In prime time. Good for the man from Texas. On behalf of his father, his wife, the Texas delegation, the grand legacy of Lincoln, the Bush family, and all right-thinking Republicans he did the honorable thing.
He completely ignored the bloated, SprayNetted con man that the Republicans have picked as their standard bearer.
Trump was played — big time.
Cruz showed Trump his speech, and made it clear that he wasn’t going to endorse, but Trump/the Trump campaign didn’t understand how subversive Cruz’s speech was -> Cruz’s delivery made the speech much more anti-Trump than you would have realized from the text.
So Cruz managed to get on the stage and deliver his red-blooded pro-conservative/anti-Tru
You’ll note that there’s no “Lyin Ted” rhetoric coming from the Trump camp, because Ted Cruz boxed them in! Instead, Trump and his people are saying “we knew about this all along, and it’s fine.” Check this out:
“I knew about this all along” — yeah right.
The junior Senator from Texas gave a rousing speech at the Republican convention that completely ignored Donald Trump, to the boos of the New York delegation.
CLEVELAND — Facing jeers even from many of his own constituents, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas on Thursday defended his non-endorsement of Donald J. Trump, talking down hecklers at a fractious breakfast forum the morning after his performance onstage upended the Republican National Convention.
In an extraordinary display of party division — at a typically staid Texas state delegation breakfast that is intended to exemplify convention-week harmony — Mr. Cruz strained to manage the vitriol directed his way, stressing that he had not said a cross word about Mr. Trump.
“I addressed the convention because Donald Trump asked me to,” he said. “And when Donald Trump asked me to, he didn’t ask me to endorse.”
“We don’t just put on red jerseys and blue jerseys,” he added. “This is about principles and ideals.”
Repeatedly, the taunts rained down on him.
“Sit down!” one man said, before a “Clinton-Cruz 2020” sign was raised.
“You need to do it now!” shouted another.
“Do it!” yelled a third. “Do it now!”
When attendees pointed out Mr. Cruz’s past pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee, Mr. Cruz suggested that any agreement was “abrogated” when Mr. Trump attacked the senator’s family.
“I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” he said, adding that he was not a “servile puppy dog.”
A man in the back hollered at the stage: “You’ve got to get over it. This is politics.”
“No, this is not politics,” Mr. Cruz said sharply. “I will tell the truth.”
Mr. Cruz said the response of Trump supporters was troubling.
“What does it say when you stand up and say ‘vote your conscience,’” he began, “and rabid supporters of our nominee begin screaming, ‘What a horrible thing to say!’”
If the nominee cannot meet that threshold, he said, “We are not going to win and don’t deserve to win.”
It was another vintage Cruz performance — defiant, lofty and certain to anger even people inclined to defend him— delivered before a bitterly divided audience from the home state that offered him a convincing victory in its presidential primary.
Some attendees left the reception hall as he spoke. Others showered him with partial standing ovations.
One man, Thomas Mathis, said loudly that he was helping to elect Hillary Clinton and demonstratively turned his back, facing a table of beverages, as Mr. Cruz pressed on.
Another guest, Shawn McAnelly, who twice shouted at Mr. Cruz, was warned by security that if he did so again, he would be ejected.
Mr. Cruz sought to depict his critics as reflective of two men considered boogeymen for hard-line conservatives: John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.
He suggested that the calls to endorse under any circumstances reminded him of Washington ethos of “sit down, shut up, just support the team.”
“If that’s the price, I ain’t gonna do it,” he said.
Other members of the Texas delegation made no attempt to mask their anger at Mr. Cruz, who rose to political stardom with his attacks on other Republicans.
“It’s consistent behavior from him,” Representative Pete Sessions said before Mr. Cruz spoke on Thursday, adding, “He continued what he is — it’s about Ted.”
Representative Jeb Hensarling told reporters that Mr. Cruz had delivered the beginnings of an effective speech on Wednesday night and then “missed a two-foot putt” at the end.
As Mr. Cruz wrapped up, after taking several questions — mostly of the same theme — from the crowd, a Trump and a Cruz supporter stood nose to nose.
Ted Cruz Refuses To Endorse Trump
Sen. Ted Cruz took the stage at the Republican convention in Cleveland and ignored Donald Trump while making it clear that he is running for president again in 2020.
Sen. Ted Cruz took the stage at the Republican convention in Cleveland and completely ignored Donald Trump while making it clear that he is running for president again in 2020.
Ted Cruz Steals the Show
CLEVELAND—Senator Ted Cruz strode out on stage at the Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday to thunderous, extended applause. He left, smiling tightly, to equally thunderous, equally extended boos.The applause was Cruz’s reward for appearing at the Republican National Convention hosted by Donald Trump. The boos were his penalty for refusing to endorse Trump during the speech. It was the latest stunning turn at a convention that remains stubbornly fractured, despite pleas to paper over differences on three straight nights. The GOP simply isn’t ready to unify.The rapturous reception when Cruz came out was striking but not so strange. After all, even though the feud between Cruz and Trump grew increasingly bitter as the primary campaign went on, polls showed substantial overlap between their two voter bases. But it became clear from the start of the speech that Cruz, like a trio of other famous Texans, wasn’t ready to make nice.“I want to congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night,” Cruz said. It was a twice-barbed comment: Not only was it not an endorsement, the insistence that Trump had won onlyTuesday, after a series of revolts by pro-Cruz delegates were put down, was a subtle jab. The rest of the speech included a series of double-edged remarks that could be taken as either support for party unity or continued disdain for Trump:“I want to see the principles our party believes prevail in November.”“What if this, right now, is our last time? … Did we live up to our values? Did we do all we could? That’s really what elections should be about…. We’re fighting, not for one particular candidate or one campaign, but because each of us wants to be able to tell our kids and grandkids… that we did our best for their future, and for our country.”“Freedom means religious freedom, whether you are Christian or Jew, Muslim or atheist.”And perhaps most cleverly: “Don’t stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”Cruz can be an excellent speaker, and he was on his game Wednesday. The crowd was into it. But as the address approached its conclusion, and it became clear that there was no endorsement coming, the crowd grew increasingly agitated. Pockets of people pointed and shouted, “Endorse Trump!” And as Cruz reached for the big finish, the boos broke out. It was stunning. Across the press box, jaded journalists’ jaws hung agape.The up-and-down pattern exemplified by Cruz’s address persisted throughout the night. Early in the evening, Laura Ingraham delivered a barnburner of a speech. “We should all, even all you boys with wounded feelings and bruised egos, pledge to support Donald Trump now,” she said. “This is the most important election since 1980.” (Cruz apparently didn’t hear her.) But a sleepy, meandering speech by casino owner Phil Ruffin, punctuated with borderline laughable statements—“If Donald tells you something, put it in the bank. His handshake is better than any contract you will ever write”—let the air out of the room. A bit later, Pastor Darrell Scott of Cleveland Heights had the room on its feet; businessman Harold Hamm got them to sit back down again. Governor Scott Walker, whose endorsements of Trump had been tortured, offered stronger backing in his speech, which was punctuated by a refrain of “America deserves better.” But he was followed by Lynne Patton, vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation. Yes, really.
Adding to the weirdness, Newt Gingrich decided to kick off his own speech with an impromptu attempt to walk back Cruz’s non-endorsement. “I think you misunderstood one paragraph that Ted Cruz, who’s a superb orator, said,” Gingrich insisted. “He said, you can vote your conscience for anyone who would uphold the Constitution. In this election, there is only one candidate who will uphold the Constitution.”
