Donald Trump formally won the Republican Party’s nomination to the White House on Tuesday, with support from a majority of GOP delegates who relished, at last, sharing a moment of unity ahead of the November election.
As is tradition, the nominee’s home state, New York, put Trump over the top. In a Trumpian touch, it was his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who cast the state’s 89 ballots.
“Congratulations, Dad!” he said, surrounded by three of his siblings, Eric, Ivanka and Tiffany. “We love you!”
The floor of the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland roared. “New York, New York” blasted over the speakers. “Over the top,” read the Jumbotron.
Though the vote took place Tuesday, Trump won’t address the Republican National Convention until Thursday. He made a brief but memorable appearance Monday, with lights dimmed and nightclub-style stage smoke, to introduce his wife, Melania.
Her speech cribbed lines from Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic convention — a controversy that dominated the presidential conversation Tuesday. But there was no dwelling on that from the convention floor — much less from the stage.
Instead, Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump, kicked off the nomination.
“He could not be silenced,” Sessions declared. “He spoke the truth. He gave voice to the people.”
Then, one by one, each state and territory put forth its delegates for the candidate. Most state representatives referred to him as he likes to be called: “Donald J. Trump.” (North Carolina went with the full “Donald John Trump.”)
“I am proud to lead this delegation of the Sunshine State — home to Disney World, the Daytona 500 and the stunning Florida Keys,” Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said when he cast the state’s 99 winner-take-all ballots for Trump. “We have no state income tax, and our residents enjoy over 600 miles of pristine beaches. Florida is the paradise where you vacation, but we all live.”
And, because this is Cleveland, he added: “We are the state that gave LeBron James his first two championships!”
(Arkansas: “We raise delicious catfish.” Kentucky, “the state that produces all the bourbon fit to drink in the world.” Minnesota, “home of Spam and home of the late, great Prince.”)
In the end, after a long and fractious primary, Trump secured the nomination with 1,725 delegates out of the party’s 2,472. Ted Cruz came away with 475, John Kasich with 120, Marco Rubio with 114, Ben Carson with seven, Jeb Bush with three and Rand Paul with two.
Bush’s three votes came from New Hampshire — whose nominating ballots were announced, in another unusual moment, by Trump’s fired campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. New Jersey’s were announced by Andrew Christie, son of governor and Trump loyalist Chris Christie.
Delegates held grudges against states where Trump lost, or that had leaders of the anti-Trump movement whose insurrection had died Monday. The District of Columbia, which Rubio won, got a rain of boos.
By 8:22 p.m., House Speaker Paul Ryan banged a gavel: “I formally declare Donald J. Trump and Michael R. Pence the Republican nominees for president and vice president of these United States.”
That made way for the second night of convention speakers. Whereas Monday’s line-up struck a dark, fearful tone — the focus was security, and gloom abounded — Tuesday’s headliners focused on how to “Make America Work Again” — and on attacking presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. (Trump had originally envisioned a night underscoring former President Bill Clinton’s sexual dalliances.)
“She repeatedly plays the gender card. In fact, she boasts, ‘Deal me in.’ Well, Mrs. Clinton, consider yourself dealt in,” said Sharon Day, a Republican National Committee co-chairwoman from Fort Lauderdale, who then unleashed a screed against Clinton.
“As head of a foundation you accepted tens of millions of dollars from foreign countries who enslave women and treat them as second-class citizens. As a mother and grandmother, you have no problem supporting policies that terminate the life of the unborn.” Day said. “And as First Lady you viciously attacked the character of women who were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of your husband.”
Two speakers were intended to humanize Trump: his daughter Tiffany and son Donald Jr., the one who cast the New York ballots.
Before that, though, Trump made a surprise appearance on video.
“Are you having fun yet?” he asked.
WHITE HOUSE SILENT ON MELANIA TRUMP SPEECH
The White House steered clear Tuesday of the controversy over Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Passages of her address Monday night appeared to be largely copied from a 2008 speech by first lady Michelle Obama.
Asked about the similarities, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he would leave the “color commentary” to reporters. He said President Barack Obama did not watch the convention but is aware of the news coverage of Trump's remarks.
“In 2008, when Mrs. Obama spoke at the Democratic convention, she received an enthusiastic reception and strong reviews because of her words, her life story and the values she and her husband deeply believe in and try to instill in their kids,” Earnest said. “These are American values and what we all strive for when we are at our best.”
Michelle Obama also did not address the topic Tuesday during an appearance before reporters at a White House summit for college-bound students.