GOP works to unify around Trump

Greg Nash

CLEVELAND — The Republican Party largely succeeded Tuesday in unifying around Donald Trump and getting its convention back on track after a rough opening day.

The main news came with the official nomination of Trump as the party’s presidential pick, a process that went off without any major hitch.

{mosads}The absence of any real protest during Trump’s nomination was one of the biggest surprises of the day — and a welcome one not just for the businessman but also for Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who had worked overtime to thwart the anti-Trump forces.

The candidate’s home state of New York delivered the crucial votes to make Trump the nominee, with all four of his adult children there for the big moment. 

“It is my honor to be able to throw Donald Trump over the top tonight,” his son Donald Trump Jr. said. “Congratulations, Dad. We love you.”

In the evening, big Republican names like Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Dr. Ben Carson delivered addresses that varied in tone and style but were consistent in their advocacy of Trump as a champion of middle-class Americans.

The speeches also had a shared vigor in their attacks on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who was criticized by a host of speakers. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) ripped Clinton’s record on coal, while Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) reminded the crowd of her first congressional testimony on Benghazi.

The events on Tuesday were, by dint of their conventionality, less compelling than Monday, which saw a protest on the convention floor as well as the furor over a speech by Trump’s wife, Melania, that had startling similarities to parts of a 2008 Michelle Obama address.

If they lacked the pizzazz of the previous night, events on Tuesday at least saw a sense of convention normalcy settle in.

Trump himself also appeared, briefly, via video link. He declared his nomination to be “a very, very special day” and said he was “so proud” to be the GOP standard-bearer for November’s election.

Among the prime-time speakers, it was Christie who received the most enthusiastic response. Drawing upon his experience as a federal prosecutor, Christie laid out a case against Clinton that leaned heavily on her record — and her failings, as the governor presented them — of her time as secretary of State.

Christie, who came close to being chosen as Trump’s running mate, assailed Clinton for her record on Libya, Cuba and Iran, among other places. The crowd interrupted several times to chant “lock her up!” as Christie nodded and smiled.

Toward the end of his speech, Christie stated that he wanted to persuade undecided voters as well as the faithful — the kind of explicitly expansive appeal that had been mostly missing from the convention’s opening night.

Christie said he would “implore” people watching at home that “we do not need to settle for less in this election.” A second Clinton presidency, he said, would have “all the failures of the Obama years but with less charm and more lies.”

Ryan also invoked comparisons between Clinton and Obama as he sought to position the all-but-certain Democratic nominee as a candidate of the status quo in a nation hungry for change.

“They are offering you a third Obama term brought to you by another Clinton. And you’re supposed to be excited about that?” the Speaker said. He also referenced next week’s Democratic National Convention, telling the crowd that America might “get through four days of it with a little help from the mute button. But four more years of it? Not a chance.”

Ryan mentioned Trump by name only a few times. But he did his part to try to bind up the wounds from the primary campaign. He acknowledged that the party “had our arguments” this year, but characterized those disagreements as “signs of life.”

Two of Trump’s children, Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr., offered speeches that sought to humanize their father.

Donald Trump’s oldest son gave a warmly received speech that lauded his father’s business successes from a personal perspective.

“For too long, our country has ignored its problems, punting them down the road for future generations to deal with,” he said as he recalled a childhood growing up on construction sites and in conference rooms. “We need to elect a man who has a track record of accomplishing the impossible.”

As the convention adjourned — on time, another sign of normalcy in contrast with Monday — the spotlight was already shifting to Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

The would-be vice president will deliver his remarks Wednesday. He will be hoping to build on the belated firm foundation laid on the second day. 

Trump, Pence and their families are set to arrive in Cleveland Wednesday afternoon.

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Michelle Obama Mike Pence Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan Ron Johnson Shelley Moore Capito
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