Clinton 2811
Sanders 1879
 Needed   2383
Trump 1542
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237

Republican Convention, Day 2: A Return to Normalcy

After getting off to a rocky start Monday, the GOP managed to put together a Tuesday program that looked like an actual political convention run by a major party. The key moments:

  • Donald Trump officially became the candidate of the Republican Party. He was nominated by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)—the first Senator to endorse The Donald—and was put over the top when New York announced its delegates. Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) was formally nominated as well. The roll-call vote provided the only real drama of the evening. Alaska and Washington, D.C. both tried to split their votes and were not allowed to do so, provoking howls of protest. Ultimately, more than 700 delegates voted against Trump—the highest number since 1976, but not enough to deny him the nomination.

  • Two of Trump's children spoke on Tuesday. Tiffany was very good, particularly for someone of her young age and limited public speaking experience. Meanwhile, Donald Jr.'s remarks were widely praised as the highlight of the evening, with more than one pundit declaring that "a star is born" and predicting that he has a future in politics.

  • Two of Trump's primary rivals spoke on Tuesday. Ben Carson is a terrible public speaker, so it's no surprise that his address, which connected Hillary Clinton to Lucifer, underwhelmed. The Trump campaign quickly circulated copies of his pre-written speech, so people would know that the Lucifer bit was improvised. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is a much better speaker, and got the crowd going with a "let's put Hillary on trial" routine. Clint Eastwood bombed with a similar shtick four years ago, but then, he wasn't auditioning for the Attorney Generalship.

  • The two highest-ranking Republicans in Congress also spoke on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gave as full-throated an endorsement of Trump as we have seen from him this campaign. He's not very popular with the base, however, so he was booed when he took the stage, and he was booed as he left the stage. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was not booed, at least not loudly enough to be heard over the cheering, but he also barely mentioned Trump in his speech. Different strokes for different folks.

  • At least some of the conventioneers spent Tuesday night throwing up. Not because of Trump's nomination, though, but because of norovirus contracted at their hotel. At least, that's the official explanation.

In short, anyone who was hoping for more craziness was disappointed on Tuesday. We shall see what happens on Wednesday, though. Three of Trump's former rivals—Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)—will all be speaking, and it will be interesting to see how they balance being team players against their desire to keep Trump at arm's length. Mike Pence is up, too—his job will be trying not to put everyone to sleep. And Newt Gingrich will take his turn, and he's been known to shoot from the hip on occasion. After all, there is none so dangerous as one who has nothing to lose. If William Hill and Paddy Power were smart, they would be taking bets on how many times he utters the word "sharia." (Z)

How Newspapers Covered the First Day of the Convention

The first day of the Republican National Convention was front-page news worldwide. Here is what some newspapers' headlines read:

  • New York Times: "In Trump's voice: It's a new Nixon"
  • New York Daily News: "Send in the Clowns"
  • New York Post: "Heeere's Donny"
  • Washington Post: "Opening night targets GOP's base"
  • Los Angeles Times: "Party scrambles to unite behind divisive Trump"
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Safety trumpeted on opening night"
  • Arizona Republic: "A chaotic first day in Cleveland"
  • San Diego Union-Tribune: "Getting off to a raucous start"
  • Tampa Bay Times: "Trump's party now"
  • Longmont Times-Call: "Unconventional"
  • Brownsville, TX Herald: "Tumult over Trump"
  • Buffalo News: "Efforts to derail Trump futile as GOP fires up troops"
  • Jeffersonville, IN News and Tribune: "Convention opens to tension"
  • Providence Journal: "Divisions amid calls for unity"
  • Kingston, NY Daily Freeman: "Discord on floor as GOP Convenes"

In short, this was not the kind of coverage the Trump campaign was hoping for. But day 2 went better and there are hopes that the last two days will be better still. (V)

Manafort: Clinton To Blame for the Flap about Melania's Plagiarized Speech

Monday, Melania Trump gave a speech at the Republican National Convention highlighting her domesticity and praising her husband, Donald Trump. This kind of speech is fairly standard for a candidate's spouse, although we might get a different one from the candidate's spouse next week. The problem with Melania's speech is that one paragraph was pretty much directly plagiarized from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech. Now the hunt is on for the speechwriter. Did Melania write it herself and not realize that copying a very high-profile speech from only eight years ago was not going to remain a secret for very long? Do newbie unpaid interns do the speechwriting for the Trump campaign? The question of who wrote the speech has now completely overshadowed everything she said in it.

