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The Political Junkie Recaps The RNC So Far


This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Hard rain from Isaac, hard truths from Chris Christie and hard knocks from Reince Priebus. It's Wednesday and time for a...


CONAN: Edition of the political junkie.


PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?

SENATOR BARRY GOLDWATER: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

SENATOR LLOYD BENTSEN: Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore.

SARAH PALIN: Lipstick.


PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: But I'm the decider.


CONAN: Every Wednesday, political junkie Ken Rudin joins us to recap the week in politics. In Tampa, Republicans make the ticket official, Ann Romney vows Mitt will not fail, keynoter Chris Christie declares the president already did. Archer Davis finds a new home in the GOP, and two incumbent Republicans faced off in an Arizona congressional primary yesterday.

In a few minutes, we'll focus on the ruckus from Ron Paul supporters yesterday and ask where Libertarian Republicans go now. Later in the program, we'll reconnect with our panel of presidential speechwriters, former Clinton scribe Paul Glastris and former Reagan writer Peter Robinson and look ahead to Mitt Romney's task tomorrow night.

But first, political junkie Ken Rudin joins us as usual here in Studio 3A. And as usual, we begin with a trivia question. Hey, Ken.

KEN RUDIN, BYLINE: Hi, Neal. Well, we welcome a new station that's picking up TALK OF THE NATION and the Political Junkie, it's WDDE in...

CONAN: We told them it was a package deal. Anyway...

RUDIN: They get Rudin - if they get Conan, they get Rudin. WDDE, Delaware Public Radio in Dover, Delaware. And so a Delaware-related trivia question that has nothing to do with Joe Biden.



RUDIN: Tom Carper is Delaware's senior senator. He's also served in the House and as governor. OK, besides Carper, who was the most recent person to accomplish this trifecta?

CONAN: If you think you know the answer, and that is the most recent person to serve as a state's senator, as its governor and in the House of Representatives, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. The winner gets that fabulous political junkie no-prize T-shirt in exchange - or a promise - actually, there's news.

Yes, there is news. It was very exciting. There will be, probably in about four to five weeks, there will be political junkie T-shirts, and they are gorgeous.

And they are gorgeous, in any case - they're coming, they're coming.

RUDIN: And the people we owe them to, they will get theirs, oh will they get theirs.

CONAN: Oh will they get theirs. Well, we begin, as always, when we can, with actual votes. We're going to sort of fudge that a little bit, go to the vote of the roll call yesterday. Mitt Romney is now officially the nominee of the party.

RUDIN: He is, and it was pretty exciting, not that there was any doubt about that. Of course, the only other candidate who got a lot of votes, I mean Rick Santorum got a few, but Ron Paul got a bunch.

CONAN: And we're going to talk more about that later.

RUDIN: Yeah, but Mitt Romney is the official Republican nominee for president, and Paul Ryan, by acclimation, will be - is the Republican vice presidential nominee.

CONAN: And as we go through this process, the convention obviously shortened by a day because of then-Tropical Storm Isaac, which brushed past Tampa, now Hurricane Isaac, which is battering Louisiana and Mississippi, but the event is the television show, no?

RUDIN: Well, it is the television show, and of course there's less to see on television than there's ever been before. Once upon a time, we always talk about how the conventions did matter, and presidential nominees were decided at the conventions, and vice presidential nominees were decided. Now, of course, those folks are decided well in advance.

But it is a message to rally the troops, and of course the Republicans may need that much rallying in the sense that the national polls and a lot of the key state battleground state polls showed a very, very close race between himself and President Obama.

CONAN: The rallier-in-chief last night was the keynote addresser, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, who took the opportunity to, well, define the two parties that are running this election.

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: Here's what we believe as Republicans and what they believe as Democrats. We believe in telling hardworking families the truth about our country's fiscal realities, telling them what they already know: The math of federal spending does not add up. With $5 trillion in debt added over the last four years, we have no other option but to make the hard choices, cut federal spending and fundamentally reduce the size of this government.


CHRISTIE: Want to know what they believe? They believe that the American people don't want to hear the truth about the extent of our fiscal difficulties. They believe the American people need to be coddled by big government.

CONAN: And how is that message going to go over? Mitt Romney will be able to say no and stop spending. People like spending.

