THE BIG IDEA:
CLEVELAND—Ted Cruz is on the defensive after he gambled his political career on refusing to endorse Donald Trump, with key allies turning on him and members of his home-state delegation questioning his motives.
After his dramatic prime-time speech here last night to the Republican convention, after which he left the stage to loud boos and was then refused entry into an angry Sheldon Adelson’s suite, the runner-up for the nomination came under friendly fire during a surreal Texas delegation breakfast.
As some chanted “Trump, Trump, Trump,” Cruz argued that the less courageous route would have been to skip the convention. He said he called Trump three days ago to say he wouldn’t endorse him. “Why not,” someone yelled from the crowd. “I’m happy to answer that, but I won’t engage in a screaming fight,” the senator replied.
“In that speech last night, I did not say a single negative word about Donald Trump,” Cruz insisted, speaking carefully. “This morning and going forward, I don’t intend to say negative things about Donald Trump. The media would love me to. … I started the speech by congratulating Donald Trump for winning the nomination—by name. … In that speech last night I asked conservatives … not [to] stay home in November.”
Then he pointed to his non-endorsement as proof of his anti-establishment bona fides, and he said it was “dismaying” that some Trump supporters booed him as he talked about the Constitution. “This isn’t just a team sport. We don’t just put on red jerseys and blue jerseys,” he said. “This is about principles and standing for what I believe in.”
Asked if he’ll vote for Trump, Cruz was non-committal but did say that he will not vote for Hillary Clinton. He asked the Texans not to write-in his name on the ballot. “I am watching, I am listening. The standard I intend to apply is which candidate I trust to defend the Constitution," he said. "I’m going to be listening to Donald’s speech tonight. I’m going to be listening to how he and the campaign conduct themselves every day between now and November.” Echoing his key line from last night, he added: “Every one of us has to follow our conscience.”
Another Texan asked him how he could go back on his pledge, made during a Fox News debate last summer in the very arena where he delivered his speech last night, to support whomever wins the GOP nomination. Cruz said Trump “abrogated” the pledge with “personal” attacks on his wife’s looks and by suggesting that his dad was somehow involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. “I’m not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” he said, “and that pledge was not a blanket commit that if you go and slander and attack Heidi that I’m going to come like a servile puppy dog and say, 'Thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father.'"
-- Cruz, who fancies himself a political tactician, is playing the long game. He wants to run for president in 2020, and he thinks holding out strengthens his brand as a conservative purist. He might even try to primary a President Trump from the right.
-- The Cruz team was prepared for some blowback, but they were taken aback by the truly humiliating scene. He was very loudly booed in the hall, as hundreds of delegates shouted “endorse Trump” and “honor your pledge.” Heidi Cruz did not have security, and Ken Cuccinelli was so worried about her safety that he escorted her off the floor. As he did, delegates pointed at her and shouted “Goldman Sachs” (where she works). “People in my own delegation started approaching her and yelling at her,” he said. (To be fair, others were yelling “Ted, Ted, Ted.”)
Felt legitimately frightening being in a room watching that much hate directed at one person inside. Unreal.— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) July 21, 2016
-- Then Cruz tried to go see Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. When he arrived, he was refused entry. “It was a pointed rebuff of a politician who has methodically cultivated the support of the Las Vegas Sands chairman and his wife for years, and who was once considered a strong contender to get their backing in 2016,” Matea Gold reports, noting that the Adelsons spent more than $92 million supporting Republicans in 2012.
Adelson's fixer posted this picture last night:
The Adelson's with their choice for President! pic.twitter.com/gYsHBeT9AS— Andy Abboud (@AndyAbboud) July 21, 2016
CNN reports that a man in a donor suite had to be restrained from assaulting Ted Cruz after he entered it after his speech.— Conor Friedersdorf (@conor64) July 21, 2016
-- Cruz might have more credibility had he not hugged Trump so tightly for so much of the past year. He made a strategic blunder last summer when he refused to criticize anything Trump said or did and repeatedly called him “terrific.” He hoped to win over Trump’s supporters when he, as most everyone assumed back then, faded. And his team thought Trump was a nice heat shield that would limit media scrutiny of their candidate. The non-aggression pact fell apart when it was clear that they needed each other’s votes. And Trump obviously gave Cruz legitimate reasons to resent him.
During happier days:
-- Cruz’s speech was also a slap in Mike Pence’s face, though. Many Americans were seeing him for the first time, and his speech was totally overshadowed. The V.P. nominee even endorsed Cruz ahead of Indiana’s primary. He clearly was not the intended target, but it’s also a fact of life that, if Trump loses this year, Pence will probably try to run in 2020 – which could pit the two against each other.
Trump campaign expected Cruz to talk for 10 minutes. Cruz' prepared remarks went 9 minutes. He spoke for 23 minutes.— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) July 21, 2016
-- If Trump narrowly loses – and polls show the race within single digits – Cruz will now receive some share of the blame for Clinton’s presidency and whatever comes of it.
-- What Cruz does not understand: He needs to win over core Trump supporters to build a coalition that can win the nomination. He just, perhaps irreparably, alienated them.
