Rand Paul and Marco Rubio for President 2016: Stars Position Themselves for Future

The 2012 Republican National Convention will primarily serve as the coronation of Mitt Romney as the party’s nominee for president. 

Many prominent Republicans will make speeches explaining exactly how Mitt Romney and only Mitt Romney (ok, Paul Ryan too) will save America from the inevitable doom which comes free with Barack Obama. A few of them will be hoping to have their 2004 Boston moment where they burst onto the national stage as a fresh face ready to roll up his sleeves and change the way politics are done in four years. Should Romney not win, of course. Which would be tragic according to everyone in attendance. 

What differentiates this convention from most pep rallies is the current fight for the soul of the Republican Party. Ron Paul and his supporters have amassed a fair share of the delegates, and they aren’t going down without letting their voices be heard despite attempts from the Romney campaign to ensure otherwise. After eight years of big government “conservatism” perpetuated by George Bush and the Republican House and Senate, the Tea Party finally stood up to both parties in 2010 and demanded that government live within its means. The battle has even found its way into the ticket, with Paul Ryan rhetorically endorsing fiscal restraint.

My question for the week: how much will Republicans embrace liberty and individual government versus demagoguing Mitt Romney? Stay tuned to the convention and check in here to find out.

PolicyMic will be covering the RNC LIVE. Bookmark and update this page for the most recent analysis.

LIVE UPDATES: 

Thursday

11:21 I'm checking out. Thanks to everyone who tuned in with me!

11:15 I have to mention that should Romney not win this year, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio have positioned themselves very well for 2016 runs. They and Paul Ryan make up the first tier as of now.

11:13 Definitely one of the most relatable and inspirational speeches by Romney. It's going to be very interesting to see how the Democrats will attempt to counterprogram next week. They can't really use the themes Romney did: successful background and charitable individual.

11:07 Romney contrasts Obama's promises to be a transcendent world leader who will save the planet with his promise to help your family be better off. In doing this he steals the Democratic talking point of standing for the middle class, and positions Obama as the President of SWPL hipsters.

11:02 Romney says that defense cuts will cost us jobs. Nope. Government spending does not create jobs, even if its government spending you agree with. You can argue that cutting military spending will make us less safe (I disagree), but you cannot say that cutting military spending will cost us jobs on net.

11:01 Mitt Romney is probably showing more emotion tonight than he has throughout the entire campaign.

10:55 Barack Obama believes that jobs are because of government, which Romney puts in contrast to his record with job crators in the private sector.

10:48 Twitter is telling me that the "USA" chants during Romney speeches are attempts to silence hecklers.

10:47 When will Mitt Romney release what sports teams he follows?

10:45 The "USA" chant for Mike Eruzione was more emphatic and unified than the one for Romney.

10:41 Romney is down half a percentage point on InTrade since Eastwood took the stage. Now 43.5% vs 44%.

10:40 Romney is talking about the excitiment of the 2008 election. Romney needs a lot of people who voted for Obama to vote for him. Demonizing those voters does nothing. Telling them that we all made a mistake opens the door for victory.

10:37 2 minutes after Mitt officially accepts the nomination, his donation page is still accepting primary donations.

10:35 In 2008, Barack Obama came out to U2's "City of Blinding Lights". Tonight Romney came out to "Born Free"

10:35 And now for the main event.

10:28 We have more rich people here because we are exceptional, not the other way around.

10:23 American exceptionalism is not the idea that we are better than other countries in quantifiable metrics (although we are).

10:22 What Rubio just said about America being founded on the idea of natural rights is the definition of American exceptionalism.

10:19 At CPAC back in February, Rubio leaned into the podium as he delivered his speech, indicating his passion for the ideas he was talking about. You can critique Rubio the legislator, but you cannot critique Rubio the orator.

10:11 This speech has to be going great with people who don't care or pay attention to politics.

10:08 Did Clint Eastwood just ask Obama why he hasn't just brought the troops home? Is Clint Eastwood a libertarian?

10:05 Clint is right, we should be ashamed of the 23 million unemployed in this country.

10:04 Clint Eastwood makes a good point. The culture in Hollywood is similar to the culture on college campuses: conservatives are afraid to speak up for fear of ostracization.

10:01 And they are now pandering to the hockey fan vote by quoting Herb Brooks in a Mitt Romney tribute video.

9:59 And we have our first occurance of Mitt Romney is "wicked smart"

9:57 If the goal of tonight was to humanize Mitt, then its working.

9:39 I'm not sure that the Olympics means what it did during the Cold War.

9:34 And Mike Eruzione's introduction sparks the "USA" chant.

