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Political conventions praised, panned
Sunday, September 9, 2012
By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -
Despite being a staunch Republican, Jeff Williams tried to watch part of the Democratic National Convention on television last week.
But “I just couldn’t handle it,” said Williams, chairman of the Martinsville Republican Party. “My disagreements with the Democratic Party would not let me continue watching it.”
Williams admitted that he did not watch much of the Republican convention, held the previous week, either.
Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats could have said anything during their conventions that would have made him want to switch parties, he said. As a result, he did not see a need to watch all of the Republican assembly.
Former Del. Ward Armstrong of Henry County, a Democrat, said he thought the Republican convention “was pretty ho hum and lackluster compared to” the Democrats’ convention.
The energy level at the Democratic convention was twice that at the Republican convention, Armstrong said. “It made me proud to be a Democrat.”
While the Democrats’ convention featured speakers such as former President Bill Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama, Armstrong wondered “who was the Einstein that thought of” having actor Clint Eastwood as a guest speaker.
“If it was (Republican presidential candidate Mitt) Romney, I question Romney’s judgment,” Armstrong said, adding that Eastwood’s speech — which included the actor speaking to an empty chair — was bizarre.
“If the Democrats had done that,” he said, “Rush Limbaugh (a conservative radio talk show host) would still be screaming about it. It was absolutely bizarre and why in the world they saw fit to do that” is a mystery.
“That was probably the low point of the GOP convention, and Romney’s speech was not particularly revealing. I thought his wife did a better job than he did,” Armstrong said.
The high point, he said, was that the convention was shortened from four days to three due to Hurricane Isaac.
Armstrong said that during the Democratic convention, President Barack Obama “laid out an important vision” for the nation.
He said a factor of Obama’s vision which especially impressed him was the need to embrace education as the key to improving the economy.
Williams said the Republican convention “gave a positive message” on how to improve the economy. He said the GOP made a legitimate argument that Obama has not been successful as a president.
The keys to improving the economy, Williams said, are making the federal government more financially responsible and limiting its role in daily life. The more government there is, the more money that is spent, he said.
“We need to decrease spending,” he said, adding that ultimately will reduce taxes which “will give people more money in their pockets at the end of the day.”
Last week, the national debt reached $16 trillion. While Obama has been president during the past four years, the debt has jumped by $5.4 trillion, according to media reports.
Williams said he has heard that the national debt has risen under Obama more than it has under any other president.
Regardless, the fact that it has climbed so much is “not leadership,” but rather irresponsibility, on Obama’s part, Williams said.
He added that he thinks Romney and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan understand how to cut spending.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has experience in both business and political leadership, Williams said.
“Barack Obama has brought neither of those to the White House and it has shown” through his actions, Williams added.
“People are frustrated that the economy hasn’t moved (forward) as fast as they would have liked,” but it has “come a long way” from a few years ago when it was on the brink of collapse, Armstrong said.
He indicated that was the result of government efforts led by Obama and other Democrats in Washington.
“I don’t look upon the government as evil,” Armstrong said. “It literally saved the automobile industry from collapse.”
He added that he does not think Romney’s plan to cut taxes paid by the wealthy while increasing taxes on the middle class is right for the nation.
Williams and Armstrong are optimistic that voters on Nov. 6 will elect their parties’ presidential candidates. Achieving victory is a matter of convincing voters that one candidate’s — and political party’s — ideas will make the nation better than the other side’s ideas, they indicated.