Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is greeted by House Speaker Paul Ryan as he takes the podium last night. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

THE BIG IDEA: 

CLEVELAND—Mitch McConnell mentioned Hillary Clinton 24 times and Donald Trump five times in his speech to the Republican National Convention. Paul Ryan named Trump just twice in a 1,400-word speech and only to say that enacting the House GOP’s agenda is contingent on him becoming president. “Only with Donald Trump and Mike Pence do we have a chance at a better way,” he said.

Both congressional leaders sought to frame 2016 as a referendum on Clinton and implicitly made the case that Trump is the lesser of two evils. In their telling, presidential elections are really binary choices between the Democratic candidate and the Republican candidate.

McConnell focused the bulk of his speech on explaining why the former Secretary of State is untrustworthy and unacceptable. “She lied about her emails,” the Kentuckian said. “She lied about her server. She lied about Benghazi. She lied about sniper fire. She even lied about why her parents named her Hillary.”

Then he argued that Clinton would represent nothing more than a third term of Barack Obama. “We put an Obamacare repeal bill on the president’s desk. He vetoed it. Trump would sign it,” McConnell added toward the end of his speech. “We passed a bill to finally build the Keystone Pipeline. He vetoed it. Trump would sign it. We passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. Obama vetoed it. Trump would sign it. And on that sad day when we lost the great Antonin Scalia, I made another pledge that Barack Obama would not fill this seat. That honor will go to Donald Trump. With Donald Trump in the White House, Senate Republicans will build on the work we’ve done and pass more bills into law than any Senate in years.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.),  who also spoke, named Trump just once, opting instead to attack the Democratic nominee as “the definition of the status quo.”

This cartoon sums it up:

-- The Clinton campaign sent several press releases highlighting negative comments Ryan and McConnell have made about Trump since he clinched the nomination. The Speaker called Trump’s attacks on a judge’s Mexican heritage “the textbook definition of a racist comment,” criticized his use of the Star of David in a Twitter post, opposed the Muslim ban and chastised him for praising Saddam Hussein. The Majority Leader said last month, “It's pretty obvious he doesn't know a lot about the issues.”

-- But Ryan and McConnell are both political animals whose primary concern is retaining their majorities. “They know how to count and they know better than to challenge the will of the voters,” Dan Balz explains in his column. “They were not losers so much as they have become hostages to Trump. For the sake of their respective conferences, they have decided they must embrace him … Even so, McConnell was met with scattered boos from the convention floor, another sign that this gathering is in the hands of Trump and not the party establishment.” And it’s an uneasy truce: “Republican leaders are prepared to insulate themselves from his candidacy, to cut him loose, if that becomes necessary.”

-- McConnell’s speech is receiving much better reviews than Ryan’s. Chris Cillizza, for example, puts the senator in the winner’s column and the Speaker in the loser’s column. “Ever the savvy pol, McConnell found a way to thread the needle … offering what I thought was the most convincing case for Trump by an establishment politician,” he explains. “It was a Reagan-esque attempt to point to the 80 percent of agreement rather than focus on the 20 percent of disagreement.” But Cillizza thinks Ryan’s “speech felt flat -- filled with attempts at reaching rhetorical heights that the Wisconsin Republican never came all that close to.”

Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins says Ryan “seemed at times like a beleaguered dad pleading with his kids to stop fighting.”

From the conservative columnist at the New York Times:

-- The spin everyone is mocking: Ryan presented Trump’s hostile takeover of his party as evidence of its vitality. “Have we had our arguments this year? Sure we have,” he said. “You know what I call those? Signs of life. Signs of a party that’s not just going through the motions!”

-- Only one of the 11 GOP senators who took the stage as a show of unity after McConnell’s speech represents a state Mitt Romney lost in 2012: Iowa’s Joni Ernst, who is not up for reelection until Nov. 2020. The other freshmen come from some of the reddest places in America: Alaska, Arkansas, West Virginia, Montana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Dakota, etc.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, perhaps the most vulnerable incumbent in Cleveland, mentioned Trump just once during a speech earlier in the evening. He mainly focused on Clinton and his opponent Russ Feingold.

Notably absent from the Quicken Loans Arena altogether was Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who is locked in a neck-and-neck reelection race.

-- Not everyone said his name.

Less than two months ago, Trump went to New Mexico and attacked Gov. Susana Martinez – the chair of the Republican Governors Association and the nation’s first Latina governor – for the state’s weak economy, the growing number of food stamp recipients and not doing more to reject Syrian refugees. The billionaire said he might even run to the state to run for governor himself. “She’s got to do a better job,” he said.

