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Governor George Pataki opened for President Bush, a spot in the lineup guaranteed him by his position as the highest-ranking Republican in the state of New York. Once again, as on Tuesday night, the Republicans may have been better off by eschewing tradition in this convention and swapping Pataki for Giuliani's Monday-night speech. That arrangement would have allowed one of the weakest speakers in their lineup to play leadoff, where expectations would have been lower, while also putting one of the best speakers in prime time with President Bush, giving a spirited defense of the war on terror.
Not that Pataki was bad -- but I would describe his performance, and his voice especially, as weak. At times, at least in the Garden, he was almost inaudible, even though the crowd gave him all their attention. He did manage to mix it up and even became inspiring on occasion, but during the entire exercise, he looked even more uncomfortable than John McCain during his speech.
Pataki opened by noting how other states responded to 9/11, and he expressed his gratitude directly to the delegations. Oregonians, after hearing about the devastation the attacks had on the state's tourist industry, booked 1,000 rooms and made it a point to visit the state, helping hundreds of workers keep their jobs. Iowa sent 1,500 quilts to warm the volunteers at Ground Zero at night. Pennsylvania had a family of five children give the money that they'd saved to a New York firehouse that had seen eight of its brothers die in the collapse of the WTC buildings. He noted that after 9/11, we were all New Yorkers, which caused the delegates to chant "New York!" over and over.
Pataki also had his funny quips, too. Two of them occurred within moments of each other. "This is a candidate who has to google his own name in order to find out where he stands ... This November, we'll win one for the Gipper, while our opponents will lose one with the Flipper." He also defended the war on terror and the removal of Saddam, noting that in a world where a box cutter enabled a plane to be turned into a guided missile that killed thousands, a monster like Saddam is nothing less than a walking WMD.
Pataki finished stronger than he started, but his performance seemed pretty uneven and Pataki clearly looked uncomfortable in his prime-time role. It wasn't bad at all, but it wasn't great or even terribly remarkable, with the exception of the touching stories he told at the front end of the speech. It did reinforce the national-security theme that has run through every major speech here at the convention, and in that sense it was a rousing success.Sphere It View blog reactions
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