Paul Manafort, one of Trump's top staffers, blamed Melania's plagiarism on Hillary Clinton. He also sent out a memo to other members of the campaign telling them to say the same thing. Chris Christie, who is out of the running for Veep but still in the running for Attorney General, didn't stick to the script and came up with a different defense: 93% of the speech wasn't plagiarized. The same is true of RNC official Sean Spicer, who said that Melania's words were "common" sentiments that one would hear on an episode of My Little Pony, or in a Kid Rock song. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said it doesn't matter which staffer or intern wrote the speech, it was Manafort's job to do the final vetting and so he should be held accountable, even if he didn't copy the words personally. Reince Priebus came the closest to admitting that maybe something was wrong with the speech when he said yesterday: "All campaigns go through growing pains." But most don't go through them on live national television a year into the campaign.

In case anyone was wondering if Melania's speech could just have accidentally used the same words as Michelle Obama's 2008 speech, Turnitin, a company whose product is software that helps schoolteachers and college professors detect when students have turned in term papers that contain material plagiarized from the Internet calculated that the chances of this similarity just being a coincidence are one in a trillion.

Hillary Clinton laid low and didn't get involved in the controversy. She understands that one of the basic rules of politics is that when your opponent is busy shooting himself in the foot, you don't interfere. So far, the real culprit has not been identified.

In any event, the real damage is not so much the plagiarism itself, but that the main news stories from day 1 of the convention were: (1) The GOP is far from united and (2) Nobody seems to know who writes the campaign's speeches.

The plagiarism story also is a missed opportunity for Trump. His catchphrase on his reality show was "You're fired." He could have handled this by finding out who cribbed the offending words, calling up him or her and saying: "You're fired," then announcing this to the media. That would have ended the story with a bang and shown him to be a decisive leader. It didn't happen. (V)

Wall Street Takes Note of the GOP's Glass-Steagall Plank

One of the concessions Hillary Clinton had to make to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a plank in the Democratic platform calling for a revival of the Glass-Steagall Act, separating retail banking from investment banking and from insurance. Wall Street doesn't like this one bit, and the inclusion of it might have driven some bankers who know and otherwise like Hillary Clinton to support Donald Trump. Now that the Republicans have suddenly adopted the same plank, the two platforms cancel each other and many pragmatically-oriented bankers may choose the known devil over the unknown (and unpredictable) devil, and support Clinton after all. Tony Fratto, a former Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration who now is a bank lobbyist, summed the situation up by saying:

They are not buying a ticket on the crazy train. Banks and the financial sector do not like volatility. He is the volatile candidate, and under those circumstances, supporting Hillary Clinton looks like the flight to safety.

Even before the Republicans suddenly discovered they love Glass-Steagall after fighting for years to have it repealed, there were signs of problems. Major banks that sponsored the GOP convention in 2012 are absent this year. Even worse, the contributions from employees of the financial sector to the Trump campaign this year totaled a paltry $127,000 as of the end of May. Now, Trump's $51 million haul in June may contain some contributions from people in the financial sector, but we don't know yet. Nevertheless, there are relatively few events this week in Cleveland sponsored by the financial sector, a common occurrence at previous conventions. (V)

Border Residents Don't Want Trump's Wall

A new poll of people who live in close proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border reveals that they don't want a wall there. The poll showed that 86% of Mexicans living near the border and 72% of Americans living near the border were against building a wall between the two countries. They aren't the only ones close to the border who are anti-wall. Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM), the nation's only Latina governor and a rising star in the Republican party, is solidly against the wall and has said it would hurt trade and economic development in the border region. (V)

Vilsack Surging as VP Sweepstakes Nears the End

The Democratic convention is next week, which means that Hillary Clinton's announcement of her VP pick is imminent. In fact, the odds are it will be Saturday—timed to push the RNC out of any remaining headlines it might be getting. And as the race nears the finish line, Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack is making a late push.

It's fairly clear, at this point, that Clinton wants to make a play for moderate Republicans and independents. That means a boring white guy in the #2 slot, and Vilsack certainly fits that bill. In addition, he and Clinton go way back, well before the four years they served together in Barack Obama's cabinet, so Hillary knows she can work with him. Unlike Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Vilsack would have no impact on the Democrats' chances of holding or losing the Senate. Plus, Vilsack is a Midwesterner, and so a nice counter-move to Hoosier Mike Pence. Boring white guy Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) is still the favorite, but if Clinton and her advisers decide having someone from the Midwest is essential, then it could be Tom instead of Tim. (Z)