-- And many of Cruz’s core supporters are angry with him too. The president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List called the non-endorsement selfish. "Why is he the only one who gets to be pure?" she asked Dave Weigel. "You don't come to a Republican convention, where the whole point is to galvanize support for the nominee, and not endorse."
Virginia delegate who helped run @tedcruz campaign in VA told me he was so disappointed he didn't endorse he wont support cruz again— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) July 21, 2016
-- Moreover, it will make it harder for Cruz’s preexisting Republican critics to ever come around. Many members of Congress, who feel so badly burned by the federal government shutdown he forced in 2013, would have capitulated and endorsed Cruz had he been the nominee in Cleveland. So it drives them nuts that he’s being so petulant. "Sen. Cruz tried to destroy the Republican Party tonight, just like he's tried to destroy the Republican caucus," Indiana Sen. Dan Coats told Roll Call. "I've had to deal with the most self-centered person I've ever known in my life."
WATCH: Gov. Christie on Ted Cruz: "Awful, selfish speech ... showed himself tonight to not be a man of his word." https://t.co/jjvRlWX3Wf— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) July 21, 2016
Just spoke to a source who says witnessed the head of the WA delegation go "bananas" on Cruz and call him a traitor— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) July 21, 2016
-- Not just Cruz looks bad: Convention organizers committed political malpractice by giving him such a prime speaking slot with no commitment to endorse Trump.
-- In the context of the next three months, Cruz’s speech showed the hollowness of GOP unity. The storyline coming out of Cleveland will be that Republicans are divided – exactly the opposite of what Trump’s campaign wanted and needed.
-- The Trump family sat stone-faced in the VIP box as Cruz spoke. The nominee himself walked into the arena as Cruz was wrapping up, smiling and pumping his fist, perhaps to distract attention. “When Cruz took the stage, Ivanka Trump took a phone call,” Ben Terris writes. “As he started talking, she cupped her cellphone to her face, hiding whatever she was saying. She hung up and sat there, listlessly running her forefinger and thumb through strands of her hair. She didn’t clap when the Texas senator hailed various American achievements like putting a man on the moon or the dismantling of Jim Crow. As it became clear that her father’s former opponent hadn’t come here to endorse, she stared icily at the stage.”
-- Donald tried to be sort of magnanimous afterwards (sort of, but not really):
Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn't honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2016
THE REACTION THIS MORNING IS BRUTAL:
-- “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, who recorded one of Cruz’s best TV ads of the cycle and campaigned with him in Iowa, said the senator needs to “swallow your pride.” “I was behind Cruz," Robertson told Philip Rucker in an interview this morning. "He lost, I lost. Now he’s out. Once you do that, you need to swallow your pride. The people said, 'This is the one we want. We don’t want Cruz. We want this one.' You need to get behind him. … Just because Donald Trump is not as conservative as I am doesn’t mean I can’t work with him, for crying out loud.” Rucker asked whether Cruz's turn on the convention stage would keep him from supporting him in 2020. "You never know,” he replied.
-- The Drudge Report, the most important aggregator on the right, was a thorn in Cruz’s side during the primaries. Matt Drudge, the site’s proprietor, made clear that his coverage will not improve:
-- The panel of commentators on Fox News also reacted negatively:
-- So did “Morning Joe”:
Ted Cruz, as usual, is too clever by half.— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) July 21, 2016
-- And the former CEO of General Electric:
Ted Cruz didn't have the decency to stay home...He should be ashamed of coming to someone's big party and being so rude— Jack Welch (@jack_welch) July 21, 2016
-- “Cruz just out-Trumped Trump,” writes Politico’s Glenn Thrush. “Cruz’s defiance catapulted the ragged, plagiarism-marred, poorly managed convention into nuclear dumpster fire territory. … [Cruz] believes the reality-show nominee is a political lightning strike, a one-time phenomenon who captured the energy of the base but doesn’t respect the GOP base’s core conservatism, and that his more conventional tea-party approach will eventually come back into vogue when the orange fog dissipates. This is by no means a certainty.”
-- “Is it possible to stand up to Trump, make clear what a false prophet he is and somehow come across as an even less endurable narcissist? Cruz managed it,” Frank Bruni writes in the Times.
-- The speech was clearly inspired by Ronald Reagan’s address at the 1976 Republican convention in Kansas City. But Cruz sounded much less like Reagan than Nelson Rockefeller at the Cow Palace in 1964, the Boston Globe’s James Pindell astutely points out. The then-governor of New York took the stage in San Francisco and refused to endorse Barry Goldwater. “Rockefeller rose to insert an amendment in the party platform against fringe elements in the party, like the John Birch Society. He could barely even speak as the floor roared against him. He wanted to offer his vision for what it meant to be a Republican, even if this differed with the party’ nominee.” Ironically, Ford would appoint Rocky vice president but dump him in 1976 (for Bob Dole) because of the Reagan primary challenge.
