Donald Trump’s coronation featured allegations of plagiarism, scheduling mishaps, a major party player being booed off the stage after not endorsing the Republican nominee, and a more than hour-long acceptance speech from the Manhattan billionaire that jolted his supporters and further scared those in opposition to a potential Trump administration.
In short: last week’s Republican National Convention provided some hints as to what kind of manager and leader Trump would be presiding over the nation, as his team presided over the four-day Cleveland extravaganza.
“I think a lot of people forget though that he’s a rookie candidate,” Ned Ryun, a grassroots conservative activist and founder of American Majority, told Business Insider of some of the “unforced errors” the candidate dealt with. “This is the first time he’s run.”
Here’s a glance at just what went down in Cleveland:
The day-one debacle
It didn’t take long for controversy to strike in Northeast Ohio.
On the first day of the convention, the headline speech was marred by a plagiarism scandal while one of the headline speakers for the event got pushed out of primetime, angering many who believed she’d be speaking to a full audience.
First, the instance of plagiarism in Trump’s wife Melania’s speech led to days worth of the campaign first denying the allegations and eventually ending with a campaign staffer falling on the sword and admitting that parts of the speech were cribbed from Michelle Obama’s 2008 address to the Democratic convention.
Here was the plagiarized section:
Melania: From a young age my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily life.
Michelle: Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: like, you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond; that you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them and even if you don’t agree with them.
Melania: That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son, and we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow because — because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
Michelle: And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values and to pass them onto the next generation, because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them.
Trump would jump into the fray, tweeting that “all press is good press” after his wife became the center of the media’s attention following the uncovering of the plagiarized section
In a series of early-morning media appearances Tuesday, top campaign officials and surrogates shrugged off the controversy.
On “CBS This Morning,” Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort, denied that she lifted any of Obama’s speech, saying that there were “not that many similarities.” He also alleged that the presumptive Republican nominee’s wife may have lifted from the first lady’s speech “subconsciously.”
“It’s basically three places in the speech, and it’s fragments of words,” Manafort said. “There was nothing that she did in that speech that she thought was any words but herself.”
A Trump Organisation staffer who helped the Slovenian model craft her primetime speech before the Republican National Convention then offered an apology Wednesday.
“This was my mistake, and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama,” Trump staff writer Meredith McIver said in a note. “No harm was meant.”
“I apologise for the confusion and hysteria my mistake has caused,” she added.
She would offer her resignation to the campaign, but her request was turned down.
The handling of Melania’s speech debacle hurt Trump’s chances at an even larger bump than he’s received following the convention, Ryun said.
“I think of the two conventions — Donald Trump and his convention and Hillary Clinton and her convention — and Trump had the greatest chance for the greatest bounce because he’s not as well-known, despite the fact that he’s been a reality star, he’s just not as well-known,” Ryun said. “Because of some of the stuff and some of the tactics and strategy of dealing with the Melania speech, I think they missed some opportunities — to put it mildly — to really make this as big of a bounce as it could’ve been.”
He called Trump’s handling of the incident an “unforced error” and a “rookie mistake.”
The other controversy to arise from the convention’s first night centered around Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa’s convention speech, which was pushed out of primetime and delivered to a near-empty convention hall.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told Business Insider he was “disappointed” with Ernst’s speech being pushed past 11 p.m. and said that Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who was on Trump’s running mate short list before his campaign tapped Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, shouldn’t have spoken for as long as he did.
“I thought the general that was on before her went way too long,” he said at the delegation lunch. “I was disappointed that she wasn’t there in prime-time as it was originally intended. But she still gave a great speech and we’re all very proud of Joni and I thought she did a great job.”
“Our whole delegation stood up through the whole speech and we just wish there would have been more people there and it would have been in primetime,” he continued.
Iowa Rep. Steve King echoed that sentiment.
“Missing the prime-time slot, that was a shame,” he said. “I think they should have shut the place down at 11 o’clock when primetime was over and rescheduled Joni to speak [Wednesday] to give her a better slot.”
“Lock her up”
One chant rung louder than the rest during the four-day convention: “Lock her up!”
Speakers were routinely interrupted with chants of “lock her up” as they stirred some of the strongest anti-Hillary Clinton sentiment of the 2016 election leading up to Trump’s coronation.
On Monday and Tuesday in particular, most speakers devoted their attention on hammering away at Clinton, suggesting she should be in prison rather than focus on a more pro-Trump message.
“Lock her up!” retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn repeated during a lengthy Monday address as the crowd began chanting. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie asked the crowd whether Clinton was “guilty” of a litany of statements he made of the former secretary of state and presumptive Democratic nominee. Many other speakers joined in. The crowd broke out in a “lock her up” chant on each of the four nights.
Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania told Business Insider that he thought the early portion of the week was a bit too focused on driving home a strong anti-Clinton message without pairing it with an equally strong pro-Trump voice to counter it.
But as the week went on, he said it became more about Trump and what he wants to do.
And, he added, ignoring the failures of Clinton would be “foolish.”
“Anybody who is running against her would be foolish to not point out the difference, especially when the most important issues are jobs and national security,” he said. “And Hillary Clinton has been a failure in keeping us safe and what’s happening around the world. It’s impossible not to have that contrast of here is the two options Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and who’s going to make you more safe. You can’t do that without pointing those differences out.”
As Barletta hinted to by mentioning national security, the strongest day for anti-Clinton sentiment was Monday — the day reserved for the theme “making America safe again.”
On the final night of the convention, Trump was faced with the “lock her up” chant head on — and his decision on how to handle the impassioned crowd was one of the biggest moments of the entire convention.
Trump looked away, toward one side of the stage, and then faced front and center. He shook his hands as if to wave off the chant and left the crowd with a simple message.
“Let’s defeat her in November,” he said.
Policing and national security were the two issues focused on extensively throughout the convention — dwarfing other topics such as the economy — as Trump attempts to cement himself as the “law and order candidate”
“I have a message to every last person threatening the peace on our streets and the safety of our police: when I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order to our country,” Trump said in his Thursday night speech. “I will work with, and appoint, the best and brightest prosecutors and law enforcement officials to get the job done. In this race for the White House, I am the law amd order candidate.”
Policing, race issues, and issues of national security were routinely at the top of Google Trends for search during the convention, and the speakers reflected that interest.
A headliner on police issues, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke took the stage Monday to provide the Trump campaign’s stance on police relations with minority communities in light of the recent killings of eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which followed police-involved shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota.
“Donald Trump understands that what can make our nation safe again is a re-commitment to a system of justice in which no government official, not even those who have fought their way to the marble and granite halls of Washington; no private citizen, not even Hillary Clinton; and no group of people, despite the fervor with which they press forward their grievances, can claim privilege above the law,” Clarke said. “The tradition of the primacy of the rule of law in America is strong. It is in those simple facts and in our acts that we will move forward and toward making America safe again.”
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who recently referred to Black Lives Matter as a racist organisation, fired up the Republican crowd when touching on similar issues.
Giuliani gave one of the most impassioned speeches of the entire convention.
“We know the risk you’re taking out there tonight protecting us — black, white, Latino,” he said of the American police. “Of every race, every colour, every creed, every sexual orientation. When they come to save your life, they don’t ask if you’re black or white. They just come to save you!”
Speaking on national security, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, asked the whether it had had “enough” of Obama’s “reckless” policies on immigration — a core issue in Trump’s campaign.
“And now Hillary Clinton is promising more of the same — open borders, executive amnesty, and the surge of Syrian refugees,” he said. “This is a dangerous, liberal agenda, and it’s time for a change. It’s time to take back our country and make America safe again!”
He said that after eight years of the Obama administration, the “city on a hill,” the description of the US popularised by President Ronald Reagan, had become “a city under siege.”
“Today our allies no longer trust us, our adversaries no longer fear us, and our enemies are plotting against us,” the chairman said in an impassioned attempt to hit people’s fears. “This did not happen by accident — it happened by design.”
Perhaps the moment that the convention will be most remembered for was Ted Cruz’s speech in which he was booed off the stage after telling attendees and viewers to “vote their conscience” while not giving Trump an endorsement.
“The Cruz thing [Wednesday] was a little twist of the plot,” Ryun said.
“All he had to say was one sentence: ‘I’ll be voting for Donald Trump this fall,'” he continued. “I think that would have been probably the right thing to do.”
Ahead of the speech, Cruz’s address following his heated primary with Trump was to be a highlight of the convention and a moment to possibly cement party unity ahead of the fall election.
“I think the very fact that he’s here and Mr. Trump gave him a primetime slot and they sat down and had a good conversation according to Ted, is already a very positive sign,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Business Insider ahead of Cruz’s speech. “Ted knows how to give a great speech. And it will be one of the highlights of the convention.”
It certainly was.
“And to those listening, please, don’t stay home in November,” Cruz said in his Wednesday address. “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.”
As he finished that line near the conclusion of his speech, boos rained in. At the same time, Trump decided to enter the arena, seemingly upstaging the Texas senator’s speech. As he was being booed off the stage, his wife was escorted out of the arena by security as the crowd began shouting at her as well.
During a breakfast with the Texas delegation the next morning, Cruz took questions — many of which were heated — from his home-state delegates.
In a particularly emotionally charged exchange, a woman in the Texas delegation asked Cruz about the pledge he agreed to earlier in the year stipulating that he would support the party’s nominee at the end of the primary season. She said Cruz lied to her by abdicating the pledge.
