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There was a time when the national conventions of the two major political parties were filled with drama, emotional catharsis and occasionally even angry fisticuffs. (Here's our gallery of great and not-so-great historic moments at GOP conventions.) Over the years, the quadrennial gatherings evolved into something more closely resembling slick, stage-managed infomercials, carefully designed to sell the parties' tickets to the public rather than to wrestle over fateful decisions. Even so, whether you're a hardcore political junkie or simply a citizen who likes to be informed, the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, which will run Aug. 27-30, may remain fascinating.
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