Live Coverage

'I Am Your Voice'

Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination and spoke of a dark, troubled, crime-riddled nation—that only he could heal.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

CLEVELAND—“I am your voice,” Donald Trump declared Thursday night, accepting the Republican nomination for president while describing a dark and dire vision of a troubled, crumbling, and crime-riddled nation whose problems only he could fix.

Speaking to a party feeling discouraged, angry, and disenfranchised by Barack Obama’s presidency; a party terrified of Hillary Clinton succeeding him; and a party that revolted against its leaders and political class to select the entertainer and developer as its nominee, Trump declared himself “the law-and-order candidate,” the latest in a series of borrowed slogans from the phrasebook of Richard Nixon, and he spoke with the ominous tones of the 37th president.

“Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities,” Trump told attendees at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. “It is finally time for a straightforward assessment of the state of our nation. I will present the facts plainly and honestly.”

Trump, who uncharacteristically spoke from a teleprompter, seldom straying from the script with his trademark asides, argued that his own wealth and role inside the firmament of the American elite make him especially qualified to fix what ails the nation—in fact, uniquely qualified.

“I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves,” he said, casting himself as a defender of downtrodden ordinary Americans. “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” He accused the business, media, and financial elite of lining up behind Clinton in order to “keep our rigged system in place.” And he sweepingly rejected the identity politics that the American left has adopted in recent years, promising to end the era of “political correctness.”

On foreign policy, Trump offered a message of strength through retrenchment, insisting that America must both project power on the world stage but also draw down on global commitments, making allies in NATO and other alliances contribute more to their own defense. “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo,” he said.

Fittingly for a campaign driven more by personality than by policy, Trump’s speech Thursday was singularly—and perhaps excessively—focused on himself as a messianic figure. He said that “there can be no prosperity without law and order,” but he did not provide any specific policy prescriptions, saying only that problems “can be fixed so easily.” He offered very few specific policy ideas, namely building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and suspending “immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism” until new vetting procedures are in place. That proposal notably omitted any mention of Islam, although previous iterations of the idea have specified barring Muslims.

Trump strongly assailed his opponent, Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee. He painted her as the architect of chaos overseas and proponent of failed policies stateside. But when the crowd in the Quicken Loans Arena began to chant, “Lock her up!” as they have many times throughout the convention, Trump waved them off. “Let’s defeat her in November,” he said.

The evening was the high point of a surreal journey that began more than a year ago when, against the expectations of nearly every observer and the counsel of nearly every poll, Trump entered the Republican race for president, throwing his lot in against the largest and reputedly most talented GOP field in decades. Sequentially knocking those rivals out one by one, he overcame massive resistance from the party’s establishment to become its standard-bearer.

In the Quicken Loans Arena, a sea of Republicans cheered and waved signs. Full for the first time in four nights, the hall was dotted with the now-iconic red and white Make America Great hats and Day-Glo yellow RNC 2016 caps. Some delegates wore “No 3rd term” pins on their lapels, a nod to the talking point that a Clinton presidency would represent a continuation of the much-loathed Obama years. On the packed convention floor, nearly every attendee sported a sticker reading, “Defeat Hillary—Vote Trump.”

The order of those priorities was telling. Trump’s speech aside, the convention has focused heavily on the universal dislike that attendees felt for Clinton—a useful rallying point for a convention that was otherwise riven with disagreement and recrimination. Other speakers Thursday kept their focus on Clinton, and when businessman Tom Barrack announced, “I have nothing negative to say about Hillary. I have only amazing things to say about Donald,” the applause was merely polite.

Amid the dark tones of Trump’s speech, however, there were signs of a softer Trump aiming to widen his appeal in a general election. Although the convention’s platform committee declined to include a plank declaring LGBTQ people the victims of radical Islamic terror, Trump vowed to protect them, and when the statement was met with warm applause, he told attendees, “As a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said.”

Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, introduced him, and she too struck a moderate line. She called her father “color-blind and gender-neutral” (a statement somewhat at odds with his campaign statements about minorities and his own history with women) and promised he would pursue equal pay, affordable child care, and paid family leave. That’s likely an attempt to strengthen Donald Trump’s support among women, which has sagged deeply in the polls, weakened by both his own personality and the fact that his opponent would be the first female president. All three of those policies are also standard Democratic priorities typically dismissed by the Republican Party—another sign of how Trump, an unorthodox candidate, has changed the GOP. He continued to question NATO’s relevance, a day after giving an interview to The New York Times suggesting he saw treaty obligations as dubious. In other ways, however, he stuck close to Republican dogma, vowing to repeal and replace Obamacare, cut taxes, strengthen the military, and stand with Israel. In a nod to Christian conservatives, he vowed to repeal a law that bars religious institutions from political advocacy, on pain of losing tax-exempt status.

The convention seemed to hit its stride on its fourth, final, and most important night. Though more smoothly orchestrated and paced than the first three evenings of the RNC, it was not without some trouble. In the latest miscue of a star-crossed convention, Trump’s speech leaked around 6 p.m., some four hours before he hit the stage. Even more strangely, one of the first outlets to get its hands on the text—and distribute it to reporters—was Correct the Record, a liberal advocacy group dedicated to boosting Clinton. A few minutes later, the Trump campaign sent out haphazardly formatted excerpts.

Trump’s speech ran more than 75 minutes, making it the longest nomination acceptance speech on record. After he concluded, his family and the family of his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, joined him on stage as balloons fell. It was a tableau of unity and comity at a convention where both have been in short supply. The formal phase of the general election is now under way, as Trump faces off against Clinton, a battle between two nominees with historically poor popularity. So far, polls and prognosticators have labeled the Republican the underdog in the race. Will Trump’s bumpy convention in Cleveland give him the lift he needs to build up a lead over Clinton? As delegates celebrated the close of the convention, the speakers blasted a Rolling Stones classic that’s been a staple of Trump rallies. In six months, voters will decide whether Trump and his Republican Party can get what they want.

—David A. Graham


This live blog has concluded

Donald Trump promised to save America, and speak for it too. “I AM YOUR VOICE,” the Republican Party’s presidential nominee called out at the convention, vowing to stick up for Americans who have been “ignored, neglected and abandoned.” The crowd went wild. Trump’s hostile takeover of the GOP was complete.

Trump painted a picture of a country on the verge of obliteration. “Attacks on our police, and the terrorism of our cities, threaten our very way of life,” he said. He spoke of illegal immigration as a nearly existential threat to the nation, and described undocumented immigrants in terms that sounded more animal than human. “Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens,” he said. Trump accused President of Obama of using “pulpit of the presidency to divide us by race and color.” He saw danger lurking at home and abroad. “To make life safe for all of our citizens,” he said, “we must also address the growing threats we face from outside the country: We are going to defeat the barbarians of ISIS.”

Offering himself as an antidote to chaos, Trump promised to “restore law and order to our country.” “The crime and violence that afflicts our nation will soon, and I mean very soon, come to an end,” he said. He spoke with enthusiasm about his plan to “put America First,” pledging that “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.” In Trump’s telling, he will be the country’s savior. “I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves,” he told the crowd. It was, as it has been from the start, a show of empathy for the average American considering delivered by a wealthy elite.

He vowed to protect the LGBTQ community from terrorism. “Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBTQ community.” He promised: “As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful, foreign ideology.” Trump added: “I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said.” The crowd went wild with enthusiastic cheers and applause.

Trump was unsparing in his attacks on Hillary Clinton who he described as the source of many of America’s problems and an embodiment of the corrupt ruling class. He accused Clinton of being the “puppet” of “big business, elite media and major donors.” He talked about her in criminal terms: “When the FBI Director says that the Secretary of State was ‘extremely careless’ and ‘negligent,’ he said, “these terms are minor compared to what she actually did. They were just used to save her from facing justice for her terrible crimes.” Summing up Clinton’s sins succinctly, Trump called her legacy one of “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.” But, he reminded his audience, “Hillary Clinton’s legacy does not have to be America’s legacy,” not if Americans elect him to the White House.

