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Cue the nominee

Aug 30, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

Mitt Romney's big speech comes Thursday, and the bar is high

When you are a relatively bland presidential candidate, you run the risk of being overshadowed by your running mate from time to time.

Welcome to the club, Mitt Romney.

The soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee gives the speech of his life Thursday night at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. It had better be a doozy if he's to equal the bar set by his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Ryan did his job Wednesday, dazzling, exciting and firing up the convention crowd. It's easy to see why he's a star in the party.

Four years ago, Sarah Palin completely outperformed John McCain at their convention. Nearly twice as many TV viewers watched Palin as McCain. She became a bigger draw on the campaign trail than the nominee. Republicans this year will be wondering if Ryan might do the same thing -- and Romney hasn't even given his acceptance speech yet.

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who is the son of one president and the brother of another, said Thursday that Romney has a big job ahead in his speech, and a very important one. He has to make a human connection with voters, be "allowed in," as Bush put it. Once that happens, voters will consider your message.

Ryan certainly was "allowed in" Wednesday night, and it's clear one reason he is on the ticket is to provide a blue-collar balance to Romney's yacht-club image. Analysts jumped on some fibs he told about his own record, but the cheering, clapping convention crowd demonstrated approval for Ryan. He was a hit.

It's only been recently in election terms that running mates have glowed more brightly than the nominee. Al Gore certainly didn't outshine Bill Clinton. The magnetic Ronald Reagan never faced any threat from George H.W. Bush on the charisma meter. The second President Bush was a robotic speaker for the most part, but the monotone of Dick Cheney didn't detract from the boss.

Viewers know Mitt Romney won't have a handsome hair out of place Thursday, and the suit will be razor sharp. Rarely has a man so classically good-looking been nominated for the presidency. But it's what comes out of his mouth Thursday that will go a long way toward making or breaking him. He might not outdo his running mate as a speechmaker, but he'd better not be too far behind.

One other piece of advice for Romney from Jeb Bush: "Don't do anything stupid."

Words to live by, Governor.

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Pack it

Riverton High School opens its 2012 football season Friday, hosting the defending Class 3-A state champion Powell Panthers at Wolverine Field.

It's time for any lingering disappointment about the change of football venue from Tonkin Stadium last year to be put behind us. The first full year at the new field is the time to begin a new tradition.

The field has been improved significantly since last season. There are more seats, better seats, new indoor restroom facilities, and the best concession area we've ever had.

Beyond all that, these are our kids, our Wolverine players, cheerleaders, band members. This is our community, and these young people wear our uniform. They deserve our support, and we must give it to them -- win or lose, no matter where they play.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday. Let's pack the place.

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