America is coming up on a historical election for the next President of the United States. The conventions for both major political parties have concluded and the nominees are preparing their final push. Below are brief summaries of both national conventions.
Democratic National Convention
The 2016 Democratic National Convention was the gathering at which delegates of the United States Democratic Party chose their nominees for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States in the 2016 national election. It began on July 25, 2016, and concluded on July 28, 2016, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with some caucus meetings at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, beginning exactly one week after the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination, becoming the first female major party presidential candidate. At the convention, she was endorsed by her primary rival, Bernie Sanders, along with President Barack Obama and other major party leaders. Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, won the vice presidential nomination by acclamation.
Philadelphia was selected as the host city on February 12, 2015. The primary venue was the Wells Fargo Center; the Pennsylvania Convention Center was also used. The last convention held in Philadelphia was the 2000 Republican National Convention; the last time the city hosted the Democratic Convention was in 1948. Philadelphia was selected over finalists Columbus, New York City, Birmingham, Cleveland, and Phoenix. Edward G. Rendell, the former mayor of Philadelphia and governor of Pennsylvania, played a crucial role in securing Philadelphia as the host city.
The 2016 Philadelphia Host Committee, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, was the official and federally designated presidential convention host committee for the convention, charged with the task of raising the necessary funds to hold the convention. The Host Committee is composed of 10 prominent Philadelphia business executives, civic and other community leaders. The Reverend Leah Daughtry is the CEO.
Main article: 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak
A cache of more than 19,000 e-mails was leaked on July 22, 2016. This has caused Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign. Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, timed the release of the e-mails to occur shortly before the Democratic convention in hopes of maximizing its impact. A 2016 Democratic National Convention ticket. On July 23, party officials announced that Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz would not preside over or speak at the convention. The announcement came after the leak of 20,000 emails by seven DNC staffers from January 2015 to May 2016, during the Democratic primary season. The emails showed the staffers favoring Clinton and disparaging Sanders. Wasserman Schultz’s removal from convention activities was approved by both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns. In her place, the Rules Committee named Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio as convention chair. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post described this as “a remarkable snub for a sitting party chair.”
Cybersecurity experts have identified the Russian government as potentially responsible for the hack of the DNC that led to the leaks, and the U.S. intelligence agencies have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft.
The Democratic presidential ballot was held on July 26, with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore presiding over the roll call of states. Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress, nominated Clinton. Congressman John Lewis and professor Na’ilah Amaru seconded the nomination. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard nominated Sanders, with Paul Feeney, the Massachusetts State Director for the Sanders campaign, and Shyla Nelson, a spokeswoman for Election Justice USA, seconding the nomination. During the roll call, several state delegations lauded the accomplishments of both Clinton and Sanders.
After all states had voted, Sanders stated, “I move that the convention suspend the procedural rules. I move that all votes, all votes cast by delegates be reflected in the official record, and I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States.” Clinton had made a similar motion during the 2008 convention roll call; however, Sanders (unlike Clinton in 2008) did not move to nominate Clinton by acclamation. Clinton became the first woman to be nominated for president by a major U.S. political party.
Vice presidential nomination
Clinton had announced her selection of Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate on July 22. Some Sanders supporters had discussed the possibility of challenging Kaine’s nomination, but Kaine was nominated by acclamation on the third day of the convention. Kaine became the first Virginian since Woodrow Wilson to be on a major party’s ticket.
According to C-SPAN data, 257 speakers addressed the convention from the podium over the course of the convention.
“And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”
— Michelle Obama at the 2016 Democratic National Convention
In her speech, First Lady Michelle Obama defended Hillary Clinton and urged Democrats to vote for Hillary focusing on Clinton’s role as a woman and a mother. Obama alluded to Donald Trump’s actions as reasons to vote for Clinton, while attempting to heal the fractures within the party. Referencing her experience as a black woman in the White House, she said that although she lives in a “house that was built by slaves,” seeing her children play on the White House lawn fills her with hope. She said: “Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country is not great. That somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on Earth.” The Atlantic described the speech as the best of the night and called it a speech “for the ages”, a qualification echoed in other publications. David Smith of The Guardian called it a “profound, moving and devastating riposte to Donald Trump”.
