RNC 2012: Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Julian Castro and the Top 5 Speakers at the RNC and DNC 2012

Nominating conventions for the Republican and Democratic Parties are star studded affairs.  

Thousands of convention attendees and millions of party members at home will watch as representatives of their parties (and values) will rally the troops, preparing for the difficult weeks of campaigning ahead.  

Late nights, cold pizza, and warm soda seem so worth it, though, if the conventions are lightning rods for party activists. The energy of the party from the top of the ticket down can be defined by the theme of the speakers at the national conventions.  

Unlike 2004 and 2008, when Republicans and Democrats held significant momentum going into their conventions, both bases are chomping at the bit in 2012. Before you tune into PolicyMic’s coverage, here are five speakers to look out for in each nominating convention. 

Republican National Convention 

Located in Tampa, Florida, Republicans are aiming to take back an important swing state —one that potentially will decide the fate of the election. Florida is home to millions of seniors who are attentive activists and vote at a much higher rate that other demographic groups. 

Florida is also a state hard hit by the economic recession, which elected a Tea Party-backed Governor — and is home to a large block of Hispanic voters that are seeing their electoral power increase. 

1. Chris Christie: 

Although he doesn’t plan to spend time talking about New Jersey’s turnaround on his watch, undoubtedly people will be eager to see a governor that has orchestrated some positive changes in his state. Christie promised to be a different governor than voters were used to, and he’s largely succeeded in that regard. And, while Democrats loath his ways with words, Republicans are excited to see a Governor who doesn’t play victim when the Democrats attack him, but who comes back with gusto and a fighting spirit the party will need to win the White House in November. 

2. Scott Walker: 

Another Republican governor in a traditionally blue state that took on the left and won. Despite massive protests organized in Madison, as a result of ending collective bargaining for certain state government workers, Walker managed to survive a recall attempt less than two years since being elected -- by defeating the same opponent he beat in 2010. Walker’s recall election also served as a bellwether for November, and many conservatives are excited at the prospect of turning more blue states red as a result. 

3. Ted Cruz: 

Texas politics is normally very predictable, but Ted Cruz turned that all on its head when he won the Republican nomination for the Senate seat currently held by Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Significantly outspent by David Dewhurst, the current Texas Lt. Governor, Cruz managed to win in impressive fashion on July 31 in the primary runoff. He represents the still burgeoning power of the Tea Party in electoral contests, and will undoubtedly excite members of that part of the Republican Party at the prospects of electing more Tea Party-backed candidates in November. 

4. Marco Rubio: 

He’s undoubtedly a Republican rock star. Rising in prominence as part of an ethnically diverse farm team for national Republican leaders that includes the likes of Governor Jindal of Louisiana and Governor Haley of South Carolina, he represents the star power that can compete with Obama’s charisma. After all, he wasn’t supposed to be a Senator given Charlie Crist’s lead at the beginning of the campaign. However, he prevailed and provides an opportunity for Republicans to improve their outreach to Hispanic voters — particularly those in Florida. 

5. Paul Ryan: 

The young Representative from Wisconsin was a well-known commodity prior to accepting Romney’s invitation to be the Republican vice-presidential candidate. He single handedly pushed the Republican Party to accept some politically risky, but fiscally necessary, propositions to fix entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Ryan also provides a perfect balance to Romney’s emotionless, business-like, approach to the campaign and can intellectually engage the electorate on the issues important in this election. Most importantly, he’s part of the up-and-coming group of leaders like Rubio, Haley, and Jindal that will represent the Republicans for the coming decades. 

Democratic National Convention 

Obama unexpectedly won North Carolina in 2008 after the Democratic primary gave him a base of operations and supporters with which to launch his efforts. One of a few Southern states to go blue, it helped to put him in the White House after an impressive campaign. Now, Charlotte and the rest of North Carolina represent an important piece for Obama to keep the White House.

1. Rahm Emanuel: 

Rahm is the definition of a cool operator…sort of. Politically, he’s savvy, having been brought up through the ranks of the Daley Machine in Chicago. Personally, his temperamental personality is well documented and known by those who have crossed him.  However, he orchestrated the successful takeover of the House of Representatives in 2006 as head of the DCCC by recruiting “Blue Dog Democrats” that were conservative on fiscal issues and liberal on social ones. He’s since been elected Mayor of Chicago, and Democrats will need to harness the same fiery temperament to keep the White House in 2012. 

2. Tammy Duckworth: 

Duckworth represents the best of slim chances to take back the House of Representatives in 2012. She hails from the home state of President Obama, and is a candidate for Congress in a newly redrawn 8th Congressional District that is friendlier to Democrats than the previous seat. She’s also a disabled Iraq war veteran, and served as a bureaucrat for veteran affairs in both the Illinois state and the federal government. For a Democratic Party that is often cited as weaker on issues regarding the military, she can speak directly to the needs of veterans one herself that had her life dramatically impacted by service to her country. 

3. Bill Clinton: 

He redefined the Democrats in the 1990s, by working with Republicans to balance the federal budget and passing important welfare reforms. Clinton left office with the highest approval rating of any president since Word War II. Embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky affair, he still survived an effort by Republicans to impeach and remove him from office. Although he held some animosity towards Obama during the 2008 presidential primary, Clinton has since been a staunch defender of the president. Obama will need this important ally to appeal to independents in November. 

4. Julian Castro: 

The current mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Castro is the son of a single mother who graduated from top tier universities. He’s made it a priority, first as a councilman in San Antonio and now as mayor, to expand green technologies and improve educational opportunities in his city. Many within the Democratic Party view the young mayor (he’s only 37) as the next Obama in the ranks, and Univision reported that his announcement as the DNC’s keynote speaker led to its highest website traffic in one day. To the growing power of Hispanic voters in America, he represents the same that his Republican counterpart Marco Rubio does — hard work, eloquent leadership, and a representation of what promise America holds. 

5. Barack Obama: 

The "messiah" of the Democratic Party will once again need to tap the passion and purpose that drove his campaign in 2008. Republicans are fired up to take him on, and he must find a way to reinvigorate young electors who may feel let down on his promise. He must also find a way to build the momentum in a convention already shaping up to be a drab affair — compared to 2008. Most importantly, he needs to set the tone for his campaign going into November. He inspired millions to elect him in 2008 as a challenger to what Bush represented, but now he has the more difficult task of asking voters for four more years to continue what he has done as president.