Gingrich praised Trump for inviting his competitors speak at the convention without demanding an endorsement. Trump couldn’t have been taken by surprise; the speech Cruz delivered was nearly identical to prepared remarks sent out ahead of time. The radical honesty made for great television, but it was also likely political malpractice. Not only did it make the Cruz boos the big story of the night, but the victim was Mike Pence, the vice-presidential candidate whose speech was meant to be its centerpiece.
And it was a good speech. Pence was self-effacing and poised. He movingly praised his mother, wife, and children. Poking fun at his relatively low profile compared to Trump, the Indiana governor quipped, “He’s a man known for a large personality, a colorful style, and lots of charisma, and so I guess he was just looking for some balance on the ticket.” (He also stands to bring some accent balance to the ticket. He told the audience the change Trump would bring would be “hhhhuge,” emphasizing the initial letter.)
Despite a less bellicose reputation than his vanquished rivals for the running-mate slot, Pence showed that he could be an able attacker. Democrats “tell us this economy is the best that we can do. It’s nowhere near the best that we can do. It’s just the best that they can do.” He said that if Hillary Clinton were elected, the nation would have to “get used to unelected judges using unaccountable means to take unconstitutional actions.” He also managed to put a slightly friendlier gloss on “Blue Lives Matter” mantra other speakers have recited at the convention. “We will always stand with those who stand on the thin blue line of law enforcement in America,” Pence said.
In short, it was polished, smooth, and effective—not the most memorable speech in political history, but a strong performance, which was exactly what the Donald Trump campaign needed and wanted when it selected a veteran politician as a running mate. Unfortunately for Trump and Pence, though, he was neither the best nor the most memorable speaker of the night. That honor went to Ted Cruz.
—David A. Graham
The American people don’t know Mike Pence. Of those who do, some may have only learned about the Indiana governor since he was tapped as Donald Trump’s running mate—one Trump “settled on”and second-guessed, and one the mogul has easily “overshadowed.”
Starting with his remarks at the convention, Pence is getting a chance to change that. But first, he had to acknowledge the obvious. Trump “is a man known for a large personality, a colorful style, and lots of charisma. I think he was just looking for some balance on the ticket,” Pence joked.
Indeed, the governor is a foil to Trump: a career politician with Hill experience, who can, ideally, bring along traditional conservatives and evangelicals who haven’t yet taken to Trump. Pence took his self-introduction duties seriously in his remarks: introducing the audience to his family—his mom is “the light of his life”—running through his all-American-boy biography, and offering his tax-cutting political bona fides. House Speaker Paul Ryan vouched for him in an introductory speech: “He’s a man of faith, he’s a man of conviction, he’s a man you can trust,” Ryan said. “He comes from the heart of the conservative movement and from the heart of America.” Pence characterized himself this way, as he has for many years: “I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.”
As a faithful—if recently appointed—wingman, Pence reserved much of his time to extol the virtues of his ticket-mate. “I have seen the way he deals with people who work for him at every level. And I’ve seen the way they feel about working for him. Now, I grant you he can be a little rough with politicians on the stage and I’ll bet we see that again,” he said. “But I have seen this good man up close, his utter lack of pretense, his respect for the people who work for him, and his devotion to his family.” A candidate, as Pence put it, “chosen by the voters as the right man for these times.” And now that Trump’s seen Pence in primetime, he can assess whether he chose the right man to be his vice-presidential nominee.
Summing up the night, Ted Cruz: “Vote your conscience.”
RNC delegates: “Booooo!”
Keep in mind: The last Republican presidential nominee invented Obamacare, the current nominee once strongly supported universal health care, and the current nominee for vice president pushed hard to have the full law implemented in Indiana even as many fellow Republican governors still resist it.
This Mike Pence speech is competent enough, and seems to be going over well in the arena, but I can’t see it having huge appeal. Like everything else at the RNC this year, there’s a lot of red meat for the base and not a lot of persuasion or outreach.
If Ted Cruz’s speech served as evidence that the Republican Party remains divided, Donald Trumpon Wednesday provided a dramatic reminder of why that’s so. In an interview he gave in the afternoon, which was published as Mike Pence delivered his acceptance speech, Trump offered a string of remarkable statements. He said that America shouldn’t lecture Turkey—currently purging its military and bureaucracy of dissidents—until it solves its own problems at home. And he had this to say about the NATO alliance, a lynchpin of American security and the internal order for half a century:
Asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are the most recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”
That follows a report from the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin that Trump’s campaign intervened to soften a platform plank supporting the Ukraine against Russia.
There are certainly voters who, like Trump, would like to build closer ties to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. There are those who admire Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a strongman. There are those who support a more isolationist stance in American foreign policy. But these are not unifying stances within the Republican Party. Far from it. For many Republicans, these positions would have been disqualifying in any other candidate—and may yet prove disqualifying when embraced by Donald Trump.
Three days into a convention intended to unify the Republican Party behind him, Trump isn’t making his task any easier.
This is Mike Pence’s introduction to America. He told the crowd that he “grew up on the front row of the American dream,” recalling how he watched his mom and dad build “a family, a business and a good name.” Pence said that his dad “ was a combat veteran in Korea,” calling him a great father and saying that if he were here today he would enjoy the moment and likely be “pretty surprised.” But, he said, his mother is here. “Would you join me in welcoming, the light of my life, my mom, Nancy,” Pence asked the audience, which erupts in applause.
Last week, with hope still alive that he might yet join a presidential ticket, Newt Gingrich stepped in it. On Fox News, he suggested American Muslims should affirm they reject sharia, the legal system of Islam, or face deportation. It fell broadly in line with earlier comments from Donald Trump, who once called for a ban on Muslim immigration, but the former House speaker’s comments cantilevered out further than even the Trump campaign may have found comfortable.
In his address tonight, he refrained from talk of a religious test. But his remarks centered firmly on national security and the role of American Muslims in maintaining it.
“Let me be very clear, because I know the news media will do their best to distort this,” he said. “We have nothing to fear from the vast majority of Muslims in the United States, or around the world. The vast majority are peaceful. They are often the victims of the violence themselves. They are people we would be happy to have as our friends and neighbors. The challenge is, when even a small percentage of a billion, 600 million people support violence against those who disagree with them, that is still a giant recruiting base.”
Hillary Clinton, his old adversary, doesn’t understand this, Gingrich argued. She is presumably among the Americans who are “sleepwalking through history as though this is all about politics,” as he put it. He listed recent instabilities, many associated with refugees or anti-Western sentiment—targeted stabbings in France, the sexual assaults in Germany on New Year’s Eve—and intimated more would take place under her presidency. “Hillary Clinton and President Obama lie to the American people when they say they can safely screen the Syrian refugees,” he said. “They cannot.” One of the former Speaker’s faults is his tendency to verge into pedantry. There were many moments when the crowd’s applause seemed to catch him by surprise. But he occasionally roared back with full Gingrichian force, including his closing moments.
His most memorable moment was unscripted. Before his prepared remarks, Gingrich threw a bone to Ted Cruz, who faced boos from delegates when it became clear he wasn’t going to explicitly endorse Donald Trump. “Ted Cruz said you can vote your conscience for anyone who will uphold the Constitution,” he said. “In this election, there is only one candidate who will uphold the Constitution…” Spoiler, according to Gingrich: It’s Trump.
This is a moment to watch. As I wrote this morning, Donald Trump’s advisors have signaled that his vice president would yield unusual authority—playing the CEO to Trump’s chairman of the board. That means that Pence isn’t just balancing the ticket; he’s running to be America’s next chief executive.
So this afternoon, I went to the convention floor, and talked to as many Indiana delegates as I could find. Some were willing to be quoted; others demurred. But taken together, they offered a portrait of a governor who’s grown into the job in his four years in office—and who impressed them with his loyalty and compassion. One delegate’s story, in particular, stood out:
When Mike Pence was first elected to Congress in 2000, Curt Smith served as a general consultant on his campaign. The two men stayed close. So when Curt’s son, Andrew, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the governor started reaching out. “He kept calling: ‘What can I do?’” Smith recalled.
