups went on the attack, pointing out that the new law could prevent poor people who were the victims of statutory rape or who had been drugged and then raped--which wouldn't necessarily meet the definition of "forcible" if there was no use of violence--from accessing abortions. Eventually, House Republicans backed down from the term and removed "forcible" from the bill, but left in a provision that would only allow pregnant incest victims taxpayer-funded abortions if they were under the age of 18. The bill passed the House in February, but never passed the Democratically-controlled Senate.

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