DNC 2012 vs RNC 2012: The People Who Overshadowed Both Obama and Romney


It was mostly about Obama vs. Romney. 

But then it was about Michelle Obama vs. Ann Romney … and Joe Biden vs. Paul Ryan … Clint Eastwood vs. Scarlett Johansson … and even party flip-floppers Artur Davis vs. Charlie Crist.

There are some many comparisons we can draw between the Republican National Convention — which happened last week in Tampa — and this week’s Democratic National Convention. Which party base got  more fired up about their convention? Who got better TV views? Who made the most mistakes?

But, most importantly, who gave the best speech?

Below are the top 5, in descending order, in a completely qualitative list.

Spoiler alert: Barack Obama did not give the best speech.


(and Cory Booker did not make the final cut.)


5. Artur Davis.

The young, Southern African American was an avid Obama supporter in 2008, but has been appearing on the campaign trail for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in 2012. His firey, smart, energetic, and inspiring speech is sure to propel him on the national stage, and could make him the next elected Republican.

It could also catapult him to fame, much like Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention made him a national celebrity. 

Davis told the audience why he has decided to switch parties, filled with eloquent and punchy speech lines and a dynamic tone. He explained, "Tampa, my fellow Republicans, thank you for welcoming me where I belong. ... 6 million of us got it wrong in 2008 and want to fix it. ... Maybe we should have known that night in Denver that things that began with Greek columns typical don’t end well. ... . Maybe the Hollywood stars clouded us a little." He continued, "No candidate had ever spoken so beautifully. ... [but the] economy is stuck and Obama can't run on his record."

Davis concluded, "We don't need flowery words about inequality ... Our votes didn't build the country we wanted."

Republican-turned-Democrat Former Governor of Florida Charlie Crist was the Dems answer to Davis, but didn't do half as good.


4. Ann Romney.

Who had a better speech: Ann Romney or Michelle Obama? Ah, the eternal question. The two leading ladies of Election 2012 squared off in their husband's respective conventions. Each talked about how they met their spouses ... what made them fall in love (awe). Each talked about the importance of family. Each talked about how their husbands' were true, natural-born leaders. 

Wait: Each woman pretty much had the same speech!

And each was strong, well crafted. You could tell each woman labored over her speech with speech writers, seeking to hammer home the right punch-lines. Lets be honest: neither woman wrote her own speech. And when it was showtime, all that mattered was execution. 

And Ann executed. Remember, this was also her first big speech. Props to the Republican first wife hopeful, she really hit it out of the park.

You could argue more was expected of Michelle, then. But, no, she kind of just gave the same speech over.


3. Barack Obama

"Obama Blew It." That's what the Daily Beast said after the Thursday night Obama speech.  

Michelle did her job. Clinton did his job. But at the moment when Obama could have moved the needle on his re-election bid by giving a truely epicly awesome speech, he gave a dull and overconfident speech, one that sounded more like a State of the Union than a campaign speech. 

Pundits will be talking about this speech for days, asking whether Obama did enough in the speech to win over independent voters, or whether he played it too safe and played defense rather than offense. 

His prime-time address is already being compared to former President Bill Clinton's remarks on Wednesday, and some are saying Clinton outshined Obama as the better political orator.

Still, Obama brought the entire Democratic convention crowd to a roar, and at various moments, he had to stop his speech as the crowd gave him a standing ovation and a roar from the crowd.

And he still gave a better speech than ole, stiff Romney.


2. Bill Clinton.

Wow. This was good. But, as someone who has seen a lot of Bill Clinton speeches, this wasn't great. And it was kind of a ramble. 

The Bill Clinton speech has so far been reviewed as everything from the “moment the Democrats won election 2012” to a 47-minute rant.

At times Clinton was brilliant, giving an energetic fireside chat. Other times, though, Clinton was so deep in policy analysis I had zero idea what he was was talking about.

The speech drew huge traffic for the DNC, despite competing with the opening night of the NFL — and a huge New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys game and the marquee media markets that come with them.

Democrats seemed to love the speech, almost proclaiming in a whipped-up fervor that Bill Clinton, not Obama, should be the 2012 nominee.

Republicans, for their part, were stunned after the speech.

"Tonight, when everybody leaves, lock the door," GOP strategist Alex Castellanos said on CNN immediately after the speech ended. "You don't have to come back tomorrow. This convention is done. This will be the moment that probably re-elected Barack Obama. Bill Clinton saved the Democratic Party once. It was going too far left. He came in and took it to the center. He did it again tonight."

Mike Murphy, another leading Republican operative, tweeted his praise: "Highly effective Clinton speech. Aimed right at voters Obama needs," Murphy wrote.

For what it’s worth, I personally love Bill Clinton, but also thought the speech was long-winded, and filled with sometimes boring policy remarks that I just completely glazed over. I was jacked up at the beginning of the speech, but right at the middle, I just wanted the whole thing to be over.


1. Condoleezza Rice.

One word: wow.

This speech struck to the core of me. It was filled with a perfect balance of policy and inspiration, a perfect mix of agenda-setting and rally-around-the-flag moments. 

I really, truely, actually wanted to get my butt off the couch and go build something ... like a factory, or a battle ship, or an airplane, or a not-for-profit school in Harlem, or something. 

Rice delivered one of the signature headline speeches at the RNC, charged with the difficult task of proving Mitt Romney's credentials on foreign policy.

Rice, currently a professor at Stanford University, received a rousing standing ovation before delivering her remarks to the Republican audience. Rice focused her remarks on U.S. foreign policy and the themes of liberty and freedom in a post-9/11 world.

And I ate it up.

Runners-up: Cory Booker, Michelle Obama, Clint Eastwood, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul. 

Not runners-up: Mitt Romney, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Sandra Fluke. 

Weigh In: So what do you think? Who gave the best speech over the who of the DNC and RNC?