Never underestimate your opponent. The guy everyone in the media was sure was “stiff, boring, and unlikeable” just pulled off the upset of the year…of the decade…maybe of the century. Mitt Romney used his experience at staging the Olympics to upstage and out-shine Barack Obama Thursday night in Tampa. To put it bluntly, he pulled off the impossible: Mitt out Obama-ed Obama!
How did Mitt do it? With stories. Mitt learned the most important lesson running the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah. The lesson is that Olympics aren’t about sports. They are about hundreds of compelling stories -- each of them bringing tears to your eyes. Each of them is really about God, faith, family and country.
The same lesson applies to politics. It isn’t about policies. It’s about riveting and compelling stories that connect with the American people. And Mitt learned well enough to earn a gold medal on Thursday night.
Mitt "out Obama-ed Obama" with a diversity no GOP convention has ever seen. A diversity that, to be honest let me flabbergasted.
As a political pundit and observer of politics for decades, I’ve never seen such an array of star power, let alone this kind of diversity of star power at a GOP event.
We watched a never ending array of storytellers. Fomer Secretary of State Condi Rice, Governor Susanna Martinez, Senator Marco Rubio, Mayor Mia Love, Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Kelly Ayotte, Olympic heroes, Mitt’s friends, neighbors and churchgoers…and then the real Exhibit A definition of star power, Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair (and an empty suit named Obama). And one story was better than the next.
Mitt "out Obama-ed Obama" by showcasing testimonials to his life as a clergyman -- who knew? We heard testimony to his love and respect for fellow church members -- who knew? We heard testimony to his willingness to help heal the sick, honor the dying, and give eulogies for the dead -- who knew?
In one masterful convention and one miraculous night, Mitt transformed from “evil, greedy Wall Street titan”…to America’s favorite husband, father, and…minister? That’s one heck of a transformation.
The man Obama has painted as evil and greedy turns out to be not just a CEO, business dynamo, and hero that saved the Olympics, but a man of God.
We learned that a $250,000,000 business superstar donated his valuable time to visit sick people in the hospital…to babysit children whose parents were in the hospital…halted his entire business and re-located it to New York to locate a missing daughter of a partner…and honored his wife by telling her that her job as a mother was more difficult and more important than his job as the breadwinner. My head was spinning, my eyes were tearing. -- And I’m a cynical political pundit who thought he’d heard it all.
The turnaround specialist turned-around his image 180 degrees on Thursday night. There were few dry eyes in the house. You may not agree with all of Mitt's political views, but you've got to now respect the man.
Mitt took a GOP convention and turned it into the 2012 Olympics. He didn’t bore people with scary, stodgy politicians denigrating Obama, or citing facts and figures that make people’s eyes glaze over. He wowed America with stories of God, faith, family, child births, business beginnings, 100,000 balloons, 500 pounds of confetti, one superstar Hollywood legend, and the singing of “America the Beautiful.”
Mitt didn’t even need fake Roman columns to pull it off. He just used stories. Great American stories from a rainbow of political stars. GOP politician after politician walked to that podium with stories of their grandfathers and grandmothers, parents, kids, business comebacks, their faith in God, and their love of America. This was a religious revival crossed with the Olympics. And it worked.
Who was watching? Everyone. I mean the whole country. I live in Las Vegas. Not exactly a politically obsessed town. I put the GOP Convention on TiVo and went to an early dinner with my kids to our favorite Chinese restaurant. It’s a huge place seating about 150 diners. I walked in the door and my mouth dropped open. We were the only ones in the place at 6:30pm. It was a ghost town. On a busy Thursday night. In Las Vegas. It was like Christmas Eve, or Easter eve, or a Super Bowl. We were the only table occupied in a restaurant of 150, for an hour. Sure, it's anecdotal but I swear this is a sign that all of America was glued to their TV sets to hear if Romney is the guy to save this beloved country and this frightening, failing US economy.
The reaction from Middle America? Hundreds of my friends and fans --most are small business owners or entrepreneurs -- texted or emailed me during Romney’s speech. They all said the same thing: “Homerun.” Well, a few said: “Grand Slam homerun.” And more than a few said “Wayne you predicted a Romney landslide defeat over 3 months ago -- your prediction just came true tonight in front of our eyes.”
But most importantly was the reaction of my Midwest friends. This election will be decided in the Heartland of America. My Midwest friends -- to a man --admitted to having tears in their eyes. They were blown away. The greedy, rich, Wall Street titan image is gone. Erased in one magical night. In the Midwest they now feel that Romney is one of them. A good man. A humble man. A spiritual man. A patriot. A problem solver.
The Mitt Romney homerun lines according to a large cross section of my friends and fans:
* “We celebrate success in America. We don’t apologize for success.”
* “When the world needs to do really good stuff, you need an American.”
* “There’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as President when the best feeling you had, was the day you voted for him.”
* “Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise: TO HELP YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.”
And Marco Rubio’s show-stopping lines must get honorable mention:
* “It’s not that Obama is a bad person…it’s that he’s a bad President.”
* “Power belongs to the people.”
* "Obama is trying ideas that people came to America to get away from."
* “Almighty God is the source of all we have.”
* ”Faith in our Creator is the most important American value of them all.”
This was an Olympic quality event. Romney earned a gold medal. Rubio got the silver. Clint Eastwood got the bronze. The staging was exquisite. The stories were riveting and compelling. And Romney became not just human, but super human in front of America’s voters.
Next up...that landslide I predicted.