-- To be sure, some of Cruz’s supporters and others connected to the Never Trump movement praised the speech:
Listening to Ted here in Cleveland, I'm reminded why I traveled the country campaigning for him.— Tony Perkins (@tperkins) July 21, 2016
Ted Cruz is the only one in Cleveland not willing to whore himself to Cheeto Jesus. History will favor him.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) July 21, 2016
Dear @SenTedCruz: If you'd like to run so there'll be a candidate in the fall who believes in freedom and the Constitution, give me a call.— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) July 21, 2016
Ted has never been afraid to enter a hostile environment and speak his mind. He was like that even as an undergrad. He can't be intimidated.— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) July 21, 2016
Ten years from now, every delegate in tonight's hall who is still alive will claim to have cheered Ted Cruz— David Frum (@davidfrum) July 21, 2016
Ted Cruz is 45 years old.— Kristen S Anderson (@KSoltisAnderson) July 21, 2016
Hillary Clinton is 68.
Donald Trump is 70.
Cruz knows he is playing a very, very long game.
What @tedcruz did tonight was like Vito Corleone getting his revenge against Don Ciccio— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) July 21, 2016
-- Liberal commentators at places like the New Republic and Vox, along with pundits like Jonathan Chait, also loved it. They said Cruz showed courage. But will any of them vote for him in 2020? That’s a rhetorical question. Of course they won’t...
-- HAPPENING THIS AFTERNOON: Today we are launching a series of live Daily 202 briefings. At 4 p.m., I'll moderate a discussion with Hugh Hewitt, Sarah Huckabee and Grover Norquist about the road from the convention to November for Trump and the GOP. Join me at "Butcher and the Brewer" on East 4th Street in Cleveland. RSVP here.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Turkey declared a three-month state of emergency, allowing President Recep Erdogan’s government to act faster against last week’s coup plotters. From Loveday Morris and Hugh Naylor: “In a late-night televised address, Erdogan … sought to reassure the country that the measure will protect democratic freedoms. But the move consolidates more power in the president’s hands, allowing him to rule by decree. For the state of emergency to be implemented, the decision must first be approved by Parliament."
-- Meanwhile: “Trump said as president he would NOT pressure Turkey or any other authoritarian allies about conducting purges of their political adversaries or cracking down on civil liberties," the New York Times’ David Sanger and Maggie Haberman report. "The U.S., he said, has to 'fix our own mess' before trying to alter the behavior of other nations. ‘I don’t think we have a right to lecture,’ Mr. Trump said. 'Look at what is happening in our country. How are we going to lecture when people are shooting policemen in cold blood?’”
Naiveté: “Mr. Trump said he was convinced that he could persuade Mr. Erdogan to put more effort into fighting the Islamic State. But the Obama administration has run up, daily, against the reality that the Kurds — among the most effective forces the United States is supporting against the Islamic State — are being attacked by Turkey, which fears they will create a breakaway nation. Asked how he would solve that problem, Mr. Trump paused, then said: ‘Meetings.’”
-- Trump also said in the interview that he would not automatically back NATO allies if they come under attack by Russia, despite the U.S. obligation to do so under the charter. This is exactly the kind of flip statement that could embolden Vladimir Putin to invade a country like Estonia, whose very survival as a free nation depends on the American security guarantee.
-- Ironically, about the time that the NYT interview posted, Pence made this declaration in his acceptance speech: "We cannot have four more years of ... abandoning our friends. ... Donald Trump will ... stand with our allies." Really?
-- At 1:15 a.m., the Clinton campaign released a lengthy statement from senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan: “For decades, the United States has given an ironclad guarantee to our NATO allies: we will come to their defense if they are attacked, just as they came to our defense after 9/11. … Ronald Reagan would be ashamed. Harry Truman would be ashamed. Republicans, Democrats and Independents who help build NATO into the most successful military alliance in history would all come to the same conclusion: Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit and fundamentally ill-prepared to be our Commander in Chief.”
-- Russian track and field athletes will NOT be permitted to appear in this year’s Olympic Games: The Court of Arbitration of Sports denied the country’s appeal to participate in the Rio games, following investigations into the country's doping of its athletes and reports of a state-sponsored cover-up. The decision could lead to the banishment of the country’s ENTIRE delegation to the summer Olympics. (Matt Bonnesteel).
-- While Tim Kaine and Tom Vilsack remain two of the leading contenders for Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick, but a Democrat with knowledge of the process says Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is also under active consideration for her ticket. "Booker, a freshman senator and former mayor of Newark, has drawn relatively little attention throughout Clinton’s vice presidential selection process, but has remained as a serious prospect," John Wagner and Anne Gearan report. "He was among the roughly half-dozen potential running mates who met with Clinton at her home in Washington on Friday. He has been dispatched to Cleveland to participate late Thursday morning in a news conference."