Martinez came to Cleveland anyway. During the roll call of the states, the governor took the microphone to talk up “diversity” in “The Land of Enchantment.” She carefully avoided mentioning Trump or even “the nominee,” whom she has still not formally endorsed. Then she introduced a young delegate to say the state was casting its votes for Trump. Watch the semi-awkward, 1-minute clip:

Trump supporter Bob Dole – the only former GOP nominee who is attending the convention – says his “biggest area of disagreement” with the nominee is the way he’s disparaged Martinez. "I want him to go to New Mexico and meet with the governor and apologize for anything that may have been said,” Dole told Yahoo’s Katie Couric yesterday. “We need Latinos in our party, we need more women in the party, and I've raised it with him over the phone that I felt this is something that never should have happened and ought to be taken care of.”

Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, react during during Donald Trump Jr.'s speech last night. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

-- “Hillary for prison” is the latest cause of establishment heartburn: Chris Christie, auditioning to be Trump’s attorney general, tried to act like a prosecutor again as he laid out a case against Clinton. “Guilty or not guilty?” he asked the crowd. “Guilty,” they yelled repeatedly. Four times the audience interrupted him to chant: “Lock her up.”

It’s historically unusual, putting it generously, to say that the leader of the opposition party should be jailed. Even in 1972, as the particulars of the Watergate scandal began to emerge, no leading Democrat said Richard Nixon should go to prison. The idea of locking up the other party’s duly-selected nominee is in many ways antithetical to the principles of a free society. The FBI director, whose background is as a Republican, said earlier this month that no reasonable prosecutor would bring criminal charges against Clinton, even if she was extremely careless. Just months ago, calling for Clinton’s imprisonment was seen as a fringe idea.

Trump and his surrogates are determined to push this concept into the mainstream. “She deserves to be in stripes,” said the mother of a man who died in Benghazi. The Republican nominee for Senate in Colorado said Clinton should trade her “pantsuits” for “an orange jumpsuit.” (Aaron Blake rounds up more examples.)

Serious Republicans are bristling. "I wouldn't say that she belongs in jail," Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst said on CNN. And Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who is skipping the convention, tweeted this last night:

-- How swiftly has the rhetoric coarsened? While Christie seemed to welcome the crowd's chants of "lock her up" on Tuesday night, he pooh-poohed the idea on Monday:

-- Two other moments when last night’s speeches jumped the shark, via Dave Fahrenthold:

Ben Carson linked Hillary to Lucifer: “He noted that Clinton had written about Saul Alinsky, a community organizer for liberal causes. Carson said that Alinsky had used the biblical story of Lucifer as a model, the fallen angel cast out of heaven, with ambitions to rule the world. ‘The original radical,’ Carson said, citing Alinsky’s book, ‘Rules for Radicals.’ Carson seemed to conclude that Clinton had some sympathy for the devil. If the country followed her path, he said, ‘God will remove himself from us. We will not be blessed, and our nation will go down the tubes. … Are we willing to elect as president someone who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?’”

Sharon Day, the #2 at the RNC, called Bill Clinton a sexual abuser: “As first lady you viciously attacked the character of women who were victims of sexual abuse … at the hands of your husband,” she said.

-- Our Fact Checkers reviewed 10 of the most provocative claims of the evening and concluded -- with characteristic understatement -- that Clinton was attacked “sometimes unfairly or out of context.”

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Turkish soldiers search a few hours ago for missing military personnel suspected of being involved in the coup attempt in Marmaris. (Kenan Gurbuz/Reuters)

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- “Turkey issued a blanket travel ban on all academics in the country just a day after suspending more than 15,000 education workers and calling for the resignation of all university deans,” Hugh Naylor and Loveday Morris report. “The move is the latest in a massive crackdown against professionals in Turkey following the failed coup attempt … The government is presenting the measures as an effort to root out a wide-ranging conspiracy led by a U.S.-based Turkish cleric and as a way of curbing the influence of the once-powerful military. Meanwhile, critics feel the government of President Erdogan is using the coup as an excuse to eliminate any remaining opposition to its rule."

The state telecommunications authority blocked access to the website WikiLeaks after it announced it will soon release 300,000 emails from the ruling party: “The site said it was releasing the emails, which could possibly contain material embarrassing to the government, earlier than planned ‘in response to the government’s post-coup purges,’ though the latest of the emails dates to a week before the coup took place.”