With a new kind of leader, we can revive our country, he promised the crowd. “The problems we face now–poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad–will last only as long as we continue relying on the same politicians who created them.” Trump added: “a change in leadership is required to produce a change in outcomes.”

It is true that Trump offers change. He reminded Americans of that this week when, in an interview with The New York Times, he raised questions “about his commitment to automatically defending NATO allies if they are attacked.” That’s just one way Trump could change America. He has also promised to build a wall along the U.S.- Mexico border and temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country (though tonight, he revised that to say: “we must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism,” adding: “we don’t want them in our country!”) Americans will have to decide in November if Trump is indeed the change that they want.

Just the kind of independent-minded, previously undecided voter the Trump campaign worked to woo this week:

From the RNC’s stage-side camera. So many balloons.

The arena rocked out to “Alright now” by the English band Free. ‘Free’ has a nice ring. But Englishmen?!

And now “You can’t always get what you want,” by the Stones. Maybe Trump is managing expectations.

Eight years ago, it was Barack Obama who was chiding the "cynics" who said America could overcome its divisions. Now, Donald Trump is essentially calling Obama one of those "cynics" who doubted not only him but the idea that U.S. politics can fundamentally change.

“We are going to start building and making things again,” says Trump. America never stopped making things. It’s making more things now than it ever did in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s.

It’s just making them with fewer people. Offshoring surely eliminated many blue-collar factory jobs, but automation and technological advances makes impractical to bring them back.

To your point, Nora, Donald Trump's is the longest acceptance speech since 1972, according to CSPAN.

One problem with Trump's shouty speaking style is one never knows when he's wrapping up a speech. He often raises his voice in a way that generates big applause and seems to signal his remarks are coming to an end. But then ... he keeps going.

More on the Johnson Amendment, which has become the lynch pin of religious-liberty rhetoric during this debate. Trump says, he “will work very hard to repeal that amendment and protect free speech for all Americans.”

Trump thanks evangelicals and other religious people for their support, which "I'm not sure I totally deserve."

My biggest hope for America at this moment is that this Donald Trump speech––a speech constructed to keep its audience at a fever pitch of fear and aggrievement––is the closest thing to a fascist rally that I ever see in this country. It is certainly the closest to it that I have seen in my 36 years.

Trump’s going to ask federal departments to make a list of their own wasteful spending—and then cut it? “The politicians have talked about this for years, but I’m going to do it.” Does he think no one has thought of this before?

Trump's pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices who will "uphold our Constitution" might have received the loudest applause of the night in the arena.

Another interesting rhetorical theme that's come up over the last few nights, including in Trump’s speech: school choice and curricula. Yesterday, Michelle Van Etten, a small-business owner, railed against Common Core. Tonight, Trump emphasized the importance of students getting to go to safe schools—ones that they choose.

Trump stuck to his script for much of the first half of his speech, even resisting the urge to engage a protester. But the longer he goes on, the more he has drifted from the teleprompter, adding his own lines for emphasis. Believe me.

“I have been honored to receive the endorsement of America’s Border Patrol agents and will work directly with them to protect the integrity of our lawful immigration system,” Trump says. The National Border Patrol Council announced its endorsement of Trump in March, despite a “longstanding practice of not endorsing presidential candidates in the primaries.” To be sure, border security isn’t new, but with a candidate that puts it at the forefront, it might also provide a sort of job-security for Border Patrol agents.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Another reminder: Mike Pence once proposed diverting federal HIV/AIDS program funding to federal conversion-therapy centers for sexual behavior. Perhaps “foreign ideology” isn’t what LGBT people are worried about.

Trump has gone back on his pledge to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., and in his speech tonight, he called for suspending “immigration from any country that has been compromised by terrorism.” But while that does not attach a religious test to immigration, it would actually be a far broader ban, especially since Trump himself noted that European nations like France and Italy have experienced recent terrorist attacks.

As Nora pointed out, Trump declared: “Nobody knows the system better than me.” He shrugged to laughter, smiling a bit:  “Which is why I alone can fix it.”

From his written remarks, I thought he could have been referring to his struggles with the primary system—he references Bernie Sanders in the next breath. But as delivered, it sounds more like an accessory to a something he has proudly admitted before—that, as a businessman, he knows how to work politicians to get what he wants.

Odd logic. If the delegates on the convention floor really believe a person who rolled in the mud is best equipped to clean it up, then wouldn't "Crooked Hillary" be the ultimate choice? It’s a sign of how well Trump has spun his previous donations to both parties and his cozy relationship with Democrats that this is taken as a humorous moment.

As Priscilla noted, Bernie Sanders got a shout-out tonight from Trump, who’s looking to embrace the Vermont senator’s voters. “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” Trump said. “I have seen first-hand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders. He never had a chance, never had a chance.”

So how does Sanders’s campaign feel about Trump’s system-busting ambitions? Not great:

Donald Trump stated that he hopes to bring the same economic success to America that his running mate Mike Pence brought to Indiana. Well, part of that success was Pence’s decision to expand Medicaid in the state to healthy adults with low incomes under the Affordable Care Act. While Republican governors and state legislatures have fought tooth and nail against allow the expansion in their states—and many still oppose it—the basic economics of the Medicaid expansion are generally good for states. While Indiana’s plan hasn’t been in place very long, the expansion has helped other states, and so far it has already boosted Indiana’s hospitals. Is Trump trying to tell us something?

Trump, along with other speakers from the past couple of nights, seem to be cutting against the party’s platform on LGBT issues. Speaking in definitive terms, he condemned the Orlando attacks against the LGBTQ community and promised to guarantee those citizens’ safety.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Donald Trump name-dropped Bernie Sanders. Trump has tried courting Sanders’s supporters in the past. His pitch to them tonight: “His supporters will join our movement, because we will fix his biggest issue: trade. Millions of Democrats will join our movement because we are going to fix the system so it works for all Americans."

After a disruption on the floor, Trump paused for nearly a minute before saying, "How great are the police and how great is Cleveland!"

Mark J. Terrill / AP

A reminder that the candidate for “law and order” once put out a full page ad in the New York Daily News encouraging the state to bring back the death penalty for the Central Park Five, a group of black and Latino teenagers—all age 16 and under—who were imprisoned for rape in 1989. After a decade, a man stepped forward to confess that he’d committed the rape and the boys had been falsely imprisoned. When the Five reached a $40 million settlement with New York City two years ago, Trump opposed it, claiming “these young men do not exactly have the past of angels,” and noting discrepancies from a 2003 report.

This is Donald Trump’s version of the law. It is bloody and vengeful—somehow even more bloody and vengeful than the current system. It relies on police officers as unquestioned foot soldiers of vengeance. It advocates death even when uncertainty is abundantly clear. What’s the level past a carceral state?

Donald Trump has railed against donors time and time again. “They are throwing money at her because they have total control over every single thing she does. She is their puppet, and they pull the strings,” he said Thursday night of Hillary Clinton. He added: “That is why Hillary Clinton’s message is that things will never change, never ever. My message is that things have to change—and they have to change right now.”

There’s an embedded irony in Trump’s message, though. The Washington Post reported earlier today that Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, “have indicated that they are open to appearing at events for a super PAC seeking to raise at least $100 million.”

The Post writes:

Trump and his running mate have both expressed willingness to headline fundraisers for Rebuilding America Now, according to Ken McKay, the group’s chief strategist. Such appearances are permitted by the Federal Election Commission, as long as the candidates do not solicit more than $5,000.

Earlier in the night, the founder of the pro-Trump super PAC, Tom Barrack, delivered remarks on the convention stage, recalling his friendship with Trump. Why the change in mind?

It could be that Trump has trailed behind Clinton when it comes to raising money. The presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign brought in $36 million in June compared with Trump’s $27 million, according to recent FEC reports.

I’d also add, Priscilla, that it’s well established that immigrants are more law-abiding than native-born Americans. Immigration boomed through the 1990s and 2000s, but crime rates dropped. And a study by the Public Policy Institute of California published in 2008 found that foreign-born residents were a third as likely to be incarcerated as their native-born peers.