Andrew Smith was a standout center for Butler University, taking his team to two NCAA final fours. He was also a Star Wars fan. So his father thought of something: Could Pence secure a screener of the forthcoming film so his son could see it? Pence made the call. Disney agreed. But Andrew was already too sick to watch it. He died in January.
Steve King’s comments on Cruz: “To me, Ted Cruz showed America what he really is. He’s a fraud, he’s a liar, he’s self-centered.” Also: “He cannot be trusted, he’s not a true Republican, he’s not a true conservative.”
Newt Gingrich calls for President Trump to summarily arrest anyone who threatens the lives of police officers.
Eric Trump took to the stage to tell voters his dad will make America great again. He shed a bit of light on what takes place behind the scenes in the Trump family as he talked about how his father made a sacrifice when he decided to run for president out of love and devotion to the country. He recalled the moment when his “father sat my family down and told us the time had come. He could no longer sit idly by and watch our beloved country … crumble before our very eyes,” Eric said.
The most personal moment came at the very end. “Never have I been more proud to be a Trump,” Eric called out, looking out into the audience. “Dad, you have once again taught us by example, you are my hero, you are my best friend, you are the next president of the United States.” Trump, the candidate, stood up to applaud.
The speech seemed to go off without a hitch, which has to be a relief for the Trumps after a week filled with ups-and-downs. First, Melania stood accused of plagiarism—facing charges that she had copied Michelle Obama, no less. Then, speculation broke out that—could it be?!—a speech delivered by Donald Trump Jr. might have plagiarized, too, although that potential controversy mostly died down after the author of the phrases in the speech said he had helped write it.
Yet while Eric emphasized devotion to his father, the speech did not do all that much to give the crowd a glimpse at what Trump is like with his family. Eric stuck largely to praising his father’s record of professional achievement, talking about how Trump’s business savvy prepare him to become a stellar commander-in-chief. “My father has …. turned dreams into reality his entire career,” Eric said. “It’s what he does, it’s who he is.”
Newt Gingrich touted Donald Trump for inviting Republican rivals to speak at the national convention, despite no endorsements. But that “generosity,” as Gingrich put it, wasn’t always clear.
The Republican National Committee and the Donald Trump campaign once threatened to keep speaking slots from Republicans who might not share a favorable view of the GOP nominee. Trump said in an interview with the Times: “If there’s no endorsement, then I would not invite them to speak.” Of course, that’s not the case today, as Ted Cruz spoke and did not give an endorsement.
Callista Gingrich opened for her husband, first giving a nod of congratulation to the man who bested him for the vice presidential slot. “We are also delighted by the selection of Governor Mike Pence as our vice presidential candidate,” she said. “We are confident he will make an exceptional vice president.”
Eric Trump: “Vote for the one candidate who does not need this job.” I’m pretty sure Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein will all be fine regardless.
It’s an evening of distinctive fashion choices at the Q tonight. Almost the entire North Carolina delegation, as well as a few delegates from other states, are sporting seersucker, for example.
A more pointed fashion choice came from the Virginia delegation, in which some delegates had attached yellow cheeky tabs to their credentials reading “Troublemaker.” The first couple I approached sheepishly declined to explain what was they meant except to say that they liked to follow the rules. Delegate Mick Staton explained that they were a reference to the week’s battles over delegate binding, and he said they were a gift from Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
“It’s just a way to set us apart,” Staton said with a wry grin. “The concerns we had on Monday had nothing to with Donald Trump. They had everything to do with the rules of the Republican Party. We just got trampled in the rules committee.”
He said the Virginia delegation had come together a bit and were on the same page, but he remained vague about quite what page that was. “The primary season was one of the most difficult, nasty, divisive campaigns I’ve seen in a long time,” Staton said. “When you have that kind of campaign, it’s hard to come back together.”
Eric Trump is sporting a very un-Trumplike four-in-hand tie knot—also known as a schoolboy knot—tonight. Younger brothers always get to have all the fun.
Cruz supporters were angry at the chorus of boos Trump fans showered on the Texas senator at the conclusion of his speech. “That was despicable!” Manette Merrill of Washington State said. “This is a person who had the second most votes in the primary.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz is holding back.
His arrival on the convention stage was met with sustained applause from convention-goers and cowboy-hat-swinging from his home state’s delegation. But once he started speaking, he didn’t give some of the delegates what they were looking for: They wanted their favorite candidate in the 2016 primaries to formally endorse the man who beat him. “I want to congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night, and like each of you, I want to see the principles that our party believes prevail in November,” Cruz said.
Instead, Cruz gave an address that could just as easily been a campaign-announcement speech—with plenty of criticisms of evil Democrats looking to take away Americans’ liberties and umpteenth references to the magic of individual freedom. He referenced Trump only once, to the ire of Trump supporters in the crowd, who began yelling for him to endorse as the speech wound down. “We deserve leaders who stand for principle, who unite us all behind shared values, who cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect from everybody,” Cruz said, ostensibly criticizing Trump’s rhetoric.
In a further dig, he called for Republicans to enthusiastically turn out in November—but stopped short of encouraging them to vote for the man at the top of the ticket. “Stand and speak and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution,” he said.
Delegates on the floor have turned around to face the Trump family box, where Donald Trump is now watching his son Eric speak.
Eric Trump is speaking at the convention. Before he did, an inspirational video titled “My Father, Donald Trump” played inside the arena.
It featured Eric, Donald Jr., and Ivanka, all singing their father’s praises.
“My father trained us very well,” Donald Trump Jr. said as the video started out.
“When I look into my father’s eyes,” Eric said, “I see the frustration of countries around the world, whether it be China or Mexico or so many others, ripping us off in terms of trade deals … I see the frustration of a military that’s totally crumbling.”
The video faded to black, and music filled the hall. Donald Trump is now in the arena, standing next to Ivanka.
That worked out beautifully for Ted Cruz. The crowd disassociated him from Donald Trump for him. If and when Trump crashes and burns, Cruz can point out that he stood with “freedom” not the failed standard-bearer.
Delegates are chanting “Trump! Trump! Trump!” And some are booing after Cruz calls for Republicans to “vote your conscience” in November. Cruz thanked the New York delegation for their sentiments. It is not only the New York delegation.
Ted Cruz: “And to those listening, please, don’t stay home in November … vote your conscience … vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and be faithful to the Constitution.” No Trump endorsement from Ted Cruz … so far anyway.
The crowd is chanting “endorse Trump.”
Lynne Patton, who is somehow listed as both Donald Trump’s senior family assistant and the vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation, provided a much-needed bit of diversity on stage at one of the whitest political conventions ever. Patton, a black woman who acknowledged her family’s roots in the civil-rights movement bastion of Birmingham, Alabama, gave a touching and heartfelt tribute to the Trump family. It was one of the most genuinely emotional moments of the convention so far.
The content of the short speech itself didn’t shy away from race. Rather, Patton made a bit of an unconventional—and meandering—argument about supporting Trump because of her race, instead of in spite of it, and also painted him as a defender of LGBTQ rights:
We all watched horrified and helpless as a radical Islamic terrorists targeted members of the LGBTQ community in Orlando. We have discourse in our urban communities sparked by the senseless deaths of young black men in Baton Rouge; Minnesota; and far too many places around this country. We watched in horror as our nation’s finest were gunned down in Dallas [and] in Baton Rouge as they sought to protect the very people protesting them. In order to heal as a nation, we must stop viewing these incidents as attacks on the LGBTQ community or attacks on the black community or even attacks on law enforcement; they are attacks on America, attacks on our values, attacks on the very foundation of civil society.