GET SMART FAST:
- France announced that three soldiers were killed in Libya “while on a mission,” the first official confirmation that French troops have been active in the fight against ISIS. (James McAuley)
- A federal appeals court ruled that Texas’s strict voter-ID law has a “disproportionately” discriminatory effect against minorities, requiring key provisions of the legislation to be altered while declining to strike down the measure completely. (Robert Barnes)
- Miami police shot an unarmed black caretaker as he tried to retrieve his patient, a young autistic man who had wandered from his assisted living facility, from the street. Cellphone footage shows the therapist laying on the ground with his hands in the air, trying to soothe his patient seconds before he is shot. (Michael E. Miller)
- Rep. Mark Takai (D-Hawaii), 49, died from pancreatic cancer. The Iraq war veteran had served in Hawaii's state house for 20 years before winning election to Congress in 2014. (Emily Langer)
- A 31-year-old D.C. man faces up to three years in prison for impersonating the chief of staff for Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). He pretended to work for the civil rights legend to get special restaurant privileges and Redskins field passes. (Victoria St. Martin)
- The family of the 2-year-old who was killed by an alligator at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort last month announced that it will not sue the company. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- Ohio investigators are working to determine whether foul play was involved after a Columbus cop was served a sandwich with shards of glass inside, causing him to bleed from his mouth. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- A team of researchers has expanded science’s understanding of the human brain. A new study has more than doubled the number of distinct “known” areas in the cortex from 82 to 180. (Amy Ellis Nutt)
- The Justice Department approved a $100 billion merger between the two largest beer giants in the world. The conditional blessing came after both companies, Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, agreed to take several steps to prevent becoming a monopoly. (Renae Merle)
- DOJ is also attempting to seize a smattering of private jets, penthouses and any current or future proceeds from the “Wolf of Wall Street” movie, as part of its prosecution of a pair of well-connected fraudsters who are believed to have stolen $3.5 billion from a public trust in Malaysia. (Matt Zapotosky)
- The Guantanamo Bay prisoner who described his time behind bars in a best-selling memoir, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, has been cleared for release. A military board called him “highly compliant” and said there are “clear indications of a change in the detainee’s mind-set.” (Adam Goldman and Julie Tate)
- Airbnb hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to help craft an anti-discrimination policy. The company has struggled to overcome allegations of racial bias. (Abha Bhattarai)
- A Pennsylvania college student convicted of raping an unconscious woman in her dorm room will spend six to 12 years in prison. The strong sentencing of the 20-year-old comes in the wake of ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner receiving only six months for a similar crime. (AP)
- Two New Hampshire state troopers who were caught on video repeatedly punching a suspect were arrested and charged. (Mark Berman)
- Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) condemned North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” legislation, calling the state’s H.B. 2 “an embarrassing bill." This could actually cost GOP Gov. Pat McCrory votes. (USA Today)
- Hundreds of Southwest Airlines flights across were delayed or canceled, following a series of widespread technology problems that prevented many travelers from checking in or boarding. (AP)
- A Pensacola, Fla., man who is “hell-bent” on outlawing religious services from local government, has begun invoking Lucifer at city council meetings. The 48-year-old even started his own Satanic temple chapter in order to highlight perceived religious discrimination in the Bible Belt. (Peter Holley)
-- Mike Pence largely eschewed the attack dog role that a vice president typically plays at the convention, focusing instead on making an affirmative case for Trump to conservatives and independents. “I’ll grant you, he can be a little rough with politicians on a stage, and I’ll bet we see that again. But I’ve seen this good man up close, his utter lack of pretense (!), his respect for the people who work for him and his devotion to his family,” the governor said.
-- He also presented himself, stylistically, as the un-Trump: “He is a man with a large personality, a colorful style and lots of charisma. It’s like, I guess, he was just looking for some balance on the ticket.” (Jose A. DelReal)
-- Facebook says the buzziest moment of Pence’s speech was when he said: “We will always stand with those who stand on the thin blue line of law enforcement in America.”
-- “Pence’s Journey: Catholic Democrat to Evangelical Republican,” from the New York Times's Jonathan Mahler and Dirk Johnson: “When [Pence] was in college, he found himself admiring a gold cross hanging from the neck of his fraternity ‘big brother.’ … Soon after this exchange … Mr. Pence took a very different sort of pledge from the one he had taken to join Phi Gamma Delta. It was a decision that would redefine Mr. Pence, setting him on the path to becoming an evangelical Christian and one of the country’s most outwardly religious legislators. But it also caused him to break with two institutions that had been central to the Pence family: the Roman Catholic Church and the Democratic Party. Though the family remains close, his embrace of evangelical Christianity was long a source of disappointment.”
MORE FROM CLEVELAND:
-- Trump’s campaign had its best fundraising month yet in June, Matea Gold reports: The campaign pulled in $26 million after beginning to raise funds in earnest for the first time, including $2.2 million it brought in through a joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee. "Trump personally contributed $3.8 million and forgave another $45.7 million he had previously loaned the committee. … Together with the RNC, Trump pulled in $52 million in June ... still less than the $68.5 million that Clinton and the Democratic Party collected in June, which included $40.5 million she raised directly for her campaign.”
-- Two police officers suffered minor injuries and 17 protestors were arrested after activists set fire to the American flag outside the Quicken Loans Arena. Two of the suspects were charged with felonious assault of a police officer. The other 15 face misdemeanors.
-- The Secret Service is investigating a New Hampshire state representative -- and Trump delegate -- for saying Clinton “should be shot” for treason: Al Baldasaro, who was given a speaking role at a Trump campaign event in New Hampshire, made the comments on a conservative radio show earlier this week. Hope Hicks said "Mr. Trump and the campaign do not agree" with the remarks. (David A. Fahrenthold)
-- Fracking billionaire Harold Hamm tried to link Democratic efforts to restrict domestic oil production to the shooting rampage on the Pulse nightclub. “Every time we can’t drill a well in America, terrorism is being funded,” the chief executive of Continental Resource said during prime-time. “Orlando brought this home once again.” He did not elaborate on his believed connection. (Mark Berman)
-- “This year, the tone inside the GOP’s convention hall had begun to match the raunchy T-shirts sold outside it,” David A. Fahrenthold, Mary Jordan and Louisa Loveluck write. “Vendors are selling shirts and pins that make crude references to Clinton’s gender, to sexual acts and to the scandal involving her husband and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.”
-- The Clinton campaign is raising money off the many Cleveland convention speakers who have said she should be jailed. “If you closed your eyes, you could imagine it being a lot like a witch trial,” a fundraising email reads. “They were barely one step removed from screaming ‘burn her at the stake.’ It felt like a dark turning point in American politics.”
PLAGIARISM FALLOUT, DAY 3:
-- Meredith McIver, a longtime Trump Organization speechwriter, took responsibility for the cribbed portions of Melania’s convention speech. But she was not fired. “Yesterday, I offered my resignation to Mr. Trump and the Trump family, but they rejected it,” she said in a Wednesday statement.
“Trump’s handling of the episode gave a rare glimpse into the shrouded and deeply personal culture of his New York-based real estate conglomerate ... where three of his adult children serve as executives and many staffers describe themselves as part of a family with a dominant patriarch,” Robert Costa writes. “Beyond the dramatic ‘you’re fired’ part of Trump’s persona … you’ll find a 70-year-old businessman who places a premium on finding and keeping hires who are utterly devoted to him. … It is that tight-knit, obedient formation of mid-level confidants … that forms the mostly unnoticed core of Trump’s organization, and of his life. Understanding that dynamic and earning his trust within it has led to decades-long tenures for those who are more interested in helping Trump than sharing his power.”
-- What we know about McIver, via Amber Phillips:
- She's been a registered Democrat since 1996.
- She has been part of the Trump Organization since at least 2001: "She's a full-time staff writer there, and not, it seems, a paid member of his campaign, which raises questions about whether Trump violated campaign finance laws in using her help.”
- She’s ghost written at least five Trump books, including “Think Like a Billionaire.”
- She's a former ballerina.
-- This is not the first time the Trumps have thrown McIver under the bus: "In 2007, when Donald Trump was testifying in a deposition related to a civil suit, he blamed McIver twice for factual errors inserted into two of his books," Dave Fahrenthold reports.
-- By putting out another statement on Wednesday, Trump ensured that the plagiarism was a three-day story:
Good news is Melania's speech got more publicity than any in the history of politics especially if you believe that all press is good press!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2016
The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania's speech than the FBI spent on Hillary's emails.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2016
-- Today is the FINAL DAY of the Republican convention. The theme is "Make America First Again." After three days of tumult and controversy, Trump's challenge on his final evening has taken on more importance than ever, Dan Balz writes. "He needs to energize his base. He needs to unify his party. He needs to make himself a more appealing candidate to the wider electorate. He needs to soften his image. He needs to make the case against Clinton, but more he needs to make a positive case for himself. He needs to show he has a grasp of issues and answers to problems that add heft and credibility to the slogans that have been the hallmark of his campaign. Mostly he needs to find a way to combine the most effective theme of his candidacy — that of an outsider who connects with disgruntled and disaffected voters and will shake up Washington — with something that reassures people of his temperament, stability and reliability. He can still redeem the week, but the opening days haven’t done much to help him."
-- PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel will make history tonight: “For the first time, a speaker at a Republican national convention will announce that he is proud to be gay,” Matea Gold reports. “Thiel, who supports gay marriage, plans to say that although he does not agree with all the policies in the official GOP platform, he believes fighting over cultural issues such as ‘bathroom bills’ is a distraction from more important matters. Thiel intends to make the case that the most paramount challenges facing the country center on the economy and foreign entanglements. The billionaire libertarian will be the first openly gay speaker at a GOP convention since 2000, when then-Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona addressed [George W. Bush’s] gathering in Philadelphia.”
-- “Meet the woman trying to fix Trump’s image with women,” by Danielle Paquette: “Since Kellyanne Conway joined the Trump campaign three weeks ago, she has appeared on television an average of three times daily, projecting titanic optimism. … Behind the scenes, however, the woman hired to fix Trump’s image with women adjusts her message, nudging the nominee to stop insulting his critics’ looks and display more compassion. She conducts aggressive polling. She stays on the topics conservative women say they most care about, highlighting Trump’s resolve to lift middle-class workers and tighten the border. … Acting tough comes naturally to Trump. Compassion ... well, she says, he has it. They’re working on showing it off. She withholds the details. She often hears the same feedback from female voters about Trump, regardless of their background. ‘They say, ‘I don’t always like what he says, or how he says it,' Conway said. 'But I think he would change Washington. I think he would create jobs and balance budgets.' She grins. ‘I can work with the ‘but.'"
