Let’s take a look at who the big winners and losers were from the first day and night of the GOP Convention.
Donald Trump: It’s his show and his time to shine. Whether it was the final crushing of the petulance of “Never Trump” or his futuristic WWE-style arrival at the convention, this is the time for Mr. Trump to put his mark on the Party. The first day, though the media loves the “chaos” on the floor of the convention, there was nothing that was standing in the way of the multi-million dollar, choreographed, prime time Trump Train.
Melania Trump: The supermodel, multi-lingual, entrepreneur wife of Donald Trump took center stage last night after being introduced by her husband. She hit a home run. Her detractors (who were never voting for Mr. Trump anyway) have stormed social media critiquing about 5% of Mrs. Trump’s speech that appeared to be similar to Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democrat Convention in 2008. The passage? Saying that she hopes the values of hard work and dedication can reach the next generation. If Melania is “plagiarizing” Michelle Obama, then Michelle was plagiarizing every Mom and Dad in America who want to pass on a better country to their kids. Mrs. Trump was poised, cool, and seemed to be the only speaker who wasn’t shouting to be heard.
Rudy Giuliani: “America’s Mayor” got the crowd fired up last night. Mr. Giuliani condemned the biased media for their criticism of Mr. Trump and gave a rousing address about how police need to be respected. He also gave a favorable shout out to LGBT Americans who have, inexcusably, been shut out of the Republican Party in the run-up to the 2016 Convention. Though he did seem like he was shouting to be heard by planes flying overhead, he came off genuine and passionate.
Genuineness and Passion: There was a feeling of visceral “realness” on the first night of the Convention (Make America Safe Again). Whether it was Patricia Smith, the still-grieving mother of Sean Smith who was murdered in the terrorist attack in Benghazi, the parents of children killed by illegal aliens, or the family of a border patrol agent murdered on the Mexican border, the feelings were raw and unfiltered. Many took to social media to condemn MSNBC and liberal commentators (I was watching in CSPAN, so I can’t point to any commentary that was offensive) who openly mocked the grief of these loved ones of people who were killed. Perhaps it was because these speeches seemed so heartfelt and passionate that they resonated so clearly with the viewer.
Marcus Lutrell: The “lone survivor” Navy Seal decided to abandon his teleprompter and spoke straight from the heart. While moments like this could give Convention organizers heartburn, Lutrell showed a deep love of his country and reinforced the need to advocate for America’s veterans.
Sen.Tom Cotton: The first-term Arkansas Senator and veteran was looking for his “Obama in 2004” convention breakout. While he didn’t knock the ball out of the park, he put forward a strong showing. Note that Arkansas changed its law prohibiting a run for President and Senate at the same time (which Cotton is rumored to be considering in 2020). Definitely a career to watch.
Sen. Jeff Sessions: The Alabama Republican was the first Senator to get on board the “Trump Train.” During the “Gang or Eight” immigration negotiations, Sessions was a hardliner outside of the policy negotiations. Now, he is writing the mainstream immigration policy for the GOP. A big reversal of fortune for the Senator and his ideas.
Diversity in Speakers: A pretty good cross-section of America.
Ted Cruz: No, you didn’t miss a speech from the Texas Senator (he’s scheduled for later in the convention), but you did see his path to the nomination in 2020 (if Mr. Trump is not elected) get quite a bit harder. While “Never Trump” was the focus of the media attention over the “chaos” on the voting on the floor early in the day, much of the concern from the likes of Utah Senator Mike Lee was to close off Republican primaries to Independents and Democrats in 2020. This step would have drastically shifted the electorate to the right and made the path for Ted Cruz easier. This process was shouted down on the floor.
Never Trump: It’s dead. Again. The choices are now: Trump, Gary Johnson, or stay home. Folks have until November to decide.
Hillary Clinton: The goal of the night was to show that Hillary Clinton’s failures around the world have made the nation less safe. If viewers (again, I was watching CSPAN, so I don’t know how much the other channels were showing) watched the entire presentation, they were educated about what the Republican Party sees as the consistent failures of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy.
Lt. General Michael Flynn: Following Melania Trump was tough. Not only did Flynn seemingly speak for an hour (it was less), but the content was delivered in a drill-sergeant-ish monotone yell that was interrupted every once in a while by him trying to get (or joining in) a rally chant. There were a lot of people in the audience who were leaving after Melania’s address, so it couldn’t have been a good feeling giving a prime time speech and seeing people filing out.
The Benghazi 13-Hours Guys: They are American heroes, but their delivery was off. A lot of the jokes would make military folks laugh, but came off just a little strange to the layman. They also competed with General Flynn for the most times I checked my watch during a presentation.
Sen Joni Ernst: Senator Ernst was among a group of veterans and speakers after General Flynn. She started after 11pm and, thereby, missed the prime time window. Senator Ernst is a rising star in the Republican Party, but, in that her audience was basically reduced to a few people in the hall and some holdouts on CSPAN, this was not her night.
Diversity in Audience: It’s a sad joke about the Republican Convention to compare it to “Where’s Waldo” when talking about persons of color.
Solemn Close-Ups of People Nodding: Seriously, CSPAN’s cameras get right up in people’s faces. Added points if they’re crying.