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March 18th, 2013
05:57 AM ET

RNC 'autopsy' report to identify failures of 2012 election and find solutions – Mark Preston reports


Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced Sunday the organization will spend $10 million on hundreds of staff workers to communicate conservative principles in cities across the country.

As part of its conclusion from a months-long "autopsy" of the GOP – which will be formally announced Monday – the RNC will also work to shorten the primary calendar, limit the number of debates in presidential primaries, and move up the party's convention date.

CNN's Mark Preston previews the report on "Early Start" this morning, and explains what the RNC is looking to change in the next election cycle.

READ MORE: RNC announces $10 million plan to beef up Republican outreach

September 10th, 2012
12:03 PM ET

Actor Clint Eastwood breaks silence on his speech at the Republican National Convention

In the wake of both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention are memories of great political fervor, plenty of one-liners and of course, empty chair references. Clint Eastwood’s unscripted speech addressed to an empty chair was one of the biggest headlines from the conventions and one of them finally includes the Hollywood star’s own comments. The actor and director spoke about the controversy to Paul Miller, the publisher of Eastwood’s hometown paper, The Carmel Pine Cone. Miller joins John Berman on “Early Start” this morning regarding his exclusive interview.

 Clint Eastwood told Miller that his speech was “mission accomplished”. That meant, “He irritated the people, I believe, he intended to irritate, and pleased the people he intended to please,” Miller says.

Miller says the speech was largely spur-of-the-moment. “The fact that he would participate wasn’t finalized until just a week before he showed up,” at the convention, Miller says. “The idea of using the empty chair as a stand-in for the president didn’t strike him until he was backstage and about to walk out to the lectern.”

One of the major points Miller says Eastwood told him he wanted to make in his speech and accomplished is getting across that, “politicians aren’t royalty or something. When they’re not doing the job, you gotta let em go.”

Considering the media firestorm that followed his RNC appearance, Miller describes Eastwood as a person who takes things as they come. Miller says, “I hope that we’ll be that way when we’re 82 and have his level of accomplishments."

September 7th, 2012
04:11 AM ET

'You can't touch this': John Berman's reflects on the 2012 RNC/DNC in photos

Editor's Note: John Berman reported live from both the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. Throughout his reporting, he's been sharing Instagram photos of the conventions. This piece was producing using some of those photos. Follow him on Twitter: @Johnsberman

You can't touch this. That’s right, if you are a political junkie, a political reporter, or a political player, there really is nothing that beats a convention. Nothing. Sure there are plenty of people who reasonably say that conventions have become pieces of performance art, staged with such precision as to render them meaningless, or even worse, dull.

Well I say to you people out there that these past two weeks are proof that something always happens at these things; something unexpected, something fascinating, something that in one way or another will absolutely impact the outcome of the election.

Seriously, two weeks ago, who would have thought to talk to a chair?

(This was my view of that Eastwood episode from just feet away).

Seriously two weeks ago, who would have though that the two most tactful politicians named Romney and Obama were named Ann and Michelle?

(This is how I saw it when Michelle Obama first saw the arena she was soon to own.)

Two weeks ago, who would have though that weather would threaten to completely disrupt and dismantle the carefully laid plans of both political parties?

(This is what Isaac looked like from my hotel.)

Two weeks ago, who thought I would meet the guy from Wings?

(me with Tim Daly)

I fully understand that nominees no longer get picked in contentious floor fights. Boy, do I wish I had been around when they were (except I feel like the levels of hygiene may have alarmed me back then.) But these days conventions represent that moment when a political campaign is allowed to put forth what it thinks its best case for winning. And it is always worth evaluating what they offer. Moreover it is worth noting in this aura of hyper-control that they often lose control. Note the moments of discomfort for the GOP with the Ron Paul folks on the floor. Note the almost inexplicable confusion and backtracking with the Democratic platform.

They also make for incredible people watching. Can you name all these political players I spotted the last couple of weeks?

A real "Real World" alum.

The son of Greek immigrants. (Not Wolf Blitzer)

He said his keynote in 1992 was "scary."

Mr. Speaker!

Big wave surfer, or Senator?

He's usually a very serious guy.

Guess Virginia IS for lovers!

Look closely, there are two lawmakers in this shot.

Finally, or as Bill Clinton said in 1988, “in closing,” if you need more proof that conventions still matter, are still fun, and are still fascination...
If you need more proof that you can’t touch this...I offer you: MC Hammer.

September 5th, 2012
06:23 AM ET

Who made the better pitch to women voters: Ann Romney or Michelle Obama? Dana Bash, Margaret Hoover and Maria Cardona break down the speeches

First Lady Michelle Obama closed the first day of the Democratic National Convention, which also included speeches from Newark Mayor Corey Booker, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a keynote address from rising Democratic star and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.

Both the First Lady and Mitt Romney's wife Ann made strong pitches to female voters, who many say could shape the election in November. Who did a better job speaking to the women of the country?

This morning on "Early Start," CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, along with CNN contributors Margaret Hoover and Maria Cardona, compare First Lady Michelle Obama and Ann Romney's speeches.