-- His daughter Ivanka, who will introduce her father tonight, is also tasked with helping Trump make inroads with women. From the Wall Street Journal’s Monica Langley: “Trump campaign advisers expect the 34-year-old, a senior executive in the Trump real estate empire and founder of her own fashion line, to provide the American public ‘living proof’ her father believes women can and should do everything men do.” Her speech is expected to be aimed at young professional women, particularly millenials: “She is expected to talk about how she learned to be entrepreneurial from her father, which led her to start and run her brand of ‘accessible’ fashion.” On stage, Ms. Trump plans to wear her line, in which dresses average $145 each and shoes $135 each.”
-- Another blown opportunity (so far) in Cleveland: “Missing: The person behind Trump’s persona,” by Philip Rucker: “For a fleeting moment, Tiffany Trump started to show people the character of her father. A friend of hers had passed away and ‘the first call I got, as I knew I would, came from my father,’ the 22-year-old said … But her story cut off right there. She took the audience right up to the edge of intimacy — and then backed away, depriving viewers of the kind of memorable, humanizing anecdote that helps round out a candidate. For Trump, a historically unpopular candidate who is deeply polarizing to a broad cross-section of the general electorate, the absence of tales that might make the incendiary candidate appear more compassionate or likable is a missed opportunity … [Even] the woman who knows Trump best, his wife, Melania, described her husband with a litany of adjectives — patriotic, determined, tough, kind, loyal — but no stories." (Eric, the Trump family member who spoke last night, continued the pattern.)
-- Sad!: “At G.O.P. Convention, Corey Lewandowski Contemplates His Fallen Star,” by the New York Times's Michael M. Grynbaum: “Trump’s former campaign manager was sitting in a bar here at sunset ... staring out at the arena where the boss who fired him last month would soon accept the Republican nomination. … As he reflected on the past year, Mr. Lewandowski’s eyes began to well up. ‘I got the reputation as a tough guy; that’s my reputation, right?’ Mr. Lewandowski asked, a reference to his shiv-in-the-side tactics, which propelled Mr. Trump’s rise but also contributed to Mr. Lewandowski’s abrupt fall. ‘The people who know me know that I care,’ he said, as a tear trickled down his right cheek. ‘My heart,’ he added, ‘is in the right place.’”
-- Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson suggested that he’s been talking with Jeb Bush about a possible endorsement: “I can't say that we haven't had conversations, but no push on the conversations,” Johnson said on CNN. When asked who initiated the talks, he said “not me,” but he declined to elaborate. “I want to protect the innocent here,” he said. (Politico)
KAINE CONTINUES TO BE THE PERCEIVED FAVORITE IN HILLARY'S VEEPSTAKES:
-- “Unprompted, White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday mentioned Sen. Timothy M. Kaine as someone [the president] would recommend to Clinton," Anne Gearan and Juliet Eilperin report. "Earnest confirmed that Obama has weighed in on Clinton's vetting process, but the spokesman did not say exactly what advice the president gave.” He tossed out Kaine's name as someone qualified, also nothing that Obama frequently calls his selection of Joe Biden the “best decision that he has ever made." “Earnest made a point of saying that Obama considered Kaine ‘one of his own,’ even though he hadn’t served in the Cabinet. The senator was ‘one of the first public officials’ to endorse Obama during his first White House bid, the spokesman added, was vetted as a potential running mate in 2008 and chaired the Democratic National Committee right after Obama took office."
-- Bill Clinton has also privately expressed his support for Kaine, the New York Times reports, citing “three Democrats briefed on the conversations with the former president this week.” Amy Chozick and Jonathan Martin write that the first joint appearance is likely on Saturday, though news could break Friday: “Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary; Thomas E. Perez, the secretary of labor; and James G. Stravidis, a retired four-star Navy admiral, remain contenders. On Wednesday, Robby Mook, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, invited Senator Elizabeth Warren’s aides to the campaign’s Brooklyn headquarters to discuss how the Massachusetts senator can be helpful in the coming months. That was interpreted by some people with knowledge of the process as a sign that Mrs. Clinton has settled on a choice. Mr. Vilsack is currently scheduled to appear with Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri in her home state on Thursday and Friday, though he could still cancel.”
“Advocates for Mr. Kaine are guardedly optimistic about his prospects, although Mr. Clinton has expressed some hesitation about the Virginia senator because of the risk of losing Mr. Kaine’s Senate seat to a Republican,” they add. “While Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia could appoint a Democrat to succeed Mr. Kaine next year, the seat would be up for grabs in a special election that would coincide with the state’s governor contest in November 2017. With Republicans typically faring better in such ‘off-off year’ elections, when turnout dips, Democrats could lose what was Mr. Kaine’s Senate seat just a year after Mrs. Clinton is sworn in, a political risk both the Clintons have been acutely aware of as they weighed the pros and cons of vice-presidential candidates.”
