For a party that has gone to extraordinary lengths to stress its links to small business, Republicans are terrible salespeople. They have had just one task this week: to market Mitt Romney. The trouble is no one’s buying it.
At first sight the problem seems to be presentational. The contributions from the stage are wooden; the jokes flat; signs of oratorical flare rare. Time and again with just a handful of exceptions, a speaker came to the podium to great cheers only to dampen the enthusiasm with their actual speech.
Yet the sense you get from the floor is of a party barely going through the motions. Missing their cues to clap and boo, they respond as though they’re watching vaudeville by satellite – it’s as though they’re not even there. Spend an hour on the convention floor in Tampa and you’d be forgiven for thinking the Tea party has switched to decaf.
But as time goes on it’s clear that the issue is not presentation but the product.