President Obama phoned Erdogan for the first time since the coup attempt, “strongly condemning” the insurrection and lauding “the Turkish people’s resolve against this violent intervention and their commitment to democracy.” POTUS urged that investigations into the perpetrators “be conducted in ways that reinforce public confidence in democratic institutions and the rule of law” and said “the U.S. will help the inquiry if asked.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. A deputy assistant secretary of the Navy was charged with pointing a gun at a group of young men last month during an altercation on a residential street in Fairfax. Police previously released Karnig Ohannessian for lack of evidence but reversed course after cellphone footage emerged. (Justin Jouvenal and Dan Lamothe)
  2. A federal judge ruled that Wisconsin voters who lack specific kinds of state-mandated identification may be allowed to participate in November’s election, after signing an affidavit testifying to their identity. The ruling is a big victory for voting rights activists. (Robert Barnes)
  3. North Korea threatened to blow up South Korean airports and other facilities using nuclear warheads in ballistic missiles. This is the latest sign of anger from Pyongyang as South Korea moves to activate a sophisticated anti-missile system. (Anna Fifield)
  4. Johnny Manziel apologized to fans for a string of high-profile misdeeds, vowing to get sober and saying he is “focused on being healthy.” Manziel’s comments come as he faces a misdemeanor assault charge related to his ex-girlfriend, as well as what the NFL said were violations of its substance-abuse and personal conduct policy. (Cindy Boren)
  5. NASA scientists announced every month so far in 2016 has been a “global heat record," surpassing temperatures from every year dating back to 1880. (New York Times)
  6. Premiums for Obamacare health coverage in California will rise by an average of 13 percent next year – more than tripling the increase of the last two years. (LA Times)
  7. A Pennsylvania inmate and his corrections officer plunged to their deaths down an elevator shaft this week. The two fell through the closed doors during an altercation, falling nearly 70 feet in an apparent “freak accident.” (Buzzfeed)
  8. A Moroccan man was arrested after he frantically stabbed a French woman and her young daughters as they breakfasted on the terrace of an Alpine chalet. The mother had helped the attacker when he became ill the previous day, adding another layer of mystery to the bizarre tale. (Telegraph)
  9. Twitter permanently suspended the account of Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, after he urged an online harassment campaign against "Ghostbusters" star Leslie Jones. (Buzzfeed)
  10. Maryland police arrested a car thief after he decided to document, via Snapchat video, his jacking of a 1994 Jeep Wrangler. Friends were unimpressed and decided to alert the cops instead. (Dana Hedgpeth)
Fox News chairman Roger Ailes walks with his wife Elizabeth Tilson as they leave the News Corp building yesterday in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

-- Fox News chief Roger Ailes, one of the most powerful men in both media and politics, is in final negotiations to leave the network he built, sources confirm to Paul Farhi. “The agreement is expected to be completed shortly. … Amid an investigation of Ailes’s conduct by an outside law firm [after Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit], other Fox employees came forward with sexual-harassment allegations against Ailes."

  • Among them was Megyn Kelly, according to New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman.
  • Carlson’s lawyer tells The Post that 20 women have contacted her law firm with allegations of harassment by Ailes.
  • Ailes attorney Susan Estrich (Michael Dukakis’s 1988 campaign manager) told the Hollywood Reporter: “Exit agreements can take all kinds of different forms, including agreements that provide for continuing roles. So there’s a lot of negotiations going on. … There is no term sheet, there is no agreement, there is no deal, and the review is ongoing.”
A bullet hole from Gavin Young's Sunday shootout with police is seen in the window of the Fitness Expo in Baton Rouge. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

THE LONG HOT SUMMER OF DISCORD AND DISCONTENT DRAGS ON:

-- “What it's like living in Baton Rouge," by Sarah Kaplan: “As in war, the bloodshed has a way of driving people into their corners. … Will Bailey, who lives about a mile away from the B-Quik where the officers were killed, had just started his daily shift as an Uber driver when he heard the news of a gunfight. He immediately turned to go home, and texted his adult sons to do the same. ‘I’m worried it’s going to be open season now because a black guy shot some police officers,’ he said. ‘Everyone is on high alert now. It’s like a powder keg.’”

-- A Kansas City police officer was fatally shot after he arrived to the scene of a car chase. Authorities urged the community “not to jump to conclusions." No one has been charged. (Mark Berman and Sarah Larimer)

-- A 28-year-old Brooklyn cop faces serious criminal charges after he mowed down a group of college kids in his police cruiser, killing an MIT student and severely injuring three others. The officer, who jumped a curb and barreled through a wrought-iron fence in his Dodge, reportedly tried to flee the scene but was stopped by multiple bystanders. (Lindsey Bever)

-- Wright State University withdrew as the host of the first presidential debate this September, citing concerns about security and costs. The school's president told the Dayton Daily News that he was motivated in part by the attacks on Nice. “I can’t assure the safety of our students and the community,” he said. “Unlike private universities that have hosted debates in the past, Wright State cannot restrict public access to its campus, which added to the security challenges,” the Dayton paper notes. Hofstra University in New York, which hosted a 2012 debate, was the alternate site and will now host instead.