Trump has made a habit so far of taking a step back from the podium after he delivers big applause lines. One possible theory as to why: This keeps him away from the microphone, where he might be tempted to ad-lib and veer from the script as he so often does in his rallies.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Ivanka Trump has unusual power over her father's decision-making. Donald Trump has said he consults her constantly, she was heavily involved in his vice-presidential search, and she reportedly convinced him to fire campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

So perhaps the Trump campaign is hoping she can similarly persuade the American people. With regal-sounding references to "my father"—never, ever calling him "my dad"—she made her case. "For more than a year, Donald Trump has been the people's champion. And tonight, he is the people's nominee," Ivanka said. "Like many of my fellow Millennials, I do not consider myself categorically Republican or Democrat. More than party affiliation, I vote based on what I believe is right for my family and my country. Sometimes it’s a tough choice. That is not the case this time."

She specifically—and obviously—targeted female voters, praising his "colorblind and gender-neutral" hiring practices and his support for working mothers at the Trump organization. She made policy promises, too: that Trump would make child care more affordable, and together they would fight for equal pay for equal work. Ostensibly, Ivanka can argue these points more convincingly than others in Trump's orbit: As an executive in her family's company, she's a (very privileged) working mother of three herself.

"He is the single most qualified person to serve as the chief executive of an $18 trillion economy," Ivanka said as she wrapped up her speech. It was a subtle dig at the woman that bipartisan Ivanka may have been supporting in any other year: Hillary Clinton.

Trump has shown more discipline than usual so far, most notably when he resisted the urge to repeat the crowd's chant of "Lock her up!" Instead, Trump ad-libbed, "Let's defeat her in November"—his version of President Obama's common refrain, "Don't boo, vote!"

A choir of “Lock her up” chants reverberate in the arena. Read David on how this has become a point of unity for Republicans

It’s worth noting that the population of undocumented immigrants in the United States has declined. According to a study published in January by the demographer Robert Warren of the Center for Migration Studies, there’s been a downward trend in the last few years, resulting in a drop from 12 million in 2008 to 10.9 in 2014.

To be sure, it’s difficult to track undocumented immigrants, but there’s reason to believe the number has indeed decreased. As Russell noted earlier this year, factors include the Great Recession which may have discouraged people to come to the United States, as well as an improving economy in Mexico.

Undocumented immigrants, overall, make up 3.5 percent of the U.S. population.

Ivanka Trump gave as effective a speech as can be imagined, painting her father as a talented builder who is color blind and gender neutral as a boss. If he were color blind and gender neutral as a candidate, instead of a serial offender with bigoted rhetoric, there would be much less opposition to his campaign.

This is a reminder that Donald Trump once—actually more than once—criticized the looks of Angelina Jolie, whose father, Jon Voight, is narrating a video spotlighting Trump’s business career. Those remarks are part of a long pattern of Trump publicly weighing in on the attractiveness of women. Here’s one example of his Jolie comments, from The Daily Beast:

“Angelina Jolie is sort of amazing because everyone thinks she’s like this great beauty,” said Trump. “And I’m not saying she’s an unattractive woman, but she’s not a beauty, by any stretch of the imagination. In terms of beauty, she’s not a great beauty. She’s a nice-looking woman. She’s OK. But she’s not a great beauty.

“I really understand beauty,” he added. “And I will tell you, she’s not—I do own Miss Universe. I do own Miss USA. I mean, I own a lot of different things. I do understand beauty, and she’s not.”

Donald Trump is ​really​ trying to appeal to women tonight. Why? Sixty-five percent have an “unfavorable” view of Trump, according to Washington Post/ABC polls this year. The messaging tonight has come through videos, which have placed a positive light on his hiring habits—not only providing jobs to Americans, but specifically women.

“I don’t want to hear how bad Hillary is,” said David Foreman, a delegate from Texas. “I want to hear what he wants to do.” Foreman isn’t shy about his dislike for Clinton, but felt that the first three days had covered that territory. “Tonight is our night,” he said. A chance for Trump to lay out his agenda.

That was a common theme among the delegates with whom I spoke in the hours ahead of Trump’s speech. “I want to hear Donald Trump explain to the American people why he wants to be president, what his vision is, what his core values are, and what’s at stake,” said Josh Filler, a delegate from Maine. “He doesn’t have to beat up Hillary,” he added—other speakers had already done that.

And one name kept coming up. “I’m looking for something Reaganesque,” said Kyle Kilgore, a delegate from Virginia. Rion Choate, a delegate from North Caroline, is looking for “a message from Mr. Trump that will unite the party.”

Both Choate and Kilgore, though, would be happy to hear a little more about Clinton, to establish a clear contrast. And if the advance copies of the speech that are circulating are any indication, they may get their wish. Clinton is named 11 times in the text, including in a passage that reads: “This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and weakness.”

But there’s also a fair amount of substance in Trump’s speech. Whether the agenda it outlines is enough to satisfy the delegates looking for a Reaganesque, positive vision of American renewal, though, remains to be seen.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Even in the midst of a week of surprises, Peter Thiel’s speech stands out. The PayPal co-founder called on Americans to “stand up and vote for Donald Trump.” In a history-making moment for a Republican convention, Thiel said on stage that he is “proud to be gay” and “proud to be a Republican.” It was a remarkable declaration, especially given the Republican Party’s recent insistence that “traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society.”

There are plenty of commonalities between Thiel and Trump, even if that’s not apparent at first glance. Both have cultivated a reputation for elite disdain, though they are unquestionably members of society’s upper-echelon. Then there’s their shared willingness to take aim at the media. Trump has said that, if elected, he would “open up our libel laws” to make it easier to sue journalists. Thiel mounted a legal crusade against Gawker Media after the news outlet put out coverage he did not like.

Thiel said, “I don’t pretend to agree with every plank in our party’s platform,” but just as quickly, he dismissed the significance of whatever those disagreements may be, saying: “Fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline.” When he was younger, Thiel said, “The great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union.” But now: “The great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom,” he lamented. “This is a distraction from our real problems.” Then he asked, incredulously, “ Who cares?” He offered up his identity as a gay man as justification for shoving aside a political fight that matters a great deal to many Americans—including many Republicans in that arena.

What seemed to matter to Thiel far more was the economy and America’s foreign policy. “When Donald Trump asks us to Make America Great Again, he’s not suggesting a return to the past,” Thiel said. “He’s running to lead us back to that bright future.”

He criticized Hillary Clinton and described Trump as the one who would put America’s foreign policy back on track. “Instead of going to Mars, we have invaded the Middle East,” he said. “We don’t need to see Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails: Her incompetence is in plain sight. She pushed for a war in Libya, and today it’s a training ground for ISIS. On this most important issue, Donald Trump is right: It’s time to end the era of stupid wars and rebuild our country.”

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Reince Priebus’s job was never supposed to be easy.

But this election season, the Republican National Committee chairman was tasked with the seemingly impossible—coalescing support behind Donald Trump after a crowded and divisive primary season. As Politico put it: “Throughout the primary, Priebus defined his role as that of an umpire.”

But Priebus has gone to bat for Trump more than once. In May, when asked about a photo Trump had posted of himself eating a taco bowl for Cinco de Mayo, Priebus said, “He’s trying.” And on Thursday, he did the same.

Priebus began his remarks on Thursday touting Republican values. “At every level, Republicans stand for aspiration and achievement. We stand for peace and prosperity. We stand for freedom and fairness,” he said. It’s an awkward place for Priebus, though. After the 2012 election, the GOP released an autopsy report, which, among other things, included more outreach to minority voters. Trump, however, has singlehandedly dismantled much of that.

In any case, Priebus also used the opportunity to rail against presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, even referencing her use of a private email server while secretary of state. “She has spent the last 16 months looking into the eyes of the American people and lying about how she recklessly jeopardized national security with her secret email server,” he said. “She lied. And she lied over and over and over.”

Priebus ended by touting Trump and above all else, calling for unity. “Let’s stand united as Republicans. Let’s stop Hillary Clinton. Let’s get to work, expand our Republican majorities, and let’s elect Donald Trump president,” he exclaimed.