In his speech, Sanders told supports that he understood and shared their disappointment “about the final results of the nominating process,” but urged them to “take enormous pride in the historical accomplishments we have achieved,” saying: “Together, my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution – our revolution – continues.”
Sanders offered a strong endorsement of Hillary Clinton, saying that American needed leadership that would “improve the lives of working families, children, the elderly, the sick and poor” and “bring our people together,” and that “By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that – based on her ideas and her leadership – Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States.” Sanders said “I am proud to stand with her.”
On the second day of the convention, Sanders’ delegates, with his approval, voted for him in the formal roll-call vote, although at the end of the roll-call vote Sanders moved to suspend the rules to and formally nominate Clinton for president, an important unifying gesture.
Former President Bill Clinton spoke on the second night of the convention, telling the story of his life with his wife, Hillary Clinton. Clinton described his wife as someone who had fought for change throughout her entire life, beginning with their first meeting in law school in 1971. Clinton contrasted the Republican portrayal of his wife with what he argued is the “real one,” relating anecdotes regarding Clinton’s friends and family. Dylan Matthews of Vox called the speech a “typical first lady address,” noting that the former president rarely touched on his own political career. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post stated that Clinton talked about his wife in an “engaging, funny and, yes, sweet way.”
“Donald Trump says he wants to run the country like he runs his business… God help us. I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one.” Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke on the third night of the convention, where he emphasized that he is not a Democrat, but endorsed Clinton anyway to “defeat a dangerous demagogue.” Bloomberg’s speech aimed to convince centrist voters that voting for Clinton is the “responsible” thing to do, as Bloomberg argued Trump would be a dangerous and unpredictable president. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post wrote that Bloomberg gave a “searing and effective critique” of a fellow New York billionaire. After the speech, Reihan Salam of Slate wondered whether Bloomberg’s speech foreshadowed future ideological battles in the Democratic Party between moderate “Bloombourgeoisie” and liberal “Sandernistas.”
Tim Kaine, official 113th Congress photo portrait.jpg “Most people, when they run for president, they don’t just say ‘believe me.’ They respect you enough to tell you how they will get things done.”
— Tim Kaine at the 2016 Democratic National Convention
Having been nominated by acclamation earlier in the day, Kaine accepted the Democratic vice presidential nomination on the night of July 27. In one of his first major national speeches, Kaine discussed his life story, including his childhood as the son of a ironworker, his time in Honduras, and his response to the Virginia Tech shooting. Kaine also attacked Trump, arguing that, in contrast to Clinton, Trump had failed to explain what he would do once in office. Kaine performed an impression of Trump, mockingly repeating “believe me,” and then arguing that Trump’s past showed that he cannot be trusted. Kaine also strongly endorsed Clinton as the most qualified candidate for president, calling her lista, Spanish for “ready.” After the speech, Morgan Winsor of ABC News noted the many Twitter users who described Kaine as “your friend’s overly nice dad.”
In one of the last major speeches of his presidency, Obama strongly endorsed Clinton as the nominee, saying “there has never been a man or woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton.” Obama contrasted his and Clinton’s hopeful view of America with that of Trump, which he called “deeply pessimistic.” Obama argued that Trump is unqualified for the office, and is attempting to use fear to get elected. Michael Grunwald of Politico called it a “stirring but fundamentally defensive speech.” Conservative blogger Erick Erickson tweeted “I disagree with the President on so much policy and his agenda, but appreciate the hope and optimism in this speech.” After the speech, Clinton appeared on the stage for the first time in the convention, embracing her 2008 primary rival.
“Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? … Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States. You’ll see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing.”
— Khizr Khan at the 2016 Democratic National Convention
Khizr Khan, the father of Captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American soldier killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, criticized Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration.
Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, by sharing her personal story about her relationship with her mother when she was younger. She also praised her for being a great mother, and said that her (Chelsea’s) kids are proud of Hillary.
