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If I needed that kind of scratch, I'd be liver-deep in free drinks, too. Luckily for the fledgling politicians in attendance, there was plenty to go around. National conventions represent a golden opportunity for companies, lobbyists, Super PACs and partisan organizations to ply people of influence with everything from gratis Grey Goose to a complimentary Kid Rock concert.
Money is famously a non-issue for Romney. But while unbridled enthusiasm for Romney may be lacking, complete vitriol for Obama—supplemented by the selection of Paul Ryan as the VP nominee and the adoption of a conservative-friendly party platform—is clearly fueling the campaign.
"There has always been a passionate sense of need and urgency to defeat this president," lobbyist Al Cardenas said. "But you also want to be excited about the ticket. I think with the selection of Paul Ryan, the adoption of the platform and that sense of urgency, we're getting a confluence of factors that are really energizing people."
Make no mistake, partisans thrive on red meat. Talk meaningfully about bipartisan compromise and you'll receive irritated silence. Mention 9/11, freedom, the American dream and Barack Hussein Obama in the same sentence and your likeness will be carved into Mt. Rushmore by sundown. George W. Bush may be gone, but you're still either with us or against us.
That much was apparent at a screening of the documentary Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny, part of an RNC film series operated by a company called Citizens United Productions. During the film, the audience cheered when the Gipper intoned, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" and was practically giddy when he said, "There is no substitute for victory." The room was silent when the documentary—narrated by Newt Gingrich and his unblinking wife, Calista—mentioned Reagan's record of achieving across-the-aisle accords.
After the screening, I asked Gingrich, who was on hand to introduce the film and shuck merch, what the bipartisan prospects were for a Romney administration. He echoed the aspirations of a clean Republican sweep in November.
"Look, if we win control of the Senate, he'll be able to put together a majority coalition and there will be a handful of Democrats who will vote with him," Gingrich said. "If that doesn't happen, it's much harder. If Harry Reid is still the majority leader, it is going to be very hard to get things done that we want to get done."