GOP convention through the eyes of Sunlight Live


Wordle of RNC speeches

If you missed Sunlight Live's coverage of the Republican National Convention in Tampa last night, you missed a lot. A Wordle cloud of most-used terms from the speeches is above; below, a synopsis of some of Sunlight's observations, data and analysis, which our Sunlight Live tool allows us to provide to you on the same computer screen where you are watching a video stream of the convention proceedings.

Be sure to tune in tonight for our coverage of the second night. A few highlights from last night, whose theme was alternately you didn't build that, we did build that, love, not love but respect:

He's not heavy: The keynote speaker was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. His brother, Todd Christie, made a $225,000 contribution to an RNC soft money committee in 2002, a few months after President George W. Bush made Chris Christie a U.S. attorney. Of course, that was back in the pre-super PAC days when the parties were the main conduits of million dollar contributions.

Before his brother entered politics, Christie contributed to a few Democrats, including Sens. Charles Schumer and John Kerry.  In 2008, he was a bundler for John McCain. Over all, Todd Christie, who makes his money on Wall Street, has contributed $700,000 to candidates and parties, including  

You didn't build that (1): Several speakers, both candidates for public office and citizens offering their testimonials to Mitt Romney, touted their small business experience as part of the above-mentioned theme attacking Obama's gaffe (with gaffe defined here as saying something that in context might be less damaging but gives your opponent a useful sound bite; cf. Mitt Romney's "I like to fire people" and "I don't care about the poor"). For example, Sher Valenzuela, running for Lieutenant Governor of Delaware, talked about her company, First State Manufacturing. An info sheet on the company's web page notes that it's eligible for several preferences in government contracting:

This isn't to suggest that it's not hard work being a government contractor, or that it doesn't take a great deal of effort on the part of an entrepreneur to meet payroll, manage a business, etc., but when your customers include public transit systems, the military and the Dept. of Health and Human Services, it does somewhat muddle the message.

What's in a Bain: In her speech praising her husband, Ann Romney talked about his success–but didn't mention the firm he worked for (whose executives, by the way, have contributed to both Republicans and Democrats).

No Ron in Team: Former House speaker, presidential candidate and zoo enthusiast Newt Gingrich told CNN that he's a team player, unlike retiring Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who says he's an undecided voter and was the last Romney rival to suspend his campaign.

You didn't build that (2): This year's Democratic and Republican conventions will cost the taxpayers more than $136 million, according to a report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. Of course, the parties raise many millions more for their conventions through their host committees–who gave, and how much, won't be available until Oct. 15. And of course, there are scads of events paid for by special interests outside the conventions–check out the whole list of them here.

Geography: Ohio had two representatives (House Speaker John Boehner and Gov. John Kasich–no Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio), Wisconsin two (RNC chair Reince Preibus and Gov. Scott Walker), Utah one (House candidate Mia Love), Virignia two (Gov. Bob McDonnell and small business owner Bev Gray), Delaware one (Valenzuela), New Jersey one (Christie), Washington one (Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers), Pennsylvania one (Rep. Rick Santorum), New Hampshire two (Sen. Kelly Ayotte and small business owner Jack Gilchrist), Nevada one (Gov. Brian Sandoval), Texas one (senate candidate Ted Cruz), South Carolina one (Gov. Nikki Haley), Oklahoma one (Gov. Mary Fallin), Georgia one (former Rep. Artur Davis, who might be running for office in Virginia at some point in the future) and Puerto Rico one (first lady Luce’ Vela Fortuño).

You didn't build that (3): The Tampa Bay Times Forum, home of the convention, the government kicked in about $86 million to help cover construction costs.

(Image credit: Sunlight Reporting Group research,