“I’m voting for a fighter who never ever gives up, and who believes we can always do better when we come together and work together. I hope that my children will someday be as proud of me as I am of my mom. I am so grateful to be her daughter. I’m so grateful that she is Charlotte and Aidan’s grandmother. She makes me proud every single day. And mom, grandma would be so proud of you tonight. To everyone watching here at home, I know with all my heart that my mother will make us proud as our next president.”
After being introduced by her daughter, Clinton accepted the Democratic presidential nomination on July 28, the final night of the convention. In her speech, Clinton asked voters to trust in her experience, judgment, and compassion based on her long public career. Clinton discussed what her priorities would be as president, saying that creating jobs would be her “primary mission,” and that she would also seek to combat climate change, make college more affordable, and institute new gun laws. Clinton contrasted her hopeful vision and specific policy proposals with what she sees as Trump’s fearmongering and vague ideas; she quoted Jackie regarding men moved by fear and pride. Eyder Peralta of NPR also noted that Clinton’s “grounded” speech contrasted with the “soaring” speeches of President Obama. To supporters of her rival Bernie Sanders, Clinton stated “I want you to know, I’ve heard you,” complimenting their energy and passion.
A Politico poll of “Democratic insiders” found highly positive reactions, though the insiders had slightly better reviews for the speeches of Michelle Obama and Barack Obama. A CNN instant poll showed that 86% of viewers had a positive reaction to the speech (71% very positive, 15% somewhat positive) and 12% had a negative reaction. According to CNN’s instant polls at both conventions, viewers had a more favorable view of her speech than Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention the week earlier. A Gallup poll showed that Clinton’s speech was viewed about 24 points more positively than negatively. Also, according to Gallup, 45% were more likely to vote for Clinton versus 41% who were less likely to vote for her based on what they saw/read about the convention.
Demonstrations and protests
A total of 103 people have been cited during the entire Democratic National Convention Demonstrations by delegates on the convention floor were organized by the Bernie Delegates Network, led by California delegate Norman Solomon. In response to the email leak, many delegates protested the perceived bias and corruption of the Democratic National Committee on the opening day of the convention. Wasserman Schultz was repeatedly heckled as she addressed the Florida delegation, frequently interrupted by boos, jeers and cries of the word “shame”, while some held up signs reading “emails”. Sanders was booed by his delegates as he spoke to a crowd of roughly 1,900 and encouraged them to vote for Clinton. Some delegates on the convention floor repeatedly booed when the name of the presumptive nominee was mentioned. Sanders made a personal plea through a text message, asking his delegates to stop protesting. Nevertheless, protesting delegates continued to heckle speakers throughout the convention night, while chants of “No TPP” could be heard across the rally. Fifty-four citations were issued by local authorities during the protest on the first day of the convention.
On the second day of the convention, hundreds of Sanders delegates and supporters walked out of the convention in protest following Clinton’s official nomination. They subsequently staged a sit-in at a nearby media tent. There were reports of American flags, pro-Sanders fliers, and one Israeli flag being set on fire by protesters. Demonstrations supporting Sanders and the Black Lives Matter movement marched through Philadelphia, attracting at least 1,000 people by nightfall.
On the third day, several protesters broke through the security fencing around the convention site and clashed with police before the police managed to re-secure the fencing; seven were arrested as a result. A woman was injured while trying to put out a flag that was set on fire. Several protesters were treated due to heat-related issues. Leon Panetta’s speech was repeatedly interrupted by chants of “No more war” from Code Pink members within the Oregon delegation; they turned on their cellphone flashlights and continued to protest as the arena lights near them were turned off.
Republican National Convention
The 2016 Republican National Convention, in which delegates of the United States Republican Party chose the party’s nominees for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States in the United States presidential election, 2016, was held July 18–21, 2016, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The event marked the third time Cleveland has hosted this event, the first since 1936. In addition to determining the party’s national ticket, the convention ratified the party platform.
There were 2,472 delegates to the Republican National Convention, with a simple majority of 1,237 required to win the presidential nomination. Most of those delegates were bound for the first ballot of the convention based on the results of the 2016 Republican presidential primaries. The convention formally nominated Donald Trump as the party’s nominee and Mike Pence as his running mate.