9:26 How many conservative Republicans will speak at the DNC and say that Obama brought out the best in them?

9:14 I wonder if Kerry Healey knows that the original Best and the Brightest were the architects of the Vietnam War. That's not something I'd be putting my candidates fingerprints on.

9:11 Shorter tonight: Mitt has successfully turned around and run a variety of organizations. Barack Obama has never run anything more complicated than a voter registration drive.

9:10 Mitt Romney clearly is embracing, rather than running from, his past. Tonight has been an unabashed celebration of Mitt Romney's life so far.

9:06 Team Obama has been continuously attacking Romney for his past. I doubt they could bring out people from Obama's past who would be able to potray him as positive as Mitt's friends just did.

9:05 Is there something Democrats don't understand?

9:03 Tom Stemberg pointing out the private equity firms are not just concerned about making short-term profits and cashing out on failing firms.

8:59 Conservatives are often derided as "not caring about the less-fortunate" because they oppose the welfare state. Mitt Romney shows that its possible to give back without the government.

8:50 I feel the need to say something after all of that, but I really don't think I can add to it. Just that tonight we're finding out about a side of Mitt Romney that Team Obama doesn't want you to know exists.

8:32 Mitt Romney's church friend is from Belmont, MA. I hope not too many swing voters read Charles Murray's Coming Apart.

8:20 While I'm pro-school choice, it bothers me to see education brought up to this extent at what is essentially a pep-rally for a Federal Government candidate. Education is an issue which is best left to states and localities, as exemplified by the Governors who have implemented successful school choice programs.

8:16 Conservatives tend to lose to liberals when they have to put faces on their wonky policies.

8:15 Bush makes the essential point that it is teachers unions and teachers unions alone that are opposed to school choice. Teachers unions are pretty powerful, btw.

8:09 Bush says (re: education) that we must

1-Raise standards

2-Give parents choices

If you give parents choices, the standards will be raised by them. At least that's what anyone who thinks parents care about their children believes. Do you think that parents are sending their kids to failing schools because they want?

8:08 Do the Republicans really want a Bush to be talking about K-12 education?

7:59 Interesting that the RNC is playing a video about hispanics within the Republican Party. The left tends to be the side of identity politics, while the right tends to be about ideas.

7:55 I'm only 22 and I'm already tired of being told that a certain election is the most important one of our lifetime.

7:52 It bothers me that "Energy Independence" has become such a catch phrase in popular politics. I think the underlying idea is that we would be safer if we didn't need to buy oil from the Middle East. Free trade between nations promotes peace, and restricting trade promotes war.

7:44 Of course it wouldn't be a Republican Convention speech without a reference to Ronald Reagan.

7:40 Mack is looking to join Marco Rubio as a Florida Senator who was endorsed by Tea Party group FreedomWorks. If only he would talk about substantive issues, like his oppotion to the bailout despite it being pushed by fellow Republican George W. Bush. The fact that W. was only asked to deliver remarks via video indicates how much the Republican Party is looking to separate itself from the second Bush administration. Mack pointing out his opposition to the bailouts could solidify this, but unfortunately for the GOP too many people at this convention marched in lockstep with W. when they had to use anti-capitalistic measures to save capitalism. 

7:38 John Boehner kicks off the speaking portion of the convention by declaring that Romney/Ryan is officially the ticket, followed by delegates awkwardly clapping along to the Black Eyed Peas.

6:57 We'll be up and running once Chairman Priebus takes the stage.

Wednesday

11:02 Ryan about taking responsibility. That's a message that is applicable not just to politicians, but to individuals. One of the benefits of freedom is that you are responsible for your own outcomes.

10:56 BREAKING: Paul Ryan thinks Mitt Romney's taste in music is dated.

10:51 Ryan says that 20% of GDP is enough for government to spend. I wonder if he supports Mike Lee's Strong Balanced Budget Amendment.

10:48 Talking about accomplishing something through hard work is the source of pride is the sort of moral case for free enterprise that needs to be made by those favoring smaller government.

10:43 This is an excellent speech by Ryan. The contrast that needs to be made is not between Obama and Romney, but between Candidate Obama's promises and President Obama's results.

10:37 If the debate on government control of health care is over, its because Obama's side has lost.

10:34 Is the fact that many college graduates can't find the jobs they studied for a failure of the economy or a failure of our higher education system?

10:31 Paul Ryan looks more "just happy to be here" than any major political figure I've ever seen.

10:29 Ryan has avoided talking about his substantive policy positions and proposals, which is odd considering how wonky he is.

10:20 Martinez's story about party switches is illuminating. How many people who don't pay close attention to politics can attribute their party affiliation to their family or friends rather than where they stand on the issues?