-- The Bastille Day massacre in Nice was the third major attack in France since the start of last year, a disconcerting reality that has prompted the prime minister to lament that the country must "learn to live with terrorism.” "But the series of assaults and the repeated states of high alert over the past 19 months have left France’s overlapping and often competing police forces stretched thin and close to exhaustion," James McAuley reports. "This has been a heavy summer season of high-risk events, including the Tour de France bicycle race and the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, which the Islamic State had explicitly threatened. Police have also had to deal with occasionally violent protests against a controversial labor law. 'It’s not possible to be mobilized this way all the time,' Frédéric Lagache, the deputy general secretary of the Alliance Police Union, a union of national police officers, said in an interview. 'Our colleagues are tired, mentally and physically.'" Seven in 10 French citizens express “little confidence” in the current government’s capacity to fight terrorism, according to a new poll. (James McAuley)

-- Fairfax County, Virginia, signaled support for providing higher civilian scrutiny of the use of force by police officers, including a review panel and the hiring of an independent auditor. A new report reveals that African Americans accounted for more than 40 percent of use-of-force cases in the county, despite making up just eight percent of the population. (Antonio Olivo and Justin Jouvenal)

-- Fresh protests were ignited after a study showed racial disparities in arrest rates in every single Twin Cities-area police department. In one suburb, 41 percent of arrests were of African Americans last year – despite the fact they only make up 6 percent of the population. (Star Tribune)

-- An Italian restaurant in Albuquerque sparked controversy after posting a “Black Olives Matter” billboard, using racial tensions to promote a new Ahi tuna dish. (Lindsey Bever

-- Georgia police launched an online fundraiser after discovering a homeless boy rode who more than six hours on his younger brother’s bike to register for college. They raised more than $184,000 for the 19-year-old, who one day dreams of going to medical school. (Fox 5 Atlanta)

-- A distracted motorist crashed his RAV 4 into a Baltimore police car while playing Pokémon Go. (Martin Weil)

The scene when Trump formally secured the Republican presidential nomination (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

MORE FROM THE CONVENTION:

-- Trump was nominated with the eighth-lowest delegate percentage in RNC history. He won with 69.8 percent of the total – meaning he failed to garner 30.2 percent of the vote, Philip Bump notes. “That's the highest percentage of the delegate total to oppose the nominee since the last contested convention in 1976. It's also the second-highest in a century.”

-- Trump’s convention has not produced the violent pandemonium many feared. Instead, protests inside the city’s Public Square have been small, contained – and mostly bizarre. From Joel Achenbach, Louisa Loveluck and Wesley Lowery: “The big rallies and marches have been relatively orderly this week, but a simultaneous proliferation of ad hoc protests, milk-crate zealotry and freelance fanaticism has featured ideologues who espouse a bewildering number of causes — and invariably draw a crowd, just like break dancers or jugglers. One heated but ultimately harmless skirmish broke out … [when] a conspiracy theorist and ardent Trump supporter arrived with like-minded ‘patriots’ at the Public Square and faced off with a group of far-left activists. Earlier, religious fundamentalists shouted ‘Repent!’ at a small gathering of onlookers. One demonstrator held a sign saying ‘Every Muslim is a jihadist.’ One police officer … said the force’s main concern are the anarchists who have been running around wearing black clothing and black masks, unnerving convention-goers. The officer said at least one man was found with three bags of urine in his backpack. (He was allowed to keep it.)”

-- The highly-contagious NOROVIRUS has reared its head in Cleveland, aflicting at least 12 Republican Party staff members from California. Officials say no delegates have fallen ill with the virus yet, which is believed to have originated in the Golden State. (Joel Achenbach, Elahe Izadi and Ed O'Keefe)

Trump's children celebrate after their father is declared the Republican Party nominee. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

-- “‘Just look around’: A Hispanic delegate doesn’t see the party she’s rooting for,” by Robert Samuels: “Settling for the last candidate standing was not the way that Jessica Fernandez, the 31-year-old president of Miami’s Young Republicans, originally envisioned her first national political convention. Fernandez had hoped for a joyous multicultural and multigenerational experience cheering Marco Rubio, a fellow Cuban American from her old neighborhood. But by the time the convention got underway this week, Fernandez was dealing with a less-enticing reality. … The convention is the culmination of a drawn-out political process that left [many delegates] with the candidate they liked the least. Now they had to figure out how to deal with it. For Fernandez, that means learning to accept a vision for the country that she didn’t share, while attempting to assert her ideas into a party that seemed to be moving away from them. ‘If I want younger and more Hispanic people in the party, I have to be involved here because I’m young and Hispanic,’ Fernandez said. 'Just look around,' she added, pointing. 'I’m a little unicorn.'"