On April 2, 2014, the Republican National Committee announced that Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City and Las Vegas were the finalists for hosting the convention. In late June 2014, Cleveland and Dallas were announced as the final two contenders to be the host city. Cleveland was selected on July 8, 2014.
The 2016 Cleveland Host Committee, an Ohio nonprofit corporation with no political affiliation, is the official and federally designated Presidential Convention Host Committee for the convention. It is responsible for “organizing, hosting and funding” the convention; it also aims “to promote Northeast Ohio and ensure Cleveland is best represented, and to lessen the burden of local governments in hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention”. The Host Committee is composed of prominent Ohio business executives, civic leaders, and other community leaders. David Gilbert, CEO of Destination Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, is the President and CEO of the host committee. Organizers have found it hard to raise the money needed to put on the convention, which is normally supported by corporate donations. Corporations that donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the 2012 convention but nothing in 2016 include JPMorgan Chase, General Electric, Ford Motor Company, Motorola Solutions and Amgen. Reluctance to be associated with Trump, or concern that the convention might be disrupted by floor fights or violence, were sometimes cited as factors in the decision to withhold funds. In July as the convention got under way, the Cleveland Host Committee said it had raised $58 million of its $64 million goal. They asked billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who often contributes to Republicans, to make up the $6 million shortfall.
Before the convention there were a number of online phishing expeditions that may have been hackers looking for weak spots in the convention’s network. The computer network of the Democratic National Committee had already been penetrated by hackers linked with the Russian government, compromising, among other things, the database of opposition research on Trump. On July 17, 2016, The New York Times reported that “Cleveland has assigned about 500 police officers specifically to handle the convention and it has brought in thousands more officers to help, from departments as distant as California and Texas.”
The Los Angeles Times wrote at the end of March 2016 that fears of a turbulent and volatile convention atmosphere were heightened because of a variety of factors: “a city scarred by controversial police shootings and simmering with racial tension; a candidate [Trump] who has threatened that his supporters will riot if he comes with the most delegates but leaves without the nomination; and a police force with a reputation for brutality.” Concerns specifically focused on the ability of the Cleveland Police Department to handle protests in the wake of the Tamir Rice and Michael Brelo cases, and a 2014 Department of Justice investigation that criticized the police department for having a pattern or practice of using “unreasonable and unnecessary force.” Left-wing activists have been preparing for the convention since it was announced in 2014. In May 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to file a lawsuit on behalf of two activist groups, Citizens for Trump and a progressive group called Organize Ohio, asserting that protesters were being inhibited in their attempts to organize effectively by the city’s delay in granting permits. As of May 19, six groups had filed for permits, but none had been granted. Cleveland stalled on approving and making public the demonstration applications it received, while Philadelphia (hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention) had already granted an application. The ACLU sued the city in federal district court on June 14, 2016. As of May 20, 2016, groups that have filed for protest permits have included the AIDS Healthcare Foundation; Global Zero; Organize Ohio, a group of progressive activists; the Citizens for Trump/Our Votes Matter March; Coalition to March on the RNC and Dump Trump; Stand Together Against Trump, an anti-Donald Trump group; People’s Fightback Center/March Against Racism; and Created Equal, an anti-abortion group. A pro-Trump group, Trump March RNC, withdrew its application after Trump became the presumptive nominee.
Attendance and officials skipping convention
As Trump rose to become the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party, a number of prominent Republicans announced they would not attend the convention. Of the living former Republican nominees for president, only 1996 nominee Bob Dole announced that he would attend the convention; Romney, John McCain, George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush all announced that they would skip the convention. A number of Republican Governors, U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators, particularly those facing difficult reelection campaigns, also indicated that they would not attend, seeking to distance themselves from Trump and spend more time with voters in their home states. Most notably, Governor Kasich chose to avoid the convention, while Ohio Senator Rob Portman attended the convention but avoided taking a major role in its proceedings. On July 8, 2016, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse announced that he would not attend the convention. Many Republican senators are not attending the convention at all: Senator Steve Daines of Montana, who will be “fly-fishing with his wife”; Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who said he has “to mow his lawn”; and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who will be traveling in Alaska by bush plane.