RUDIN: Well, and not only that, I think he - Chris Christie talked a lot about sacrifice and that the seniors will have to sacrifice, and I don't think Mitt Romney tomorrow night when he gives his acceptance speech will talk about that kind of sacrifice. But from the beginning we knew that Chris Christie was the kind of guy who would get the folks, the delegates on their feet. He's one of these, you know, forget-about-it New Jersey tough guys, and some people call him a bully. But at the convention, you know, he had the right tone, the kind of tone that for the most part it was not a very exciting convention until then.

CONAN: And if the keynoter's job is to tear down the opposition, the candidate's wife has the job of building up the image of her husband and especially appealing to women voters, where he's, according to those same polls, having a difficult time. This is Ann Romney last night, humanizing the candidate some describe as a little wooden sometimes.

ANN ROMNEY: I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a storybook marriage. Well, let me tell you something: In the storybooks I read, there never were long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once.


ROMNEY: And those storybooks never seem to have chapters called MS or Breast Cancer. A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.


RUDIN: That's sort of like what you and I have, Neal.

CONAN: Exactly, yeah.

RUDIN: No, but I thought Ann - I thought it was a magnificent speech. I mean, ultimately will people vote for Mitt Romney because of what Chris Christie said or what Ann Romney said? And it was kind of an odd juxtaposition of seeing the tough Christie following the very lovely and sweet Ann Romney's speech. But I think she gave a wonderful speech. You know, she didn't talk about the things that some, you know, Democrats were complaining that she didn't talk about. But again, I don't know what humanizes Mitt Romney. I don't think Mitt Romney is as much of a robot as people think he is, but I thought she was a very relaxed, very comfortable speech, and I just gave it - I really gave it an A-plus yesterday.

CONAN: We're going to go now, there are some people on the line who think they know the answer to this week's trivia question, and that is again the most recent person to serve his state, or her state, as governor, member of the House of Representatives and in the United States Senate.

RUDIN: Other than Tom Carper.

CONAN: Other than Tom Carper.

RUDIN: Of Delaware.

CONAN: 800-989-8255. Email talk@npr.org. Patrick(ph) is on the line from Santa Barbara.

PATRICK: Hello. I grew up in Delaware, but I live in California now. My guess is Mike Castle.

CONAN: Mike Castle, the former congressman and I believe governor from Delaware.

RUDIN: He was former governor, and of course he did run for the Senate in 2010, but he lost to Christine I-Am-Not-a-Witch O'Donnell in the primary. So he never made it to the Senate, but he was governor and member of the House.

CONAN: Nice try, Patrick.

PATRICK: Oh well.

CONAN: Let's see if we can go next...

RUDIN: Patrick didn't sound happy.

CONAN: Let's see if we can go next to Rich(ph) and Rich is with us from Glastonbury in Connecticut.

RICH: Hi, great show today.

CONAN: Thank you.

RICH: My guess goes back a couple years. I'm going to guess former governor Abraham Ribicoff, from Connecticut.

CONAN: Who made an appearance on the show yesterday. But anyway.

RUDIN: We mentioned him. Yes, Abraham Ribicoff, of course who stood up to Mayor Daley in the '68 convention. Abe Ribicoff was a member of the House, he was governor of Connecticut, and he was a senator from Connecticut, but he is not the most recent.

RICH: I figured.

RUDIN: But he got all three.

CONAN: Nice try.

RICH: At least I was in the ring, right?

CONAN: There you go.

RUDIN: Absolutely.

CONAN: Let's try - this is Josh(ph), Josh with us from Lynchburg in Virginia.

JOSH: Hey, how are you today?

CONAN: Good, thanks.

JOSH: My guess was Jeb Bush.

CONAN: Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.

RUDIN: And that's all he served. He never served in the Senate and never served in the House.

CONAN: Yet, he could still.

RUDIN: Apparently, he could be president, too.

CONAN: All right, thanks very much. Let's try Mark(ph), and Mark's with us from Leavenworth in Kansas. Your one call for this.

MARK: OK, Sam Brownback, Kansas.

RUDIN: Sam Brownback is the correct answer.

CONAN: Ding, ding, ding.

RUDIN: Sam Brownback, who is currently the governor of Kansas, he also served as a member of the House for one term, and then he was senator after Bob Dole was in the Senate. So Sam Brownback is the correct answer.

CONAN: Well, congratulations, Mark, and we're going to put you on hold and collect your particulars. And in the eventuality, well, now the promise of about four, five weeks, we will be sending you a political junkie no-prize T-shirt and a special winners' edition, winners only get a political junkie button, no-prize button. So anyway, stay on hold.

RUDIN: Mark sounds very excited.

CONAN: In the meantime, the campaign continues, and the - this is Mitt Romney before the convention getting involved into the birther mess. He was appearing in his home state of Michigan and had this to say.

MITT ROMNEY: Ann was born at Henry Ford Hospital. I was born at Harper Hospital.


ROMNEY: No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.


CONAN: Now, Romney laughed that off, asked are you getting - it's just a joke, people enjoyed it. But between that and the comments by the senatorial candidate from Missouri...

RUDIN: Michigan.

CONAN: Also in Michigan and Missouri, off-message.

RUDIN: Why do you step on your messages like that? I mean, I can't get into Mitt Romney's brain, but I kind of think that he was talking about the fact that he's - you know, here he is in Michigan, he's desperately trying to win Michigan on the Republican side in November, hoping to make it a swing state. But to throw out the birther thing, again, you know, it's been so discredited by everybody except a select few people who really think that's really an issue. And that's the last thing Mitt Romney wanted to do not only going into the convention but just to have that hanging over him.

And he says it was a joke, and maybe it was a joke, but I have a feeling it's just - he's the kind of person who sometimes things pop into his head, and he says them out loud. I can't stand people like that. I don't know why they would do that.


CONAN: Certainly, none of them end up on the radio.


CONAN: Actual votes, yesterday an interesting race in Arizona.

RUDIN: Well, there were two of them. Of course, there was a Senate race. Jon Kyl, the Republican majority whip, minority whip, is leaving after a few terms. Jeff Flake won the Republican primary there. He'll be running against former U.S. Attorney Surgeon General Richard Carmona for the Senate.

But the big House race, two freshman Republicans running against each other, Dave Schweikert and a guy name Ben Quayle, son of Dan Quayle, both of them serving their first term, and redistricting threw them in together. And Ben Quayle was basically on the defensive from the beginning. He was considered by many people to be privileged. He was - he had some embarrassing details of his past when he wrote for this blogsite under another name. And Dave Schweikert, who is a really - a non-compromising, no fooling around but a likeable guy who really outworked Ben Quayle, and he won pretty handily.

CONAN: So 13 former - current members of the House won't be coming back.

RUDIN: Yeah, a lot of them are of course incumbents versus incumbents, but there have been others defeated by challengers, as well.

CONAN: We should also note that former senator, former Democrat and former Republican Arlen Specter is in the hospital with a recurrence of his caner. We wish him well.

RUDIN: He's 82 years old. This is the third recurrence, exactly.

CONAN: We're talking with Ken Rudin, the political junkie. Up next, Ron Paul supporters erupted at the GOP convention yesterday. We'll talk with one of Paul's chief advisors about what happened and why. And Ron Paul supporters, we want to hear from you. Where do you go from here? 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. I'm Neal Conan. Stay with us. It's the political junkie on TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.


CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan. It's political junkie day. Ken Rudin is with us, as he is most Wednesdays. We'll forgive him for that vacation last week. Ken, any ScuttleButton winners this week?

RUDIN: There is. There was actually a picture of Bob Hope running as Mayor Jimmy Walker from the movie, "Beau James," 1957, anyway. But that was part of a Hope Springs, answer, puzzle. Denise Colvin(ph) of Colchester, Connecticut, will win that T-shirt and button.

CONAN: Well congratulations to her, and the latest ScuttleButton puzzle and Ken's column are up online at npr.org/junkie. After a delay for Isaac, the shortened Republican convention got underway yesterday. Things went pretty much according to plan, for the most part.

The one exception: Ron Paul delegates voices their objections very loudly to a rule change that might bar them from future conventions. Here's the reaction when the Speaker of the House John Boehner called for a vote on new rules at the convention hall yesterday.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: The question is on the adoption of the resolution. All those in favor signify by saying aye.


BOEHNER: All those opposed, no.


BOEHNER: Speaking as the chair, the ayes have it. The resolution is adopted. Without objection, the motion reconsidered - slate(ph) on the table.

CONAN: Paul delegates are not the only ones without a candidate now. Asked on Fox News if he would vote for the Libertarian candidate, here's what Ron Paul had to say.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL: Well, there's always possibilities of everything, but I haven't made up my mind. Put me down as undecided.

