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Live blog: Jerry Zremski from the RNC in Tampa at 8 p.m.

Delegates rave about Ryan, Rice

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. -- New York Republicans spent their breakfast this morning raving about the speeches given the night before by vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

"Paul Ryan was great," said Orleans County Republican Chairman Ed Morgan. "He's young, he's energetic...I think he resonates with the working people."

Emilio Colaiacovo, a delegate from Buffalo, agreed.

"I think Ryan did an incredible job," Colaiacovo said. "He delivered a message that is going to permeate."

Delegates said they were unfamiliar with all the criticism Ryan was receiving for misleading statements in the speech. Instead, they said they were glad to see the Wisconsin congressman take on the traditional role of attack dog, going after President Obama and his policies.

At the same time, though, they were equally thrilled with Rice's speech.

"That was easily one of the most powerful speeches," said Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards. "It was so fact-based," said Edwards, who said he felt chills up and down his spine as Rice described her upbringing in the segregated south and her rise to President George W. Bush's cabinet.

Meanwhile, Wendy Centinello of Lancaster said she "absolutely loved" Rice's speech, as well as that of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

And her husband, delegate Daniel R. Centinello, said Rice's speech could have political implications far beyond the convention.

"I think she's got a future if she wants it," he said of Rice.

-- Jerry Zremski



Rudy slams Obama before NY delegation

   CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. -– It was Rudy Giuliani at his feisty and pugnacious best before the New York delegation Thursday at the Republican National Convention.

   The former mayor of New York revved up the GOP faithful by slamming the Obama administration’s national security policies and praising Sen. John McCain’s similar thoughts expressed in his Wednesday night speech as some of the most important sentiments of the convention.

   “When John McCain stands in front of the nation’s people and says he’s worried about national security, that makes me worry,” he said.

   Giuliani, who has become a sort of national security guru since the terrorist attacks of 2001, criticized Obama on his handling of everything from the Iranian nuclear situation to his softening of relations with Russia.

   He went on at length about how he believes a President Romney would reassert the nation’s military strength by being willing to use it.

   “Mitt Romney can create that feeling with Iran,” he said of his 2008 rival for the GOP presidential nomination and who until recently was never a Romney favorite.

   Even Giuliani’s praise of the president’s top foreign policy accomplishment was muted.

    “I know he had Bin Laden killed; that will always be a terrific thing on his resume,” he said. “But the way his administration has tried to exploit it is disgusting.”

                                                           * * *  

     The former mayor also turned up his volume when asked by a reporter if Republican rhetoric about reducing the size of government and empowering individuals constituted a racist theme.

   “We’re affirming our love for our country. All of a sudden that becomes racist?” he said. “I mean that’s disgusting.”

   He then launched into remarks offered by Vice President Biden earlier this month, when he said to a large black audience that Romney policies would put them “back in chains.”

   “That’s really racist,” he said. “That’s a direct appeal to racial anger; a horrible caricature; a ridiculous Southern accent, I mean Joe’s got to work on his Southern accent.

   “The media ignores that,” he added. “Our vice president making a blatantly racist attack on our Republican Party and our Republican candidates, it gets largely ignored. All we’re trying to do is hold Barack Obama to the same standard anybody else would be held to, having failed so miserably as president of the United States.”

--Robert J. McCarthy


Video from Tampa: Langworthy on the Romney speech ahead

In this interview with Buffalo News Washington bureau chief Jerry Zremski, Erie County Republican Chariman Nicholas A. Langworthy discusses the economic plan that Mitt Romney must lay out in his GOP convention speech tonight:

Paul "Pinnochio" Ryan?

   CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. -- Paul Ryan's speech before the Republican National Convention drew cheers from the delegates and strong media reviews -- until the fact-checkers got involved.

   Then it got nasty, and for good reason. the GOP vice presidential candidate stretched the truth, or tore it into bits and pieces, more than once.

    Here's a quick look at some of Ryan's statements and how they compare to the truth.

    -- Ryan lamented the closing of a GM plant in Janesville, Wisc., his hometown, quoting Barack Obama as saying in early 2008 that if government supported the plant, "this plant will be here another hundred years." Ryan followed up by saying: "Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year."

   The clear implication is that Obama failed to prevent the plant's closing. But the Business Journal in Milwaukee reported that the plant closed on Dec. 23, 2008 -- nearly a month before Obama became president.

   -- Ryan said Obama funneled $716 billion out of Medicare "at the expense of the elderly." In fact, those cuts -- included in the Obama health law -- are cuts in future government payments to insurers and Medicare providers, not seniors. What's more, the very same cuts are included in the budget Ryan drew up in hopes of balancing the budget in 30 years.