Peter Thiel has been in the news lately for his mission to bankrupt Gawker—as payback for outing him—by burying the media outfit in lawsuits. Not for revenge or to censor anyone, he insists, but for deterrence. (And yes, a billionaire bankrupting a publication because he didn’t like an article about a public figure—that is, “deterrence”—does in fact smack of censorship.) But the PayPal cofounder is famous for something else as well: misogyny. As he wrote in 2009, when he suggested that democracy crumbled when women got the vote:

The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics. Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.

After a firestorm of outrage, Thiel qualified his remarks by saying:

It would be absurd to suggest that women’s votes will be taken away or that this would solve the political problems that vex us. While I don’t think any class of people should be disenfranchised, I have little hope that voting will make things better.

Which is why we need to colonize the ocean—“seasteading,” Thiel calls it. Voting sure doesn’t ensure democracy, and women voting just makes it worse (what? That’s a totally “commonplace statistical observation about voting patterns”), so what we need are weird libertarian utopian fantasies. No girls allowed. Also Thiel doesn’t believe in death. So, yep.

And then there’s Breitbart columnist and gay conservative Milo Yiannopoulos—recently banned for life from Twitter for being so appalling to SNL’s Leslie Jones. He wrote an article taking on feminism, wherein he describes women as "the unfuckable feminist fag hags who have for so long ridden on our tastefully embroidered coat-tails."

Conservative gay misogyny is a particularly odious and specific strain of hate that has found peak expression on the interwebs these days. As Vice’s Seán Faye noted in a piece about gay misogyny: Gay culture is “in danger of greenlighting a sense of entitlement about ‘critiquing’ women.”

Loving men doesn’t mean hating women. But then, some folks have issues, like Thiel and Trump. They are in sync: They both hate a free press, and they are both misogynists.

Many conventions anoint the rising stars of the party. In Cleveland, the big draws have mostly been a succession of also-rans from the crowded primary field, offering tribute or defiance. The stars, in many ways, have been Trump’s children.

Kyle Kilgore, a 22-year-old Virginia delegate, picked out Donald Trump Jr. “He looked like a future politician,” he said. Other delegates had kind words for Ivanka, one of the night’s featured speakers. There were “Ivanka 2024” signs in the arena. Rion Choate, a silver-haired North Carolina investment banker, was among those looking forward to her speech. He said he’d met her several times, calling her an “elegant, lovely lady.”

There are Republican delegates here holding their breath, hoping that Trump will lose and that the GOP will revert to the party they knew. But they’re outnumbered by those looking not just to Donald Trump, but to his children—and seeing a new generation of leaders.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin acknowledged the obvious: “As a party, we don’t agree 100 percent on everything.”

But to her, that’s perfectly all right: So long as Americans believe in the party’s core values—as she suggested Trump does—they should come together around the GOP nominee. “We invite every American who believes in these principles, and longs for an end to division, and wants to make America one again, to join us in electing Donald Trump as president of the United States,” she said.

Fallin, who was reportedly being considered for the position of vice-presidential nominee, said America is no longer like how it was when she was growing up—a theme that resonates with the Trump fan base. It wasn’t a “perfect place” back then—acknowledging the “shadow of institutional discrimination” against African Americans—but the feel of the country was different. “Today, I’m afraid we’re losing that sense of unity and optimism ... Our country is divided, our people are afraid, and our spirits are nearly broken,” Fallin said. “But we can’t lose that hope and let it become the new normal.” This year, it seems to Fallin, Trump is the candidate of hope and change.

Marsha Blackburn’s job tonight seems to be addressing Trump’s lack of political experience, arguing his business acumen is far more valuable than Clinton’s time in government. (Perplexingly, her speechwriters decided to accent this message with a Larry the Cable Guy joke.)

“Leadership is not about lines on a résumé,” she said. “Gender, race, zip code, pedigree, lineage, and hurt feelings aren’t qualifiers. Leadership is a record of performance, accomplishment, team building.”

Speaking of hurt feelings, the U.S. representative from Tennessee got a bit of press earlier in the day for suggesting Ted Cruz get over his issues with Trump by pulling a Taylor Swift. “Shake it off!” she said. To which I secretly imagined Cruz retorting: “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate...”

Perhaps Knight’s endorsement was a coup, as Nora said, but the coach has also long had a knack for doing things in a ... Trumpian, shall we say ... way. Take, for example, this interview from 1988, rehashed here by The New York Times:​

Asked by Connie Chung, the NBC News correspondent conducting the interview, how he handled stress, the Indiana men’s basketball coach said, “I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” Then, apparently realizing what he had said might be offensive, Knight went on: “That’s just an old term that you’re going to use. The plane’s down, so you have no control over it. I’m not talking about that, about the act of rape. Don’t misinterpret me there. But what I’m talking about is, something happens to you, so you have to handle it—now.”

Basketball legend Bobby Knight appeared in a brief video message, just to get the Indiana delegation riled up: “As a coach, my main objective is to win, and I know Donald Trump will always have winning on his mind,” he said. Knight’s endorsement of Trump before his home state’s primary in May was a major coup for the Republican nominee.

The slogan behind these speakers on the screen says, “Make America One Again.” To which I reply: No, keep America pluralistic.

Through sheer power of volume alone—his voice never dipped below a yell—Pastor Mark Burns steamrolled through two and half centuries of U.S. racial history in a few minutes, arguing that Donald Trump, despite his unpopularity among black Americans, is the correct man to lead them. Leading the crowd in an “All lives matter” chant—here’s why that’s problematic—the pastor said that singling out a person’s race in any way is destructive to American values.

“Donald Trump is not going to pander to one race,” he said. “His heart is after the human race.” He urged voters to support Trump “not as black Americans, white Americans, yellow Americans, or red American, but just as Americans.”

It has been a while since you could call someone a “red American” in polite company. But then, Burns already sparked controversy with his benediction Monday, which some said treaded too far in mixing politics with holy speech.

A cornerstone of Donald Trump’s campaign has been building a wall on the U.S.- Mexico border. And on Thursday, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio took the stage to echo that message. “Donald Trump will build that wall,” Arpaio said, as the crowd applauded and chanted: “Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!” As Conor notes, Arpaio is known for racial profiling Hispanics. Bringing him on as a speaker at the convention is therefore very likely damaging to Trump among Latino voters. Trump trails far behind Clinton among that electorate. But Arpaio wasn’t holding back. “My most important mission has just begun to help elect Donald Trump, president of the United States,” he said. He added: “We’re the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other citizens ahead of ours. we are more concerned about the rights of illegal aliens and criminals than we are with protecting our own country. We need a leader to protect our borders.” And Trump, he said, is the man to do it.

Tonight’s the night of religious fervor. Apparently, the RNC kept all the pastors for last. So far, we’ve had Tony Perkins, Jerry Falwell Jr., and now Mark Burns, who fashions himself as Trump’s “top pastor.

Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Liberty University was the site of Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential announcement speech last year, the first of the 2016 cycle. At the time, much was made of how crowded the auditorium seemed, though it soon became (kind of) public knowledge that Liberty’s students are required to attend such events. Still, the sight of evangelical favorite Cruz at a Christian school, surrounded by so many people, made for some PR-friendly photos.

Ben Carson, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump also visited the university during the primary. In the end, Falwell endorsed Trump.

Jerry Falwell Jr., a longtime Trump booster, made his pitch for the Republican nominee. The Liberty University head and son of the famous evangelist skipped the awkwardness of trying to prove Trump is his kind of Christian, which has often backfired.

Rather, he pushed Trump’s business record, as well as his promise to repeal the so-called Johnson Amendment, the 1954 tax-code change that prohibited tax-exempt groups like religious organizations from participating in political campaigns. This effectively prevents pastors and other leaders from endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit, although that rule often gets bent.

It’s a savvy move, insofar as it’s a move Falwell feels like he needs to make. By framing the presidency as a secular office, whose occupant can advocate religious freedom no matter his own religious practice, he can avoid doing Trump apologetics. The irony, of course, is that his family helped push the American presidency in exactly the opposite direction: For decades, candidates have felt the need to specifically court conservative Christian voters because of Falwell-style clout.

Having Joe Arpaio speak on the final night of your convention is to effectively say, “To hell with you and your votes, Hispanics”––this is not just a man who talks tough about illegal immigration; it is a man who racially profiles American citizens of Hispanic background, abrogating their civil liberties as egregiously as any law-enforcement official in America.

That was a throw-back speech from Tony Perkins. Especially during the past couple of months, Donald Trump has worked hard to court conservative evangelical leaders, many of whom supported other candidates in the primary. Perkins himself initially came out for Ted Cruz. Religious liberty is one of the main points of concern among this group, along with abortion—when he spoke before more than 1,000 evangelicals in New York City in June, Trump emphasized his commitment to appointing pro-life Supreme Court justices.

Yet the issue Perkins focused on tonight was retro: the possible removal of the words “under God” from the pledge of allegiance.

We must stop those in our government and our courts to have either in principle or practice attempted to remove these two words, “under God,” and all that they mean from public life here in America.

He probably meant that as a metaphor for religious liberty, but the obliqueness is telling: As Conor points out, conservative Christians have struggled to reconcile their moral values and Trump’s past actions and words.

Mark Allan / Invision / AP     

After a prayer, a reflection from evangelical Christian leader Tony Perkins, and positive video messages from the women of the Trump organization, we now have the RNC house band performing AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Inexplicable.

Tony Perkins is speaking right now, and his presence underscores one of the big losers this cycle: the Christian right, which is squandering what little moral legitimacy it had in the eyes of the rest of America by associating itself with a crude narcissist who brags about his penis size, his adulterous trysts, and the hotness of his daughter’s body. Whether you’re a “sex-and-morals” Christian or a “social-justice” Christian, there is no way to coherently reconcile the words of Christ with Donald Trump.

Paul Sancya / AP        

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has called the convention to order. It’s kicking off with some adorable theatrics: pigtailed former ​America’s Got Talent contestant Heavenly Joy’s rendition of “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

If the early leaks of Trump’s acceptance speech are accurate, it appears he’ll highlight some unsettling crime trends:

Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60 percent in nearby Baltimore.

In the president’s hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 have been the victims of shootings this year alone. And more than 3,600 have been killed in the Chicago area since he took office.

As best I can tell, he’s citing a Washington Post analysis that combined preliminary FBI statistics (an official 2015 tally won’t be available until later this year) with numbers from individual police departments. National figures may very well differ from the Post’s analysis, which focused on big cities: The FBI’s stats, which run through June 2015, suggest homicides increased nationally by just 6.2 percent last year. All the same, Trump is playing into the perception that America’s streets have become substantially less safe.

Last week, we asked readers to draw their best guess at the murder rate between 1985 and 2014. Here’s a graph of the spread of their submissions, with the actual murder rate in white (more analysis here):

Most people correctly estimated that murders per capita have trended significantly downward over the past three decades. Granted, we didn't ask readers to include 2015 in their estimate. But more folks underestimated the homicide rate in 2014 than overestimated it.

Jae C. Hong / AP

Donald Trump is leaning into law and order.

In his prepared convention remarks, leaked this evening to The New York Times and to the Clinton-supporting PAC Correct the Record, the Republican presidential nominee paints a dire picture of American life, rife with discord and mayhem.

Our Convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country. Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims. I have a message for all of you: The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th, 2017, safety will be restored.

Trump’s fire-and-brimstone message is nothing new. But it has taken on more militant tones in recent weeks, after a spate of terrorist attacks and the shooting deaths of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. At an event with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie this month, Trump called himself the “law-and-order candidate,” who will restore safety in a country he claims is vastly insecure. Tonight, as before, he’s focusing much of his ire on undocumented immigrants.

In his speech, Trump has harsh words for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton—they are remarkable even considering the anti-Hillary messaging of the last four days of the convention:

Iraq is in chaos. Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons. Syria is engulfed in a civil war and a refugee crisis that now threatens the West. After 15 years of wars in the Middle East, after trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, the situation is worse than it has ever been before. This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, and weakness.

Trump offers empathy to his supporters who feel powerless and disenfranchised—telling them he is “their voice”—and suggests he’d be able to bring supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont into his fold. He promised to improve education, jobs, and the economy with ease. But before he and vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence get to that: “The first task for our new administration will be to liberate our citizens from the crime and terrorism and lawlessness that threatens their communities.”

There’s no guarantee this is the exact draft that Trump will deliver, of course, but the versions the​ Times​ and Correct the Record received do seem to be one and the same.

We noted a few days ago that Third Eye Blind, the rock group who publicly refused to perform at the 2012 Republican National Convention, would be headlining a benefit concert just a short jog away from the Quicken Loans Arena. While officially not part of the RNC's entertainment fare, the concert's promoters linked it the convention.

Turns out the band used their time on the stage to epically troll their conservative guests. Last night, Rolling Stone dropped an interview with lead singer Stephan Jenkins, who said the band is “in direct opposition to everything the Republican Party stands for.”

The way Jenkins actually–humorously–made his point was by shouting "Raise your hand if you believe in science!" and similar exclamations. At Tuesday night's show, the booing crowd seemed to be as mad at the alternative rock band's politics as their decision not to play old hits like "Semi-Charmed Life."

Well, they did play one old classic.

...Third Eye Blind played one of their radio hits, 1998's "Jumper," about about the suicide of Jenkins' gay cousin. "To engage with that song means that you are participating in the belief system that all people are equal and deserving of dignity and protection, which is not what the Republican platform is," Jenkins says. "They think my gay cousin should be in conversion therapy."

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama spoke at the White House Global Development Summit in Washington, D.C. “It is worth reminding ourselves of how lucky we are to be living in the most peaceful, most prosperous, most progressive era in human history,” the president said.

He went on:

Sometimes when I’m talking to young interns at the White House who are still immunizing themselves from the cynicism that’s so chronic in this town—(laughter)—I remind them, if you had to choose a moment in history to be born, and you didn’t know ahead of time who you were going to be, you’d choose now. Because the world has never been less violent, healthier, better educated, more tolerant, with more opportunity for more people, and more connected than it is today.

The president’s message stands in sharp contrast with that of many speakers at the Republican National Convention. Take, for instance, Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial speech, or Paul Ryan’s remarks on Tuesday:

The problem is really simple. The problem here is very simple. There is a reason people in our country are disappointed and restless. If opportunity seems like it’s been slipping away, that’s because it has. And liberal progressive ideas have done exactly nothing to help. Wages never seem to go up, the whole economy feels stuck, and millions of Americans — millions of Americans — middle-class security is now just a memory.

So, who is right? Is the United States in decline? Is the country in a golden age?

Global statistics appear to bear out the president’s optimism. Violence across the globe is down—even if the effects are felt unevenly. Some scholars, of course, disagree. Development indicators like maternal mortality and life expectancy are at historic lows and highs, respectively. There are many gains to cheer. But the Republican point is more parochial than the president’s. The fear in Cleveland is that somehow America is slipping ever downward while the globe catches up.

Maybe these dueling sentiments speak more to politics than statistics. A few months ago, President Obama made a similar point as the one he did Wednesday. But it came with a warning.

“You see increasing intolerance in our politics. And loud voices get the most attention,” Obama concluded of thecurrent political climate. “This reminds me of the poem by the great Irish poet W.B. Yeats, where the best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

With the primary contest concluded, the subset of nerds who gamble on politics have moved onto making bets about the conventions. A few of the lines currently out there:

  • Will Trump mention Black Lives Matter in his acceptance speech? Only 22 percent of bettors think so. But the rules don't discriminate between a negative and positive citation; as one commenter notes, a phrase like “And you’ve got this so called ‘Black Lives Matter’ out there...” still counts. I made a cursory search and couldn’t find any example of Trump mentioning the group by name, so I expect any reference tonight will be veiled, even though his speech will very likely touch on policing.
  • How about Obamacare? Almost a certainty, the smart money says—93 percent of gamblers think Trump will mention the Affordable Care Act using its popular nickname. It’s a rare speech by Trump that doesn’t go into Obamacare at some point—usually with the promise to replace it with something “so much better.”
  • Will the U.S. Supreme Court come up? Again, betting markets think it’s a very strong likelihood—just under 90 percent. Several convention speakers have already brought up the responsibility of the next president to appoint at least one new justice (presuming Merrick Garland’s nomination stays stuck in the Senate), and Trump's recent feud with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gives the candidate more fodder for an applause line.
  • How many people will watch the acceptance speech? This one is a bit more contested. Forty-two percent of bettors think 30 to 35 million people will watch Trump's acceptance speech; another 25 percent think viewership could go as high as 40 million. The lower bound seems reasonable, though the upper might be a stretch. In 2008, 38.3 million viewers watched Barack Obama accept the nomination; 35.7 million tuned in for 2012. Stats geeks were initially willing to bet Trump would do even better, but middling ratings might have dampened their expectations.

“Rather than making America great again, the themes of this week’s convention have been attack, lie, and distract again,” Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said at a press conference this afternoon standing side-by-side with Senators Cory Booker and Al Franken.

Booker, who The Washington Post reported earlier today is still being considered as a potential vice presidential pick for Hillary Clinton, denounced the GOP convention as “one of the more painful, disappointing, frustrating, and just saddening experiences of my life watching conventions.” His remarks offered a glimpse of how he might attack Trump and the rest of the Republican Party if Clinton picked him as a running mate.

Booker made a case against the GOP similar to the one Clinton has been making: America is better than this. “What really got me here was the level and intensity of the hate and cruelty that I’ve seen on the floor and coming out of speakers,” he said, “It has been a difficult election for me to watch a party nominate someone who has been so indiscriminate with his demeaning and degrading language.” The senator added: “That’s not who we are as a country. That’s not the values and the principles that we stand for.”

He had glowing things to say about Clinton. “You know what Hillary Clinton’s reputation is in the Senate?,” he asked. “When I first arrived and people told me who to emulate, Republican and Democrats, people told me, ‘emulate Hillary Clinton, Cory,’ put your head down, work hard, earn the respect of your colleagues.” Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon seemed to nod in approval on Twitter, noting that Booker was a “very effective advocate on behalf of HRC.” That alone is sure to fuel veepstakes speculation.

Ted Cruz’s call for Americans to “vote your conscience” became a literal rallying cry at an anti-Trump protest in Cleveland Thursday. During his remarks at the convention Wednesday night, the Texas senator neglected to endorse his party’s nominee, Donald Trump, even while asking voters to turn out in droves in November. “Stand and speak and 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,” Cruz said, to boos and heckling from delegates in the arena.

It seems demonstrators approved of his choice, using his phrase in a chant and on signs in their afternoon march. Here are some scenes from the event, from reporters who were there:

PayPal co-founder and noted contrarian Peter Thiel is set to take the stage tonight at the convention.

Thiel’s remarks have already been subject to plenty of media hype since he’s expected to announce that he is proud to be a gay man, a history-making declaration at a Republican presidential convention.

Yet, according to Bloomberg, he will also say that “he considers identity politics a distraction.” And The Washington Post reports that “Thiel, who supports gay marriage, plans to say that although he does not agree with all the policies in the official GOP platform, he believes fighting over cultural issues such as ‘bathroom bills’ is a distraction from more important matters.” It sounds, then, that identity will be a focal point of the speech even as Thiel himself argues that it should not be in politics.

As a term, “identity politics” gets thrown around a lot—frequently by conservatives accusing liberals of sowing division by devoting unnecessary attention to identity. For all that Donald Trump’s political rise has encompassed, however, identity politics have unquestionably played a central role, even if the concept is not explicitly invoked.

Trump has tapped into a widespread sense of grievance among white American men in a nation witnessing demographic and economic change. He promises to make America great again, and says things like “the women get it better than we do, folks.” Political appeals on the basis of identity can be found on both the left and the right, and it sounds like identity politics will be in the spotlight during prime-time tonight at the convention.

Put Representative Marsha Blackburn in the camp of Republicans who think Ted Cruz ruined his career Wednesday night when he refused to endorse Donald Trump on the floor of the convention.

Blackburn is a seven-term House member from Tennessee who will address the convention herself on Thursday night. She spoke to The Atlantic’s Alex Wagner during a lunchtime panel on women in politics, and Wagner asked her whether unity was more important to women than men. “I think women have a stronger attachment to the word unity,” Blackburn replied. She soon turned the conversation back to the drama at Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday night, calling out Republicans who wouldn’t keep their pledges to support the party’s ticket.

Blackburn didn’t mention Cruz’s name at first, but her target was clear. “I think they do themselves a disservice and they do their political careers and their legacies a disservice,” she said. Blackburn, a Trump supporter, stopped short of calling Cruz a sore loser. But when Wagner asked if she saw Cruz’s speech as a “macho” move typical of male politicians, she compared her message to him to the one she delivers to her children: “Put your big boy pants on. Or, as Taylor Swift might say, ‘Shake it off!’”

Republican women, Blackburn said, would be leaders in bringing the party together, and she talked about the unique challenges that women face as they decide whether to run for office. “Get ready to tell your story,” she advised, warning women in the audience that their opponents would strike quickly to define them if they were too shy or reticent.

Blackburn has been a prominent female surrogate for Trump, and while she praised him as “a terrific listener,” she acknowledged it was not always easy. “There are things he’s said I don’t agree with.” Still, Blackburn dismissed criticism from Democrats that the rhetoric from Republicans toward Hillary Clinton this week—with repeated chants of “Lock her up!”—had crossed a line. “Have you read my Facebook feed? Have you read my Twitter feed?” she said to laughs.

Call it a preview of coming attractions.

Just after 1 p.m., Donald Trump mounted the rostrum at Quicken Loans Arena, looked out at hundred of cameras floating atop an sea of open notebooks. He flashed his trademark smile, gave a thumbs up, pointed out at the crowd. “Four score and seven years ago,” the teleprompter read, “our fathers brought forth on this continent...”

But no, it wasn’t another speech-writing gaffe—just Trump doing his walk-through, the night before he accepts the nomination. He came with his daughter, Ivanka, his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and a phalanx of aides. He stood on stage, pointing out details to his staff, inaudible on the floor. Walk throughs like this one are a standard practice, intended to make sure the speakers are comfortable with the arrangements, and that the complicated orchestration of lighting, sound, and video can be calibrated to go off without a hitch. But this is a campaign that has often eschewed even the most standard practices, making even a minimal level of care worthy of note.

“One two, three four, five six, seven eight, nine ten?” asked Ivanka, as technicians checked the sound levels. “OK.” She repeated the exercise a second time, until the staff was satisfied. A hundred shutters clicked. Convention staff crowded forward for a closer look.

“Could I see it scroll?” Trump asked, and a technician obliged. The teleprompter advanced as far as, “on this continent, a new...”

He looked out again. “I love the media! They’re so honest! They’re such honorable people! It’s about time I said that, huh?”


“I love Cleveland, I love Ohio. It’s great to be here. Thank you, everybody. I love Cleveland and I love the police; they’re doing a great job.”

And that was it. If you want more, you’ll have to tune back in tonight.

Donald Trump’s recent comments to The New York Times on the United States’ role in NATO have spooked leaders in member countries and worried foreign-policy observers at home and abroad. The Republican nominee suggested that, in a Trump presidency, the U.S. may not come to allies’ aid militarily if they haven’t “fulfilled their obligations” to the alliance.

But for now, the White House isn’t publicly raising alarm at the potential for President Obama’s successor to drastically alter the nearly 70-year-old compact. In his press briefing Thursday morning, Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to elaborate on “the agenda being put forward and the rhetoric being used by the Republican nominee.” He emphasized, in measured terms, the United States’ “steadfast” dedication to NATO and the “pledge that all of the allies have made to mutual self-defense.”

“There should be no mistake or miscalculation made about this country’s commitment to our transatlantic alliance,” Earnest said, a message seemingly meant to mollify America’s worried allies in Europe.

