Members of the Texas delegation sing the U.S. national anthem at the start of the second session of the Republican …With more than 100,000 red, white and blue balloons hanging in nets from the rafters, and Ann Romney waiting in the wings to deliver a high-stakes prime-time speech, Republicans formally opened the second day of their presidential nominating convention on Tuesday.
Ann Romney's remarks aimed to introduce—or reintroduce—Mitt Romney to millions of Americans. Top Romney aides say that as many as one in three voters has yet to really tune in the 2012 campaign. Her speech was expected to focus on the Romney family and its personal struggles, and it comes at a time when Americans tell pollsters they think President Barack Obama better understands their problems.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will deliver the convention's keynote address, which will be a blunt political call to arms. Christie plans to indict Obama's leadership style and policies, and to argue that Romney and running mate Paul Ryan are better suited to rebuild the economy. The official theme of the convention is "We Built It," a knock at Obama's argument that entrepreneurs cannot succeed without government help--notably investments in education and infrastructure. (Democrats noted that both parties' conventions received nearly $20 million in taxpayer funding).
The gathering reconvened after an abortive session on Monday, cut short by Tropical Storm Isaac, which strengthened into a hurricane on Tuesday and bore down on the Gulf Coast seven years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area—especially New Orleans.
Team Romney was closely watching the storm. Romney spoke to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal earlier in the day to express his concerns and offer his help if needed.
About 10 minutes before Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gaveled the gathering to order, Rep. Ron Paul walked by the Maine delegation, prompting nearby supporters to start chanting his name. Maine delegates were angry over new party rules that would prevent candidates like Paul from raking up delegates in states that don't bind them to vote based on the overall primary or caucus results.
"Remember the Maine!" the delegates shouted as Paul was swarmed by reporters and supporters.
Paul turned down an RNC speaking slot because of conditions the party required. Paul has not endorsed Mitt Romney.
Kenny Bob Tapp, a 25-year old delegate from Oklahoma who supports Paul, said the national party is alienating its grassroots. "They have a funny way of showing it if they do appreciate us," Tapp said. As for Romney or Ryan's speeches, "I'm not excited for any of them," he said.
Liz Goodwin contributed reporting from the floor of the convention hall.