Political conventions can make or break reputations.  Let's assess the performances of some of the speakers at the recently concluded Republican National Convention in Tampa.

CHRIS CHRISTIE – 4/10

An early Romney supporter, the New Jersey governor was given the role of delivering the keynote speech on the first night.  How important is this?  Eight years ago, the Democrats picked a little known Illinois politician called Barack Obama to make the keynote at their convention and look at how it turned out for him.  Expectations for Christie were high.  He’s considered a political rock star, able to move crowds and energise support.  He had a great entrance, and then it went downhill from there.  For someone who was meant to talk up the candidate's talents and prospects, he took a long time to get there.  He spent more time talking about himself and his home state.  The crowd cheered, but there was no great love.                                                  

TIM PAWLENTY – 2/10

The former governor from Minnesota was thought to be a frontrunner for the post of vice-president, just like four years ago, only to be disappointed, just like four years ago.  He ran his own presidential campaign, but pulled out when money and support dried up.  This was a chance to establish himself as a serious contender for a cabinet post if Romney wins, or to become a significant player in the party.  Instead, he performed a series of weak jokes that drew almost as many groans as laughs.                                                                                  

PAUL RYAN – 6/10

This was Paul Ryan's coming out party.  A favourite with the right wing, he's not well known outside the Washington bubble.  He's young, engaging and energetic, and the crowd loved him.  He got more deeply involved in policy that almost anyone else, but his performance has been overshadowed by the accusations that he, at the very least, stretched some facts during his address.  Essentially a professional politician, people in the hall were almost willing him to do well.

CONDELEZZA RICE – 7/10

This was a slightly surprising return to the political spotlight for the former secretary of state.  Some Republicans hoped she might even chase the presidential nomination herself.  Regarded as stiff and sometimes awkward, she isn't a comfortable campaigner.  Speaking without autocue, she didn't discuss just foreign policy but also covered education and the economy.  And her telling of her own story, from being a little girl growing up in racially segregated Alabama to rising to occupy one of the top offices of state is the kind of thing the Republican delegates love to hear.  A hit in the hall and one of the best speeches of the convention.

MARCO RUBIO – 8/10

Another potential VP pick, the Cuban-American has only been in the senate for two years, so was presumably ruled out because of his lack of experience.  His job was to introduce Romney.  He managed to hit all the right notes, at just the right times.  He told his own story, built up the Republican platform and gave full throated support to the nominee.  The people in the hall loved it.  A top performance. 

MITT ROMNEY – 7/10

This was Mitt's big moment, the chance to truly introduce himself to the American public rather than be defined by the negative ads of the Obama campaign.   It was a speech that was long on patriotic sentiment and short on detail of what he would do as president.  Surprisingly, he didn't mention Afghanistan, a country where American service personnel continue to fight and die.  He is not a great public speaker, but this was perhaps his best performance.  Yet it was a speech lacking in soaring rhetoric or lines that will live beyond the election.