It’s not quite clear exactly what that means, but Patton seems to be giving black protesters a lot more credit than fellow speakers like Milwaukee Sheriff David A. Clarke gave. And her acknowledgement of the Orlando shooting as even remotely linked to the LGBTQ community goes against what seems to be an unspoken party rule to only speak about it as a general act of terror.
But what was most interesting was how tantalizingly close Patton came to affirming the sentiment that black lives matter:
Sadly though, there is not one person in this room who can deny that historically black lies have mattered less. My life mattered less. Whether we like it or not, there are people out there who still believe this to be true. But tonight, as a minority, I personally pledge to you that Donald Trump knows that your life matters, he knows that my life matters, he knows that the LGBTQ lives matter, and he knows that veterans lives matter, and he knows that blue lives matter.
That’s something, at least.
Marco Rubio couldn’t make it to the convention tonight. He had better things to do. But he did send a video speech with well wishes for the Republican crowd.
He kept it brief, but still made it very clear that he’s with Trump: “After a long and spirited primary, the time for fighting each other is over,” Rubio said. “It’s time to come together and fight for a new direction for America. It’s time to win in November.”
The feuding that broke out between Rubio and Trump provided some of the most memorable moments of the Republican primary season—especially when it devolved into a middle-school insult match. (Let’s not forget that Rubio accused Trump of having small hands, then added winkingly: “And you know what they say about guys with small hands.”) For all that, Rubio has fallen in line, just like many other prominent Republicans who once warned the American public against Trump.
His video speech focused on making the case that Trump will succeed where Clinton and Obama have failed: “Unlike Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump is committed to cut taxes, curb spending, and get our national debt under control. Unlike Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump takes seriously the threats from Islamic radicals and is committed to rebuilding our military. And unlike Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, he has committed to appointing constitutionalist judges who will respect the proper role of the judiciary.”
So where is Rubio if not on stage in Cleveland? A spokesperson told Politico that the senator would not be able to make it since he was going to have to spend the time campaigning for reelection in Florida.
“LGBTQ lives matter.”
It was a surprise statement from a Trump staffer, who gave a passionate statement about race and sexuality on stage ahead of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Both of the speakers who followed her have been staunch defenders of traditional marriage, and Cruz spent the final days of his presidential campaign railing against public-accommodations protections for transgender people.
In general, the Republican Party has doubled down on Americans’ right to oppose homosexuality, not support it. The 2016 Republican Party Platform supports traditional marriage between men and women, which it frames as a religious-freedom issue. It decries an interpretation of “sex discrimination” under Title IX that would include gender identity. That “provision of law is now being used by bureaucrats—and by the current President of the United States—to impose a social and cultural revolution upon the American people by wrongly redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories,” it reads.
It’s not clear whether this was an off-script moment. But it was certainly a notable one.
Little Marco never looked smaller.
Scott Walker struggled to summon charisma on the campaign trail. He is, after all, an aggressively normal man, proud of his haircuts and bargains at Kohl’s. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make for a riveting campaign speech. In tonight’s address, he adopted the crutch of a call-and-response refrain, which he used within seconds of beginning his speech and repeated nearly a dozen times: “America deserves better.”
“Last August, I said that any of the Republicans running would be better than Hillary Clinton. I meant it then, and I mean it now,” the Wisconsin governor said. “It’s time to tell Hillary: Enough is enough. No more double standards for the Clintons. Why?”
Because America deserves better, the crowd responded, holding up signs printed with a version of the slogan. (They had been advised to respond appropriately.) The majority of Walker’s speech held to that form, laying out Republican grievances with the state of the country and Hillary Clinton, who the governor said shouldn’t be trusted with the password to his iPhone, “let alone access to classified information.”
Toward the end, he veered back to his personal narrative, the conservative crusader who won in a liberal state and beat back both a recall vote and the best efforts of special interests. Speaking from that position, he expanded his message beyond the current contest. Elect Republicans not only to the White House, he asked, but to statehouse and courthouse as well.
Then it was time to segue to a recorded segment—but not before an additional two off-script “deserves betters.”
Remember when Scott Walker—while dropping out of the presidential race—called for his fellow candidates to follow his lead, thus clearing the way for an anti-Trump to finally gain some ground? Here’s the money quote, which stands in stark contrast to the enthusiasm for Trump he’s showing today: “I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so that voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner,” Walker said in September.
America, meet the man who could become the Energy Secretary under a Trump administration: Harold Hamm.
The oil-and-gas mogul who just took the stage at the convention is reportedly being considered by Trump as a potential member of his cabinet, according to Reuters.
To start off, Hamm told the audience that:
President Trump will fuel America’s future and become the first president to achieve American energy independence!
Politicians love to talk about energy independence. Yet while America can work to become more or less dependent on foreign energy reserves, the idea of energy independence in an era of fossil fuels is essentially a myth. (For one thing, oil is priced on a global market.)
Hamm went on to contrast Hillary Clinton and Trump on energy issues:
Hillary Clinton would eliminate fossil fuel development in America, she would kill jobs, drive up gasoline prices and increase oil imports from our enemies. President Trump will release America’s pent-up energy potential, get rid of foreign oil, trash punitive regulations, create millions of jobs, and develop our most strategic geopolitical weapon … crude oil.
Setting aside the question of whether those claims have merit, if Hamm wants to compare Clinton and Trump on energy, it’s worth talking about the difference between the candidates on climate and the environment too.
Clinton believes that man-made global warming is an urgent and pressing threat to America, and has promised to fight it in office. Trump? Well, according to Politifact, Trump has said that: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
He’s also said this:
Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don’t believe it $$$$!
Hamm went on to say that “climate change isn’t our biggest problem, it’s Islamic terrorism!” This too is an odd argument. National-security experts warn that climate change itself acts as a threat multiplier that stands to exacerbate national-security challenges.
Ralph Alvarado Jr. made an appeal to Hispanics in Spanish during his remarks, calling on his fellow Hispanics to vote for opportunity and liberty. Donald Trump, he said, could provide that, pleading for them to avoid corrupt and dishonest leaders as seen in origin countries. As Ed O’Keefe points out, the moment is remarkable in more ways that one: Trump once denounced politicians for speaking Spanish on the trail, namely Jeb Bush. It’s also important to bear in mind that many Hispanics don’t believe politicians need to speak Spanish to identify with the community, and an increasing number of young American Latinos are U.S. born. So will Alvarado’s message resonate?
So much for low-energy: Nothing like a mega-church pastor to get a room going.
There’s an interesting theme emerging in tonight’s speeches: an emphasis on the accomplishments of legal immigrants. While illegal immigration—and the much-mentioned “wall”—has been a focus of Trump’s campaign, this language seems like a new form of outreach.
The Florida attorney general Pam Bondi noted that Trump will “enforce immigration laws to keep us safe,” but he’ll do that “while allowing legal immigrants to bless this nation with their talents and their dreams.” And now, Ralph Alvarado Jr, a state senator from Kentucky, is telling his story as the son of legal immigrants—with strong emphasis on the word “legal.”
“At their core, Hispanics believe what Republicans believe,” he said. “Traditional family values, church, faith in God, the dignity of work, and the opportunity for self-sufficiency that comes from a free society and a limited government.”
That last bit is probably the biggest stretch as a claim about what all “Hispanics believe,” but as a bit of spin, it’s fascinating. In a campaign season that has largely been driven by negative sentiment toward immigrants, and in which the Republican presidential nominee has made numerous statements of suspicion about Latinos, including a sitting judge, this is a cut back toward the Republican Party of 2013—one that looked within and saw Latinos and immigrants as its future, not its enemies. Fittingly, Alvarado ended his comments in two languages: a call to fellow Latinos to vote for Trump, in Spanish, and a condemnation of Hillary Clinton, in English.