   -- Ryan lambasted Obama for ignoring the budget recommendation from the deficit commission he set up, saying: "He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report.  He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing." What Ryan didn't mention, though, was that he was on the 18-member commission, which needed 14 votes to bring its report up for a vote in Congress. Only 11 members supported it -- and Ryan himself opposed it, saying he "could not support the plan in its entirety."

   There's more, and a Buffalo News story in Friday's paper will go into deeper depth on Ryan's statements, which are prompting vicious media comments today.

   The speech "contained several false claims and misleading statements," said

   "To anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech," wrote Sally Kohn, a contributor to Fox News.

-- Jerry Zremski


Live chat: Politics Now with Jerry Zremski from Tampa at 1 p.m.

Christie's keynoter: Did it strike the wrong chord?

TAMPA, Fla. -- It was the most anticipated speech of the night: a promised stemwinder from the GOP's regular-guy teller of hard truths, Gov.  Chris Christie of New Jersey.

But a day after Christie's speech, the reviews turned harshly negative.

"Christie's flop," blared a headline on the Politico website.

“He doesn’t mention Mitt Romney’s name until the 16-minute mark,” lamented the New York Daily News.

“Romney was almost an afterthought," wrote Howard Kurtz of the Daily Beast, a University at Buffalo graduate. "There wasn’t a personal line about Mitt. It was as though the two had never met."

The speech was as pugilistic as can be expected from Christie, but it was entirely devoid of humor, which is shocking considering that Christie is sort of the Ralph Kramden of Republican politics.

And to many, the long biographical passages and the ending call to battle made it sound like Christie was campaigning for himself.

“Chris Christie accepts the nomination a bit early," a Salon article noted wryly.

Will the performance hurt Christie? Probably not.

After all, Bill Clinton's big applause line at the 1988 Democratic National Convention was "and in conclusion," and four years later he was elected president.

Christie got plenty of national attention for the speech, and for a politician, that's always good.

"There’s no doubt in my mind that he did a huge amount of good for the three most important people in his life – he, himself, and him," said Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times. "Whether he did any good for Mitt Romney is less certain."

--Jerry Zremski

Boehner offers a plan in the Collins-Hochul race

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. -- House Speaker John Boehner today voiced confidence in Chris Collins and other Republican House candidates from New York, but warned that the Republican Party will have to work hard to get them elected.

"Whether it's up in Buffalo, up in the North Country, in Rochester or the east end of Long Island, we have candidates that can win," Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

Speaking to the New York delegation at a breakfast, Boehner stressed, though, that candidates such as Collins, who is challenging Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Hamburg, face a disadvantage.

They are running in what he calls "orphan districts," where the presidential campaign will not be hard fought and where "there's no significant Senate race under way." 

While Wendy Long, the GOP opponent to Democratic Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, may not like to hear that, Boehner kept his focus on the House -- and the trouble those strong candidates could face because of voter disinterest.

"If we don't have a real ground game in each of those districts, we're going to get blown away," Boehner warned.

To prevent that from happening, Republicans have set up 10 "victory centers" that are identifying and registering likely Republican voters, and that will work to turn them out on Election Day, Boehner added.

The speaker also couldn't resist taking a jab at Rep. Anthony Weiner, the Brooklyn Democrat who resigned last year after Tweeting lewd images of himself to women he met online.

Recalling the difficulty of his own first race for Congress, Boehner noted that voters struggled with his last name.

"Beaner? Bonner? Boner?" Boehner said. "At least it wasn't Weiner."

--Jerry Zremski

Live blog: Jerry Zremski from the RNC in Tampa at 7 p.m.

A bus-system breakdown of epic proportions

CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. -- It was a late night for New York delegates and others around the country as the shuttle bus system that aimed to bring them back to the hotel suddenly paralyzed, turning what should have been an hour ride into a three and a half hour nightmare.

The shuttle buses took the delegates from the Tampa Bay Times Forum to Raymond James Stadium, where they were to board other buses for their hotels. But the huge number of shuttle buses created a huge traffic jam at the stadium, leaving the delegates stranded and fuming.

"We had too much faith in the system," said Brad Marble, a Republican activist from Lockport who arrived back at the Hilton in Clearwater Beach at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

"Some people were a little aggravated," said Niagara County GOP Chairman Michael J. Norris.

The late arrivers did find one blessing when they arrived, noted former Gov. George E. Pataki, thanking a party functionary named Rob Cole.

"He made the demand that the bar stay open till 3 a.m.," Pataki said. "He deserves a round of applause."

— Jerry Zremski

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |