Donald Trump was formally nominated for the presidency by Republican delegates on Tuesday night, a landmark moment in American political history that capped the business mogul’s surprising conquest of the GOP.
Trump formally reached the threshold of 1,237 delegates at 7:12 p.m. Eastern time, with votes cast by delegates from his home state of New York.
But the rest of the evening demonstrated that Trump has seized his party’s nomination — but not yet won the battle for its heart and its ideas. The speakers seemed to largely avoid the policy proposals that brought Trump so much success: building a wall on the southern U.S. border, barring foreign-born Muslims from entering the country, tearing up trade deals and deporting undocumented immigrants en masse.
Some also often avoided mentions of Trump himself. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) spoke at length about his own vision for the country — but rarely mentioned the nominee, who opposes some of Ryan’s signature ideas about reform of spending programs.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the one speaker who seemed to electrify the convention-hall crowd. He did it by talking not about Trump, but about the presumptive opponent: former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Christie, a former federal prosecutor, ticked off examples of what he said were Clinton’s bad judgments on foreign affairs, and her use of a private email server to handle government business. After each example, Christie turned the audience into an ad hoc jury: “Guilty or not guilty?”
“Guilty!” the audience roared. They repeatedly broke into chants of “Lock her up!”
That has been the emotional high point of a night that was theoretically dedicated to the economy, with the message “Make America Work Again.” Some of the speakers did focus on that theme, including a waterproofing entrepreneur from the Bronx. But many others veered to other topics, including Clinton, again and again.
If Republicans couldn’t agree on what a Trump presidency would be like, they could agree that Clinton’s would be awful. Each speaker sought to find a new way of underlining the danger Clinton posed.
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson used a biblical reference: He noted that Clinton had written about Saul Alinsky, a community organizer for liberal causes. Carson said that Alinsky had used the biblical story of Lucifer as a model, the fallen angel cast out of heaven, with ambitions to rule the world. “the original radical,” Carson said, citing Alinsky’s book, “Rules for Radicals.”
Carson seemed to conclude that Clinton had some sympathy for the devil.
“Somebody who acknowledges Lucifer,” he called Clinton. If the country followed her path, he said, “God will remove himself from us. We will not be blessed, and our nation will go down the tubes.”
Sharon Day, co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, accused former president Bill Clinton – husband of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton – as a sexual abuser.
“As first lady you viciously attacked the character of women who were victims of sexual abuse . . . at the hands of your husband,” Day said, addressing Clinton.
Later, Day said: “I want to see a woman become president one day and i want my granddaughters to see a woman president . . . but not that woman . . . Hillary Clinton . . . not now…not EVER.”
The theme of the night was supposed to be “Make America Work Again,” and many of the speakers did intermix that economic message, but they also repeatedly took turns at bashing Clinton.
Michael Mukasey – the former attorney general during the George W. Bush Administration – condemned Clinton for her use of a private email server to conduct government business. Clinton’s use of that email led to an FBI inquiry, which ended with FBI Director James Comey declaring her behavior “extremely careless,” because it might have endangered classified material.
“Hillary Clinton is asking the people of this country . . . to make her the first president in history to take the constitutional oath of office, after already having violated it,” Mukasey said, meaning that Clinton had failed to uphold the law as secretary of state. “The message from this convention – to everyone watching this convention . . . No way, Hillary. No way on Earth.” (Courtesy Washington Post)