AUGUST 27-30 | REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION | These party conventions are now essentially four-day infomercials, and you can be sure that Romney will use it to full advantage. Everything that takes place— especially during the national-television coverage hours — will be meticulously crafted and controlled to reinforce the Romney campaign message. That will include his running-mate selection, which will be chosen to match the desired color, region, age, and focus-group response — not unlike choosing wall trim at Home Depot.

Tune in to see . . . how far from public view Romney keeps party elites — particularly his former competition — who have not proven themselves to be Romney team players. Last election's GOP standard-bearer John McCain, for example, may find himself slotted to speak Tuesday before breakfast.

NOVEMBER 6 | ELECTION DAY | One way or another, Romney's eight-year quest for the White House — dating at least to the 2004 opening of PACs in Iowa and New Hampshire — ends here. Either he gets his prize, and has to figure out what he wants to do with it, or he goes home to play with his grandchildren and his remaining millions.

Tune in to see . . . whether the notoriously robotic, plastic, non-emotive Romney finally reveals any glimpse of the emotional weight of this denouement — if he doesn't show any emotion now, he never will. ^

To read the Talking Politics blog, go to thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics. David S. Bernstein can be reached at dbernstein@phx.com. Follow him on Twitter @dbernstein.

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