GOP revs up its counter-convention at NASCAR site
By Gregory Korte, USA TODAY
Updated 55m ago
CHARLOTTE – It's not just Democrats at the Democratic National Convention.
Republicans have set up shop right across the street from the Charlotte Convention Center, providing easy access for reporters seeking a pithy quote or instant response to the Democrats' daily activities.
It's a mirror image of what Democrats did at the GOP gathering in Tampa last week, with Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz leading a parade of Democratic surrogates to rebut Republican claims.
The rapid-fire responses are often served up with a healthy side of snark. Today's talking point: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who responded "no" Sunday when asked whether Americans were better off than four years ago. O'Malley later said he was the victim of a "word splice."
"Apparently as of today, we are now better off, according to the Democrats, than we were four years ago … which is a total reversal of their position of yesterday," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a 20-minute press conference.
"This must mean that 23 million Americans have found jobs," he said. "Incomes have gone up, gas prices are going down, poverty is in decline, and the deficit has been cut, all in the last 24 hours."
Priebus said Obama is "clearly in love with the sound of his own voice," derided his presidency as "pixie dust," and called Republican-turned-Democratic convention speakers Charlie Crist and Lincoln Chafee "not exactly, you know, bright stars of the future."
Afterward, reporters got a press kit containing a pack of Kleenex, a "You Didn't Build That" LEGO set, and a copy of Obama's second term agenda. (It's blank.)
Monday's featured GOP talker was Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah. He'll be followed this week by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and governors Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma.
Priebus declared that Democrats are "on the defensive" at their own convention.
"I'm not going to reveal all the things that we have planned here in Charlotte. We're not the type of folks to go into an arena and shout people down during important addresses, I can tell you that," Priebus said. "We want to have a professional operation."
Democratic spokesman Brad Woodhouse was not impressed with the GOP effort. "They were standing out in front of our war room each day taking notes — this is just a copy of what we did in Tampa and what each party has done for conventions going back years," he said. He said Republicans were using hype around their "counter-convention" as "a replacement for a plan to help move the country forward."
The Republican operation is based out of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where a Romney-Ryan stock car is on display in Studio 43, the site of daily press conferences.
It used to be that political parties would stand down during the other party's convention, but last week, not only were Democrats active in Tampa, President Obama made campaign stops in several swing states.