Megyn Kelly: Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Me in the Past

Roger Ailes now not only has to deal with allegations from Gretchen Carlson that he sexually harassed her, but also claims from Fox News superstar Megyn Kelly that Ailes harassed her too, when she was younger. Rumors about Ailes' future have been swirling ever since Carlson came forward. Supposedly, Rupert Murdoch's two sons, who now run Murdoch's media empire including Fox News, have decided this is the moment to dump Ailes. The political implications of such a move could be enormous, especially if Ailes' successor is given instructions to maximize company profits, possibly by ceasing to be an arm of the Republican Party in order to increase viewership and thus make more money. (V)

Melania Wore a Foreign Dress Last Night

While Donald Trump talks a lot about keeping jobs in America, his wife is apparently not so concerned about that. The dress she wore for her convention speech was designed by a London-based Serbian woman, Roksanda Ilinic. Melania apparently bought it online at the Net-a-Porter Website, where it lists for $2,190. Mrs. Trump is not the only spouse who prefers foreign clothing. Both Ann Romney in 2012 and Cindy McCain in 2008 wore dresses designed by a foreign-born designer for their respective convention speeches. In contrast, the dresses Michelle Obama wore in 2008 and 2012 were both from American designers. (V)

Wright State Won't Host Presidential Debate, After All

Hosting a presidential debate gives great exposure to universities that are not necessarily in the upper-tier with the Harvards and the Stanfords of the world. But that exposure comes with a price, both in terms of money and risk, and it's a price that Wright State University President David Hopkins is no longer willing to pay. Citing security concerns, following the recent wave of shootings and terrorist attacks, along with the $8 million in costs that the university would incur, Hopkins bailed out on the commitment on Tuesday. Replacing Wright State, which is in Ohio, will be Hofstra University in New York. Hofstra hosted a debate in 2012, so presumably its president knows what he is getting into. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul19 Republican Convention Day 1: Drama, Vitriol, and Plagiarism
Jul19 Ten Ways the Convention Could Revive Or Kill the GOP
Jul19 Republicans Want to Reinstate Glass-Steagall
Jul19 Lobbyists Are Out in Full Force in Cleveland
Jul19 There Are No More Swing Voters
Jul19 RNC Bans Tennis Balls But Not Assault Rifles at the Convention
Jul18 Protests Expected as the Republican National Convention Begins
Jul18 Baton Rouge Shootings Cast Shadow over Republican Convention
Jul18 Complete List of RNC Speakers Released
Jul18 Whither the Republican Party?
Jul18 Convention Pitfalls Are Not All that Unusual
Jul18 Do Conventions Give Parties an Edge in the States Where They Are Held?
Jul18 Pence: Disney Film Is Liberal Propaganda
Jul18 Clinton's Joint Committee Outraises Trump's Joint Committee
Jul18 Johnson Surges in New National Poll
Jul17 Trump Formally Introduces Pence
Jul17 Pence Got the Nod Due To Aircraft Malfunction
Jul17 Pence Could Make Trump's Problem with Women Even Worse
Jul17 Never Trump Delegates Promise Trouble at RNC
Jul17 Trump Finding New Megadonors for Campaign
Jul17 Clinton Promises to Propose Campaign Funding Amendment
Jul17 The Parties Are Moving in Opposite Directions on Primaries
Jul17 What Will Cruz Do at the Convention?
Jul16 It's Pence
Jul16 Trump Wanted to Dump Pence after He Picked Him
Jul16 Pence and Trump Are Not on the Same Page on Some Key Issues
Jul16 Pence Is No Billionaire
Jul16 Never Trump is Nevermore
Jul16 Jeb Bush Slams Trump
Jul16 ACLU Slams Trump, Too
Jul16 Trump-Pence Logo Leaves the Internet Snickering
Jul16 Wary Voters Still Reject Third Parties
Jul16 Hillary Clinton Announces the Main Convention Speakers
Jul16 Thousands of Votes May Not Be Counted in North Carolina This Year
Jul15 Insiders Are Saying Trump's Veep Will Be Pence
Jul15 Kaine Tears into Trump
Jul15 Trump, Clinton Respond to Attacks in Nice
Jul15 Republican Unity Talks Break Down
Jul15 Trump Has an Odd Lineup of Convention Speakers
Jul15 Big Republican Donors in Disarray
Jul15 Hoosiers Could Be Blue in November
Jul15 Battleground State Polls Are All Over the Place
Jul15 Sanders Is Writing a Book
Jul14 Trump Still Has Almost No Campaign Infrastructure
Jul14 Trump's Pitch Is All about White Resentment
Jul14 Five Things to Know about Mike Pence
Jul14 Sometimes the VP Pick Comes From Left Field
Jul14 Ten Things That Could Go Wrong at the Republican Convention
Jul14 More Polls, More Bad News for Trump
Jul14 Trump Polling at Zero Percent with Black Voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania