CLEVELAND – United for a night, Republicans nominated Donald Trump Tuesday as their presidential standard-bearer, capping the billionaire businessman’s stunning takeover of the GOP and propelling him into a November faceoff with Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“I will work hard and never let you down!” Trump quickly wrote on Twitter following the roll call vote.
Trump’s campaign hoped the formal nomination would both end the discord surging through the Republican Party and overshadow the convention’s chaotic kickoff, including a plagiarism charge involving Melania Trump’s address on opening night.
There were flurries of dissent on the convention floor as states that Trump did not win recorded their votes, but he far outdistanced his primary rivals. His vice presidential pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, was also formally nominated.
Trump was put over the top by his home state of New York. Four of his children joined the state’s delegation on the convention floor for the historic moment and appeared overwhelmed with emotion.
“Congratulations, Dad, we love you,” declared Donald Trump Jr.
Some delegates emphasized a need for a televised display of unity after the deeply divisive GOP primary. “United we stand, divided we fall,” said Johnny McMahan, a Trump delegate from Arkansas.
But Colorado’s Kendal Unruh, a leader of the anti-Trump forces, called the convention a “sham” and warned party leaders that their efforts to silence opposition would keep some Republicans on the sidelines in the fall campaign against Clinton.
This week’s four-day convention is Trump’s highest-profile opportunity to convince voters that he’s better suited for the presidency than Clinton, who will be nominated at next week’s Democratic gathering. A parade of Trump’s campaign rivals and Republican leaders lukewarm about his nomination were taking the stage Tuesday night to vouch for the real estate mogul, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Still, the plagiarism controversy and other unforced errors by the campaign cast a shadow over the convention and raised fresh questions about Trump’s oversight of his campaign, which gives voters a window into how a candidate might handle the pressures of the presidency.
The plagiarism accusations follow Monday night’s speech by Trump’s wife. Two passages from her address – each 30 words or longer – matched a 2008 Democratic convention address by Michelle Obama nearly word-for-word.
Trump’s campaign failed to quell the controversy on Day 2 of the convention by insisting there was no evidence of plagiarism, while offering no explanation for how the strikingly similar passages wound up in Mrs. Trump’s address. The matter consumed news coverage from Cleveland until the evening vote, obscuring Mrs. Trump’s broader effort to show her husband’s softer side.
Clinton pounced on the tumult, saying the Republican gathering had so far been “surreal,” comparing it to the classic fantasy film “Wizard of Oz.”
“When you pull back the curtain, it was just Donald Trump with nothing to offer to the American people,” Clinton said during a speech in Las Vegas.
Top Trump adviser Paul Manafort said the matter had been “totally blown out of proportion.”
“They’re not even sentences. They’re literally phrases,” Manafort told The Associated Press.
Conventions are massive organizational undertakings, with thousands of attendees to manage and dozens of speakers to oversee. But the weeklong gathering pales in comparison to the scope of a president’s responsibilities as head of the U.S. government.
It was unclear whether there would be much if any effect on how voters view Trump. The businessman has survived numerous politically perilous moments that might have doomed other candidates.
Manafort, a longtime Republican operative, has been a central figure in Trump’s Cleveland operations. He led efforts to successfully tamp down a rebellion on the convention floor Monday, though the campaign still had to contend with angry outbursts from anti-Trump delegates.
The campaign chairman also upended Republicans’ unity message by slamming Ohio Gov. John Kasich in his home state. He called Kasich “petulant” and “embarrassing” for not endorsing Trump or attending the convention, drawing quick condemnation from other GOP leaders worried about angering the popular governor of one of the most important election states.
Trump’s campaign hoped the convention would also highlight a kinder, gentler side of the brash candidate. Mrs. Trump was the first in a series of family members and friends who were taking the stage to vouch for the man they know.
Mrs. Trump was widely praised for her success in doing just that, despite the plagiarism charges. She spoke of her husband’s “simple goodness” and his loyalty and love of family – while noting the “drama” that comes with Trump in politics.
Tiffany Trump, the candidate’s 22-year-old daughter from his marriage to Marla Maples, and Donald Jr., his eldest son and an executive vice president at The Trump Organization, were to speak about their father Tuesday night.
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