“I will tell you when I stood on that debate stage and they asked every candidate will you support the nominee, I raised my hand and I raised it enthusiastically,” Cruz said. “With the full intention of doing exactly that.”
“And I’ll tell you the day that pledge was abdicated,” he continued. “The day that pledge was abdicated was the day this became personal.”
Insisting that he was not trying to attack Trump, Cruz said he was “not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” referring to an attack Trump made on the appearance of Cruz’s wife, Heidi, and to a conspiracy theory promoted by Trump that Cruz’s father, Rafael, was somehow involved in the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy.
“And that pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack Heidi, that I’m going to nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and say thank-you very much for maligning my wife and my father,” he said.
The Texas senator then addressed a man in the back of the room rubbing his hands under his eyes to mimic crying.
“You might have a similar view if someone was attacking your wife,” Cruz said. “In fact, I hope you would. I hope you would.”
The man told Cruz to “get over it” because “this is politics.”
“No, no, this is not politics,” Cruz fired back. “I will tell the truth. I will not malign. I will not insult. I will not attack. I will tell the truth. This is not a game. This is not politics. Right and wrong matter. We have not abandoned who we are in this country.”
Ryun asked why, if Cruz felt so strongly about what he expressed in that Thursday morning breakfast, did he “saddle up to Trump last fall in a very calculated attempt that Trump would implode and he would take those followers.”
He said it was calculated then, just as his moves at the convention were calculated for his next presidential run, adding that some members of the Texas delegation told him Cruz could face a serious primary challenge in 2018.
But questions of unity surrounded the final day — and days that followed — Cruz’s big moment.
“There’s no real division in the party,” Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said from the convention floor Thursday. “We had a spirited primary. Trump dispatched sixteen candidates, Ted Cruz was the last one.”
“You can write about it all you want to, I’m telling you this party is not divided,” he continued. “These voters are not divided. [Trump’s] going to win this election.”
The most-anticipated moment of the week was Trump’s address to the convention Thursday night. The speech itself lasted more than an hour and encompassed many of Trump’s messages from the campaign. Mainly, that America is no longer great or safe.
Ahead of his address, Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said she wanted to hear Trump give specifics for what he’s going to do to solve problems. But, she said it wasn’t a concern to her that, while Clinton has policies laid out online, Trump hasn’t gone far below the surface level on his policy propositions.
“I’m just ready for him to get something out there,” she said. “We all know that Hillary Clinton’s plans center around I’ve made this mess and let me tell you how to clean this up.”
The speech was light on his solutions and heavy on some of his favoured rhetoric. The Manhattan billionaire cast himself as the only saviour of a rapidly deteriorating America.
“I’m with you, the American people,” Trump said. “I am your voice.”
In keeping with his theme of “law and order” Trump’s acceptance speech focused heavily on supporting law enforcement, with references to the recent shooting of police officers and to the attacks in San Bernardino, California, and Orlando, Florida.
Trump reiterated his ban on immigration from countries that have “been compromised by terrorism,” a policy the Republican nominee proposed after first advocating a ban on all Muslims entering the US. He also spent considerable time criticising President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The speech was a ringing success with supporters, who spoke with Business Insider after the left the Quicken Loans Arena that night.
“I thought he did a tremendous job,” Matt Shaner, an at-large delegate from Pennsylvania, told Business Insider. “He came well prepared, focused on America first, Focused on campaign strategy of making America great again. Stayed right on strategy. And I don’t think he could’ve done it any better.”
“He acted very presidential,” Mark Candon, an alternate delegate from Vermont, told Business Insider. “A lot of people out there haven’t even seen him, they have only read about him in the media. How much the media hates him. And they saw a presidential person.”
Vermont Delegate Suzanne Butterfield, who was pledged to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, called the speech “pleasantly surprising” and “the best part of the convention.” She also said, even though Trump was her “17th choice,” the speakers who spoke positively of Trump “can’t be wrong, so I must have been.”
“The first time I was in his company was in May in New Hampshire and he made a promise,” she said. “He said, ‘If I am the nominee, we will win. We will beat Hillary.’ And I thought, ‘Yeah yeah, just Trump talk.’ But the more I learn about him, the more I believe it.”
Shaner predicted a 5 to 7 point bump for Trump in the polls — which was proven to be spot on in a new CNN/ORC poll released Monday.
He then made a bold prediction.
“I think these debates when they have them in the fall, it’s going to be like as many Americans watching as did when we landed on the moon,” he said. “It’s going to be more than a hundred million.”
Candon arguably made a bolder prediction after saying Trump “nailed” the speech.
“I think he picks up 15 points in the polls — 15,” he said. “He supports the right kind of people. Real Americans.”
Pamela Engel contributed reporting.
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