10:15 Great speech by Rice, even if she went off script.

10:09 Interesting turn by Condi to directly touch on failing K-12 educational system. You can tell she's really passionate about that issue.

10:07 I feel like Condi just wants to talk about foreign policy, but feels the need to fit in a few mentions about economic liberty.

9:58 So Rice has discussed her time in the Bush White House and foreign policy. Those are two topics swing voters are dying to hear about.

9:56 Big mistake by Condi to immediately bring people back to George W. Bush's presidency.

9:43 Obama's "One-Term Proposition" comment showed misguided faith in his now failed policies.

9:41 Mike Huckabee is right: Obama has done more to unite Republicans than any GOP candidate ever could. He made Romney sympathetic to libertarians!

9:36 Pawlenty says that the Republicans have "the best candidate". This is in spite of the fact that of the millions of Americans eligible to run for president, the GOP selected the only one not named Barack Obama who signed an individual health care mandate into law.

9:33 Pawlenty says that many people fail at their first job, implying that Obama has never had a real job. He forgets that Obama has spent his whole life as a far-left politician.

9:32 Pawlenty is vindicating Romney's decision to name Ryan the VP nominee. I think Pawlenty bit off more than he could chew with a Presidential campaign-he might have had more success challenging Klobuchar for her Senate seat.

9:18 Puerto Rico is an example of a government which made real spending cuts that resulted in private sector economic growth.

9:13 In light of the Apple v. Samsung verdict, tonight might not be the best time to touch on patent enforcement.

9:06 Portman attacks Obama for being hostile to foreign trade. Amazing to see a prominent politician from a rust-belt state supporting free trade.

9:02 Portman points out that unemployment is in the double digits for the young, hispanic, and african-americans. These are three of Obama's strongest demographics.

9:00 Rob Portman says that Mitt Romney should be lauded for making money. This is 100% true. There are plenty of things that aren't perfect about Mitt Romney the politician, but I can find few thing to critique in businessman Romney's record.

8:46 I'm glad that some people can get excited about oil shale.

8:44 I think every time you declare one state the "great state", you should have to denounce another state. Example: Tonight I'm coming to you from the great state of Texas. This is in contrast to last night, when I was in the bankrupt state of Illinois.

8:29 While Obamacare was being campaigned for, we were promised that it was a tax. In court, it was defended as a tax. That's similar to how Social Security was argued for in Flemming v. Nestor.

8:28 Between McCain, McConnell, Portmand, and Pawlenty, tonight is shaping up to be electrifying!

8:13 I don't think you can find two more polar opposites in the GOP than Rand Paul and John McCain.

8:11 I don't understand why McCain wants to export Democracy when America is a Republic.

8:02 McCain leads with foreign policy, and then mentions all life having dignity-presumably about abortion. I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that "The Maverick" decided to go off the convention script.

8:00 John McCain comes out to "Danger Zone". Was Sarah Palin Goose?

7:56 Rand Paul's speech was so powerful that he was able to get noted Neoconservative John Podhoretz to side with a libertarian.

7:45 After giving a heartfelt endorsement of Romney, Rand talks directly to the American people and tells them that it is they who have made America great. Too often, conervatives take credit for creating jobs rather than taking credit for getting out of the way and giving credit to entrepreneurs.

7:40 Surprisingly, Rand's quip that military spending has to be reduced or made more efficient is met with cheers.

7:38 Rand discussing how attacks on the wealthy turn the middle and lower class into casualties.

7:34 Rand talks about his grandfather's search for the American dream. Funny how nobody starts these stories with "my grandfather came to America to find welfare checks and government loans".

7:32 Rand says that roads don't create businesses, but the other way around. He's right: roads are built by private contractors paid with taxpayer money.

7:31 Rand segues from enumerated powers into Obama having to go.

7:29 Rand Paul reiterates that the Supreme Court does not have the last word on constitutionality.

7:20 I find it ironic that McConnell jokes about Obama playing too much golf and then complains that Obama focuses on meaningless things like what's on his ipod and what foods he eats.

7:17 Mitch McConnell says that Mitt Romney has spent his entire life working hard to fix problems, building on Ann Romney's guarantee that Mitt would not fail as President.

7:12 Interesting that an RNC produced video about Paul finds the few members of congress who side with him or have nice things to say about him. Paul's enduring legacy will be the millions of young activists he inspired, not the few friends he had in Washington.

7:11 Jim Demint says that Ron Paul was the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party. The Tea Party was intially a very libertarian movement that has found itself moving towards social conservatism and the Republican mainstream.