-- If you read one story about Donald --> “Trump’s courtship of black voters hampered by decades of race controversies,” by Michael Kranish: “The campaign has tried to use this week’s Republican National Convention to court African Americans by arguing that President Obama has failed them on jobs and crime. But when the GOP presidential nominee delivers his acceptance speech here Thursday, he will address an estimated 18 blacks out of 2,472 delegates.” The overall lack of ethnic diversity at the Cleveland convention illustrates one of his greatest challenges: how to court black voters after four decades of controversy over his racial views.

  • The first front-page news story about Trump was a 1973 report about the federal government’s lawsuit against him and his father in a racial bias case. Trump denied discriminating against black housing applicants and settled the case without admitting guilt.”
  • Several years later, a former executive from his business accused him of making racist statements about his Atlantic City accountants: “’I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza — black guys counting my money!’ The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”
  • In 1989, Trump inserted himself into the racially-charged Central Park Five case, paying to take out a full-page ad in New York papers after four black boys and one Hispanic boy, ages 14 to 16, had been arrested for the brutal attack and rape of a woman. The ad urged the return of the death penalty, warning of “roving bands of wild criminals.”
  • “In November, Trump drew criticism when he retweeted a tweet that said blacks killed 81 percent of white homicide victims: The claim quickly was shown to be false. The actual number was 15 percent; 82 percent of whites were killed by whites.”

-- “Trump is adding fuel to Wall Street anxiety about his candidacy, jabbing directly at big banks this week with new language in the official Republican Party platform that calls for the restoration of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, a move that would force the breakup of large financial institutions.” From Matea Gold and Tom Hamburger: "The embrace of the controversial law is deepening an already-felt estrangement of the financial services sector from Trump. In 2012, the financial-services industry lavished money on Romney, a private equity chieftain, with the largest share of contributions to his campaign coming from employees of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Credit Suisse … The response to Trump, by comparison, has been notably muted: As of May 31, employees of banks, securities firms and insurance companies had donated just $127,041 to his campaign, according to the center. Longtime Republican fundraisers on Wall Street said it has been an uphill battle to persuade industry players to ante up because of a wariness about his policy stances and a perception that Trump is hostile to their interests.”

-- Trump told donors that he will nominate hedge fund manager Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary if he wins. He’s a former Goldman Sachs banker and Clinton donor. (Fortune)

-- Trump wants to be the New Nixon. He’s been talking about “the silent majority” and “law and order” for a year, so it should come as no surprise that Trump and his team are looking closely at Richard Nixon’s 1968 RNC acceptance speech and plan to echo some of its themes tomorrow night. “What Trump is saying is the truth, and that is being called divisive,” campaign chairman Paul Manafort told reporters Monday. “Yes, that’s a harsh message, but [if he were] trying to paper over it, he wouldn’t be the nominee.” Read the full text of Nixon’s acceptance speech here. Watch all 33 minutes of it here:

(Heads up for Team Trump: Reporters will be on the lookout for any plagiarism.)

-- Trump drew explicit comparisons between his campaign and Nixon’s in an interview with the New York Times: “I think what Nixon understood is that when the world is falling apart, people want a strong leader whose highest priority is protecting America first,” he said. “The ’60s were bad, really bad. And it’s really bad now. Americans feel like it’s chaos again.”

“In emulating Nixon, Mr. Trump has chosen an unusual and tarnished figure as a source of inspiration,” the Times’s Michael Barbaro and Alexander Burns note. “Nixon sought the presidency under starkly different circumstances, as a conventional politician in a country that was nearly 90 percent white. [About 30 percent of voters this year are expected to be non-white.] … Yet for advisers to Mr. Trump, who is seen by most voters as a divisive and untrustworthy figure, the Nixon campaign seems to offer the most plausible political blueprint.”

Mike Pence, in the Quicken Loans Arena, formally became the V.P. nominee yesterday. (Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

MIKE PENCE INTRODUCES HIMSELF TO THE NATION TONIGHT:

-- Pence previewed his remarks during a visit with a small group of activists at an Italian restaurant. He will vouch for Trump’s character: “He’s a builder. He’s a fighter. He’s a father and a patriot,” the governor said. "His heart beats with the heart of the American people.” (AP)

He will also compare Trump to Ronald Reagan: "Pence recounted meeting Reagan for the first time at the White House. After Pence thanked Reagan for his service, Reagan explained the populace was responsible for his success. ‘I think the American people decided to right the ship and I was just the captain they put on the bridge when they did it,’ Reagan said, according to Pence.” (CNN’s Tom LoBianco)

