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CONVENTION WATCH: For the Gipper, rock star Ryan

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 | 10:20 p.m. CDT; updated 11:37 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 29, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. — Around the 2012 Republican National Convention and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details to you:

One for the Gipper

Nothing tugs at the hearts of the GOP faithful like invoking the name of the late Ronald Reagan. And Sen. Rand Paul didn't disappoint.

Paul recounted author Paul Kengor's story of an 11-year-old boy in a small Illinois town coming home from a basketball game at the local YMCA one night to find his father sprawled out in the snow, drunk, dead to the world.

"The boy stood over his father for a minute or two," Paul said. "He simply wanted to let himself in the door and pretend his dad wasn't there. Instead, he grabbed a fistful of overcoat and heaved his dad to the bedroom, away from the weather's harm and neighbors' attention."

And then the kicker:

"This young boy became the man — Ronald Reagan — whose sunny optimism and charisma shined so brightly that it cured the malaise of the late '70s, a confidence that beamed so broadly that it pulled us through a serious recession, and a faith that tugged so happily at all hearts that a generation of Democrats became Republicans."

— Andrew Miga

A nation of immigrants

America is a land of immigrants. And pride in that heritage has been all over the place during the last two nights of the GOP convention. Speaker after speaker told stories of family roots beyond America — and of how the struggles faced by those immigrants helped forge their own values.

For New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, it was reminiscing about his Irish father and his Sicilian mother (she was the family's real force, he noted).

For South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, it was recounting how her Indian immigrant parents instilled in their children a deep gratitude that they were growing up in America.

And for South Dakota Sen. John Thune, it was the memory of how his grandfather — one of two Norwegian brothers — came to America in 1906 knowing how to say only two things in English, "apple pie and coffee."

At Ellis Island, immigration officials decided their last name — Gjelsvik — was too difficult and asked them to change it. They picked "Thune," the name of the farm where they worked in Norway.

"Like many Americans," Thune said, "I've been blessed by the hard work and sacrifice of those who've come before."

It was a refrain that filled the hall again and again.

— Sally Buzbee

Rock star Ryan

What Republican delegates are saying about veep nominee Paul Ryan:

"I think he's a rock star for the Republicans." — Allie Burgin of Wynnewood, Okla.

"He'll definitely shake things up." — Gary Inmon of San Antonio, Texas.

"We shouldn't be afraid of big ideas." — Scott Baker of Willis, Texas, an alternate delegate who says Ryan bring big ideas on Medicare and Social Security.

"It's nice to have someone from my generation, and someone who's a Catholic, and a conservative. I can very much identify with him." — Patrick Burns of Marietta, Ga.

— Gerrad Carson

Like father, like son

Oops.

A copy of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's convention speech, emailed to reporters by organizers, incorrectly identified the speaker as Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who challenged Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination.

Ron Paul, who is Rand's father, isn't speaking at the convention, though a video tribute to him was played for delegates Wednesday evening. Ron Paul said he has no plans to endorse Romney, and some of his supporters caused a stir on the convention floor Tuesday over new rules that could impede future insurgent candidates like Paul.

Convention organizers later sent out a corrected copy of the speech, just minutes after delegates watched a video featuring another Republican father-son duo: Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

— Josh Lederman — Twitter http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

Bush memories

The two Bush presidents — George H.W. and son George W. — offered their personal recollections about their days in the White House in a video appearance at the Republican convention Wednesday night.

Neither man attended in person.

In the video, the son remembered a visit to the Oval Office by Russian President Vladimir Putin and how impressed he was. The father remembered former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Dana Carvey's imitations of him — and a funny performance in the White House.

Also remembering their White House days and past conventions were first ladies Barbara Bush and Laura Bush.

— Donna Cassata — Twitter http://twitter.com/donnacassata

Ryan a GOP darling

Paul Ryan takes the stage tonight as the Republican Party's vice presidential candidate and its darling. About a week after Mitt Romney named Ryan his running mate, an AP-GfK poll found that 63 percent of Republicans held a favorable impression of the congressman. Just 15 percent held an unfavorable one. Here's a look at which groups of Republicans hold him in particularly high esteem:

Conservative Republicans (70 percent favorable) give him rave reviews, including 47 percent who hold a "very favorable" opinion. That figure outpaces Romney's "very favorable" ratings among the group (37 percent).

Among moderate and liberal Republicans, 50 percent have a positive take on Ryan.

Tea party backers are particularly fond of Ryan. His favorability among supporters of that political movement stands at 79 percent.

Older Republicans (72 percent favorable among those age 45 and up) are more positive than Republicans of Ryan's own generation (53 percent among those under age 45).

