Republican Convention to Feature Paul Ryan, Foreign Policy Leaders

Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan at Republican Convention, Aug. 29, 2012Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan at Republican Convention, Aug. 29, 2012
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Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan at Republican Convention, Aug. 29, 2012
Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan at Republican Convention, Aug. 29, 2012
Alex Villarreal
TAMPA. Fla. — Delegates at the U.S. Republican National Convention expect to hear a harsh critique of President Barack Obama's foreign policies Wednesday, a day after they formally nominated former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate.  Wednesday is also the day that party organizers turn a spotlight on vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, whose late evening speech will highlight the day's events.

Joining Romney's running mate on Wednesday's convention speakers' line-up are two high-profile voices on foreign policy - Obama's 2008 election rival, John McCain, and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.

McCain, a senator from Arizona, is a former prisoner of war and the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He has been outspoken in calling for more U.S. intervention in the conflict in Syria - a call Mr. Romney has echoed.

Rice, meanwhile, has been re-emerging on the national stage for the first time since serving in the administration of President George W. Bush.  She was mentioned as a possible running mate for Romney and was seated next to him during the convention keynote speech Tuesday night.

Foreign issues were barely discussed in the opening days of the convention, but delegate Joe Nosef, the Republican Party chairman in the southern state of Mississippi, says it is time to challenge the notion that U.S. foreign policy under President Barack Obama is on the right track.

“If you look at the way things are going right now in Egypt, with Iran, and the tensions with even friends of ours like Israel, and the uneasiness a lot of people have with some of our back and forth with Russia, I don't think things are going that great.  It's great that Osama bin Laden is gone, but that doesn't solve all of our problems,” Nosef said.

Romney is also discussing defense issues Wednesday during a speech to the nation's largest veterans' service organization in the midwestern state of Indiana.

The highlight of the evening's convention program is a speech by Ryan, a 42-year-old congressman known for his tough approach to reining in U.S. budget deficits.  Like Romney, Ryan has little foreign policy experience, but he is popular among conservatives and his youth is expected to attract younger voters.

Nosef is not worried by either man's lack of foreign policy experience.

“And so I think they're going to provide no matter what it is, whether it's domestic policy, foreign policy or otherwise, they're going to provide better leadership than we've had the last four years, and that's why all of us are here,” Nosef said.

U.S. media coverage Wednesday largely focused on the previous night's address by Romney's wife, Ann, who portrayed her husband as a warm, family man in an appeal for the support of women voters.

“I love you women!,” she said.    

Romney continued to pursue that theme at a hotel breakfast Wednesday. “As women, we recognize that family is everything,” she said.

The effort is important to the Republicans, since polls show Romney far behind President Barack Obama among female voters.  The party needs more women to agree with California Romney supporter Marilyn Brown.

“Mitt Romney can fix America.  He's a wonderful family man, he is an incredibly bright man.  He is very focused on, he's very goal-oriented.  He is truly qualified to fix the economy, and women care about economic issues,” Brown said.

It remains unclear how the rest of the convention will be affected by Tropical Storm Isaac, which was downgraded from a hurricane after lashing New Orleans, the same city devastated seven years ago by Hurricane Katrina.

Convention organizers are anxious not to be seen as partying in Tampa while American citizens are suffering just up the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

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