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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Winners and losers of the 2012 Democratic National Convention




Gabby Giffords. The former Arizona congressswoman who was shot in the head last year in a mass shooting took the stage Thursday to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. It was the most inspiring moment of the convention and drew a standing ovation.

Carina Castro. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, 37, gave a strong keynote address that immediately made him one of the few young, rising national stars of the Democratic Party. But his 3-year-old daughter, Carina, stole the show, as cameras showed her flipping her hair as her dad spoke.

Bill Clinton. The big dog is back. He delivered one of the best stem-winders of any modern convention, leaving some Republicans glumly declaring that Clinton may have won the election for Barack Obama.

Affordable Care Act. Obama barely mentioned it, but other Democrats finally took ownership of the health care overhaul law and gave it a personal face with an Arizona mother who credits it with saving her 3-year-old daughter's life.

Rod Smith. The Florida Democratic Party chairman also made the ACA personal, announcing that his 25-year-old son, Dillon, was recently diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a form of cancer that usually strikes children. He has undergone one round of chemotherapy, the family is optimistic, and Smith noted that without the ACA Dillon would not be on his family's insurance plan and would have his coverage capped.

"The richest country in the world cannot survive without universal, affordable, available health care. Every Democratic president since Harry Truman has recognized that, and every Republican presidential candidate has opposed it," Smith thundered. "And if there's one reason we ought to win this election, and there are so many, we need to take the message out there: Affordable Health Care will affect your life. It's happened to me. Take that message out there."

Social issues. Republicans steered clear of hot button social issues, but Democrats sure didn't. Over and over again, speakers talked about abortion rights, gay marriage and gays in the military.

Joe Biden and John Kerry. Republicans love to ridicule these two former presidential contenders, but both gave strong speeches, better than the nominee himself.

Michelle Obama. Can you remember a stronger speech by any first lady? She kicked off the convention reminding people why they felt so good about putting this family in the White House.

Tampa Bay Times Forum. One area where Tampa beat Charlotte was with the actual convention venue. Charlotte's Time Warner Arena is newer, but not nearly as nice as the Forum.


Charlie Crist. He did fine in his convention speech. But based on the sentiments of skeptical Democrats in Charlotte, Crist will have a tough job selling himself as something other than an opportunist if he seeks the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Mitt Romney. We haven't heard anyone from either party argue that Republicans put on a more coherent and effective convention in Tampa than the Democrats did in Charlotte.

Tampa. The comparison for those who attended both conventions did not serve Tampa well. We came off as an antiseptic, military state offering few easy opportunities to actually see the local culture and community. Charlotte is at least a generation ahead in downtown vibrancy, and for reasons we still don't understand, the security for the leader of the free world was FAR less stifling than that in Tampa.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The new hair looked great, but she flopped when defending her party over its platform changes about Israel. Wasserman Schultz said Israel's ambassador told her Republican criticism of Democrats was bad for Israel, and then she denied saying it. PolitiFact: Pants on Fire!

Charlie's fan. Gov. Crist used to insist on a fan blowing in his face at every news conference, speech and interview. So no one should have been surprised to see a stagehand dash onto the stage to place a fan at the podium just before Crist walked out. The problem? Crist still looked like he was sweating bullets.

Convention planners. Networks and the local host committee spent millions of dollars to prepare for Barack Obama to accept the nomination in the Bank of America Stadium. The hint of severe storms that never happened flushed that money down the drain while tens of thousands of Obama fans saw their stadium tickets voided.

Specifics. Neither Romney nor Obama gave voters any details for how they intend to accomplish their agendas.

Mark Alan Siegel. The Palm Beach County chairman had been a leading contender to succeed Rod Smith as state party chairman. He can kiss that goal goodbye after giving an interview to a tea party news network in Charlotte: "I'm Jewish. I'm not a fan of any religion other than Judaism. … The Christians want us to be there so we can all be slaughtered or converted on the second coming of Jesus Christ."

Bill Nelson and Connie Mack. They are in a competitive race for U.S. Senate, and nobody seems to care about it. In Charlotte, Democrats were buzzing more about the governor's race in 2014 than the Senate race.

[Last modified: Sunday, September 9, 2012 2:39pm]


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