As Yoni notes, the space exploration theme is an interesting fit for tonight’s stated theme, “Make America First Again.” It’s an appropriate topic on the 47th anniversary of the moon landing, perhaps intentionally so.
Colonel Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a U.S. spacecraft, noted, “We are all so proud of our Apollo program that put our astronauts on the moon first in peace for all mankind. Nations that lead on the frontier, lead in the world. We need that visionary leadership again,” she said.
Funding for NASA has been on the rocks in recent years. Collins has testified on the matter before Congress. BuzzFeed reports:
Although NASA’s budget has declined from its high point in 1965, others point out that the agency still gets $19.3 billion a year — more than the EPA, the Labor Department, or the IRS — for what is still the most glamorous arm of the federal government.
In recent testimony before Congress, Collins has pushed for NASA to build jumbo Space Launch System (SLS) rockets intended to carry astronauts outside low Earth orbit. Critics call the program a multi-billion dollar “Rocket To Nowhere” boondoggle.
Vocabulary word of the day, courtesy of small-business owner Michelle Van Etten:
Hillary-crat, n. Hill • a • ry • crat.
Definition: A Democrat? A crat of Hill. An operator of Hillarys. Allegedly, the opposite of a businessman.
Used in a sentence:
We need a president who is businessman, not a Hillary-crat.
A conscientious civil servant mounts the rostrum to make an impassioned case for massive government programs, the stimulative effects of government investment in research and technology, and support for basic science. “Nations that lead on the frontier lead the world,” said Colonel Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a space shuttle mission.
Her speech was preceded by a tribute to pioneers, including former Ohio Senator John Glenn. It was framed as an appeal to patriotism and American primacy. But it’s also a reminder that Trump’s brand of Republicanism isn’t afraid of opening the federal coffers to support grand national projects, from basic infrastructure to space exploration. What might have seemed in incongruous speech at recent Republican conventions is, in 2016, fully in keeping with the nominee’s message.
I can totally see a President Trump deciding on an impulse to spend billions on a space race with Elon Musk to get to Mars first.
“Lock her up, I love that,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says from the stage.
Laura Ingraham brought a tremendous level of energy to the convention floor that, at least from my view on C-SPAN, hasn’t been seen often these past few days. And then Phil Ruffin promptly dialed it back down.
Speech-ception: Phillip Ruffin, a Las Vegas-based real-estate investor and friend of Donald Trump, just said this from the stage: “Donald’s word is his bond.” You’ve perhaps heard that phrase repeated over and over in recent days: It’s almost identical to a phrase used by Melania TrumpMonday night, which was cribbed from a Michelle Obama speech delivered in 2008.
Quick aside: Some new fundraising figures have come in. Trump Victory Fund and Trump Make America Great Again Committee, both collaborations with the Republican National Committee, raised a combined $32 million. Pretty decent for a pair of committees that didn’t exist two months ago.
Then again, Hillary Victory Fund, the Clinton’s joint fundraising organization with the Democratic National Committee and a number of state committees, raised a whopping $81 million between April and July.
Laura Ingraham’s speech in five words: Nobody don’t get no respect.
The conservative political commentator Laura Ingraham is on the Trump train. Some of the speakers at the convention have seemed hesitant to fully embrace Trump. But Ingraham was quick to let the crowd know that she’s “here tonight supporting Donald Trump.”
She had a thinly veiled message for any Republican who isn’t as enthusiastic as she is. “Donald Trump has pledged to work tirelessly to get our country back on track. I want to say this very plainly. We should all, even all you boys with wounded feelings and bruised feelings, and we love you, we love you, but you must honor your pledge to support Donald Trump now, tonight!” Cue Ted Cruz, waiting in the wings.
Ingraham painted a picture of a country that has lost its way. “Respect, we see it in decline in America once again. The people don’t respect the government. The government doesn’t respect the people,” she lamented. “Politicians, they don’t respect the constitution. Many do not respect the life of the infant in the womb or the elderly who languish alone. Others don’t respect the police,” she said, to boos.
Of course, Trump will Make America Great Again. “Donald Trump understands that we have to turn this around,” she said. “We have to restore respect across all levels of society. Unlike us, Hillary Clinton believes the status quo is just fine because she helped create it.”
Before she left the stage, she had a few blistering words for the media, too. “To all my friends up there in the press,” she said, “you all know in your heart why Donald Trump won the Republican nomination, you know it. You know why he won it: Because he dared to call out the phonies, the frauds, and the corruption, that has gone unexposed, and uncovered for too long,” implying that the press has been negligent, or perhaps in the pocket of the corrupt liberal establishment. “Do your job,” she yelled at the press. The line won loud cheers.
Laura Ingraham: “We have to restore respect across all levels of society.” How does it follow to endorse a man who does not respect women, Mexicans, first wives, second wives, or Muslim Americans?
Rick Scott asks, “Who better to let politicians know they are fired than Donald Trump?” And I say, who better to let politicians know they must pack their knives and go than Padma Lakshmi? Who better to tell them Auf Wiedersehen than Heidi Klum? Who better to kick them off the island than Jeff Probst? Who better to send them packing from the mansion than Flava Flav?
Florida Governor Rick Scott got the night rolling with some red meat: “How many more times does the evil of radical Islamic terrorism have to occur before the president of the United States will muster the courage to face the truth?” Scott invoked the gruesome attacks in Orlando; San Bernardino, California; and Fort Hood to make his case that Obama and Clinton don’t have the right stuff to battle terrorists. “This war is here, it’s here in America, and the next president must destroy this evil,” Scott said. “Donald Trump is the man for that job.”
“This year we get to fire the politicians,” Florida Governor Rick Scott, a politician, says.
Rick Scott has this affable habit of smiling between every sentence. It’s too bad he’s been sent to bring the gloom and doom tonight, rolling straight from a brief memorium of the victims of the Orlando shooting to a denunciation of President Obama’s plans strategy against terrorism.
As the Republican National Convention kicks off, a short aside on the hometown of the man who gave the invocation. Nathan Johnson, part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, prayed at the opening of the session. According to an official history of the Church, Kirtland was the site of both important developments in the early Church and a major apostasy in 1838. Joseph Smith came there and helped to form a community shortly after founding the religion in 1830, but economic troubles brought insurrection. Eventually, many of the historic Mormons of Kirtland chose to leave.
An example of the violence in the community in 1837, from the Church history:
[Two residents] led a group armed with pistols and bowie knives in an attempted takeover of the temple. In panic and terror, several people jumped out of the temple windows. The police managed to quell the disturbance and eject the men. When the Prophet returned, these men were disfellowshipped for their actions.
This is an interesting bit of trivia, mostly because the story offers such a contrast to tonight: 19th-century Kirtland residents were later persecuted as they migrated to Missouri. Again, from the history:
Many people were suspicious of the bedraggled travelers who passed through towns and cities. “As we passed along the road in the morning, molesting no one, some of the company were saluted in modern style by having eggs thrown at them by some ruffians.”
Yet today, it’s a normal thing for a Mormon man to open the biggest political meeting of the U.S. Republican Party—and he’s not even the first of his faith to do so.
He just can’t stay away:
Per @SaraMurray‘s sources, Trump WILL appear on stage tonight… w/Pence… “at this point aides aren’t expecting him to speak…” we’ll see
As I mentioned earlier, Trump flew into Cleveland this afternoon, ostensibly in a sign of support for his vice-presidential nominee, Mike Pence, who’ll be speaking later tonight. But, so far as I can tell, no one expected to see him in the convention hall. His attendance, though, would follow a pattern: He addressed the crowd via video last night, though he wasn’t originally scheduled to do so; and he decided only at the last minute to introduce his wife Melania on Monday night.
