GOP Day 4: It’s all about Ted

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You’d think Day 3 of the Republican National Convention would have been all about the introduction of the GOP nominee for vice president, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Here is this guy who had a successful political career going, from being a radio talk show host, to a congressman to the governor if Indiana, stepping into the buzz saw that is the Trump Campaign. Unless he stays on as Head of the Hoosiers after this campaign is over, his political career is over. He will forever be known as Donald Trump’s running mate — or worse.

Oh well, Mike Pence was listed as the featured speech of the night. (YouTube)
Oh well, Mike Pence was listed as the featured speech of the night. (YouTube)

What’s even more astounding is that, like Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie, Mike Pence actively pursued the job of being Donald Trump’s sidekick, even though Pence had been firmly in the Ted Cruz camp and had firmly denounced Trump in the primaries.

Rumor has it — and these are only rumors coming from the Trump Campaign, so take it for what it’s worth — part of the division between Melania Trump and the Trump kids not her kids, is that the young’uns pushed The Donald into taking Pence over his good buddy Chris Christie. The kids pushed for substance over style — or lack thereof, depending on your POV.

It’s no secret Christie wanted the job. It’s no secret he was disappointed when someone else was chosen. But after Tuesday it’s no secret where Christie’s loyalties lie: with his good buddy of 14 years: Donald Trump. He went into that arena in Cleveland and got the small crowd of Republican delegates screaming “GUILTY” every time he shouted something about a perceived Hillary Clinton high crime and misdemeanor.

He didn’t say much about his good buddy, The Donald.

Convention attendees (Douglas Christian)
Convention attendees (Douglas Christian)

So on Wednesday we expected the highlight of the day and night would be the vice presidential candidate, Mike Pence. You’d think.

Pence gave a nice speech, exhorting the crowd to hate Hillary Clinton. He accused Clinton of helping to create ISIS, although every security expert will tell you ISIS got it’s start years earlier when Iraqi insurgents rallied around Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to form Al Queda in Iraq, which then morphed into ISIS.

And then President George Bush signed a treaty with Iraq that said U.S. troops would leave that country in 2011.

But anyway, it was Pence’s speech and he gets to spew the … well, they’re not facts … the messages he wanted. He had some good things to say about his running mate, a first for speakers not related to Donald Trump. “You can’t fake good kids,” he told the convention, to a thunderous applause. Pence paused to let Trump’s kids take a standing ovation.

Convention attendees (Douglas Christian)
Convention attendees (Douglas Christian)

He took his shots at Hillary Clinton, calling her “The Secretary of the status quo.” Thunderous applause. He had some sympathy for Bernie Sanders, who was defeated by Clinton in the Democratic primaries. Not so much applause. And then he demonized the media — as every good Republican should do — saying, “This time around she’ll have the press doing half her work for her.”

He claimed the military had been diminished, which leads me to remind everyone, if the military has been diminished it can be laid at the feet of the Republican Party that shut down the government until Congress passed the sequestration bill that made drastic cuts to all government programs and departments, including the military.

Of course Pence and his GOP cronies don’t want to accept any responsibility for that … and let me just post this query: As the Republicans make this case about the Democrats being the evil power in control of government, can we point out it is the Republican Party, led around by the nose by the Tea Party, that controls both houses of Congress? Just asking.

Crazy hats were everywhere (Douglas Christian)
Crazy hats were everywhere (Douglas Christian)

And when he said secure our borders, did that include the border with Canada? Just asking.

Yes, that should have been the highlight of Wednesday: the acceptance speech of Mike Pence, governor of Indiana and now vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party. The sacrificial lamb.

But Mike Pence wasn’t and isn’t what people are taking about, even now as the fourth and final day of the Republican National Convention lumbers into the big speech of the four-day confab: Donald Trump’s acceptance speech.

No, what everyone is talking about is Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s calculated and sharply critical speech. He had the crowd on his side for much of his time on the dais, but that began to change. He began to use words designed to keep the message subtle, but it was clear, about halfway through his speech, Ted Cruz was not going to put the primaries behind him, was not going to be magnanimous and endorse the party’s candidate, although he did congratulate Donald Trump for winning the roll call vote.

Trump supporter (Douglas Christian)
Trump supporter (Douglas Christian)

The chants from the crowd for Cruz to endorse Donald Trump began to grow from the New York delegation that was down in front of the dais, until Cruz uttered the only words from his speech that now matter. “Stand and speak and vote your conscience. Vote for candidates up and down that ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the constitution.”

He was booed off stage after that, with the lights going out.

The boos changed to cheers when in the back, the presidential candidate snuck into the hall, by the VIP boxes. Once again Donald Trump stepped on Ted Cruz’s moment. If Trump was waiting for Cruz to endorse him … well, no that’s not likely. Trump was waiting for this moment when he could once again cast a long shadow over his one-time rival.

He tweeted it was “no big deal” that he didn’t. Donald Trump was there to hear his progeny speak and he smiled as Cruz left the stage.

For the next 24 hours everyone spoke about Ted Cruz. Trump supporters denouncing Cruz for trying to divide the GOP. Cruz supporters asking, “Is this what we’ve come to? Where telling people to vote their conscience is wrong?”

Well it is when you’re telling voters not to vote for the GOP candidate for president.

Some people were still talking about Melania-Gate, but clearly, the Cruz non-endorsement has been the #1 topic of discussion all day Thursday. Early in the day Cruz spoke to the Texas delegation and told them why he was not going to endorse the real estate mogul. Trump maligned his wife and father during the campaign and Ted Cruz was not going to be a servile puppy to Donald Trump.

Who knew you can get a Donald Trump doll? (Douglas Christian)
Who knew you can get a Donald Trump doll? (Douglas Christian)

One thing about Cruz’s non-endorsement: it united the crowd in the arena. Question is: did it unite Republican voters around the country?

But this begs the question: where is Melania Trump? She has been largely absent since walking off the stage after her speech. She wasn’t present when Spence gave his speech. She didn’t sneak into the Quicken Loans Arena with her husband when he stepped on Ted Cruz once again.

Call me crazy, but when Trump arrived in the garage of the arena Thursday evening and got out of his SUV, I didn’t see Melania Trump. She has to be there. Spouses always join the candidates on stage after the acceptance speech. Tonight The Donald will be introduced by his eldest daughter, Ivanka, the one he lusts after. And there is Melania Trump. There goes my conspiracy theory.

Peter Theil is on now. He just accused Hillary Clinton of invading the Middle East. Okay, she voted for the resolution that allowed George W. Bush to wage war on Saddam Hussein … he blamed the Democrats for the culture wars … blamed the Democrats for making trangender bathroom use an issue … Theil is a gay billionaire Republican Trump supporter. He’s the guy who said, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”

Photo by Douglas Christian
Photo by Douglas Christian

He’s leaning against democracy.

The Trumps are in the house, so I’m getting this up on the web. It’s a little late, but what the hell. Interesting note: all through the convention the Hillary For America campaign has been airing their anti-Trump ad, “Role Models” throughout the convention. Preaching to the choir, but it’s a very good ad.

Time to watch some TV.

Oh yeah: The very popular Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, is still not in attendance at the #RNCinCLE in his home state. Party unity — get some.

Photos by Douglas Christian, unless otherwise noted.
Top photo from YouTube video.