In his Wednesday interview, Trump also questioned the U.S. government’s ability to encourage other nations to protect civil liberties. From the Times transcript of the interview:

I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems, and I think it’s very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don’t know what we are doing and we can’t see straight in our own country. We have tremendous problems when you have policemen being shot in the streets, when you have riots, when you have Ferguson. When you have Baltimore. When you have all of the things that are happening in this country — we have other problems, and I think we have to focus on those problems. When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.

To that, Earnest pushed back. “The president of the United States has an obligation to advocate around the world for America’s interests, and for our values. ... And the president makes that case not because the United States is perfect, but because the United States continually strives to be perfect. … Even when there are instances where we fall short, the American people and the U.S. government are committed to righting those wrongs, to addressing those shortcomings, and living up to the high standard” Americans “set for ourselves. That’s what gives the president of the United States the moral authority” to make the case to other nations “that they should try to do the same thing”

It’s not clear whether Trump will respond to recent criticisms when he gives his convention speech tonight. It’s also not clear whether Trump will—over the next six months—try to walk back what he said. As I wrote earlier today, his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, didn’t get into the weeds with reporters about Trump’s comments, simply noting that Trump believes NATO must be modernized.

First Lady Michelle Obama has left her mark on the Republican National Convention this week.

She didn’t comment about Melania Trump’s speech, which apparently lifted passages from her 2008 speech at the Democratic National Convention, but the first lady did catch a ride with James Corden of The Late Late Show for the most recent installment of carpool karaoke.

As they drove laps around the White House, Michelle Obama noted that she hasn’t gotten the chance to “rock out” in the passenger seat since her husband took office, with the exception of riding shotgun with their daughter Malia after she learned how to drive. (Update at 2:10 p.m. EST: The Secret Service, not Michelle Obama, taught Malia to drive—I've changed that here.)

She belted Stevie Wonder, gave Beyoncé a run for her money with “Single Ladies” choreography, and noted that she wouldn’t mind having to make her own 3 a.m. grilled cheese sandwiches in exchange for some privacy when the Obamas leave office.

With the assistance of a quick stop by Missy Elliot, the first lady did not miss an opportunity to highlight her “Let Girls Learn” campaign and her introduction to Snapchat. “We got our girl power squad and we’re talking about education all over the world,” she said after the trio performed “This Is For My Girls”—a song featuring Missy that benefits Obama’s initiative.

In short, Michelle Obama proved that to be a first lady is to care about world issues while also knowing all the words to Missy’s “Get Ur Freak On.” One can only hope for another first lady who can be trusted with the aux cord.

The fundraising totals are in, and Hillary Clinton is still beating Donald Trump. The presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign pulled in $36 million in June and spent $34 million, leaving $44 million in the bank. Trump raised $27 million and spent only $7.8 million.

But Clinton is an old hand at raising money. Trump's a relative newcomer and his haul is a dramatic improvement over previous months, when he's struggled to raise more than $5 million. June's total is a record for his campaign and it leaves him with $20 million in the bank, a sizable sum. The billionaire also forgave the nearly $50 million he lent his campaign, converting those loans to straightforward donations. (A generous move, but also pragmatic: FEC regulations meant the campaign would have had to pay back the lion's share of Trump's loan by the close of the convention, which was pretty much impossible.) Trump also saw solid fundraising among the loose constellation of PACs and fundraising committees supporting him, with the RNC receiving $17 million in June and Trump Victory Fund picking up $26 million between April and July. The billionaire himself pitched in a little over $2 million, reports show.

Politico notes that Trump’s June filing report didn’t include any payments to Meredith McIver, the Trump Organization staff writer who claimed responsibility for lifting  lines from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention address into Melania Trump’s Monday night speech. Her professional assistance, if not paid for by the campaign, could amount to an inadvertent (and likely impermissible) donation from Trump’s company. But that’s easily fixed by cutting her a check. Wednesday’s paperwork doesn’t include any payments Trump made in July, so I’d fully expect to see McIver's name show up in the expenditures column of next month’s report.

Still, Trump's real weakness is his spending. For a man who usually spares no expense, his campaign has been unusually stingy, according to FEC reports. His committee has spent $71 million over the course of the election, which sounds like a lot—until you look at Clinton, who's spent $230 million. To some, that's a testament to Trump's appeal—he's pulled within a few percentage points of Clinton while spending a fraction of her budget. But as some of the preventable kerfuffles surrounding this convention have shown, running a barebones operation with few staff members has its disadvantages.

There might be North Carolina Republicans with a longer history in the party than Robert Orr, but you’d be hard-pressed to find them. He’s a former state Supreme Court justice and GOP candidate for governor. When I spoke with Orr on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena Monday, he told me about how his family had been Republican since the Civil War, and that he’d voted for every Republican presidential candidate since Nixon.

But Orr, a delegate at the Republican National Convention, will break that streak this year. “I think Trump is dangerous for the country. He’s singularly unqualified to be commander-in-chief,” he told me. “I don’t think Donald Trump cares about the Republican Party.”

Orr made very similar comments to WRAL, a station in Raleigh, and that caused an uproar. By Tuesday, Orr was headed back to the Old North State.

Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the state GOP, told The Charlotte Observer that Orr “hasn’t been a good Republican for a long time,” adding, “The problem with Mr. Orr is not how he feels about Mr. Trump. It’s how he feels about Republican voters.”

I spoke with Orr Thursday morning and he explained what happened. He said Woodhouse was furious about his comments and wanted him to leave. Tuesday morning, he got an email saying that the executive director was holding his credentials to get into the convention and that if he wanted them, he’d have to go talk with him. “They didn’t say, ‘We’re not going to give them to you,’ but it was one of those situations where I said, ‘Look, just keep the credentials. I’m going to head back.’” (Adding insult to injury, Orr was then caught up in a huge Southwest Airlines meltdown as he went home.)

Orr was frustrated by the experience and wouldn’t have come to the RNC if he’d known what would happen, but he didn’t regret speaking his mind. “Nobody said going into it that there was some sort of gag order, some sort of requirement that you had to circle the wagons and support Trump,” he said. “I thought my position was pretty clear. I’d said for months I wasn’t going to support Trump. At least this has allowed me to articulate what I think is the position of many Republicans.”

In fact, although Orr was a supporter of Ohio Governor John Kasich in the primary, he’d found some validation in the speech given by Ted Cruz Wednesday which began with applause and ended with boos, as the former rival declined to support Trump. The Texas senator’s speech has divided Republicans here, with some applauding his refusal to endorse the nominee and others accusing him of sabotage.

“I would ask this as rhetorical question,” Orr said. “If you have John Kasich, who is probably the most centrist of all the Republicans who ran not endorsing Trump, and then you have Cruz, who is clearly about as conservative as any Republican running, not endorsing Trump, why is the Republican Party endorsing Trump?”

The Republican presidential primary formally ended late Tuesday afternoon, when the delegates here in Cleveland officially nominated Donald Trump as their party’s nominee. It restarted a little more than a day later, when Ted Cruz refused to endorse Trump in a primetime address and instead implored Americans to “vote your conscience” in November.

In the 12 hours since, the Trump and Cruz factions in the GOP have revived their months-long fight. After first tweeting that he had seen Cruz’s speech in advance and that it was not a “big deal,” Trump reverted back to primary form on Thursday morning.

Cruz defended his move to the Texas delegation on Thursday morning, saying that he’s not a “servile puppy dog” to Trump. But as I wrote last night, his decision to take the RNC stage while withholding an endorsement is just the last brazen move of the Texas senator’s career, and it launched an immediate debate even among his supporters about whether it was a principled stand or a career-ending mistake.

While some rank-and-file Cruz supporters in the convention hall cheered him, others were hoping that he would more clearly help unify the divided party. One Republican elected official who supported Cruz told me, on the condition of anonymity, that his call for people to “vote their conscience” was “terrible.” Republican establishment figures were equally dismissive, recognizing in Cruz’s move all that they despised about him in the first place. “Lucifer is back,” was how former House Speaker John Boehner reacted, according to a tweet from his longtime spokesman, David Schnittger.