Tonight’s session of the convention sure seems to be starting out on a high note. This evening’s programming hasn’t formally begun, but C-SPAN cameras are tracking a joyful-looking audience. There are lots of smiles and people dancing and otherwise swaying back-and-forth as the loudspeakers blare Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
Some more campaign finance news while we wait for the convention’s nighttime lineup: With the big players — Trump, Clinton, Sanders — yet to file, some of their former rivals have posted reports showing quite a bit of activity this quarter. Chris Christie raised more than $250,000 between May and June with some help from Trump, though he’ll need more to eliminate the $170,000 in debt he still owes. On a monthly basis, Marco Rubio and John Kasich also did pretty well in June, raising $186,000 and $60,000, respectively.
But the big winner so far has been the Republican National Committee, which raised $17 million in June and is sitting on $21 million more. Much of that is thanks to the Trump Victory Fund, a fundraising partnership between the Trump campaign, the RNC and a number of state committees. The fund contributed around $7 million to the national committee, all on June 28 and 29, shortly before the reporting period ended. Priorities USA, the primary Super PAC supporting Clinton, raised just under $12 million in June.
Conor Friedersdorf sends images from the ground in Cleveland.
Ted Cruz is speaking at the Republican National Convention tonight, but he’s not expected to endorse the GOP nominee. Instead, there’s much speculation that Cruz is eyeing a 2020 run. Still, some conservatives are calling for him to support Trump, as the party seeks to display a united front.
In any case, I can’t help but wonder what such an endorsement might do to help Trump. This month, I spoke with a 19-year-old alternate delegate heading to the party’s national convention, who was hesitant about backing Trump. Westhenry Ioerger had interned for the Cruz campaign during his first year at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. And earlier this year, I talked to Cruz supporters across the country who were disillusioned by Trump. I never discussed the prospect of an endorsement by the Texas senator in any of these interviews, but it’s abundantly clear why some conservatives hoping to coalesce support behind Trump might want Cruz to speak positively on Wednesday night.
I enjoyed this account from a Wired-contributor-slash-Uber-
driver who is shuttling RNC attendees around Cleveland. It sounds like a pretty surreal gig, featuring conservatives trading conspiracy theories over Melania Trump’s speech and a few embarrassing moments mistaking one Lincoln impersonator for another.
The two questions riders ask most often, he writes, are a) do you feel safe? (he does) and b) are Republicans playing Pokemon Go? To this, he answers:
According to a young GOP pollster, who caught a ride to The Intercontinental Hotel from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: “The harbor was over-run with Charizards this entire week. And there are about five really good gyms down there. And tons of water Pokemon for the taking!”
A shared hatred for Hillary Clinton has been a uniting force at the Republican convention, as David Graham wrote earlier today. Now, the Secret Service is reportedly investigating one Trump supporter who apparently hates Clinton quite a lot. The Washington Post reports:
The U.S. Secret Service is investigating one of Donald Trump’s most outspoken supporters, a New Hampshire state representative who said this week that Hillary Clinton should be shot for treason.
“The U.S. Secret Service is aware of this matter and will conduct the appropriate investigation,” said Nicole Mainor, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, about the comments from Al Baldasaro …. Baldasaro, a Republican from Londonderry, N.H., is a former Marine who calls himself Trump’s “veteran advisor.”
The Trump campaign has disavowed the remarks. According to The Post, “Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, said in a brief statement that ‘Mr. Trump and the campaign do not agree’ that Clinton should be executed for treason. Hicks did not respond to a question asking if Trump would cut ties with Baldasaro.”
Hillary Clinton’s campaign took the opportunity to fundraise off of the incident.
On Wednesday afternoon in the Quicken Arena, I caught up with Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the leading immigration hard-liner among Senate Republicans and a close Trump ally. I asked him about Representative Tom Cole’s prediction: If Trump were to seek to implement his pledge to deport undocumented immigrants, Republicans in Congress would mobilize to block him. Sessions told me in a brief interview that he thought the clash would be avoided because Trump would not actually seek to deport all of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants—despite repeatedlypromising to the contrary during the campaign. “I don’t think he plans to systematically deport the undocumented, so I hope that won’t happen, that conflict,” Sessions said.
John McCain is not in Cleveland this week. That should be no surprise in light of Donald Trump’scomments about his war record. But McCain’s absence is notable. This will be the first Republican National Convention since 1984 at which he does not speak. Just eight years ago, McCain was themarquee speaker and the party’s nominee in St. Paul, Minnesota.
While the 79-year-old may not be at the convention, he is managing to keep busy. Since the RNC was gaveled into session on Monday, McCain has been on a barnstorming tour of Arizona. On Monday, he was in Prescott to speak to a local chamber of commerce, visit a saloon on Whiskey Row, and pose for a photo in front of the courthouse where Barry Goldwater supposedly launched all of his campaigns. Yesterday, McCain palled around with local politicians in Flagstaff. Today, the frantic pace continued: He has already had breakfast with local government officials in Williams,retweeted about catfish, and rode the Grand Canyon Railway.
It has been a busy week to be sure.
The five-term senator is not the only Republican to skip the festivities in Ohio. Mitt Romney opted to stay away. Both President Bushes are absent. Jeff Flake, McCain’s fellow senator from Arizona, who had a heated exchange with Trump when the candidate visited Capitol Hill, has said he is staying home in order to mow his lawn and, apparently, launch Twitter salvos from the southwest.
Unlike Flake’s tongue-in-cheek excuse, however, McCain has a real reason for skipping out: He is locked in a tight campaign against the Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick has soared in recent polls. By one count, the congresswoman from Flagstaff is nowleading McCain by 2 points. Perhaps a little distance from Cleveland will be good politics for the maverick.
Today is a Federal Elections Commission filing deadline, meaning the key presidential campaigns must disclose the state of their finances for the month of June by the end of the night. Questions to answer: Will Trump’s fundraising, heretofore anemic, finally match pace with Clinton’s? Did the real-estate billionaire actually transform the loans he made to his own campaign in donations, as he said he would? And will Sanders’s fundraising dry up with the all-but-official closing of his campaign?
So far, one of the biggest filings so far has been from the Ohio Republican Party, which raised more than $1 million in June but ended the month owing more than it had on hand. Clinton also got anastygram from the FEC yesterday, asking her to settle the accounts of more than 150 donors who contributed more than is allowed. A list of donations from these folks stretched across 30 pages, which sounds bad—until you remember that the list for Sanders, who has struggled with keeping some contributors to the legal limit, surpassed 1,000 pages earlier this month.
Last night’s roll call may have given the appearance that the big plans laid out in the past decade for expanding the GOP’s reach and making it more diverse have been a success. At least at face value, many states’ collections of delegates in front of the cameras were people of color. Racial and ethnic diversity was literally front and center.
If only that were actually the case for the convention itself. If the long televised defense of white supremacy or the cries of “No Islam” during a shoehorned prayer from a Muslim Trump supporter tip its hand, maybe the actual count of delegates will. The Washington Post reports that there are only 18 black delegates at the Republican National Convention, a record low over at least the past century.
That may seem like a continuation of what’s been a trend of identity politics aligning more and more closely with party politics, but the high water mark for black delegates wasn’t even in the early 20th Century when black people voted pretty solidly Republican. Rather, the highest number of black delegates at the Republican National Convention came in 2004, during George W. Bush’s reelection campaign. Over the course of just 12 years the Republican party has gone from over 150 black delegates to 18, which indicates a rapid loss of diversity within the party infrastructure.
I haven’t tracked down numbers for other minority groups’ delegates, but the makeup of delegates isat least 80 percent white and the presence of Latino politicians at the event is down considerably, at least among the prime-time speakers from previous conventions. It’s probably fair to say that this convention is among the whitest the Republican party has had since Reconstruction. The party of Lincoln has certainly changed since black politicians and voters swelled its ranks during Reconstruction.
The lack of diversity is even more stark when placed against historical events in Republican history that are known for being pretty racist. There were more black delegates on the floor in Houston in 1992 in the aftermath of the Los Angeles riots to see Pat Buchanan launch a “culture war” with the dog whistle of all dog whistles. There were more in the early 1900s when several southern state constitutions had been amended so as to eliminate black votes and black politicians altogether. There were even more in San Francisco in 1964 when Barry Goldwater, fresh from voting against the Civil Rights Act and enduring a “Stop Goldwater” campaign (sound familiar?) launched a virulently racist general election campaign. The tent is suddenly very small.
In a big takeout today on how Donald Trump chose his vice-presidential candidate, Robert Draper reports on a somewhat jaw-dropping proposal that a John Kasich aide claims Trump made to the Ohio governor.
Kasich didn’t get the nod (or didn’t want it), and Indiana Governor Mike Pence did. Yoni asks the logical question: If Pence is in line to effectively be America’s chief executive, what kind of executive might he be?
Another logical question would be, can this possibly be real? Would Trump really want to delegate things to someone else, passing up the work of the presidency while just taking the title? We’re not in the business of predictions, but we are in the business of looking at history for tips. And in this case, there’s plenty of reason to take the report seriously.
Franchising is Trump’s favorite business maneuver. Although (like America) Trump used to build things, these days he’s more likely to simply sell his name to another company. The simplest way it works is this: A developer wants to construct a major project. They get financing, design the building, and hire a contractor. They also sign a contract with Trump to put his name on it: the Trump Scranton, or whatever. (OK, not Scranton.) Both sides win, because Trump’s most valuable asset is his name. He gets to spread his brand, while the name gives an imprimatur of luxury and conspicuous consumption to the complex.
He’s done the same in politics—for example, outsourcing much of his fundraising and organizing work to the Republican National Committee. The GOP, in turn, gets the rights to use his name as a candidate. (Whether that’s a positive or a negative thing remains to be seen, but early indications, in the form of approval of Trump and the GOP, are not great.) It’s easy to imagine he’d try the same for the presidency, too.
There’s another presidential candidate in town.
Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee for the highest office in the land, is camping out in Cleveland this week. But he swears it’s not in an effort to change attendees’ hearts and minds. “The one thing I do not want to do is be a hanger-on or a stone-thrower here,” Johnson told me in a phone call Wednesday. “I’m just trying to keep a very low profile, and I’m just trying to take advantage of what are a lot of media requests.”
Johnson sounds chipper as he talks about those scheduled interviews, and for good reason: He’s in the midst of a months-long campaign to pick up his poll numbers, so he and his running mate, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, can qualify for the debates and prove themselves viable contenders. The audience for his Cleveland interviews isn’t the Republicans milling around town—though he says “a couple of really, just, surprising people … Republican stalwarts forever” have bumped into him and expressed their support. Rather, it’s the normal American voters who catch his interviews on TV, thanks to the news organizations headquartered in Cleveland until the convention is over. Maybe they’ll like what they see.
“Right now, that is the most productive use of time, is being on camera … in front of arguably millions of people, collectively, as opposed to hundreds of people at any given event,” Johnson said. A recent CNN / ORC poll has him at 13 percent support, an improvement from earlier numbers; that “ratcheting up,” as he calls it, would need to continue if he and Weld have any hope of being on the stage.
Johnson seems to be playing the coverage game, right, too: offering me, unsolicited, his take on the biggest controversy of the week—Melania Trump’s speech—within minutes of our conversation’s start. (The gist: It’s not cool of Donald Trump to put his wife under primetime pressure, and ask her to “say something from the heart,” when she’s not used to it.)
He wasn’t amused by the convention’s proceedings in general, either. Johnson maintains that most Americans align with him politically; he’s fiscally conservative and socially liberal. But he’s disappointed in how his former party—he was the Republican governor of New Mexico—has comported itself. “There’s not a sense of celebration, there’s not a sense of: ‘Here’s what the party is and the whole world should embrace it.’ It’s rock-throwing, it’s so vitriolic—targeting Hillary Clinton, as opposed to issues.” He repeats himself, as if he’s addressing the RNC or Donald Trump himself: “Issues, issues, issues—come on!”
Donald Trump has arrived in Cleveland. He watched the convention last night from New York; flew to Cleveland this afternoon; then took a second, shorter flight by helicopter to a welcoming ceremony. It was quite the spectacle, this event, held in a clearing next to the Browns’ football stadium. He was greeted by a cheering crowd, his family—minus wife Melania—and vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence, all while the theme to Air Force One played in the background. And what were some of his first words to the assembled admirers? “We’re gonna win Ohio, right?” he said. “We’re going to win it all.”
Out of the frying pan and into the fire? That could be the trajectory of the Trump campaign as it attempts to stamp out a media frenzy over Melania Trump’s convention speech.
As I noted earlier, a woman named Meredith McIver is claiming responsibility for what happened—namely that parts of Melania’s speech replicated parts of a 2008 speech delivered by Michelle Obama. But in doing so, legal questions have now arisen.
McIver identified herself in an open letter as “an in-house staff writer at the Trump organization” and her letter appeared on Trump Organization letterhead. Philip Bump at The Washington Post reports on why that may pose a problem:
If Trump used corporate resources to write a political speech, that could be illegal.
“On the face of it, this looks like a corporate violation,” explained Lawrence Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center. And that is “a violation of federal law. It can result in civil penalties to the corporation and the campaign.” If the campaign used corporate resources “willingly and knowingly,” the offense is a criminal one.
Noble notes, however, that the campaign has regularly used corporate staff for the campaign — but have properly accounted for that use by paying the staff from the campaign. Trump’s campaign can use Trump Organization staffers if those staffers are paid for that work by the campaign.
While it’s not clear exactly what happened, the legal questions at stake have already generated a fresh round of bad headlines for Donald Trump and his wife Melania. The way McIver’s mea culpa has been handled appears to indicate, at the very least, further sloppiness on the part of the campaign and its response to the uproar over the speech.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz will take the main stage at the Republican National Convention tonight, but this afternoon he took a much smaller one for a “thank you” event.
“This afternoon is for one very simple purpose, and it’s to say, ‘Thank you. Thank you to all of you from the bottom of our hearts,’” Cruz said. The former Republican presidential candidate exited the race in May—and he doesn’t appear to have any plans to endorse Donald Trump, despite conservatives urging him to do so. Politico reports:
From his Iowa chairman to members of his home state delegation, some of Cruz’s top supporters are now on board with Trump. And many hope Cruz hurries up and gets there, too—for the sake of the party, and, some suggest, for that of his own political future.
“I think it’d be better if he did, I really do,” said Sue Cleveland of the Texas delegation, who said she volunteered for Cruz and donated to his campaign. “I think Cruz will really ensure his bright future if he does come together and say, ‘This is for our party.’ We need to unify and get behind the candidate, Donald Trump.”
Cruz instead appears to have his sights set on a 2020 bid, even though he conceded, “I don’t know what the future holds.” In a too-good-too-be-true moment, Cruz, without naming Trump, said the “party now has a nominee,” prompting the crowd to boo—at the same time the Trump plane was flying over the event.
No publications have chronicled Donald Trump’s opulent life more frequently, more faithfully, or with as much glee as New York City’s tabloids. Writing for Politico this spring, a former New York Posteditor apologized for “help[ing] make the myth of Donald Trump,” a man who relished—and facilitated—coverage of his business dealings and scandalous personal life.
