TAMPA -- As the gavel fell on perhaps the shortest national convention session in history, Republican officials across the city talked up their chances of electing their new ticket along with the congressional hopefuls further down the ballot.
House Speaker John Boehner, who months ago suggested that his new majority could be in jeopardy in November, insisted that rather being forced to defend their House control Republicans would be on offense across the country. In a separate appearance, Karl Rove, the architect of the last winning presidential re-election campaign, serenely predicted that the that the presidential race was Mitt Romney's to lose despite his current polling deficits in key battleground states.
"We're in a strong position to keep our majority and frankly expand it," Mr. Boehner said.
Scenes from opening day at the Republican National Convention
John Boehner, Karl Rove and other Republicans made appearances at the Republican National Convention. (Video by Steve Mellon; 8/27/2012)
Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, Mr. Rove argued that 1980, when Ronald Reagan made Jimmy Carter a one-term president, offered the closed recent historical analogy to this year's contest.
"You can make a case that this could be like1980 ... [with] an incumbent challenged by circumstances and policies."
He noted that at the equivalent point in that contest, Mr. Carter was ahead of the Republican challenger who would win in a landslide.
While polls continue to find President Obama with narrow leads in most battleground states, Mr. Rove argued at a morning briefing hosted by Politico, that the fact that the president's leads collectively trail his winning margins in 2008, points to the incumbent's vulnerability.
Asked to list other battleground states at the top of the GOP opportunities, he cited Wisconsin, the home of Mr. Romney's running-mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, and Ohio. He also said that Florida was ripe for the GOP.
Though he said Pennsylvania is also on the list, neither candidate is currently spending money on television there. And the Obama campaign was quick to point to an NBC report that Americans for Prosperity, the major GOP superPAC appeared to have suspended its ad buys in the state.
Two statewide polls in recent days have found Mr. Obama with a nine-point lead in Pennsylvania, but Rob Gleason, the state Republican chairman, insisted yesterday afternoon that his state remained in play.
At least on the congressional level, Pennsylvania appears certain to have a less pivotal role in the national political drama than in recent political cycles. The state House delegation saw a dramatic swing to the Democrats in 2006 and 2008. But in 2010, five Republicans seized former Democratic seats in the Tea Party driven cycle that allowed the GOP to reclaim an overall national majority.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Mr. Romney last real, if distant rival for the GOP nomination was slated to speak Tuesday, in a more prominent evening slot, but not one that will be part of the one hour of prime time exposure that the major broadcast networks are devoting to the session.
First Published August 27, 2012 11:30 PM