August 31st, 2012
11:27 AM ET

CA Senate candidate Emken says GOP needs more women talking about what we're trying to do for families

Mitt Romney officially accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president last night with a sweeping speech relaying why he should be the next president of the United States. Romney even shared personal anecdotes, resonating with the American public and women especially.

Joining John Berman on “Early Start” this morning is Elizabeth Emken, Republican Senatorial Candidate for California. Emken is challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Diane Feinstein for the seat in a two-woman race in the largest state in the nation. She talks to Berman about Romney’s big night and women leaders at the Republican National Convention.

Emken says Romney made a great connection with women in his acceptance speech, but wife Ann Romney stood out to her most. “Ann Romney did such a good job in my view of making that connection of women to her husband,” she says. “As we’re looking at women and families, and what it is we need, especially in California, I just think that connection is so important.”

Emken also responds to the latest WSJ/NBC Poll showing a gap among women for approval of Obama versus Romney, 51% to 41% in 12 battleground states.

“I think we need to have more women in the Republican Party out there and talking about what is we’re trying to do for families,” she says. “I think we have to do a better job in the Republican Party of putting women out there with real life experiences,” Emken says. “I’m a real person.”

August 31st, 2012
11:12 AM ET

Will Romney get a bump from RNC speech? National Journal's Ron Brownstein weighs in

Governor Mitt Romney accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president in Tampa last night with a powerful speech that convention goers had been looking forward to all week. CNN Senior Political Analyst and Editorial Director of the National Journal Ron Brownstein joins John Berman on “Early Start” this morning to assess whether Romney’s acceptance speech will deliver a bounce for the party.

Brownstein offers that “there should be some game for Romney, but nothing that happened this week though is likely to fundamentally change this race.”

Breaking down the speech, Brownstein notes it for its “striking tone.” “The tone was more of sorrow than of anger,” he says. “It felt as though he was trying to give Obama '08 voters permission to vote against him in 2012 without feeling bad about voting for him the first time.”

“In essence, the Romney campaign is responding to the charge that he favors the rich by basically making the argument that Obama is taking money from the middle class and giving it to the poor,” Brownstein says the Romney Campaign is going “directly on the offense” on key issues. “The Ryan plan to convert Medicare into a premium support system is still unpopular among seniors,” Brownstein says. “But so is the Obama health care plan, overwhelmingly unpopular,” he adds.

On a final note, Brownstein says the Obama Campaign’s challenge in Charlotte next week is two-fold. “One is to recement that portrait of Romney who favors the few at the expense of the many,” he says. “Even more importantly, where is President Obama going to take us in a second term?” Bronstein asks. “There really hasn’t been a lot of detail. And I think that is the biggest detail.”

August 31st, 2012
07:10 AM ET

Did Romney reinvent himself in his Republican National Convention speech? CNN contributors Margaret Hoover and Erick Erickson weigh in

CNN contributors Margaret Hoover and Erick Erickson recap Mitt Romney and Clint Eastwood's speech at the RNC.

August 30th, 2012
10:36 AM ET

Rep. Blackburn says Paul Ryan is 'a guy of big ideas'

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) talks with John Berman on "Early Start" about what she thinks GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan did right in his speech to the Republican National Convention..

"The floor did love him and I think the American people are going to realize how genuine he is in trying to solve our nation's fiscal woes," Blackburn says. "You know, Paul is a guy of big ideas and he's not afraid to put something out there and say let's consider this or let's think about this or let's have a discussion on this issue."

When asked about Ryan's 'specificity' on budget cuts, Blackburn points to Ryan's track record.

"Look at Ryan budget that the House has brought forward," she says "Look at the way we've addressed across the board spending cuts. Look at the way we have talked about reforming the trust funds, Medicare and Social Security, making those stable, secure, solvent, and then addressing entitlements in Medicaid, the largest of the entitlements. You know, there is time for specificity. Last night was the time to say - hey, we've got a pathway and this is where we're going to go. And I think you're going to see him fill in those specifics as we go forward."

August 30th, 2012
10:24 AM ET

VIDEO: CNN contributor Will Cain on Paul Ryan's 'tough sell' message

CNN contributor Will Cain analyzes Rep. Paul Ryan's speech before the Republican National Convention.

August 28th, 2012
06:57 AM ET

Romney far behind Obama in likability – CNN contributors Ana Navarro and Erick Erickson on what Romney needs to do to sway voters

Today is the first real day of the Republican National Convention, after the threat of Isaac forced the GOP to essentially cancel activities on Monday. Now the storm could steal the spotlight altogether, at a time when voters are anxious to see GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney address the party.

One of Romney's biggest hurdles for the general election is his likability. In a Washington Post poll, 61% of registered voters found President Obama likeable, while only 27% of registered voters found Romney likable. How will Romney overcome this?

CNN contributors Ana Navarro and Erick Erickson look at what Mitt Romney has to do at the Republican National Convention to improve his likability among potential voters.

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