CONAN: Ron Paul says he's undecided. Where does that leave his followers? Ron Paul supporters, we want to hear from you. Where do you go from here? 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. We're joined now by Brian Naylor, Washington desk correspondent for NPR. He's been covering Ron Paul delegates at the Republican National Committee and joins us from NPR's workspace in Tampa. Brian, nice to have you with us.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: Thanks, Neal. It's good to be here.

CONAN: And how upset were Paul supporters yesterday?

NAYLOR: Well, they were very upset. I mean, there were a lot of - there was a lot of outrage felt on the part - I mean, first of all, there are not a lot of Ron Paul delegates here. And when you look at the big picture, there were about 190 Ron Paul delegates, according to counts yesterday, versus 2,000 for Mitt Romney. So it's a very - we're talking about a small minority.

But they're a very loud, and angry and enthusiastic bunch. You know, I think they felt that they were dealt a bad hand by party organizers, who essentially said we're going to choose who we're going to seat from the various state delegations. And so there were many Paul supporters who were not allowed to sit as delegates.

And there's a sense that they were dealt a bad hand and just, kind of, dissed. You know, during the call of the states yesterday, when each state chairman announces their tally, you know, the - there were Paul supporters, there were Paul delegates in many of the states, but the officials on the podium wouldn't even deem to announce the total.

So it would be, you know, Romney 58, and they would move on, and then you would hear in the audience the Paul supporters would say: And Paul 14. And it just seems - I'm not sure why exactly the Republican Party leaders feel, or the Romney folks feel, this is at all necessary because the Paul supporters are enthusiastic, they're young, they're energetic.

They're the kinds of people that Mitt Romney needs, and to just offend them this way seems counterproductive.


RUDIN: Well, Brian, several things. First of all, the reason they didn't mention the Ron Paul numbers is because he wasn't officially nominated at the convention, or at least his name wasn't placed into nomination. And the reason his name wasn't placed into nomination is that he didn't have the majority of five delegations, which you need.

But the rule change, and I think if you can talk a little bit about this, the rule change was basically that they no longer allow Ron Paul people to go to the state conventions and pick up delegates that they didn't win in the caucuses and...

CONAN: And excel that sort of organizational aspect that they've excelled at. But it gets into pretty arcane party politics, so it's...

NAYLOR: It's arcane, I mean, and this whole thing was a very convoluted process. As you recall, there were many states where the primaries were really just beauty contests. Well, we all reported on the results of the beauty contests, but then months or weeks later, they would have a caucus or another kind of event where they actually determine the delegates. And that's right, that's where the Paul folks excelled, at organizing and getting those delegates that really mattered. But...

CONAN: Now, there was a moment of triumph, I guess, for Paul supporters. The man himself, the congressman who of course is retiring at the end of this term, walked into the hall and sort of greeted his supporters. We saw a picture of him in that beautiful Hawaiian lei that he got from the Hawaii delegation.


CONAN: And there is going to be another moment, and that is the speech from his son, Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky.

NAYLOR: Right, and there will also be a video that precedes Rand's speech, in tribute to Ron Paul. And there's some question whether Rand is the heir, if the Paulite(ph) torch, the Libertarian torch, will be passed from father to son. It's not altogether clear whether Ron Paul's supporters will transfer to Rand Paul.

I think there's some lingering discomfort that Rand was - announced his support for Mitt Romney while Ron Paul was still a candidate, and that Rand doesn't adhere to some of the policies of his father, some of the more isolationist foreign policies that Ron Paul has long stood for.

So it's unclear whether that mantle will be passed. But Rand certainly is of the same political ilk, if you will. I mean he's still very - he's very Libertarian, very small government, very constitutional, and we'll just have to see how this plays out.

CONAN: Brian Naylor, thanks very much for your time today.

NAYLOR: Thank you.

CONAN: NPR Washington desk correspondent Brian Naylor, down covering the Paulites in Tampa. And we want to get some callers in on the conversation, 800-989-8255. Email talk@npr.org. And let's go to Grace(ph) and Grace with us from Birmingham.

GRACE: Hey, Neal, how are you today?

CONAN: I'm good, thanks.

GRACE: Great. I think it's important to point out that a lot of the reason that people support Ron Paul and that his followers seem to be so fervent and adamant about who they're voting for, is that unlike a lot of traditional Republicans, the Ron Paul supporters don't fall in and say, well, this is presumptive nominee, we're going to go with him.