— Jennifer Agiesta — Twitter http://twitter.com/jennagiesta

Rand Paul: No fear

Sen. Rand Paul brought many delegates to their feet with a rousing call for both political parties to put aside fear and stand up for Americans' rights.

"Republicans and Democrats must replace fear with confidence — confidence that no terrorist, and no country, will ever conquer us if we remain steadfast to the principles of our founding documents," said Paul, whose father is Rep. Ron Paul, the former presidential candidate with a pool of fervent followers.

"We have nothing to fear except our own unwillingness to defend what is naturally ours, our God-given rights," Rand Paul declared. "We have nothing to fear that should cause us to forget or relinquish our rights as free men and women."

His father, who carried 190 delegates at the GOP convention, didn't speak but was the subject of a tribute video.

— Connie Cass —Twitter http://twitter.com/ConnieCass

McCain still in the fight

The GOP's 2008 presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, returned to the convention stage to excoriate Barack Obama for failing to back Iranians and Syrians who've given their lives in the fight against oppression.

McCain said the president missed a historic opportunity by failing to throw America's "full moral support" behind Iranian revolutionaries trying to oust "a brutal dictatorship that terrorizes the Middle East and threatens the world."

And he said Obama "is not being true to our values" when he abandons Syrians to "a savage and unfair fight."

"The demand for our leadership in the world has never been greater," McCain said. "People don't want less of America. They want more."

— Connie Cass —Twitter http://twitter.com/ConnieCass

Punish rich, hurt poor

Sen. Rand Paul is criticizing President Barack Obama for proposing higher taxes on the wealthy, saying that punishing the rich hurts the middle class and the poor.

"Mr. President, you say the rich must pay their fair share. When you seek to punish the rich, the jobs that are lost are those of the poor and middle class," Paul said in his speech to the Republican national convention Wednesday. "When you seek to punish Mr. Exxon Mobil, you punish the secretary who owns Exxon Mobil stock. When you block the Keystone Pipeline, you punish the welder who works on the pipeline."

— Stephen Ohlemacher — Twitter http://twitter.com/stephenatap

Stay away, brother

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said his brother, the former president, is smart to stay away from the Republican convention because he will just become more of a target for President Barack Obama.

"The president has spent a lot of time and energy around this notion that 'I can't do anything about it. It's all Bush's fault. You know I'm trying, but it's not working because it's Bush's fault,'" Bush told ABC News. "Now we're in year four of a presidency, think back into American history, think of a president that is blaming his predecessor in the fourth year. So why encourage the bad behavior and I think my brother is smart to stay away."

— Stephen Ohlemacher — Twitter http://twitter.com/stephenatap

Rubio to GOP: Fix immigration

The GOP can't be "simply the anti-illegal immigration party," said Marco Rubio, a Latino Republican with a prominent role at the national convention.

The Florida senator says Republicans should embrace and improve the legal immigration system and also come up with a balanced approach to the problem of illegal immigrants living in the U.S.

"We're not going to give amnesty to 12 million people. We are not going to round up and deport 12 million people. Somewhere between those two ideas is a solution," Rubio told reporters Wednesday. "But we're never going to get there as long as this is a heavy politicized issue that both parties use to attack each other on to raise money and win elections."

Rubio, considered an up-and-comer in the party, was chosen to formally introduce Mitt Romney before he accepts the presidential nomination Thursday night.

— Gary Fineout

How do you turn those things on?

Amid the laptops, iPads and computer screens in the Google space at the Tampa Convention Center lies a small newspaper rack, broken and forgotten.

While journalists mingle and drink coffee, the newspapers sit untouched in favor of the Google+ hangouts, cellphone charging stations and wireless Internet available.

Google and YouTube are partnering with many media outlets working from the convention center this week in their video studio, including PBS and The Washington Post. But the print versions of newspapers are largely ignored, at least by those spending time in the room.

— Julie Mazziotta — Twitter http://twitter.com/julietmazz

Ryan's calling

GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan plans to tell the Republican convention he accepts "the calling of my generation to give our children the America that was given to us, with opportunity for the young and security for the old."

Ryan gives his big convention speech Wednesday night. In excerpts released by the campaign, Ryan says he and Mitt Romney have a goal of generating 12 million new jobs over the next four years.

"We will not duck the tough issues — we will lead. We will not spend four years blaming others — we will take responsibility. We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles," Ryan says.

— Stephen Ohlemacher — Twitter http://twitter.com/stephenatap

Kasich's feeling not mutual

Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am called it dope on Twitter when the rover Curiosity beamed his new song "Reach for the Stars" from Mars to Earth. Not so much when Ohio Gov. John Kasich walked on stage at the Republican National Convention hours later Tuesday night to a snippet of the musician's song, "I Gotta Feeling."