7:09 I wonder if they point out that Paul had the support of the pluarilty of young voters in primary.

7:04 If you weren't aware, excerpts from Paul Ryan's speech tonight have been released. There is surprisingly little substance for a man with a reputation as a policy wonk.

6:58 The festivities will be kicking off shortly, and I will be providing commentary throughout the evening.

Tuesday

 And with 3 Doors Down playing, we have wrapped up the first night of the convention. The battle for the soul of the party wasn't readily apparent. The person who spoke tonight that best embodied the anti-establishment wing of the Republican Party was Ted Cruz, and knowing his remarks would be vetted didn't touch on how it is career politicians from "both parties" that have spent us into oblivion. Furthermore, the Republican Party hates government when they are out of power, so the vague platitudes towards individual liberty they gave tonight didn't stray too far from Cruz's typical message. It will be interesting to see what Rand Paul, who was handed the torch of the liberty movement by his father on Sunday, will have to say tomorrow night.

10:57 Christie says that he believes in a second American century, and then talks about strong economic growth. Global supremecy will come economically, not militarily. Military supremacy will follow economic supremecy, but the reverse is not necessarily true.

10:54 Christie tells the audience that he has faith in us, and says that real leaders change polls instead of following them. I wonder if that's a shot at his "evolution" on gay marriage?

10:47 Christie trusts the American people to be told the truth about America's fiscal issues, and that we aren't all selfish voters who vote for a bigger share of the pie for ourselves. If a guy from New Jersey can believe that we aren't all selfish, anybody can.

10:45 Christie points out that his ideas were so radical that they received bipartisan support.

10:43 Christie strongly implies that Corzine was responsible for jobs and wealth disappearing from New Jersey. I wonder if Corzine knows where they went?

10:40 Christie says that we are paralyzed by a desire to be loved, blames our leaders for unwillingness to say no. This could singlehandedly explain the national debt. In doing so, he echoes the message Ted Cruz shunned tonight about moderate, timid politicians who care more about their career than their principles.

10:39 Christie applies his mother's dating advice to politics, saying it is better to be respected than loved.

10:33 Chris Christie said he loved New Jersey, but when the New Jersey Devils faced the New York Rangers in the playoffs this year, guess which team he rooted for?

10:31 Shorter Ann Romney: There's a case to be made for Mitt that you don't need an accountant or economics professor to understand.

10:22 Ann says that she had no idea what she was doing at the age of 22. Finally, something I can relate to!

10:18 Ann complains about the prices of school sports and college going up. Doesn't she realize that those have been and still are government subsidized? Its appropriate that she's talking about heart, because while I think Mitt's heart is in the right place, I'm not sure his head is.

10:14 Ann talks about couple that wants to have another child, but can't afford it. What about my generation, which is putting off marriage and the first child because of the horrible economy.

10:13 Ann is going to attempt to make Mitt seem human, but talks about struggling families. I don't think Mitt has ever struggled.

10:12 Ann Romney goes off message, eschewing economy to talk about people in danger from Hurricane Isaac.

10:08 The Democrats have Eva Longoria lined up to appeal to hispanics. Republicans have Luce Fortuno talking about substantive decisions her husband made.

10:03 Haley speech makes you think: how much better could Romney be simply by not suing states for being Right to Work?

10:01 Haley describes numerous instances of the Federal Government interfering with her state's business, yet doesn't mention the 10th amendment.

9:59 Nikki Haley pauses after complaining about the Obama administration, indicating that it is an applause line.

9:45 Cruz pulled the "Can we defeat Obamacare?-Yes we can!" gambit at a rally in Dallas the weekend before the runoff.

9:42 Cruz talks a very strong game on free markets and individual liberty, but his runoff victory was a result of his campaign establishing him as being in opposition to the very Republican establishment that has allowed him to speak at their pep rally.

9:35 I wonder how much Cruz will mention career politicians of "both parties" tonight.

9:34 Either Texas has a disproportionate number of delegates or people are excited to hear Ted Cruz speak.

9:29 Santorum is reminding us that the majority of a politician's job is to shake hands.

9:27 Santorum points out that he helped write the welfare reforms, fails to point out his assistance with No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D.

9:25 Santorum says that marriage is disappearing in areas where government dependence is increasing. I find Santorum's disdain of libertarianism counterproductive in this regard. About a month ago, Charles Murray told a crowd at the Illinois Policy Institute that out of wedlock births would be incredibly rare in a libertarian society, because it is an economic death sentence without government aid.

9:23 Intersting to hear Santorum talking about freedom and individual liberty when he is in fact a culture-war conservative who abhors the libertarian influence within the Republican Party. He can't stand the possibility that when given liberty, some people might choose lifestyles he find immoral.