Ron Paul supporters care about Ron Paul and Ron Paul's issues, and they know that he's been a tried and true, steadfast supporter of the same thing, year after year. So whether or not his delegates are going to go to somewhere else or his supporters are going to go somewhere else, I think you can pretty much guarantee from one election to the next, they're going to stay with him, even if he's not on the ballot.

CONAN: Well, he's elderly. He's not likely to be running again in four years.

GRACE: No, he's probably not. And as to the issue of Rand Paul, I think several people have mentioned that Rand is not exactly like his father. He's a little too neoconservative for a lot of Ron Paul issue followers. So I don't think Rand will get his full support.

CONAN: And who are you going to vote for come November?

GRACE: You know, I am on the edge. I actually was fortunate enough to be a part of a Ron Paul march in Washington in 2008, but I find myself on the sink(ph) between a couple of candidates right now.

CONAN: Which ones?

GRACE: I don't feel comfortable saying, I'm sorry.

CONAN: That's OK. Thanks very much for the phone call, we appreciate it.

GRACE: Thank you, appreciate it.

CONAN: Let's go now to Doug Wead, who served as a senior campaign advisor to Congressman Ron Paul in his bid for the presidency. He's with us from the Republican National Committee in Tampa, and nice to have you with us today. Doug Wead, are you there?

DOUG WEAD: I'm here.

CONAN: Oh good, he's there on Radio Road. Nice of you to be with us today.

WEAD: Thank you.

CONAN: So how upset are you about what happened yesterday?

WEAD: Well, in some ways I'm pleased. I'm glad that the nation can see what we've been facing at caucus, precinct caucuses, at district conventions, at county conventions, at state conventions. It's kind of neat to see it on national TV, the ayes have it. I heard one of your correspondents just say we have 191 delegates here. If you think 191 people were saying nay, we - if this all happened organically, we probably would have had about 1,000 delegates here. We still wouldn't have won.

But it didn't happen organically. It - voter rolls were locked away in the trunks of cars. Door - people were locked out. Meetings were held in different places than was announced. We've had broken bones. We've had some pretty amazing experiences on the road to Tampa.

And what you saw yesterday was very typical. It happened in the Oklahoma convention.

CONAN: So what happens now? Your supporters, or Ron Paul's supporters, have to feel pretty angry and upset, and, well, is their loyalty still with the Republican candidate?

WEAD: Well, that remains to be seen. Some of us on the Ron Paul campaign, our task was to try to fold them in to the Romney camp. Our hope was that we could convince our supporters to support Romney in his race against Obama. Pretty tough to do when you're not given anything to work with. If you're given just a little bit, but our people are shut out, their buses are driven around blocks so they can't get in for key votes, you have this top-down running of the Republican Party - there's no way Ronald Reagan would have won the nomination. Gerald Ford's appointed RNC people would have dictated who the delegates were to the convention as we will now have, and so it's not just Ron Paul. It's Rand Paul, or it's some future Ron Paul.


WEAD: Interesting time from our perspective.

RUDIN: Doug, anybody who's watched conventions over the years always remembers that the roll call would almost be in primetime; it would be an exciting time when the presidential nominee would go over the top and get the nomination. Yesterday, it seemed like the Republican Party went out of its way to move the roll call early in the day, before primetime. Do you think that was also a snub directed at Paul supporters?

WEAD: No. I don't know that they're snubs directed at Paul supporters. It's the streamlining of the process. It's show business. It's putting your candidate in the best light. But we have good managers, political managers. We have some that aren't so good. We have some on the Romney team who lost the Dole campaign. They lost the McCain campaign. And I'd like to point out they're the people that set up these rules. It sounds like some of you are talking about how we exploited the rules.

The rules were set up by the Romney people with the permission of the McCain people four years ago. This was all set up so that if Romney lost the primary, he could still win the delegation because he had more money than the other candidates, presumably, and could field the organization that would turn out the numbers from the precinct caucuses up to the district caucuses to the state conventions. We exploited those rules, but we didn't - we weren't always successful.

And sometimes the will of the people was turned against us. For example, in North Dakota we beat Mitt Romney, but he got 60 percent of the delegates. No one talks about that. They just talk about Massachusetts, where our people came in and won a bunch of delegates, and that offended some people.