Add to that Kasich's opening remarks: "You know, you know, I don't know about you, I don't about you but I've got a feeling, you know I gotta feeling ... that we're about to elect a new president of the United States of America."

To which will.i.am tweeted: "Hey Gov Kasich #Igottafeeling that Ohio needed the auto bail out...#unitedamericanotdivided let's educate our youth #reachforthestars."

— Leanne Italie — Twitter http://twitter.com/litalie

Police not so busy

Many workers and residents seem comforted by the platoons of police roaming downtown during the convention, but at least one man isn't.

Donny Rhode stood on the edge of a park Wednesday in the spitting rain, holding a cardboard sign criticizing Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. It said, "Generalissimo Buckhorn Declares Victory" and "Free Speech Dead."

Rhode was angry about the thousands of police deployed to Tampa for the convention. He wondered how much that cost taxpayers. And he said it resulted in fewer protests.

Clearly, the number of demonstrators in the city is far less than police anticipated, and they have been more peaceful than expected. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, only two protesters had been arrested.

Some anti-GOP protesters praised police officers, though they said their presence was perhaps more than needed.

"I haven't experienced one rude cop. They have been great," said Nick Sabatella, who came to Tampa from New York with Occupy Wall Street. "I walk by the cops and I say 'hi' and they say 'hi' back."

— Tamara Lush — Twitter http://twitter.com/TamaraLush

Beer and brats

If it's beer and brats, it must be the Wisconsin party.

Paul Ryan and his wife, Janna, dropped in on his home state delegation's brewski and bratwurst feast Wednesday, but Ryan didn't have much to say.

"I've got to give this speech later on today so I'm going to keep it brief and save my voice," he joked.

Ryan's big moment — a speech that will introduce him to millions of Americans as the party's vice presidential nominee — came Wednesday night.

— Philip Elliott — Twitter http://twitter.com/philip_elliott

Romney preview

Mitt Romney is previewing the sorts of choice words for President Barack Obama that are likely to show up in his acceptance speech Thursday night.

Speaking to the American Legion in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Romney said leadership to protect the world's peace and freedom must come from the U.S.

"For the past four years, President Obama has allowed our leadership to diminish," he said. "In dealings with other nations, he has given trust where it's not earned, insult where it's not deserved and apology where it's not due."

— Sam Hananel — Twitter: http://twitter.com/SamHananelAP

Obama not watching

White House press secretary Jay Carney says President Barack Obama hasn't watched any Republican convention speeches because "he has other things to do." Obama's campaign staff, however, has apparently been watching closely.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One on Wednesday that a theme invoked by many convention speakers was "built on a house of lies." She specifically cited what she said were distortions of Obama's "you didn't build that" comment and his positions on Medicare and welfare.

Psaki praised Ann Romney's speech, saying she did "a great job" in telling the public about her relationship with her husband.

"She gave a very powerful speech about her husband and their family and the strength of their bond," Psaki said.

— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

Why spoil it?

Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan visited the convention stage to get used to the teleprompters, the lights and the sound while his three children played around at the podium.

The 42-year-old congressman from Wisconsin gave the biggest speech of his career so far on Wednesday night.

He asked aides where delegates from Wisconsin and Michigan would be sitting, as well as the location of running mate Mitt Romney's box.

"I'm going to point to them in my speech," Ryan said.

That's about all he gave away, even when reporters pestered him for a preview of his remarks.

"You'll find out tonight," he said. "Why would I spoil it now?"

— Julie Mazziotta

Isaac looms

Even though Isaac has moved beyond Florida, the hurricane's still having an impact on the Republicans meeting in Tampa.

Presidential nominee Mitt Romney is considering a visit to hard-hit Gulf Coast areas after the storm passes.

Convention activities on Monday were canceled because of the approaching storm, but GOP officials say they have no plans to make further changes to the schedule.

Still, as rain and flooding in New Orleans and surrounding areas intensifies, there is increasing media coverage of the storm, threatening to overshadow the convention events surrounding Romney's nomination. His acceptance speech is set for Thursday night.

Many speakers Tuesday night mentioned the hurricane at the beginning of their remarks, and the top of the official convention page features a promotion for Red Cross relief efforts.

— Kasie Hunt — Twitter https://twitter.com/kasie

Romney's evening

After returning from Indiana on Wednesday evening, the newly nominated Mitt Romney is expected to be "down" at his hotel watching the convention proceedings on TV with his wife, Ann. That's according to spokesman Rick Gorka, who says he doesn't know whether Romney might visit the convention floor later in the evening.

Will Romney make another surprise appearance at the convention on Wednesday night next to his running mate, Paul Ryan?

— Steve Peoples — Twitter http://twitter.com/sppeoples


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