-- “Once again, Hispanics are in the mix of potential vice-presidential candidates. And once again, they appear poised to be passed over for a white guy,” Ed O'Keefe writes. “The 2016 presidential campaign cycle began with the predominant theory that Clinton would need to seriously consider a Latino for the No. 2 slot, given the rapid growth of Latinos and campaigns by two Latino Republican presidential candidates. This year, two Hispanic men, Housing Secretary Julián Castro and Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, have been among the Democrats she is considering … That is no longer the case. First, [Trump’s] historic unpopularity with Latino voters may have erased any political urgency to choose a Hispanic candidate. Second, both leading Hispanic contenders lack military or national security experience.” There have been months of “bitter, backroom jockeying” between associates, O’Keefe writes: “All of it has left Latino leaders in business, media and politics anguished, conceding that Clinton faces no significant risk of losing Latino support if she skips over Castro and Perez.”
-- A proof point: The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce just endorsed Clinton, a first for the traditionally nonpartisan group. It said Trump’s candidacy embodies "the antithesis of American values." (Ed O'Keefe)
-- Joe Lieberman, Al Gore's running-mate, writes an open letter with advice for whomever Clinton chooses. Some highlights:
- Don’t flip-flop on positions you took before.
- Speak out inside the campaign.
- Don’t believe the cynics who say that the VP candidate doesn’t have any effect on the outcome of the election.
- The time from now until Election Day will be the most physically and intellectually demanding of your professional life.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Our analytics partners at Zignal Labs confirm that Cruz totally overshadowed Pence. Overall, social media attention continued its steady decline since the start of this convention. On Wednesday, Zignal tracked just 1.1 million mentions of the RNC across all forms of media. That's lower than Tuesday's traffic, which was lower than Monday. Here are the top Cruz-related Tweets of the night, including two from the senator himself:
Here's the emoji cloud for the night's coverage:
The Clinton campaign had a field day with Cruz’s speech:
Vote your conscience. https://t.co/xahMq2sU1q— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 21, 2016
The biggest moment on Twitter related to Pence's speech came at the end, when Trump awkwardly came on stage:
Here are two funny reactions, flagged by Aaron Blake:
It started out with a kiss, how did it end up like this? It was only a kiss. It was onLY A KISS. pic.twitter.com/7N4TNjzU7H— Neil McNeil (@Neil_McNeil) July 21, 2016
Watch Trump Force One land in Cleveland:
Trump Force One lands in Cleveland, delivering Donald Trump and Mike Pence to the convention. pic.twitter.com/39UCpKQx2E— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) July 20, 2016
A pattern on display this week?
1. Deny everything.— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) July 20, 2016
2. Blame Hillary Clinton.
3. Blame My Little Pony.
4. Deny everything.
5. Confess & apologize.
Twitter users wondered if Meredith McIver was real:
Spotted: Meredith McIver pic.twitter.com/wpkpNUdB3W— Rob Huebel (@robhuebel) July 20, 2016
C'mon, guys, Meredith McIver is a real person. She's married to Trump's media spokesman John Miller.— Joe Carter (@joecarter) July 20, 2016
Has anyone proven Meredith McIver is a real person employed by the Trump Organization? https://t.co/cldW6WEBQZ— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) July 20, 2016
This old tweet from Donald Trump, Jr. is going viral:
At dinner w our greenskeeper who missed his sister's wedding 2 work (luv loyalty 2 us) "No big deal hopefully she'll have another someday";)— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 22, 2012
This one also got recirculated ahead of Cruz's speech:
An unexpected scene outside the Washignton Post headquarters in Cleveland:
A few shots of Trump mania and protests:
Third Eye Blind trolled the GOP by bashing the party platform at a convention event. A fan tweeted this at the band:
This is how the guys responded:
@LWhiteGRLprob good— Third Eye Blind (@ThirdEyeBlind) July 20, 2016
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) carried his youngest on the convention floor:
Far away from Cleveland, Ben Rhodes met with Aung San Suu Kyi:
Good meeting today with Aung San Suu Kyi discussing US support for NLD-led govt and Burma's democratic transition. pic.twitter.com/JxxhCwjSV2— Ben Rhodes (@rhodes44) July 20, 2016
Samatha Power remembered murdered Belarusian journalist Pavel Sheremet:
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) is hanging out on the Rio Grande:
FOUR CONSERVATIVE COLUMNISTS WEIGH IN ON THE GOP'S POST-TRUMP FUTURE:
-- “Will Texas become another brick in the Democrats’ blue wall?,” by George F. Will: “Although Steve Munisteri calls himself ‘the eternal optimist,’ he respects reality, which nowadays is not conducive to conservatives’ cheerfulness. The former state Republican Party leader now believes Texas can ‘turn Democratic sooner than most people thought.’ In 2000, Republican candidates at the top of the state ticket averaged 60 percent of the vote. By 2008, they dropped to less than 53 percent. And Texas has four of the nation’s 11 largest cities — Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin, where Republicans are performing the worst. … The ‘blue wall’ — the 18 states and the District of Columbia that have voted Democratic in at least six consecutive presidential elections — today has 242 electoral votes. Texas, which is not a brick in this wall, has 38 electoral votes. After the 2020 Census, it probably will have 40, perhaps 41. Were Texas to become another blue brick, the wall — even if the 2020 Census subtracted a few electoral votes from the current 18 states — would have more than the 270 votes needed to elect a president.”
