Top Republican political consultant Ed Gillespie — an advisor to Gov. Mitt Romney — said the Republican Party will emerge unified from its Tampa, Fla., convention, even after Tuesday’s Ron Paul revolution on the convention floor.
“But we’re going to leave here from Tampa very united as a party, very strongly behind the Romney-[Rep. Paul] Ryan plan for a stronger middle class, and people understand in this hall and in millions of homes across America that if we want the economy to improve, if we want home values to go up, we want jobs to be created, we have to make a chance in the White House,” Gillespie said in an exclusive interview from Tampa. “And I think we’ll be very united in that regard.”
On Tuesday, the Nevada delegation to the Republican convention was anything but unified, breaking party rules to cast 17 delegate votes for Paul and only five for Romney. Later, Nevada Republican National Committeeman Bob List said those totals were announced incorrectly by delegation chairman Wayne Terhune, and the correct totals were 20 delegates for Romney and eight for Paul. List went so far as to say Terhune “…failed to act with integrity.”
Does that mini-revolution on the floor, as well as fights over social issues such as the unsuccessful attempt to get Missouri Rep. Todd Akin out of the Senate race after controversial comments he made about rape, portend a lack of unity in the party? Will that be a drag on the Romney campaign going forward, especially after rules changes designed to give party officials more control over who serves as a delegate to future conventions? Gillespie says no.
“Once we finish this convention, obviously, there’s only one contest, and that is a contest between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, and their two competing visions for how we get our country moving in the right direction,” Gillespie said. “And we have a record of failed policies from President [Barack] Obama and a record by Gov. Romney in business and at the Olympics and in the state of Massachusetts of success, turning things around and a positive agenda for policies you’ll hear more about tonight, for more jobs and more take-home pay. So the choice in Nevada is going to be very clear and that is a choice between President Obama and Gov. Romney.”
But what of conservatives, tea party types and supporters of Paul, who see little difference between Obama and Romney? No matter the rhetorical differences, neither seems willing to embrace the deep budget cuts or serious foreign policy changes that somebody such as Paul represents. Do those voters have a real choice? Gillespie insisted they do.
“The minor differences that we have in our party pale in comparison to the major differences between the Republican and Democratic Party and that’s what the focus is going to be on from here through November,” he said.