Five ways Trump’s convention was a success
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The Republican National Convention came to a close on Thursday night after a dramatic week marred by a plagiarism controversy involving Melania Trump and a surreal scene in which Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHow to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian energy Cruz calls for 'every penny' of El Chapo's criminal enterprise to be used for Trump's wall after sentencing Conservatives defend Chris Pratt for wearing 'Don't Tread On Me' T-shirt MORE was shouted off the stage.

GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE’s critics have seized on the unrest to paint a picture of an amateur campaign struggling to unite a divided party. 


But Trump’s supporters are confident they’re leaving Cleveland in better shape than when they arrived.

“The bottom line is, there is no question we have more unity, more unanimity of thought, more enjoyment, more camaraderie, and the progression is peaking perfectly,” said Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. "If I had to imagine what he's thinking and wanted, he got pretty much everything he wanted." 

Here are five ways Trump supporters believe the convention was a net positive for them.

The Finale

The final night of the convention was drama-free and sent the party off on a high note.

The evening kicked off with a five-year old girl named Heavenly Joy bringing the crowd to its feet with a singing voice that sounded as if it belonged to a full-grown woman.

Influential Christian leader Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, followed that act by finally announcing his endorsement for Trump. Perkins’s support could go a long way in helping the nominee rally the social conservatives who have remained on the sidelines.

The Trump campaign put on a display of diversity with a fiery performance from black South Carolina pastor Mark Burns, gay Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel, Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnAdvocates urge Senate privacy group to center consumers, not companies Hillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Senators introduce legislation to boost cyber defense training in high school MORE (R-Tenn.), Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, and Dr. Lisa Shin, who is Korean.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka set her father up with a string of personal stories about him, and Trump followed with a red meat speech that electrified the crowd.

After the turbulence earlier in the week, it was essential for the Trump campaign to recover. The finale appeared to accomplish that mission.

The vice president

Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceHow China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade Trump says he disagrees with 'send her back' chant Trump refers to Ocasio-Cortez as just 'Cortez' because it 'takes too much time' to say full name MORE’s big moment was overshadowed by the chaos around Ted Cruz.

But conservatives cheered Pence’s performance, which put to rest any fears that the Indiana governor would be overwhelmed by the spectacle of Trump.

Pence was confident, relaxed and humble. He forcefully made the case for a Trump presidency and pointedly attacked Democratic rival Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll: Majority of Democratic voters happy with their choices among 2020 contenders No presidential candidate can unite the country GOP lawmakers speak out against 'send her back' chants MORE.

He has an understated demeanor befitting of a Midwest governor, the respect of the Republican establishment in Washington, and credibility among social conservatives.

Republicans see a winner.

“The American people were introduced … to the Mike Pence that many of us have known and admired — an articulate, hopeful and principled spokesman for conservative principles and Midwestern values,” said former Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell. 

“He delivered a vintage, full throttle Reagan-esque conservative vision for the country,” Blackwell said. “No question, Governor Pence's speech … will energize the conservative base of the party, which is critical because Republicans do not win without its energy.”

The Cruz fiasco

Trump offered Cruz, one of his former primary rivals, a prime-time spot on stage even though the Texas senator would be the only convention speaker who hadn’t endorsed the nominee.

Pundits will debate for weeks to come whether that was a wise move and what it means about the political futures for both men.

Cruz caused a massive distraction, threw Republicans wildly off message at a key moment, and further reminded the country that there is a deep rift within the party over Trump. 

But it’s also true that Cruz was booed off the stage by convention-goers who were furious that he had the gall to slight their nominee at his own convention.

Trump supporters believe Cruz was exposed for having put political ambition ahead of party unity and say it will benefit their candidate in the long run.

“Honestly what Ted Cruz did last night in a weird way it kind of unified people behind Trump in a way they hadn't before," said Georgia delegate Buzz Brockway, who initially supported Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRepublican lawmakers ask Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud-computing contract Overnight Defense: US shoots down Iranian drone | Pentagon sending 500 more troops to Saudi Arabia | Trump mulls Turkey sanctions | Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract EU official in Canada says he feels 'at home' there because no one was shouting 'send him back' MORE's bid. "There was some sympathy for him."

Signs of organizational strength

There are still plenty of reasons for Republicans to be concerned about Trump’s operation.

He will be outspent and outmanned by Clinton. And the furor over allegations that Melania Trump lifted passages from a Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaPoll: Michelle Obama most admired woman in the world Former Michelle Obama aide calls for 'honest conversation' about immigration Biden jokes he's ready for a pushup competition with Trump MORE speech was an unforced error that dragged on far longer than it needed to because of the campaign’s confused reaction.

But the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee colluded to head-off several challenges that could have resulted in further embarrassment.

Last week they tested their joint whip operations, getting Trump’s positions codified into the party’s platform and striking down efforts to strip the national party of control over the primary process.

This week the whip operations flew into overdrive, muscling through a rules package over the objection of several factions of insurgent candidates. The RNC and Trump campaign convinced delegates from a handful of states to back away from petitions that could have resulted in trouble on the convention floor.

And the Never Trump movement was put down with a whimper as the RNC and Trump campaign leaned hard on the rebels and those who considered joining them.

The end result was that on Tuesday night, in perhaps the greatest showing of unity the party displayed throughout the convention, the delegates overwhelmingly nominated Trump as their nominee with essentially no objection from the floor.

The protests fizzled

Republicans and the media arrived in Cleveland bracing for the worst.

Many of Trump’s events have attracted masses of protesters and have been marred by incidents of violence.

Trump is fashioning himself as the “law and order” candidate, so the last thing the campaign needed would have been screaming headlines about arrests or clashes between protesters and the police.

There were ultimately a few tense moments but nothing more.