The Hiller Instinct: Conventions
Inside the Chicago convention hall, Hubert Humphrey was nominated... But what was remembered were the riots that occurred outside...which may have cost the Democrats the election that year.
The 1988 Republican Convention may have won one election and lost another when George H.W. Bush became permanently linked with two phrases. The first was poetic: "... a thousand points of light." But the second was a political promise he ultimately broke, with huge consequences: "Read my lips, no new taxes."
Sometimes a convention can be captured in a single image. In 2000, when Al Gore gave his wife a more passionate than usually seen in public kiss, it morphed into a message: that Gore was a family man with very different values than Bill Clinton, the president he wanted to replace.
The 2004 Republican Convention was all about zip code. The GOP picked New York City, a Democratic stronghold in a Democratic state because it was where America was attacked on 9/11.
Hundreds of thousands protested against President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq and nearly two thousand were arrested.
But the convention was considered a success.
In Boston in 2004, John Kerry thought all he had to prove was that he was ready to be Commander-in-Chief and that Democrats weren't weak on defense. Thus his memorable phrase: "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty."
This time around, the Democrats are more likely than the Republicans to create a memorable moment because they have a real wild card in Hillary Clinton. But history shows at conventions the best laid plans of both political parties can collapse. Why should this year be different?
I'm Andy Hiller, and that's my instinct.
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