But many voters, whether by geography or age, no doubt missed the golden age of Trump coverage in the 1980s and 1990s. That’s where a new collection from the New York Daily News comes in: They’ve compiled an online archive of classic Trump covers and the stories that accompanied them. Here are some standout headlines, to give you the idea:
Trump Misses the Cut: The Donald fails to make Forbes’ list of 271 world’s richest
‘Ivana Better Deal’: Mrs. T brands Donald’s $25M pre-nuptial pact a fraud
First Wives Club Donald: Ivana furious; Marla says Trump lied in new book
And one from 1999 that would foreshadow his nomination Tuesday night:
I Want to Be the Prez: Says he’d pick Oprah for running mate as he forms panel to test the waters
Keep in mind Trump floated Oprah’s name for VP as recently as June 2015, on the same day he announced his bid for president. Not to bring your spirits down or anything, Mike Pence.
Meredith McIver. That’s the name of the woman who has now come forward to take responsibility for the controversy over Melania Trump’s convention speech.
In a letter released on Trump Organization letterhead, and circulated by the campaign on its website, McIver identifies herself as “an in-house staff writer at the Trump organization” and gives her version of events. Here’s what she has to say:
In working with Melania Trump on her recent First Lady speech, we discussed many people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people. A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama. Over the phone, she read me some passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples. I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech. I did not check Mrs. Obama’s speeches. This was my mistake, and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama. No harm was meant.
McIver says she offered her resignation to “Mr. Trump and the Trump family” on Tuesday, but that they would not allow it.
Even if the account is entirely accurate, it is still remarkable that there weren’t more safeguards put in place by the campaign to ensure that the speech was sufficiently vetted. McIver says she “did not check Mrs. Obama’s speeches,” indicating that this was her “mistake” alone. If no one checked to make sure plagiarism had not taken place that signals a clear lack of oversight for such a high-profile speech.
The admission Wednesday arrives after the campaign has tried hard to refute accusations of plagiarism. An avowal that there were in fact passages that duplicated Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech, no matter how it happened, makes it look like the campaign was either attempting to cover that up, or a unaware that it actually happened.
This New York Times report on the backstory has more on McIver’s role in the process:
It was Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, who commissioned the speech from Mr. Scully and Mr. McConnell — and praised their draft. But Ms. Trump decided to revise it, and at one point she turned to a trusted hand: Meredith McIver, a New York City-based former ballet dancer and English major who has worked on some of Mr. Trump’s books, including “Think Like a Billionaire.” It was not clear how much of a hand Ms. McIver had in the final product, and she did not respond to an email on Tuesday.
McIver’s assertion that Melania “has always liked” Michelle Obama also seems likely to make conservatives uncomfortable.
Perhaps the one silver lining for the GOP nominee is that McIver’s description of how Trump took her offer of resignation makes him sound extremely compassionate. “Mr. Trump told me that people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences,” she writes.
Trump just weighed in on the controversy over Melania’s speech—and seemed to spell out his theory of publicity in the process:
Good news is Melania’s speech got more publicity than any in the history of politics especially if you believe that all press is good press!
It feels entirely unsurprising to hear Trump repeat the cliche that “all press is good press.” That seems to more-or-less have been the campaign’s media strategy during the primary season. Trump made statement after statement that caused controversy and offense, but he still came out on top. There’s reason to believe the same dynamic won’t play out in a general election.
Then there’s the claim that Melania’s speech “got more publicity than any in the history of politics.” On Twitter, users were quick to weigh in with incredulity:
More than Gettysburg Address?
More than JFK’s inauguration?
More than I Have A Dream?
More than Reagan in Berlin? https://twitter.com/
realDonaldTrump/status/ 755787159735570432 …
But Trump wasn’t finished. His first tweet was quickly followed up by this:
The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania’s speech than the FBI spent on Hillary’s emails.
So, to conclude: All publicity is good publicity, but Melania’s speech has been subject to more scrutiny than Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server, and that’s unfair. Maybe?
A leading House Republican said Wednesday morning that if Donald Trump is elected president and sought to implement his repeated promise to deport all undocumented immigrants, a GOP House would seek to block him.
Speaking Wednesday morning at an Atlantic forum on how Trump would govern, Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma said, “I just think full blown deportation is not going to sell politically, and I don’t think a Republican Congress, or any Congress, would stand by and watch it happen.”
Cole’s comments are especially striking both because he is close to the House GOP leadership, and he has not been at the forefront of anti-Trump sentiment in Congress.
Cole said that while deportation might be accepted for “people that had committed crimes and things of that nature” he indicated, “I don’t think it would be accepted wholescale.” Cole, a former Republican National Committee chief of staff who is considered one of the House GOP’s sharpest political strategists, said full-scale deportation would prove both politically and economically untenable.
“The political reality is pretty quickly, and the economic reality—you’re going to disrupt the economy pretty broadly if you are going to start moving 11 million people out without much thought—it’s not only their work, it’s their markets,” he said. “Most Americans might say things but when you see police on the street pulling out neighbors or people going in and pulling people off work sites, that becomes something that most Americans say ‘No, fix the problem, the problem is the border, the problem is having some system here that doesn’t reward people that have come illegally, but extracts a fine, or you’ve got to learn English or background check or something like that.’ But I just think full-blown deportation is not going to sell politically, and I don’t think a Republican Congress, or any Congress, would stand by and watch it happen. “
It’s official: There’s norovirus near the convention. Public-health officials had strongly suspected that about a dozen staff members for the California delegation had the virus, which causes a crippling stomach bug and is highly contagious. Here’s what a local health commissioner told STAT about the now-confirmed cases:
[Peter] Schade said investigators do not yet know how the staffers contracted the severe gastrointestinal bug, but they believe the chain of transmission started in California.
“It came with them,” Schade said.
Health officials are now taking food histories from those who had fallen ill—and are staying at a resort hotel about an hour outside of Cleveland—to try to pinpoint the cause.
The hotel may not be in Cleveland proper, but that doesn’t mean other delegates and convention attendees can necessarily breathe a sigh of relief. The sick Californians could have exposed their convention-going brethren to the virus. Schade, though, doesn’t sound like he’s panicking; he thinks it might be contained.
Can Mike Pence, who is scheduled to speak tonight, help Trump appeal to Latinos? Trump has typically lacked support among this group, but his running mate might not be any better.
If coverage by Spanish-language networks is any indication, it appears he still has inroads to make. Media Research Center Latino, a conservative media watchdog, analyzed Univision and Telemundo’s coverage of Trump’s VP pick for BuzzFeed News. Reporter Adrian Carrasquilloreports:
Jorge Bonilla said that the Telemundo message on Thursday was that “Trump found someone that was equally against the undocumented” community. The coverage focused on Pence’s his congressional record, saying he was for a wall along the border and supported reporting undocumented immigrants who receive care at hospitals. On air, Al Cardenas, a Republican ally of Jeb Bush who has come around to the idea of supporting Trump, said it was still obvious that the campaign was not placing a high priority on engaging the Hispanic community.
In a report that aired during Noticiero Telemundo on Friday, the network’s reporter told an activist that Pence wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The activist said Pence is against immigration reform and the Republican platform unveiled in recent days is anti-immigrant.
Meanwhile, Univision spotlighted that Pence was critical of Trump’s comments about Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge overseeing the fraud case against Trump University. Trump has contended that Curiel is biased because of his Mexican-American heritage.
Spanish-language media has largely been critical of Trump. As I reported earlier this week, negative mentions of Trump in Spanish-language media surpassed that of English-language media six months ago, according to Two.42.Solutions, but has held relatively steady since, while there’s been an uptick in English-language media.