A number of prominent businesses and trade groups, including Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, scaled back participation in the convention, sharply reducing their contributions for convention events and sponsorship. In June, six major companies that sponsored the 2012 Republican convention—Wells Fargo, UPS, Motorola, JPMorgan Chase, Ford and Walgreens Boots—announced they would not sponsor the 2016 Republican convention. Apple Inc. followed suit, announcing that it, too, would be withdrawing funding from the convention over Trump’s position on certain election issues.
Protestors against the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, outside the Supreme Court, in June 2015. Conservative views on social issues, especially centering around homosexuality, were adopted by the platform committee, including, but not limited to, an opposition to Obergefell v. Hodges. The platform committee adopted its platform on July 12. The platform was described as “staunchly conservative” and reflecting the party’s drift further to the hard right. The most contentious discussions at the platform committee dealt with social issues, particularly those dealing with LGBT people. The platform adopted by the platform committee adopted a “strict, traditionalist view” on social issues, expressing deep criticism “of how the modern American family has evolved.” Many platform planks expressing “disapproval of homosexuality, same-sex marriage or transgender rights”—championed by Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council—passed. The platform calls for overturning Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, by a constitutional amendment. The platform also calls for the appointment of judges “who respect traditional family values.” The platform promotes state bathroom bills to restrict the public restrooms that transgender persons can use; stated that “natural marriage” is between a man and a woman and is less likely to result in children who become drug addicts; and expressed support for allowing parents to seek conversion therapy for their gay minor children. The platform calls internet pornography “a public health crisis that is destroying the life of millions” and encourages states to fight it. The platform also calls for the teaching of the Bible in public schools.
Rachel Hoff, a District of Columbia delegate who is the first openly gay member of a Republican platform committee, offered several amendments to soften or offer language inclusive of the LGBT community, but each proposal failed. Hoff’s proposal for language “stating that marriage is a fundamentally important institution and that ‘there are diverse and sincerely held views on marriage’ within the party” failed in an unofficial vote of 30 to 82. An amendment was also offered to recognize that gay people are targeted by ISIL; the delegates who introduced this amendment sought to signal inclusion of the gay community. The amendment was opposed by conservative delegates (such as Jim Bopp of Indiana, who termed such an amendment “identity politics”) and was voted down.
The party’s platform language “was strengthened to condemn all types of abortion” without exceptions. The platform committee adopted a provision, proposed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, expressing opposition to any restriction on magazine capacity in firearms. The platform called for “certain federally controlled public lands” to be immediately transferred to state ownership, where it could be privatized. The platform did not specify whether the lands would include national parks, national forests, or wilderness areas.
On foreign policy, the members of the platform committee were split between “libertarian-minded isolationists” and “national security hawks.” The latter camp won on almost every point, voting down measures that would have condemned ongoing U.S. involvement in Middle Eastern wars and approving language promoting increased military spending. One plank reflected a more isolationist approach, eliminating references to giving weapons to Ukraine in its fight with Russia and rebel forces, after Trump staffers reportedly intervened with delegates. The platform adopted by the platform committee opposes a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. While the 2012 Republican platform called for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the 2016 platform adopted by the convention committee omits mention of the agreement, reflecting the influence of presumptive nominee Donald Trump, who opposes the trade pact. The platform also expressly calls for a wall to be built on the U.S.-Mexico border, as Trump has called for (a strengthening of initially proposed language calling for a “physical barrier”).
Melania Trump’s speech
Melania Trump’s speech “almost immediately came under scrutiny when striking similarities were discovered between her speech” and Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The Trump campaign at first denied allegations of plagiarism. Campaign manager Paul Manafort argued that the speech contained “not that many similarities” and the words used are not unique words “that belong to the Obamas.”
Following Mrs. Trump’s speech, various media outlets reported similarities as alleged plagiarism. Chris Harrick, the vice president of Turnitin, discovered that Trump used about 6% of Michelle Obama’s words and found two types of plagiarism, “clone” and “find and replace”. Various media outlets suggested that members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign should respond to the accusations, which they did a few hours after the speech in the form of the following statement by the campaign’s senior communications advisor, Jason Miller: “In writing [the] speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking.”