-- War on women? Pence is facing scrutiny for more controversial op-eds he penned in the 1990's, including fierce criticism of working mothers. “Sure, you can have it all,” he wrote in a 1997 letter to the Indianapolis Star. “But your day-care kids get the short end of the emotional stick.” (Danielle Paquette)

-- Pence would do well to highlight his efforts to lower taxes and balance the budget in his home state tonight, according to a Morning Consult poll that posted this morning. Half of independent voters said they had a better impression of the Indiana governor after they learned his state had a $210 million budget surplus at the end of last year, while 51 percent said his record of cutting cut property and corporate taxes since 2013 curried their favor. Six in 10, however, reacted negatively to Pence’s vote against a program that provides health insurance. And 55 percent of voters said Pence had no impact on their opinion of Trump.

-- The official theme of today’s program is "Make America First Again." Besides Pence, speakers include Newt Gingrich, Rick Scott, Scott Walker and Eric Trump.

Ted Cruz is getting tan, rested and ready. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

TED CRUZ WILL USE HIS SPEECH TONIGHT TO LAY THE GROUNDWORK FOR 2020:

-- “His speech will serve both as a formal reintroduction to millions of party faithful, the majority of whom did not support Trump in the primaries, and as the first public step in another presidential campaign,” National Review’s Eliana Johnson writes. "So while Trump uses Cruz’s appearance to project a semblance of party unity, the Texas senator will do his part to underscore the deep divisions in the GOP on the eve of Trump’s coronation — and to suggest tacitly that he, not Trump, is the face of the party’s future. ... Cruz will run for president again. Defeat may have changed his tactics, but it has not changed the man.

-- If Trump thinks he's Nixon in 1968, Cruz thinks he's Reagan in 1976. From Bloomberg's Steve Yaccino and Sasha Issenberg: "Throughout his year of campaigning for the presidency, [the 45-year-old] said he was ‘convinced 2016 is going to be an election very much like 1980.' In that scenario, he was Reagan on the cusp of realigning the parties …. Yet when he invoked Reagan last week, Cruz had shifted the reference point to four years earlier, when the former California governor was edged out by Gerald Ford at the party’s Kansas City, Missouri, convention.

Melania takes the stage on Monday night. (AP/Paul Sancya)

FALLOUT CONTINUES OVER MELANIA'S PLAGIARISM: 

-- What happened? From the New York Times's Maggie Haberman and Michael Barbaro: “The Trump campaign turned to two high-powered speechwriters, who had helped write signature political oratory like George W. Bush’s speech to the nation on Sept. 11, 2001, to introduce Ms. Trump, a Slovenian-born former model, to the nation … It did not go as planned, and it has eclipsed much of the action at the party gathering in Cleveland … The speechwriters, Matthew Scully and John McConnell, sent Ms. Trump a draft last month, eager for her approval. The two original speechwriters were not aware of how significantly the speech had been changed until they saw Ms. Trump deliver it on television Monday night, along with the rest of the country.”

“But Ms. Trump decided to revise it, and at one point she turned to a trusted hand: Meredith McIver, a New York City-based former ballet dancer and English major who has worked on some of Mr. Trump’s books … It was not clear how much of a hand Ms. McIver had in the final product, and she did not respond to an email on Tuesday. Research for the speech, it seems, drew them to the previous convention speeches delivered by candidates’ spouses.”

-- It looks like no one will get fired because of the screw-up. Karen Tumulty explains why the gaffe portends larger problems in a potential Trump administration: “A reality-television star whose tag line is ‘You’re fired!,’ Trump showed no inclination to hold anyone accountable for a real-world foul-up. The flap ... has underscored the dissonance between the person Trump claims to be and what his actions and reactions say about the qualities he would bring to the Oval Office."

-- High school teachers and college professors agree that Melania's remarks – whether or not she knew of their origins – would have led to serious consequences if she turned them in for a class. Floated punishments ranged from an "F" on the assignment to expulsion from school. (Emma Brown, Nick Anderson and T. Rees Shapiro)

-- Mary Jordan reflects on an April interview with Melania, a self-proclaimed perfectionist who shies away from the public eye: “In so many ways the glamorous former model is the opposite of Donald, especially in the fact that she shies from speaking in public," Jordan observes. “I am a perfectionist,” she said in a phone interview. “I know what I want, and I don’t need to talk, and to, you know, be an attention-seeker.”

“When Melania speaks, she often pauses and considers her words," Mary notes. "When asked recently what she would focus on as first lady, she would only say that she would put ‘100 percent’ of herself into the job, studiously avoiding making news and leaving the headlines to her husband. ‘I will go in the details if the time comes ... I see what the world needs, and it needs a lot of kindness and compassion.’"

