Melania Trump delivers primetime speech at Republican National Convention
It was supposed to be law-and-order night at the Republican National Convention.
But the day leading up to it was political chaos.
Monday’s remarkable unrest, on the convention’s inaugural day, peaked when a small but committed group of rebellious delegates tried one last time to prevent Donald Trump from winning the GOP’s presidential nomination. They amassed enough support to force a full vote of convention rules many of the anti-Trump delegates opposed.
But three of the nine states that initially backed the brief insurrection withdrew — apparently pressured by party leaders who didn’t want to be embarrassed. The maneuver led to raucous protests on the convention floor.
“Hold the vote!” the anti-Trump faction chanted. “Hold the vote! Roll call! Roll call!”
Even before the “Never Trump” movement came to its riotous end, however, the first convention day had exposed just how deep a rift Trump’s impending nomination has created among Republicans.
Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, picked a fight with the sitting governor of Ohio, John Kasich, a Republican and former Trump rival who has refused to endorse him. Speaking on several morning news shows, Manafort accused Kasich — who is in Cleveland, just not at the Quicken Loans Arena convention hall — of “embarrassing his state.” The Ohio GOP retorted that bashing fellow Republicans would hardly help Trump win the big swing state. Kasich later told NBC News he “laughed” at the remark.
Manafort also took a swing at the Bush family, given that neither former President George H.W. Bush nor former President George W. Bush — nor former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — plan to attend the four-day convention.
“They’re part of the past,” Manafort said, later adding that it’d of course be nice to have the Bushes around. “We’re dealing with the future.”
Newt Gingrich, one of Trump’s running-mate finalists before he picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, told ABC News the Bushes are behaving “childishly.”
“I mean, Jeb lost,” Gingrich said. “You know. Get over it.”
Manafort had even more to say. In a Bloomberg Politics breakfast, he brushed off the concern that street protests could overtake Cleveland by Thursday. Massive protests “will probably help the campaign, because it’s going to show a lawlessness and lack of respect for political discourse,” Manafort said.
Parts of the city have been fenced, and demonstrators have been given a route some distance from the convention hall — though they have found ways to gather closer to the delegates (and the reporters) anyway. Despite a couple of tense moments Monday, Cleveland remained calm.
“No hate in our state,” read a sign by Nancy Ballou, a 55-year-old Cleveland nurse and teacher.
Delegates, identified by lanyards around their necks, toured parts of the city — and engaged in some Republican celebrity-watching. A gaggle of Wisconsin law-enforcement agents — in town to assist Cleveland police — stopped Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera to shake his hand. Rivera insisted on posing for a photograph.
The convention opening had been dubbed “Make America Safe Again,” a twist on Trump’s adaptable campaign slogan. After a former Marine killed three police officers in Baton Rouge on Sunday, Trump on Twitter described the country as a “divided crime scene.”
Manafort said outright that, during the convention, Trump wouldn’t propose specific solutions to security problems. “Right now, he’s pointing out the causes,” he said. He predicted Trump’s nomination acceptance would sound like Richard Nixon’s in 1968, when riots roiled Chicago and Detroit.
Monday’s lineup included U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Joni Ernst of Iowa, both former soldiers; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a former Trump presidential rival who once called him a “cancer on conservatism;” and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The headliner was Trump’s wife, Melania — introduced by Trump himself, in an unusual appearance by the candidate before he’s been nominated. (He came out to Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”)
Melania Trump, who was born in Slovenia, called becoming a U.S. citizen in 2006 “the greatest privilege on planet Earth” and said “there is a great deal of love in the Trump family.”
Her appearance was intended to win over more female voters for Trump, who has struggled with that demographic in polls. In the White House, she said, she would focus on women’s and children’s issues.
She repeatedly referred to her husband's “kindness.”
“He’s tough when he has to be, but he’s also kind and fair and caring,” she said. “This kindness is not always noted, but it is there for all to see.”
Also taking the stage were former U.S. Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell — whose story inspired the “Lone Survivor” movie starring Mark Wahlberg — and Mark Geist and John Tiegen, two former Marines who fought in Benghazi, Libya, a place whose name alone rallies conservatives against presumptive Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
And, because no convention is complete without a little Hollywood, leading the program were reality TV star Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” — decked in a flag bandanna — and actor Scott Baio of the old “Happy Days” sitcom.
Off the convention floor, the Trump campaign sold branded gear, including signature red hats and T-shirts.
“No refunds or returns,” read a posted sign.