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 CruzCruz endorses GOP candidate for Senate in New Hampshire Missouri Republican wins annual craft brewing competition for lawmakers GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan MORE was shouted off the stage.

GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it 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 BlackburnTaylor Swift 'obsessed' with politics, says she's cautious about celebrity support backfiring for Democrats The evolution of Taylor Swift's political activism Kellyanne Conway responds to Taylor Swift criticism by invoking pop star's lyrics 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 PencePence taps former DHS spokeswoman as his new press secretary GOP group hits Pence over Trump alleged business conflicts Billionaire to host top-dollar fundraiser in New York City for President Trump 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 ClintonGiuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it Sanders hits 1 million donors Democrats will not beat Trump without moderate policy ideas 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 RubioTrump faces difficult balancing act with reelection campaign Republicans wary of US action on Iran California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth 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 ObamaTrump: House Judiciary should investigate Obama Netflix deal instead of his business 2020 is not a family affair, for a change Former speechwriter says Michelle Obama came up with 'when they go low we go high' line 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.