After a rocky start to the 2016 Republican convention on Monday, the RNC and its nominee found their footing on Day 2. The day started off with a hint of trouble, as multiple sources reported a plan by dissenters to place Ted Cruz’ name for nomination as well as Donald Trump’s, but in the end nothing much happened at all. Instead, the convention crowned Trump as its official nominee — with one ten-minute misunderstanding on a vote count that also turned out to be nothing much at all.
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 Donald Trump as the party’s presidential pick, a process that went off without any major hitch.
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 evening worked better for a number of reasons, not just because little in the way of dissent took place on the floor. The only real minor hitch took place just after the call for votes for the nomination, when the Alaska and Washington DC delegations angrily accused RNC officials of changing their votes. However, as Reince Preibus pointed out after conferring for ten minutes with the Alaska delegation, their votes are governed by a rule that reallocates delegates as candidates suspend their campaigns. The exits of Cruz and Marco Rubio left Trump as the only candidate left to receive them. By the time that Mike Pence’s name was placed in nomination for Vice President, all dissent had dissipated — except for one lone Nay voice during the vote, which sounded as if it came from the gallery rather than the floor.
Chris Christie returned to the spotlight, in more ways than one. He gave the speech of the night in his attack on Hillary Clinton, taking on the mantle of prosecutor once more to ask the grand jury of delegates to return indictments. More controlled than Rudy Giuliani but just as forceful, it didn’t take Christie long to get the crowd whipped into enough of a fervor to start chanting, “Lock her up!” At one point, Christie laughed and told them, “Hold on,” promising even more, and then delivering.
Two more of Trump’s children took the stage. Tiffany Trump, who has been studying at college and not much part of the campaign the past year, offered a humanizing view of Trump as a doting father in a well-received speech. Following Tiffany was Donald Jr, who gave a much more hard-edged political speech. In fact, he sounded both in style and substance like a much more disciplined and focused version of Donald Sr — perhaps a bit arrogant, but very well versed on regulatory and business issues. He will make a formidable surrogate for the general election.
Finally, and that’s meant almost literally, the RNC finished up with another emotional high point in Dr. Ben Carson. He also had his best appearance in months, stepping back into the limelight with a humble, self-effacing, and very effective speech. The morning news shows will focus on the clip of Carson linking Hillary to Lucifer through Saul Alinsky, but most of the speech was a gentle but purposeful call to unity behind Trump, whom he endorsed almost immediately after withdrawing. Unlike the first night, when the program dragged on for several speakers past the natural ending of Donald and Melania Trump exiting the stage, the program seemed to hit the mark at the end.
That leaves the 2016 convention set up well for tonight. The nominal big moment tonight will be the acceptance speech of Mike Pence, but the crucial moment — and still something of a mystery — will be Ted Cruz’ speech about halfway through. Will he endorse Trump, or will he instead offer a contrasting view of the party and conservatism? So far, that appears to be out of the hands of Team Trump and the RNC, so … stay tuned.