UPDATE: The US Republican Party officially nominated Mitt Romney on Tuesday to challenge President Barack Obama for the White House. The formal nomination of Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, sets up an unpredictable two-month dash to the November 6 election.
The party convention's opening was pushed back a day by travel warnings over Hurricane Isaac.
Even as Republicans tried to show a united front against Obama, it was clear the bitter party divisions have not been resolved. Supporters of libertarian congressman Ron Paul of Texas and other conservative activists briefly disrupted the opening session, booing a decision to unseat Paul delegates and change voting rules.
Report: Republicans nominate Romney, bash Obama at convention [Reuters, 28 Aug 2012]
The abortion divide
After Todd Akin’s comments regarding rape and conception earlier this week, the topics of women’s reproductive rights have further secured their place in the campaign. Public figures including President Obama and Romney have condemned this Akin’s initial comment and he has been called on to step aside as the GOP nominee for Senate. However, Akin has refused to step aside, saying that he intends to rally conservatives to a campaign focused on abortion, an issue he said was being ignored by the leadership of both major parties. By standing his ground on this issue, Akin will work to maintain focus on social issues in an election mostly argued over the economy.
The ongoing public and media backlash against Akin’s comments highlights tension within the GOP. GOP leaders met in Tampa ahead of the convention and adopted a broad anti-abortion position that did not have a specific exception for rape or incest. This position is at odds with Romney’s position, which has been described by his Republican opponents as not sufficiently conservative.
However, this divide between the Republican Party’s position on abortion and that of its presidential nominee is not new. In 2008, the party adopted a similar plank on abortion, despite Senator John McCain, its nominee, having urged the party in the past to make exceptions.
Other players prepare for the convention
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has meanwhile called on all Republicans to “come together in common purpose to defeat President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden”.
The Tea Party movement was not enthusiastic about the convention, with activists saying that they would be focusing their attention on the dozens of state-levels races where they feel they can make a difference. Tea Party activists continue to find Romney insufficiently conservative, preferring Rick Santorum and New Gingrich during the presidential primary season.
It has been revealed that Donald Trump will have a role in the Republican convention.
Report: “2012 Republican National Convention” [Washington Post, August 2012]
Report: “Akin says he’ll stay in Senate race, heightening tension within GOP” [Washington Post 22 August 2012]
Report: “Obama denounces Rep. Todd Akin’s remarks on ‘legitimate rape’” [Washington Post 21 August 2012]
Report: “At odds with Romney, GOP platform draft keeps proposal to end abortion without exceptions” [Washington Post 22 August 2021]
Report: “Ron Paul picks up 17 Republican convention delegates in Louisiana compromise”[ Washington Post 22 August 2012]
Report: “Trump to play “surprise” role at Republican convention” [Chicago Tribune 20 August 2012]
Report: “Newt Gingrich releases his delegates” [Washington Post 21 August 2012]
Report: “Republican National Convention: Tea Party Remains Unenthusiastic About Gathering” [Huffington Post 9 August 2012]
Report: “Republican party endorses abortion ban without exceptions ahead of convention” [The Guardian, 21 August 2012]