It may have started out a bit slow on the red meat front, but by the end of the three-day Republican National Convention in Tampa, plenty of accusations and issues had been laid at President Obama’s feet. Here is a look at some of the main attack lines GOP convention speakers used that you will likely see addressed in Charlotte when the Democrats gather.
ARE YOU BETTER OFF? On the central message of GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s speech — that election night in 2008 was the high point of the Obama presidency, campaign senior strategist David Axelrod quickly set the response. He pointed to autoworkers who benefited from the bailout, Americans helped by Obama’s health reform law, troops who have returned from Iraq. “Those were good nights,” Axelrod said.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. Romney said he would produce 12 million new jobs with a five-step plan that includes unspecified tax cuts, domestic energy independence, deficit reduction, and repeal of Obama’s health care law. Democrats will point to steady growth in jobs on the president’s watch, which, while not enough, would be boosted if Republicans would support his jobs act still languishing on Capitol Hill.
THE DEFICIT/DEBT. GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Kentucky's Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell were just three of the headliners who hammered Obama on the rate of federal spending and the size of the national debt. The fact that the Obama administration has overseen the addition of more than $5 trillion to the federal debt was a favorite applause line. Paul pointed out that the United States’ gross debt, at just under $16 trillion, is now on par with GDP, and Ryan warned that the size of the debt has reached perilous levels.
TAXES. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, and Tuesday-night keynote speaker Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey both criticized Obama in vague terms over taxes, referring to an overtaxed citizenry and overspending government without homing in on any specific policy. McConnell accused Obama of being indifferent to the raft of tax increases that would be triggered by falling off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year: “We don’t know what he plans to do about a looming tax hike that could trigger yet another serious recession,” the Senate minority leader said.
ENERGY: Romney accused Obama of an “assault on coal and gas and oil” that will “send energy and manufacturing jobs to China.” Gingrich said Obama has crippled U.S. energy production. Democrats will counter that production of oil, natural gas, and coal has increased under the president, but you probably won’t hear that the increases likely would have happened no matter who was in the White House. Romney’s promise to make North America energy independent by 2020 will draw some sneers as it’s a promise made over and over again for the last few decades and it remains highly unlikely that the United States will ever produce and use only energy created within its own borders.
“OBAMACARE.” Romney tackled Obama’s signature health reform law, vowing to reduce health care costs by repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota accused Obama of making health care more expensive for families, while Democrat-turned-Republican, Artur Davis, a former House member from Alabama, said the president was forcing middle-class Americans to buy health insurance “whether they can afford it or not.” Expect a lot of discussion on the issue.
MEDICARE, MEDICARE, MEDICARE. Ryan brought his favorite Medicare talking point, accusing Obama of “sacrificing” the Medicare guarantee to seniors by cutting the program by $716 billion — mostly by slowing the rate of payment to hospitals and cutting rates to insurance companies — to pay for his health reform law. You’ll be reminded, likely often, that Ryan included the same Medicare cuts in the budgets that he offered and House Republicans passed this year and last.
WELFARE REFORM. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich continued the GOP attack on changes to the welfare program, echoing a Romney campaign ad that accuses the Obama administration of ending the program’s work requirements. “Tragically, President Obama gutted this achievement,” Gingrich said. Democratic speakers will counter that its not true and that the move was an effort to offer states flexibility.
FOREIGN POLICY. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went after the president for having ambiguous foreign-policy positions that leave America’s friends and foes wondering where this country stands — making the world a more chaotic and dangerous place. Rice claimed, everyone from Arab Spring activists to dictators in Iran and Syria to key U.S. allies like Israel, are unsure about U.S. policy . And Romney alleged that Obama has “thrown allies like Israel under the bus” and “abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense committments but is eager to give Russia’s President [Vladamir] Putin the flexibility he desires.” It's doubtful that Democrats will let those statements go unrefuted.
NATIONAL SECURITY. Mentions of the successful raid that killed Osama bin Laden were far and few between. And Arizona's Sen. John McCain, ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, was critical of Obama for imposing a premature withdrawal plan in Afghanistan against the wishes of his military commanders; supporting overzealous and dangerous defense cuts; ignoring dissenters uprising in Syria; missing a chance to transform Iran; and even letting his White House leak classified national security information for political gain. Expect a rebuttal.