- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

CLEVELAND — Donald Trump is an unconventional presidential candidate; therefore, an unconventional convention is to be expected. Mr. Trump promised to entertain in Cleveland and, so far, he’s delivered. Here’s a list of some of the highlights and lowlights of the Republican National Convention, so far:

Highlights:

Thematics — Mr. Trump is known for his branding expertise, and the convention is no exception. Mr. Trump’s clear, concise slogan – “Make America Great Again” – has been transformed into a theme for everyday. On Monday, speakers addressed how to “Make America Safe Again,” a salient topic, given the police shootings and terrorist attack over the last week. On Tuesday, the topic is economics, “Make America Work Again,” and so forth. Republican conventions have seemed disjointed in the past, without a clear message. Mr. Trump has at least presented the party with a resonant, sound argument to present to the American public.

Rudy Giuliani — The former New York City Mayor delivered a barnburner of a speech, which was received with wild praise in Cleveland. Mr. Giuliani spoke about fighting terror, supporting the men and women in blue, testified to Mr. Trump’s accomplishments and heart, and unleashed a stinging critique of Hillary Clinton’s character. Mr. Giuliani’s speech was the most energetic of the night, getting many of the delegates off their feet to cheer. He emphasized what brought our country together and unified us, ending with a threat to our nation’s enemies: “You know who you are, and we are coming to get you.”

Donald Trump’s entrance — Mr. Trump defied convention protocol and showed up on the first night to introduce his wife, Melania. The entrance was grand, the stuff of show business, with backlights, a smoke machine and a rising stage. Queen’s “We are the Champions” played in the background — it was epic.

City of Cleveland — There’s no doubt Cleveland has been readying for the convention. Speaking with many of the city’s residents, roads have been paved, parks revived and hotels unveiled. “It’s been a really good thing for the city, no matter what happens in the election — we’re seeing a rebirth,” a taxi cab driver told me going into the city.

Protesters — They are fewer in number than the press corps out trying to cover them. Law enforcement roam the streets of Cleveland and are visible from every vantage point. Everyone feels safe, with their rights protected.

Lowlights:

Joni Ernst — The senator from Iowa is a no doubt a rising star in Republican politics, being a veteran, hog-riding, articulate woman. She was widely speculated to be the vice presidential pick of Mr. Trump and could very well be on future tickets. However, her speech was pushed to well after 11 p.m. to a half-full convention center. She deserved a bit better.

Melania Trump — Mrs. Trump wowed the audience in her first big, prime-time speech. However, she also sent the internet abuzz for a few passages that too closely mimicked a speech Michelle Obama gave in 2008. Somebody in Mr. Trump’s campaign let her down — being the wife to a political novice, there’s no doubt she had some help drafting the speech. Whomever aided her and signed off on it deserves to be fired. They did her a great disservice. Otherwise, her speech was excellent — it’s a hard thing to do (especially if English isn’t your first language) and she delivered.

No roll-call vote — The Republican National Committee and Mr. Trump teamed up to deny delegates, who threatened an open revolt on the convention floor, a roll-call vote on convention rules that would’ve stalled proceedings. No matter what the delay, Mr. Trump’s campaign and the RNC should have allowed the vote to go through — they had the numbers to win. It would’ve shown the American people (and reporters) how small the anti-Trump forces really are, and not added fuel to their fire.

John Kasich — The Ohio governor is looking beyond the 2016 election and was in Cleveland Monday to meet with the delegates of New Hampshire and prominent GOP donors to plot a path forward to again run for president, once Mr. Trump fails. I’m sorry, Mr. Kasich, but we the people don’t care about your personal politics, and are looking out for the good of the party and country, here and now. We have a binary choice come November, and the thought of Mrs. Clinton in the White House strikes many of us as dire. Either support Mr. Trump or stay out of the spotlight, and stay put in Columbus. Everything else is sour grapes.

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