Republicans invade Charlotte, offer counterpoint to Democrats’ convention messages

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Republican National Committee held the first of what spokespersons say will be daily press conferences and reactions in Charlotte, to counter messaging coming out of the Democratic National Convention.

The press event was held Monday afternoon at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Standing before an “Obama isn’t working” backdrop — the RNC launched a new website to cover the DNC with the same name — surrounding signage asking “Are you better off?,” and a Romney/Ryan themed NASCAR race car off to the side, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz offered a counterpoint to Democrats’ messages: President Barack Obama’s policies have failed.

“Today the thrill and pixie dust of Barack Obama’s presidency is gone. Americans feel no hope and they are seeing change for the worst,” Priebus said, applying Obama’s 2008 message of “hope and change” to the Republican contention that Obama’s presidency has amounted to neither.

“Democrats are dispirited and enthusiasm is clearly on the Republican side,” he said, less than two hours after Democratic National Convention leadership claimed boasted of ample enthusiasm surrounding the convention and Obama’s re-election.

Chaffetz focused on the economy and problems still plaguing the country, hitting the president on the Obama administration’s failure to received a single vote — Democratic or Republican — for its budget proposal.

“It will be fascinating to see what the Democrats actually talk about because I think they will have an exceptionally hard time talking about their records,” he said.

“In the last two years alone, not a single Democrat would step to the plate and vote for the president’s budget,” Chaffetz added. “How bad is your budget if Nancy Pelosi won’t even vote for it? That is the reality that the Democrats are talking about. So they talk about moving forward, and they talk about their plan, but what is their plan if it is not their budget? The budget is what should be driving it.”

According to Chaffetz, Obama has not lived up to his promises — pointing out the unemployment rate, high gas prices, and expanded federal government. Chaffetz attempted to bolster his point by adding that there are Democrats that have decided not to attend the convention, including North Carolina Democratic Rep. Larry Kissel, whose district includes portions of Charlotte.

“The answer is [that] we are not better off. There is a better way forward. There is a smarter way. If we are going to get different results we are going to have to elect a different president,” Chaffetz said, making a case for Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

According to Priebus, momentum is on Romney’s side, even with high expectations to turn North Carolina — the DNC host state, — red in November.

“People in North Carolina are not better today than they were four years ago,” he said. “Barack Obama didn’t fulfill his promises and the last thing is that you’ve got to look at the facts of where we’re at and then the ground game — and I think we can beat them on the ground.”

Priebus also had strong words for former Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who will deliver a speech at the Democratic convention this week.

“You’ve got guys like Charlie Crist speaking, [Former Republican Rhode Island Sen.] Lincoln Chafee — who I think has the second worst unemployment record in the entire country,” he said. “You look at the folks that the Democrats are trotting out; it’s not exactly the bright stars of the future.”

“The point is, Charlie Crist has nowhere else to go. So you know he has already shown a willingness to sell out to the highest bidder. Turns out that the DNC is a pretty good landing spot for him. I don’t think anyone is going to give him a prime speaking spot, so he does what he does the best, which is sell out to the highest bidder.”

When a reporter pushed Priebus on the fact that the Republican National Convention featured former Democrat Artur Davis in its speaking line up, Priebus said there was a difference: Davis, he said, did not have a history of changing his opinion for personal benefit.

“Charlie has gone through, I think, a pretty high profile drama over the last couple years,” Priebus said, “flipping sides and then running as an independent, running away from the famous Barack Obama hug for his race, and then turning around and showing up in Charlotte.”

The RNC says it will release new videos and offer more reactions to the Democrats’ Charlotte convention throughout the week.

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Caroline May