Chaos, crisis and Cruz: The Trump Convention so far
© Greg Nash

This has been a GOP convention in 4-D: dissonance, discord, divisiveness and dishonesty. From the plagiarism debacle, to the Cruz revolt, to the messages of anger and hate coming from almost every speaker on that stage, the Trump campaign and the Republican Party utterly failed to expand their appeal beyond the nominee’s faithful supporters. 

Let’s review some key moments of the last two days and nights: 

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Tuesday night introduced Tiffany Trump to the nation as the first in the line of Trump kids to speak on behalf of her father. Her speech was quite lovely, actually offering some much-needed and unknown personal anecdotes about Trump the dad, and some of the fatherly, endearing moments she remembered about him.  

It was a valentine from a devoted daughter to her father. It humanized him at a moment when he desperately needed it. But is it enough to win over new voters? Doubtful.

Chris Christie’s speech was nothing more than the loud barking of a rabid junk-yard dog on the attack. His litany of lies and exaggerations metaphorically indicting Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCollins walks impeachment tightrope Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders for 'inability to actually fight with bad actors' in party Hill.TV's Krystal Ball knocks Clinton's 'mean girl' comments against Sanders MORE and inducing a pitch-fork worthy Salem-witch-trial-like chant of “lock her up,” highlighted that the Trump campaign has nothing new to offer the country than debunked lies, and cannot compete with Secretary Clinton on the battlefield of ideas. 

Many people were taken with Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE Jr.’s speech. He was very good, no doubt about it. He looked like the polished politician that his father is not, an image that, ironically, is what his father runs against every day. His delivery was flawless, his tempo and command of the tele-prompter were impeccable. 

He also offered a different but personal view of how he grew up with his dad, at construction sites, learning how to lay concrete and drive tractors. But then he went on to try to prosecute the case against Hillary Clinton by using falsehoods that many fact-checkers have already discredited. 

Wednesday started with yet another go-around on Melania "Plagiar-Gate." After many attempts by the Trump campaign and the RNC to double-down on how Melania did not lift anything from Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaBilly Eichner to play Matt Drudge in Clinton-focused 'American Crime Story' Sanders v. Warren is just for insiders Overnight Health Care: Trump reportedly lashed out at health chief over polling | Justices to hear ObamaCare birth control case | Trump rolls back Michelle Obama school lunch rules MORE’s 2008 speech even in the face of identical passages, we find that in fact that is exactly what happened.  

Someone from the Trump Organization admitted that Melania had given her pieces of the 2008 speech that she liked and admired (the fact that Trump’s wife admires Michelle Obama is another matter altogether) and that she forgot to take them out, attribute them or change them in the final speech.  

This was a PR debacle plain and simple. And if the Trump campaign cannot credibly handle this kind of crisis, how will they handle a crisis on the world stage if Trump becomes president?

Wednesday night brought rebellion and fireworks on a night that was supposed to have been all about party unity. Despite the anticipation of the night’s key speech by Vice Presidential nominee Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceUS officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum  Pence attends sermon where bishop says 'demonic spirit' is behind homosexual attraction Mike Pence invoked a racist president and a scoundrel senator to defend Trump — did he even know it? MORE, the night was marred by a strange and — depending on whom you ask — either principled or vengeful speech by Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhat to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Democrats' impeachment case lands with a thud with GOP — but real audience is voters Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on MORE where he refused to endorse Trump

To many, it is an understandable position given that Trump insulted his wife and accused his father of being involved in the Kennedy assassination. Still, he got booed off the stage and was upstaged by the presidential nominee. The takeaway: This is a party in crisis, disarray and still completely fractured.

Then came Gov. Mike Pence’s speech. It was forgetful in the face of the Cruz craziness but it deserves scrutiny just as well. His delivery was good, but the content was your run-of-the-mill, attack Hillary without offering any positive views for the country.  

So from the Benghazi allegations (which have been debunked numerous times), to accusations of wanting to get rid of the Second Amendment, to wanting "open borders," to blaming Hillary for every single incident of unrest around the globe, the last three days have been a bizarro world of evidence-free Republican lies, and Trump-style Jedi mind tricks that presume American voters are imbeciles who won't see or hear what is in front of them.  

People need to hold him accountable for the complete lack of management, the outright lies, and failed negotiations that produced three days of disarray. 

Much rides on Donald Trump's speech tonight. In order to be successful, he needs to be Un-Trump. He has proven thus far that he can't.  

Trump got 13 million votes during the primary. He needs upwards of 65 million votes in order to win the White House. At this moment, his campaign is not playing addition; it is playing subtraction. 

If he does not pivot and change course soon — how many times have we said he needs to do this and he doesn't — there will be no path for Trump to the White House. 

Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.


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