-- Michelle Obama understands the pressure Melania was under, Krissah Thompson writes. “Back in 2008, Obama was a hospital executive-turned-aspiring first lady looking to reintroduce herself to the nation after a bruising primary campaign. The Obama team understood the importance of the moment … So before her most high-profile speech, she was assigned a veteran speechwriter: Sarah Hurwitz. Hurwitz’s method is to try to spend time with the politicians she’s working for, and get to know their stories and their voices. … The major theme of the speech [that emerged] — which was preceded at the convention by a video called ‘South Side Girl’ — was the story of her Chicago childhood, and the values and vision for America that she was taught by her parents. 'She clearly said to me: ‘Okay, this is who I am. This is where I come from. This is my family. These are my values, and this is what I want to talk about at the convention,’ Hurwitz recalled of Michelle Obama in an interview earlier this year."

-- “The Daily Show” reported that a piece of Donald Trump Jr.’s speech last night appeared to have been cribbed from an essay F.H. Buckley’s wrote in “American Conservative," sparking allegations of yet another Trump family gaffe. But it turns out Buckley helped ghost-write the speech. He was therefore simply taking part in a practice known as “self-plagiarism,” an ethically gray area that is often left to the discretion of an editor. (Philip Bump)

Here's the side-by-side:

-- Besides the above incident, Donald Jr.'s speech last night got high marks -- including from Trump critics. “Don Jr. speech more orthodox Republican than most anything his Dad has said over last year,” National Review Editor Rich Lowry said in a tweet. “I would welcome it if Don Jr. were the chief ideologist of Trump family.” Ari Fleischer added: “Donald Trump Jr's speech is nicely aspirational, without maligning any group of citizens. His father should take note.”

Clinton hits the campaign trail with Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.

HILLARY HONES IN ON HER V.P.:

-- Tom Vilsack and Tim Kaine have emerged as leading contenders. From Anne Gearan and Abby Phillip: “Although her list is not limited to those two, Clinton has spoken highly of both in recent days to friends and advisers as she closes in on an announcement that could come as soon as Friday. President Obama is among those who have advised Clinton on the decision, offering thoughts on the two contenders who serve in his Cabinet, Vilsack and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, several Democrats said."

“Kaine has been a favorite for the job for months and is the name most mentioned by Democrats as the frontrunner. He and Vilsack share many professional and political attributes, notably their governing experience. Both [are said to fit] Clinton’s ideal of low-key, loyal effectiveness …. Vilsack carries the additional quality of a longstanding personal friendship with Clinton. Vilsack rose through the ranks of local government to become a well-liked governor of Iowa. He was considered as a running mate for then-Sen. John Kerry in 2004 and served as head of the centrist Democratic Leadership Conference while in office. In 2008, he was a short-lived presidential candidate.”

Vilsack is seen as able to deliver Iowa, while Kaine’s home state of Virginia is expected to be less competitive. "Perez was described by several as a 'solid third choice,' though others cautioned that he may not be in the same category as Vilsack and Kaine."

-- Hillary keeps telling people that she needs a running-mate who brings national security experience to the ticket. The Times’ Amy Chozick wrote yesterday that Clinton’s shortlist still includes retired Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis, who was supreme allied commander of NATO, along with Kaine, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”

Secretary of Labor Tom Perez (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

-- "Tom Perez’s Grandfather Served Dominican Dictator." The Wall Street Journal has a story on A2 that could explain why there's been less buzz among Clinton insiders about the secretary recently: “When Perez talks about his ancestry, he routinely mentions that his grandfather was expelled from the Dominican Republic for opposing the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the 1930s," James Grimaldi and Peter Nicholas report. "Mr. Perez … said in a speech last month that his grandfather ‘was on the right side of history.’" But archival records offer a more complicated picture: “In his comments, Mr. Perez rarely, if ever, mentions that (his grandfather) was one of the dictator’s champions during at least the first five years of his repressive three-decade regime. … Mr. Brache defended Trujillo’s regime and tried, unsuccessfully, to arrange a meeting between Trujillo and President Franklin Roosevelt. As late as 1935, by which time political assassinations and press suppression had become widely publicized, Mr. Brache expressed ‘great optimism’ about Trujillo, according to a State Department memo. Mr. Perez has used his grandfather as an example of why people today should speak out against criticism of immigrants."