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, described the speech as “inspirational” but said if plagiarism were found, he thought “it certainly seems reasonable” to fire the person who wrote the speech. Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, called it a “great speech” and said “obviously Michelle Obama feels very similar sentiments toward her family”. He later said “to think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy”, adding “This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work against Melania Trump.” Sean Spicer, director of communications for the Republican National Committee, defended the speech by saying that similar statements have existed before her speech such as quotes by John Legend, Kid Rock, and Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
Chris Christie’s speech
In the second night of the convention, Governor Chris Christie gave a speech in a style of a mock trial. After a series of statements regarding Hillary Clinton that his audience described as “guilty”, the crowd chanted “lock her up”. The crowd’s reaction has received widespread coverage following the speech. The “lock her up” chant was later uttered by supporters of Bernie Sanders prior to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Clinton responded to the chant in an interview on 60 Minutes by saying that she was saddened by it.
Ted Cruz’s speech
Donald Trump’s top rival during the primaries, Ted Cruz, spoke in prime time on the third night of the convention. Cruz did not endorse Trump during his speech.
In the third night of the convention, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas gave a speech in which he did not endorse Trump for president, and instead urged listeners to “vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.” Pro-Trump delegates were enraged at Cruz’s speech, shouting him down and booing him off the stage, in what was described by the New York Times as “the most electric moment of the convention.” Convention security personnel and Cruz advisor Ken Cuccinelli escorted Cruz’s wife Heidi out of the hall, fearing for her safety. Newt Gingrich spoke after Cruz and said: “I had the text of what Ted Cruz was gonna say, and I thought it was funny,” Gingrich said. “I mean, Ted gets up and he says, ‘Look, vote your conscience for someone who will support the Constitution.’ Well, in this particular election year, that by definition cannot be for Hillary Clinton.” The following morning, Cruz attended a contentious meeting with delegates representing Texas that resulted in what CNN labeled “a remarkable 25-minute back-and-forth with his own constituents, defying appeals from his own Texas delegation to put the party above his inhibitions and back Trump.”
Cruz’s speech sparked a backlash and elicited negative reactions from prominent Republicans supporting Trump. New Jersey governor and former presidential candidate Chris Christie called the speech “awful” and “selfish.” New York Congressman Peter T. King called Cruz a “fraud” and a “self-centered liar.” Senator Dan Coats of Indiana responded that Cruz was a “self-centered, narcissistic, pathological liar.” Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, when asked about Cruz’s speech, responded that she “would tell [Cruz] the same thing I would tell my kids, ‘get over yourself.’”Susan Hutchison, chair of the Washington State Republican Party, confronted Cruz after his speech and labeled Cruz a “traitor to the party.” In addition, Cruz was denied entry to influential Republican donor Sheldon Adelson’s suite at the convention. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh speculated that Cruz was trying to mimic Ronald Reagan’s speech at the 1976 Republican National Convention, in that “he wanted to deliver a speech that was Reaganesque in that the delegates would walk out of there thinking that they should have nominated him. He didn’t get there.” Instead, Limbaugh compared his speech to Ted Kennedy’s at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, in which he failed to endorse President Jimmy Carter, the nominee, by putting his own interests ahead of the interests of the party.
Peter Thiel’s speech
Peter Thiel, a billionaire PayPal co-founder and Silicon Valley investor, delivered a manifesto for tackling the greater issues of the day, focusing on technology, the economy and small government.
Instead of going to Mars, we invaded the Middle East. […] It’s time to end the era of stupid wars and rebuild our country. When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union, and we won. Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?
Thiel also affirmed his pride to be “gay, a Republican and most of all an American”, a stance that earned him a standing ovation.
Donald Trump’s speech
Trump, having been formally nominated as the Republican presidential nominee on the second night of the convention, spoke on the fourth and final night of the convention. Trump’s speech was leaked hours in advance by Correct the Record, a liberal-leaning Super PAC, though Trump had already given copies of his speech to the network press pool. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, introduced Trump in a speech immediately before his own speech. “Here Comes the Sun” was used as the entrance music for Ivanka Trump. The George Harrison estate complained about the use of this song, which his family said was “offensive and against the wishes of the George Harrison estate.”
