Republican National Convention — Day Three

It's now official: Donald Trump is no longer the "presumptive" nominee, he is the Republican nominee for president. Tuesday was a night filled with speeches by Trump family members and other character witnesses, along with Chris Christie acting as judge, jury, and executioner for Hillary Clinton. After hearing his thorough indictment of Clinton, no one in his or her right mind would ever vote for such a corrupt, dishonest, and incompetent politician.

Or would they?

That's the question before Republicans nervous about Donald Trump this week. Is the prospect of Hillary Clinton as president worse than all of the bad scenarios they can imagine with Donald Trump at the helm?

On Wednesday, vice presidential nominee Mike Pence will try to convince faithful anti-Trumpers that it could get much, much worse than a president who's a little crazy with the Twitter thumbs. Look for the staunch social conservative to attack Hillary's radical policies on abortion as well as her far left feminist views.

Ted Cruz remains the great unknown in this convention. He's kept a low profile since withdrawing from the race and has yet to endorse Trump. Will he go rogue and shout #NeverTrump from the dais? Not likely, but then again, how likely did you think it would be that we'd have a reality TV star as our nominee? It seems like anything can happen here this week.

Check back here today for frequent updates from your PJM team! If you're behind on what's been happening at the convention, check out our liveblogs from Monday and Tuesday:

Republican National Convention — Day One

Republican National Convention — Day Two

 

Newt Gingrich gave a strong speech, but two things stood out.

One, he declared that "the cost of Hillary's dishonesty could be the loss of America as we know it."

Two, he attempted to explain away Ted Cruz's declaration that Republicans should "vote our conscience" in November.

He turned to the Trump supporters who booed the Texas senator, saying, "I think you misunderstood Ted Cruz." He attempted to say Cruz did indeed encourage Republicans to vote for Trump, although he did no such thing.

Hugh Hewitt called Newt out on it.

Then we learned the real reason why Gingrich acted like Cruz had endorsed The Donald -- it was part of his written speech! Here's a view of the teleprompter.

By the way, here is what I saw on the floor of the RNC at that fateful moment.

I was in front of the New York delegation when Cruz made his non-endorsement of Trump in three words, "vote our conscience." Cheers turned to shouts of "We want Trump! We want Trump!" and "Endorse Trump! Endorse Trump!" As Cruz left the stage, the boos became deafening.

But conservatives who have opposed The Donald despite his victory in the Republican Party took heart in Cruz's speech.

And this is just hilarious.

Holy cow! What Ted Cruz just did is going to leave a mark — both on the Republican Party and on Cruz's political career. People have been speculating all week about whether Cruz would endorse Trump during his prime time speech on Wednesday. This primary was one of the most bitter in recent memory and Trump repeatedly attacked Cruz's character, even suggesting that Cruz's father was involved in JFK's assassination. Suffice it to say that there's no love lost between the two. Cruz, for his part, has to balance competing interests. His "brand" as a senator has been as an outsider, someone who refuses to go along to get along, even when faced with intense pressure from party bosses. Yet he's still a U.S. senator and, some would say, has a responsibility as a member of the Republican Party to help get a Republican elected as president.

In the end, Cruz encouraged Republicans to vote for...Republicans. However, he stopped short of endorsing Trump. In a speech interrupted several times by protesters, Cruz encouraged people to vote their conscience and elect candidates who would uphold the Constitution. But he never actually said the word "endorse," a fact that did not go unnoticed by the delegates. They roared their disapproval and essentially booed Cruz off the stage.

With this move, Cruz protects his "brand" with hardcore conservative activists, but likely loses some political capital with mainstream Republicans who are supporting Trump. That said, if Cruz had come out and said something along the lines of "Eh, ignore all my warnings about how dangerous this man is...we're besties now!" it would have put him in a very awkward position with his supporters (and donors). There is going to be a lot of fallout after his election — wreckage to clean up on a lot of fronts. Not a lot of people will emerge from it unscathed I suspect.  

Scott Walker sprinted out onto the stage tonight to rousing applause. The audience loved him. He's always much more impressive in person than he is on TV for some reason. He's gifted at engaging a live audience and I'm sure he left many tonight thinking about what could have been.

Pro-Trump protesters may have gotten more attention than anti-Trump ones. This church group, for instance, which calls itself "Bible Believers," congregated on Cleveland's Public Square and at the entrance to the Quicken Loans Arena.

They showed up to protest a flag burning which the Communist Party scheduled, but didn't happen until at least a half-hour after these angry Christians arrived.

16-year-old Ranan Steiger yelled at them, openly declaring that their parents are "burning in mother f***ing hell."

Also in the public square was this "Stolen Lives Quilt," which listed the names and ages of people who were killed, allegedly by illegal immigrants. The image was harrowing, and really drove home Donald Trump's main points.

Protests erupted at Public Square in Cleveland on Wednesday as various groups shouted their competing messages and police erected a human barricade to separate the various factions. It started when a group from the Westboro cult (I refuse to call them either "Baptist' or "church," they're neither) took the podium and started preaching their version of Christianity. Some of what they were "preaching" was technically biblically true, but they filtered it through a lens of anger and hateful rhetoric, laced with extreme sounding political overtones.

When the "Queers Against Racism" crowd arrived, police (hundreds of them) quickly swooped in and formed a barricade between the two groups.  The "Queers" group occupied the podium opposite the Westboro group and shouted their own talking points. Meanwhile, a drum circle formed between the two groups. Hurray for for the calming influence of drum circles. It mostly worked, because the atmosphere never got out of hand. The heavy police presence is most certainly serving as deterrent. No one is attempting to approach police or cross the lines, and although there is shouting, there is no violence.

Heard on the street outside the Quicken Loans Arena at the RNC: "We gotta show some respect. We gotta put pants on."

No idea what that was about, but ... news you can use!

One last comment about Tuesday's events. I really was surprised by how "low energy" (to borrow a phrase) the big moment was when Donald Jr. announced that his father finally had enough votes, and he declared that Donald J. Trump was officially the GOP nominee. Perhaps it's because I've attended some Cavaliers games at the Quicken Loans Arena and those have all been high energy events on steroids — ear-splitting music, state of the art light shows, and overall entertainment extravaganzas. Trump's big moment, in contrast, was more like a throwback 1990s event. There was a dated-looking graphic up on the big screens (a cheesy-looking thing evocative of an ad imploring you to BUY GOLD NOW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!). A disco ball flashed some lights as the crowd (more or less) swayed to "New York, New York," and that was about it. This was nothing in the vicinity of the YUGE show I was expecting from The Donald.

We woke up to this cheery news today:

According to NewsNet5, there are 13 confirmed cases of norovirus among the California RNC logistical support team. The group, which is staying at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, has been very good with hygiene, according to a spokesman from the Erie County Health Department. Officials are now working to figure out where the virus came from and how it spread.

Erie County Health Commissioner Peter Schade said there are 13 confirmed cases of the norovirus among the California RNC Logistical Support Team.

 

Officials are now working to figure out where the virus came from and how it spread.

Oh, I don't know...I'm no public health expert, but maybe stuff like this should be kept to a minimum, just in case?