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— ZIGNAL VISUAL: There was less online buzz about the convention on Tuesday than Monday, and amazingly the Clinton campaign dominated that conversation. Our analytics partners at Zignal Labs tracked about 1.8 million media mentions of the RNC on Monday and 1.4 million on Wednesday. Tuesday traffic peaked in the 10 p.m. ET hour. But it was Trump's rival cashing in with the most widely-circulated tweets:

The day had a few different cycles. The morning was totally dominated by the fallout from Melania’s plagiarism:

But social media moved on by the afternoon. The most widely-circulated items on Twitter were a combination of Katy Perry's astrological musings and news of Trump being formally nominated:

By the evening, the focus had moved to the evening's speakers, including Trump's children, Ryan and Christie – who generated more buzz than anyone else:

This emoji cloud offers a window into the collective emotional response of the RNC social media zeitgeist:

But, before some convention highlights, check out John Kerry making a face you haven't seen before during his bilateral presser with the new U.K. Foreign Secretary:

Watch Kerry respond to Johnson here:

Queen is not happy that Trump came on stage Monday night to "We are the champions," but there's nothing they can really do but complain:

Marla Maples, Trump's second wife, made an appearance in Cleveland Tuesday to cheer on daughter Tiffany:

Some of the reaction to the Roger Ailes news:

A big oops for whichever staffer let loose this tweet from the Justice Department's official account:

One fresh take on the plagiarism story:

And several jokes:

Spotted in Cleveland:

Heather Podesta will never apologize for being a registered lobbyist:

Kasich is getting some attention:

House Democrats are drawing a contrast with Republicans by tweeting photos of their racially diverse intern class:

Sanity reminder from Tony Cardenas:

HOT ON THE LEFT:

"Lou Holtz at RNC Says Immigrants Are Deadbeats Invading the U.S.,” from The Daily Beast: “The legendary retired coach of the Notre Dame football team has a lot of feelings about immigrants. Speaking at a luncheon the Republican National Coalition for Life hosted during the RNC to honor Phyllis Schlafly, Holtz said the high number of immigrants coming to the U.S. constitutes an ‘invasion.’ And he said new immigrants need to assimilate better. New immigrants to this country, he continued, need to learn and speak English and ‘become us.’ ‘I don’t want to become you,’ he continued. ‘I don’t want to speak your language, I don’t want to celebrate your holidays, I sure as hell don’t want to cheer for your soccer team!’"

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“Yale Wants to Rehire Window Smasher Corey Menafee,” from The Daily Beast: “A former dishwasher at Yale University who resigned after smashing a stained glass window featuring racist imagery may soon be reinstated among university staff. Working with the union of service and maintenance employees at Yale and buoyed by support from students and the local community, 38-year-old Corey Menafee requested that the University give him his job back less than a month after he resigned—and Yale is prepared to rehire him as early as next week. In mid-June, Menafee snapped and broke a window in the dining hall at Yale’s residential Calhoun College that featured slaves in John C. Calhoun’s cotton fields."

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: The Republican convention continues. Clinton has a down day.

At the White House: Obama meets with Secretary of State John Kerry and speaks at White House Development Day. Biden is in Australia.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are out.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

"I'm worried that I will be the last Republican president,” George W. Bush told former aides in Dallas this spring.

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- A “fairly comfortable” mid-80s day, the Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “High pressure building in from the north and west provides partly to mostly sunny skies and somewhat lower humidity (dew points near 60 to the mid-60s). The heat relents a bit as well, with highs in the fairly comfortable mid-to-upper 80s."

-- If you were woken up during last night’s thunderstorms, you weren't alone: The aggressive, hailstorm-spewing deluge knocked out power to more than 16,000 homes and businesses. (Martin Weil)

-- The Nationals lost to the Dodgers last night 8-4.

-- A D.C. office manager for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese pleaded guilty to stealing more than $142,000 in a five-year reimbursement scheme, submitting false claims to help pay his rent. (Spencer S. Hsu)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

The best and weirdest state announcements during the roll call vote: 

Here's the Melania Trump-Rick Astley mash-up you've been waiting for:

MSNBC's Tamron Hall challenged Scott Baio over his controversial tweets about Clinton and Obama:

Here's the clip of Lewandowksi saying Manafort should resign if he approved Melania Trump's speech (click to watch):

Here's a top RNC official defending Melania's plagiarism by saying one of the stolen sentences was also similar to a line in "My Little Pony":

Sajid Tarar delivered a prayer to close the second day of the Republican National Convention. Tarar is a Baltimore-area Muslim who immigrated from Pakistan in the mid-80s.

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, a prominent and early Trump supporter, was caught in a scuffle:

Portman came out against TPP, but a new Senate Majority PAC ad slams the senator as “China’s best senator” and says he voted for eight trade deals. It’s ironic that these spots are running in Ohio as the Republican Party takes a protectionist turn.

James Corden teased his upcoming episode with Michelle Obama:

Watch elderly people try self-driving cars:

In this short viral video, a golden retriever does a trust fall into a guy's arms (click to watch):