CLEVELAND—The art of the coronation has taken something of a beating at the Republican National Convention. Nevertheless, Donald Trump now has the crown—and a final chance to summon unity from the party’s restive ranks in the ritual’s closing days.
The roll call of the states the evening of July 19 delivered Trump the nomination, which he welcomed from afar in a videotaped message saying “This is a movement, but we have to go all the way.” House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that Trump had amassed 1,725 delegates, more than triple the number of his nearest competitor, the fruits of a political phenomenon without parallel in modern times.
Day 3 of the convention will bring two conservative stalwarts to the stage: Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a favourite of evangelicals; and the nominee’s most tenacious challenger in the primaries, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the man Trump used to call “Lyin’ Ted.”
Pence is heartily on board the Trump bandwagon; Cruz isn’t yet, nor are many of his supporters in Cleveland. The senator’s scheduled prime-time address will be keenly watched as a barometer of the party’s fighting spirit as the GOP turns to the fall campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton, who accepts her nomination next week.
Trump, the in-your-face outsider, won at the cost of alienating many traditional Republicans both on the right and in the centre, and the divide has spilled over into the convention, though without overwhelming it. The roll call unfolded largely according to plan after a day dominated by unwelcome attention over passages from an eight-year-old Michelle Obama speech that made their way into Melania Trump’s address to the convention, almost word for word, the night before.
This, after unwelcome attention over a loud if short-lived protest on opening day over convention rules aimed at tamping down any remaining threat to Trump’s triumph.
Tuesday night, speaker after speaker stepped forward to denounce Clinton, none to greater effect with the crowd than New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The governor, a dropout in the GOP presidential race who ended up on the short list for Trump’s running mate, energized the hall as he ticked through numerous accusations of wrongdoing against Clinton and implored delegates to shout “guilty.” They not only did that, but interrupted him with shouts of “Lock her up.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the crowd scandal follows Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton “like flies.”
Two of Trump’s children testified to his character. “For my father, impossible is just the starting point,” said Donald Trump Jr., eldest of the nominee’s five children. Tiffany Trump, 22, said her dad is a “natural-born encourager” and she recalled the notes he wrote on her report cards.
Questions about plagiarism surfaced for a second day in a row, this time in the eldest son’s speech. But F.H. Buckley, the writer behind the original work in question this time—an article in The American Conservative—said he was a principal speechwriter for the younger Trump and said the campaign did nothing wrong.
The convention offers Trump one of his best chances to convince voters he’s better suited for the presidency than Clinton. But the rocky start raised questions about his oversight of his campaign, which gives voters a window into how a candidate might handle the pressures of the presidency.
With many spectators in Canada still looking on with bewilderment, the prospect could have significant implications for Canada—particularly its economy. Trump, for instance, has vowed to tear up NAFTA and likened the still-to-be-ratified Trans-Pacific Partnership to rape.
Regardless of the long string of controversies that earned him the crown though, the reality is, the billionaire has survived, even prospered through a series of contentious episodes that might have consumed a conventional politician—or a conventional convention.