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Republicans raise the 'big tent,' offer something for everyone at convention

 

Looking to make the "big tent" bigger, Republicans are serving up a little something for everyone as their convention moves into full force in Tampa. 

For the fiscally conscious? See the two "debt clocks" on display in the convention hall. For the Ron Paul supporters? There's a tribute video to the retiring Texas congressman. For the pro-life contingent? Texas Gov. Rick Perry addressed them Tuesday afternoon at the nearby aquarium. 

Seemingly all slices of the Republican Party pie were being represented and catered to diligently during the convention opening. Myriad special interest groups had jockeyed for a role, a favored speaker and/or a plank in the official party platform ahead of convention week -- and Republican leaders were working to please all. 

GOP leaders, and in particular the Romney campaign, are also making an overt effort to appeal to every demographic group possible -- particularly those the Democrats tend to claim. Their pitch over the last two days has followed a theme: for each group, Republicans are explaining why President Obama has made their lives harder. 

Convention officials on Monday held a briefing on the impact the "Obama economy" has had on women. That was to be supplemented with a robust lineup of conservative female speakers from Tuesday to Thursday, including South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Ann Romney. 

The Romney team has put a fine point on its outreach to Hispanic voters -- looking to build bridges after the candidate took tough positions on illegal immigration during the Republican primaries.

His son Craig Romney cut a radio ad Monday in which he noted that his grandfather George Romney "was born in Mexico."

The campaign released a TV ad Tuesday targeted at Hispanics in which Mitt Romney claims the "promise of America" has started to "fade away." 

"Hispanics are hurting, with so many unemployed, and those who are working are having to do more with less. Families are struggling to save their homes and businesses. They've been forced to use their hard-earned savings to pay bills," he says. 

The ad was called "Juntos," or together. 

The outreach drew a rebuke from the chairman of next week's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is Hispanic, reportedly said Tuesday that Republicans "can't just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname" and expect Hispanics to support their party. 

The Romney campaign released an "infographic" Tuesday with a smattering of statistics on how recent college grads are suffering in this economy. 

"Under President Obama, 'hope and change' has failed the youth of America," the infographic states. 

The Republicans have cause to target these sub-sections of the party tent. Among women, youth and Hispanic voters, Republicans have serious room to grow. 

One set of exit polls in the 2008 presidential race showed Obama capturing 56 percent of women, 67 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of the 18-29 crowd. 

Romney consistently lags behind Obama this year among women, something Democrats have been trying to exploit with accusations that socially conservative Republicans are waging a "war on women." 

The speaker list for the opening night is also heavy on Hispanic Republicans, including Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and the first lady of Puerto Rico, Luce Vela Fortuno.