Cultural Bridge Over Troubled Water

Photograph by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Carlos Mendez of the Puerto Rico delegation at the Republican National Convention.

A multicultural stage in Tampa tonight for the run-up to the running mate:

This is the convention of a party lacking the support of Hispanic Americans — with less than one third of Latinos voicing support for the party’s presidential candidate in opinion polling. It is trailing among African Americans — with nine in 10 black voters voicing support for the Democratic president. Yet the convention stage in Tampa tonight presented a diverse picture for the national viewing audience.

Mike Huckabee, the former Baptist preacher and governor of Arkansas who ran for president in 2008, joined Condolleeza Rice, the first African-American woman secretary of state, and Susana Martinez, the governor of New Mexico and first Hispanic-American woman elected governor of a U.S. state.

Huckabee delivered a message for a Christian audience not thoroughly comfortable with the religion of the Republican presidential nominee: Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Huckabee, who has continued in public life as a Fox News host, said he’s less concerned about where Romney takes his family to church than with where Romney will take the country.

Rice delivered a message of hope.

“Ours has been a belief in opportunity, and it has been a constant struggle, long and hard, up and down, to try to extend the American dream to all,” Rice told the convention tonight, with a reminder of her own life’s story. and this suggestion: “We need to show… that we are a compassionate nation of immigrants.”

Martinez said: “In many ways, Mitt Romney and I are very different,” yet they share the same goal of “success.”

The three prepared the stage for Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman from Wisconsin who looks a lot more like Romney. Ryan echoed Huckabee’s words on religion — the best preachers teach by example, he said, and Romney sets one every day.

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