Trump spoke for 75 minutes, making his speech the longest since at least the 1972 Republican National Convention and one of the longest acceptance speeches ever in major-party convention history. In his speech, Trump stated that America faces a “crisis” due to “attacks on our police” and “terrorism in our cities,” and emphasized an important theme in his campaign: law and order. In evaluating the speech, Glenn Thrush of Politico noted the influence of Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Ronald Reagan, and Rudy Giuliani, all of whom sounded similar themes earlier in American history in attempts to win over the “Silent Majority”. Trump also promised to limit American participation and global crises and trade deals. When Trump turned to the subject of illegal immigration, many in the audience began shouting “Build the wall, build the wall,” referring to a signature promise of Trump’s campaign to build a wall on the Mexico–United States border. Trump also repeatedly attacked President Barack Obama and the Democratic presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, arguing that the country and world had become less safe during their time in office. However, Trump attempted to reach out to supporters of defeated Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, as well as down-and-out urbanites.
Philip Rucker and David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post found Trump’s speech to be “relentlessly gloomy,” and observed that Trump painted himself as an agent of change, while he cast Clinton as a defender of the status quo. Trump’s speech was variously dubbed the “Mourning in America” speech and the “Evening in America” speech in reference to Ronald Reagan’s more optimistic “Morning in America” campaign ad. Niall Stanage of the The Hill argued that Trump’s speech brought stability to a turbulent convention and showed Trump at his “most comfortable and energized.” A Politico poll found largely positive reactions among “GOP political insiders” while Democrats argued that Trump’s “dark” speech would prove damaging. The New York Post released a cover story the next day by Michael Goodwin praising Trump’s speech, declaring it “the speech of his life,” and also saying that the speech “could signal the start of an American revival.” Ratings figures released by the major networks showed that approximately 32 million viewers watched Trump’s speech, slightly ahead of the number that watched Mitt Romney’s 2012 speech.
A Gallup survey found that 35% of Americans saw Trump’s speech positively (either “excellent” or “good” while 36% saw it negatively. The speech had “the least positive reviews of any speech we have tested after the fact”). 36% of Americans say the convention made them more likely to vote for Trump, while 51% said it made them less likely to vote for him. This is the highest “less likely to vote” percentage for a candidate in the 15 times Gallup has asked this question after a convention. It is also the first time in Gallup’s convention polling that a Democratic or Republican convention has made more say that they are less likely to vote for the party’s nominee.
The number of demonstrators was significantly lower than expected, and according to Cleveland records, three of five officially permitted protests planned for the first three days of the convention did not occur. Lower-than-expected was attributed to a variety of factors, including “fear of violence from the police and fear of violence from the Trump supporters”; Cleveland’s relatively small size compared to cities such as Chicago or New York; and a heavy police presence.
On July 18, the convention’s first day, dueling anti-Trump and pro-Trump demonstrations took place at various places in Cleveland, attracting several hundred demonstrators each. The demonstrations were peaceful, with just two reported arrests.
On July 19, the convention’s second day, peaceful protests continued. Demonstrators included those from groups such as the antiwar organization Code Pink and from the West Ohio Minutemen, a militia group. Three people were arrested for criminal mischief for climbing flag poles and hanging a banner at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, bringing the total number of convention-related arrests to five. A brief scuffle between supporters of pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and anti-Trump protesters was quickly broken up by police. On July 21, the final day of the convention, Jones and Roger Stone interrupted a broadcast of Cenk Uygur’s The Young Turks, leading to a confrontation between Jones, Stone, and Uygur.
On July 20, the convention’s third day, seventeen people were arrested, and two officers sustained minor injuries. The International Business Journal reported: “News reports and videos circulated on social media about the increasingly tense nature of protests that have included activists from Black Lives Matter, the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Baptist Church, in addition to ardent supporters for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.”
On July 21, the final day of the convention, Donald Trump’s acceptance speech was briefly interrupted by Code Pink activist Medea Benjamin.
Overall the demonstrations were generally peaceful. Some demonstrators expressed disappointment to the low turnout. In contrast, the 2016 Democratic National Convention saw a larger turnout and more arrest than the Republican Convention.