When Donald Trump takes the stage in primetime tonight to deliver his acceptance speech, he’ll have an opportunity to reach undecided voters. “Trump, for most of them, is not even on their menu right now,” said Mike Murphy, a Republican political consultant. But Murphy isn’t hopeful that Trump can seize the moment, despite his speechwriters’ best efforts:

It’s like being Charlie Manson’s foxtrot instructor. You go out there, you teach him a few moves, and you think, ‘Hey, look at that, he can learn the foxtrot.’ And the next thing you know, he’s trying to put a pen in your eye, because he’s Charlie Manson.

Murphy spoke on an Atlantic panel at the Republican convention in Cleveland, moderated by Ron Brownstein and Major Garrett of CBS News. The panelists agreed, in broad terms, on the challenge now facing Trump.

“What he’s picking up are the sons and daughters of Reagan Democrats,” said John Brabender, also a Republican consultant. “He not only has to pick those up but he has to still give a comfort level to Romney voters.” But that’s precisely where Trump is struggling. “He does have the opportunity to be the most centrist candidate we’ve ever had,” said Mike DuHaime. “He’s essentially a moderate Republican from New York … but he’s chosen not to do it.”

It’s an opening that Hillary Clinton seems likely to exploit next week in Philadelphia. “College educated, moderate, oftentimes Republican women can not go out with their friends and say, ‘Yes, I’m going to vote for Donald Trump’ … she’s going to make sure that Donald Trump is toxic,” Brabender said.

That reflects the broader challenge facing the Republican Party, Murphy argued, which is presently dominated by aging, white constituents, and needs to remake itself to compete in a diversifying nation. “It’s very hard to get a party to act in its long-term self-interest when it’s short-term self interest is the opposite—so I’m for superdelegates,” he said. He favors formal mechanism to ensure that primary campaigns produce more electable candidates. “I’m very anti small-d democratic when it comes to that.”

But the panelists found a silver lining in the dark clouds gathering over the party, speculating that it might be just what the GOP needs to reinvent itself. “What’s worse: Do you go in for the minor procedure now and suffer discomfort or do you let the cancer grow for 25 years?” asked Sara Fagen.

“I think Trump’s going to lose and I’m okay with that—smoldering ruins—then we rebuild a new Republican Party,” Murphy said. “We’re going to have to restart and go.”

Paul Manafort, chairman of the Trump campaign, thinks the Republican National Convention is going smashingly, despite plagiarism accusations levied at a potential first lady and mutiny from Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Manafort said the party is “definitely more unified” than it was before, even after delegates’ hostile reaction to Cruz in the arena last night when he neglected to endorse his party’s nominee. Manafort said no conditions were given to the presidential candidates who’ve spoken at the convention, and noted Cruz’s was the “only speech poorly received.”

“That was Senator Cruz’s decision—Mr. Trump invited him because he wanted him to have the opportunity to speak,” Manafort said.

Manafort largely brushed off a reporter’s question about a controversial interview Trump gave Wednesday with The New York Times, in which Trump suggested he would radically alter NATO. He said that Trump’s NATO message has been consistent all along—it must be modernized, particularly in the age of terrorism.

Manafort also offered more detail about how he investigated the plagiarism in Melania Trump’s speech. He said “none of us” knew that Meredith McIver, the Trump Organization staffer who helped Melania Trump write it and has claimed responsibility for the blunder, “was even involved in the process.” But he didn’t entirely absolve Trump’s wife, either, saying that when he asked her if those were her words, she “insisted” they were.

And as for what viewers can expect tonight? Manafort said it will be a more “upbeat, personal program,” centered on unifying the Republican Party and Trump’s vision for the nation. Trump will also give clues, evidently, on “how he plans on presenting himself” going into November.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

“I will not scream and attack as a traitor anyone who would dare question our candidate,” declared Ted Cruz this morning in Cleveland before the Texas delegation. The fiery senator from Texas explained his non-endorsement of Trump last night as a matter of principle: “Like many voters, I am watching, I’m listening, and the standard I intend to apply is: Which candidate will be faithful to the Constitution. I can tell you I will not vote for Hillary Clinton.” The man is playing three-dimensional chess.

Ted Cruz is a calculating, craven, brilliant leader. He has been ever since I knew him in college debate and likely before that, too; he is pointedly, determinedly consistent. And as Brian Goldsmith noted on this site yesterday, Cruz knows exactly what he is doing. The senator from Texas took a beating in the hall last night, but reviews are more mixed from the outside. As Andrew Cohen, a fellow debater and a history professor at Syracuse University, noted on our debate-alumni Facebook page: “I’m struggling with feelings of awe, respect, and even pride about Ted’s speech last night. Is there a drug I can take to counteract these unfamiliar sensations?”

Cruz stood before thousands of angry Republicans and told them to vote their conscience rather than cave to what must have been overwhelming pressure from the party to support a deeply flawed nominee. “It’s not about red shirts and blue shirts; it’s about principle,” said Cruz this morning. I’m guessing this was more like a rare moment of what is good for Cruz happening to coincide with the right thing to do. But for those frustrated by Paul Ryan’s and others’ capitulations, it was probably a very sweet moment. He’s getting booed out of arenas today; but Cruz is playing the long game.  

Cruz asked the assembled Texas delegates if they were “frustrated with politicians who just say anything.” He then explained that he had options: He could have “turned tail and run and don’t come to the convention,” noting that a lot of his peers did just that—“and I ain’t one of ‘em.” He could have lied and told everyone exactly what they wanted and what the party says to do, but “I am not going to lie to you.”

He calmly answered question after question, practically ensuring that not only would his convention speech go down in history but that, by god, he’d snatch the news cycle, too. “This isn’t a social club,” Cruz said of the Republican Party. “As Reagan said: It’s not a fraternal order.” He looked out at the crowd confidently: “We either stand for shared principles, or we’re not worth anything.”

Cruz also said that his speech last night could be seen as a template for what he thinks Trump needs to do to earn his vote. “Newt had it right,” he said, referring to Newt Gingrich’s attempt to paper over Cruz’s remarks. The standard Cruz will apply is: Who will defend the Constitution? And he said he will apply that standard to every politician “from the president to the dog catcher.” Speaking of man’s best friend, Cruz also noted that he wasn’t a “servile puppy dog” and that he wasn’t in the habit of endorsing people who attack his wife and father. So constitutional standard and just a wee bit of payback, then.

Meanwhile, as Trump’s campaign derides Cruz—as Paul Manafort did this morning on MSNBC—and the party faithful like Chris Christie condemn him, it’s important to keep in mind that Cruz told everyone (Trump, the RNC, everyone!) exactly what he was going to say. He didn’t flip the script on them, and their outrage is a bit disingenuous.

Cruz’s play could crush his political future—or it could ensure it. One thing’s for sure, it is already being compared to past convention speeches and will mark Cruz as gutsier than most of his party.

It’s not easy to get a word in edgewise amid a convention that keeps running off script, but Hillary Clinton is trying.

After Ted Cruz urged Republicans on Wednesday evening to vote their conscience in November, a line that was met with boos inside the convention arena, the Clinton campaign rushed to take advantage of the opening.

The campaign also sent out a lengthy statement from Jake Sullivan, a senior policy adviser, denouncing remarks Donald Trump made about NATO in an interview with The New York Times, where according to the report, he “explicitly raised new questions about his commitment to automatically defend NATO allies if they are attacked, saying he would first look at their contributions to the alliance.”

In response, Sullivan said that “Ronald Reagan would be ashamed.” He added:

Harry Truman would be ashamed. Republicans, Democrats and Independents who help build NATO into the most successful military alliance in history would all come to the same conclusion: Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit and fundamentally ill-prepared to be our Commander in Chief.

Sullivan denounced Trump for “a bizarre and occasionally obsequious fascination with Russia's strongman, Vladimir Putin,” and concluded that “Trump has apparently decided that America lacks the moral authority to advance our interests and values around the world.”