9:19 The cheers for Rick Santorum indicate that this is still a socially conservative party.

9:15 Intersting that small business owner Phil Archuletta is wearing a Gadsden Flag lapel pin, indicating that he probably identifies more with the Tea Party Movement than the Republican Party as a whole. I wonder what he thinks of the shenanigans the Romney campaign pulled today? EDIT: A Friend told me that it was the New Mexico flag, not the Gadsden Flag. I'm not watching HD.

9:11 Brian Sandoval is saying with pride that he helped welcome new Americans by administering the oath of citizenship to immigrants, and that America is a nation of immigrants. Probably not the most popular thing to say at the Republican Convention, but its refreshing to see a politician take a break from the constant cheerleading for Romney to stand for something.

9:10 The humble beginnings of many of the speakers stands in stark contrast to Romney's upbringing. I wonder if Ted Cruz will talk more about his father's flight from Cuba than economic liberty.

9:03 Walker points out that 94% of Wisconsin employers think that the state is heading in the right direction, and then reiterates that people, not government, create jobs.

9:00 Scott Walker comes out to the biggest ovation of the evening. He's not even going to wait for the crowd to stop applauding before launching into his speech.

8:53 Unsurprisingly, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association is spending time pointing out what a good job Republican Governors are doing throughout the country.

8:51 McDonnell has some substantive policy efforts he can point to, such as attempting to privatize the state's liquor stores and supporting offshore drilling.

8:45 The always energetic Bob McDonnell gets behind the podium, turning Obama's 2008 Hope and Change rhetoric against him.

8:35 Kudos to Kasich for saying that the government needs to set us free rather than saying that they need to attempt to create jobs. Too often, conservative politicians take credit for the job creation that the market does.

8:31 Kasich says that Ohio is the top midwest state for job creation. Illinois better get its act together, I really don't want to have to move to Ohio.

8:29 John Kasich is mentioning specific policy achievements of his, such as the elimination of the "Death Tax." Most of tonight has been anecdotes about small business creation, so its refreshing to hear a little bit of substantive discussion.

8:26 Unlike Barack Obama, the Ohio delegates can spell their state's name.

8:22 Small businessman Jack Gilchrist thanks Kelly Ayotte for being a "Champion of small businesses". It is not the role of government to be the champions of any sector of the economy, but of individual liberty and equality before the law. 

8:15 Ayotte's mention of her husband's service following 9/11 is the first statement that could be construed as a mention of foreign policy. This will likely be a theme throughout the week.

8:03 Valenzuela mentions regulatory uncertainty as the major reason why small businesses aren't hiring or growing their businesses.

8:01 Delaware Liutenant Governor candidate Sher Valenzuela made a comment about how her family's business is "taking jobs away from China" and bringing them to Delaware. This shows economic ignorance on her part. We are not competing with foreign countries for a fixed number of jobs. When workers become more productive, either because of technilogical advances or increased specialization due to free trade, their real wages increase.

7:45 Mia Love's talking about her immigrant parents building a life for her and giving her opportunities underscores the fact that the "We Built That" theme extends not only to businesses but to families.

7:43 Mia Love becomes the second of three speakers to come out to "We Will Rock You". I'm not sure that's the right song for a party that supposedly believes in a smaller Federal Government. I guess the neocons got control of the jukebox again.

7:37 The cheers at the end of God Bless the USA were more enthusiastic than the cheers when Romney officcially received the nomination.

7:36 I think Andrew Kaczynski hits the nail on the head regarding the musical interlude.

7:33 Musical interlude means time to run to the kitchen.

7:32 Priebus is hitting all the bases referencing Scott Walker and Ronald Reagan.

7:27 Smart move by Priebus referencing the Ryan children. Ryan's budget plan has to be sold as a way to save my generation from financial ruin at the hands of entitlements for the baby boomers.

7:23 Reince Priebus says that Mitt Romney "doesn't want accolades" and that he fixes problems without asking for credit. There are many positive things you can say about Romney, but I don't think that humble people run for President.

7:19 John Boehner opens the convention before a sparse and unenthusiastic crowd. The focus of tonight is supposed to be "We Built That", and Boehner is focusing on his and Romney's experience growing small businesses.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Charlie Vidal

Charlie graduated in 2012 with a degree in Public Policy Studies from the University of Chicago. He was the Midwest Regional Director for Young Americans for Liberty and has worked on Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign and Nick Schwaderer's successful 2012 campaign for Montana State House. Having grown up in New York, Charlie is a fan of the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees as well as the Oregon Ducks and Tottenham Hotspur.

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