CONAN: Have you spoken with Congressman Paul since yesterday? What's his reaction?

WEAD: Yes. He's flown home. He's circumspect.


WEAD: He's a very bright man. He's an economist. He's not really a politician, he would tell you. He's a self-educated economist, someone who just loves to study it and read about it and - but I think he has dramatically changed the whole paradigm of American politics, and it will take us a while to catch up and understand. It's no longer left and right. That worked during the Cold War and when the debate was about the role of government and how much government. There was the same division and the Left Bank were the socialists, and the Right Bank was the monarchy and the palace there in Paris.

It's no longer left and right. It's not really up and down, rich or poor. It's a total realignment. I would describe it as in and out. The insiders who get the easy money, the zero percent interest, can refinance the old loans, can make their dreams come true; and the outsiders who are a curious mix of not just Republicans but Democrats too, who want to make sure the Internet is free, who want to stop the military spending. For example, we spend 42 percent - we account for 42 percent of the world's military expenditures.

So there are some people kind of catching on that this isn't about safety. This is about making money. So I'm in a sense having fun because I'm making friends with people. I'm a born again Christian. I have friends now who are gay. I have friends who are liberal Democrats who care about some of these issues. Here I am a right-wing conservative. I think there's a paradigm shift, and we don't know where it will quite settle.

CONAN: Doug Wead is a senior campaign adviser to Ron Paul's 2012 campaign for president. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. And let's go to Adam, and Adam is on the line with us from Denver.

ADAM: Hey there, guys.


ADAM: I just wanted to say that as someone who tried to be a Ron Paul delegate to the national convention, I find it very difficult because here in Colorado what happened was at our state convention the Romney campaign was passing out, you know, ballots that had fake names on them so it confused people (unintelligible) voting for Ron Paul. And I've got to say is, you know, that was my first time in Republican politics, because I came over to Paul as a former Obama supporter.

And now I've kind of looked into everyone's record, and it seems like, you know, Obama is spending more money than Bush on the military. Both Republicans and Democrats don't want to talk about monetary policy...

CONAN: So Adam, where do you go now?

ADAM: I don't know. You know, I think at this point I'd rather not vote for the lesser of two evils. I'm either going to sit out or, you know, vote for Gary Johnson, but Gary Johnson isn't really as principled and kind of consistent as Ron Paul is and...

CONAN: Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate.

ADAM: Right.

CONAN: We've got an email from Phil who says he's voting Gary Johnson as a former Ron Paul supporter. Austin, from Wichita, emails: Write Ron Paul in, like I did last year. Kansas does not recognize write-in votes. But I do it for the principle of the whole thing. And I wanted to ask you, Doug Wead, who are you going to vote for?

WEAD: I haven't decided yet. I'm thinking it over. It seems to me - I mean, I get the feeling that we're on a train that's headed for a canyon. The bridge is out up ahead. And the Romney people are saying, hey, vote for us, we'll slow this train down to 80 miles an hour. This Obama guy is going 100 miles an hour. And I'm kind of like it's irrelevant. We're still going off the cliff, unless we change a little bit. This is how the Soviet Union imploded, and we've got to make some fundamental changes.

And I see the poor getting screwed. I see the middle class losing the value of their homes. I see the elderly losing the value of their retirement. It's very sad. I think we need...

CONAN: Ken, we just have a few seconds. Ken has a quick question.

RUDIN: Doug, if Mitt Romney loses, what happens to the Republican Party? Does it implode? Does it factionalize on the road?

CONAN: And we'll give you 30 seconds to answer that question.

WEAD: You know what, Mitt Romney, even if he loses, could win the nomination next time because of the way he stacked the rules, because he will appoint the people that will decide and override who the delegates will be. So maybe he'll get two chances.

CONAN: Doug Wead, thanks very much for your time today. And we'll look forward to speaking with you down the road.

WEAD: Thanks much.

CONAN: Doug Wead served as a senior campaign advisor to Texas Congressman Ron Paul in his bid for the presidency. He joined us from Tampa at radio row at the Republican National Convention. Political Junkie Ken Rudin will stay with us. Up next, two former speech writers, a Republican and a Democrat, tell us what Mitt Romney needs to say in his speech to the nation tomorrow night. Call and tell us what you want to hear from Mitt Romney tomorrow night. 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.