-- “Down with Roger Ailes and Up With Trump,” by Ross Douthat in the New York Times: “Fox’s populist style didn’t look that much like the populism of the Goldwaterites or the religious right. But it did clearly resemble, and prepare the way for, the authoritarian and very New York populism of [Trump]. Now the populism has basically devoured, for this election season at least, the conservatism of the other Fox — the conservatism of Charles Krauthammer or George Will or Bill Kristol. And the questions facing the Republican Party after Trump are not unlike the questions facing a post-Ailes Fox, and a post-Fox Ailes. Does the Fox fusion still have a future? Will the Murdoch heirs try to gradually de-Hannitize? Could a Trump Network (with a vengeful Ailes as its impresario) rise to claim the populist audience? No matter what, the revolutions will be televised.”
-- “The Trump Dynasty Takes Over the GOP,” by National Review Editor Rich Lowry: “Watching the GOP convention, you could be forgiven for believing that the brightest stars in the Republican firmament are all Trumps. The Trump phenomenon began, in part, as a revolt against a dynasty (the Bushes) and here we are celebrating a cult of personality with the family in the starring role (and one of the patriarch’s sons, Donald Jr., already marked out for a future political career). All that said, the convention will almost certainly help Trump. If nothing else, the fanfare of officially bestowing the party’s nomination on him will further legitimize his candidacy for voters."
-- “The movement isn’t dead. In fact, it just became even more vital,” by NRO’s David French (who considered an independent presidential bid): “Every four years, Americans are tempted toward myopia. Each election is the ‘most important election’ in our lifetimes … There is no doubt that its members failed in one of their aims — denying Trump the GOP nomination — but Never Trump was only partially about this election. The conservative movement is invested in the long game — our own 'long march' through American cultural institutions. It is not worth throwing away years of influence for the sake of four months of intraparty peace. When Trump crashes and burns — and he will, either on the trail or in the Oval Office — Americans won’t look to his partisans and defenders to rebuild from the wreckage. They’ll seek other voices. For the sake of the nation, it’s vital that those other voices are both conservative and untainted by alliance or association with the newly minted Republican nominee."
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Backlash, apology after candidate calls judge '800-lb Silverback Alpha Male,'” from Michigan Live: “A judicial candidate felt a public backlash last week after spreading around an email criticizing a sitting judge in less-than-flattering terms. Muskegon lawyer Eric C. Grimm is one of five candidates running for a judicial position in Muskegon County's probate court. On July 10, he sent out an email to dozens of friends and colleagues asking for votes, and criticizing Muskegon County Probate Court Judge Gregory C. Pittman as a bully. ‘I can understand why some of the other candidates may not want to speak up about the 800-lb Silverback Alpha Male in the middle of the Probate Court,’ Grimm wrote. Grimm has since apologized."
HOT ON THE RIGHT
One of the top headlines on The Drudge Report this morning is a story about ex-Post Journalist Carl Bernstein, who says none other than Drudge has helped coronate Trump. From Real Clear Politics: "One of the interesting things we've seen in this campaign is FOX has driven Trump's candidacy less than Matt Drudge," the journalist said on CNN. "Drudge is really great new factor in this election in terms of media. Drudge, that site has been unapologetically in Trump's pocket from the beginning. And I would say a large measure of why Donald Trump is the nominee goes to Matt Drudge."
On the campaign trail: The final day of the GOP convention will include speeches from Reince Priebus, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Peter Thiel, Ivanka Trump and then The Donald.
At the White House: Obama welcomes the Kansas City Royals to the White House and speaks at an Eid al-Fitr reception.
On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are out.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"It was easy to come out as trans. It was harder to come out as a Republican." – Caitlyn Jenner in Cleveland
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- “Here we go again,” the Capital Weather Gang says of our *brief* break from the heat: "After our brief little reprieve, it’s time to ramp up the heat for what could be the hottest weekend of our summer. A big burst of mid-continent heat is racing into the region and could linger a bit into early next week. We run the risk of garden-variety thunderstorms at times to provide brief relief, but we still have a decent shot of hitting the century mark between Friday and Monday. And even when we don’t hit 100, the heat indices will likely get there as fairly oppressive humidity overtakes the area starting Friday.”
-- The Nationals beat the Dodgers 8-1.
-- A judge ordered Walter E. Fauntroy to pay up to make a bad check charge go away by next month or risk going back to jail. He threatened to put the 83-year-old on trial. The decision comes after Fauntroy, who helped MLK plan the 1963 March on Washington and was D.C.’s delegate to the House, fled to the Persian Gulf for four years to avoid paying the bills for a 2009 inauguration ball. (Ian Shapira)
-- Prince George’s school board has adopted new policies aimed at safeguarding children against sexual abuse. The policies, which address issues such as employee training and inappropriate conduct, come after a school volunteer was indicted on 270 counts of child pornography involving at least 23 victims. (Donna St. George)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Bloomberg asked if convention delegates could name Trump's children. Watch here.
In a new video, the Clinton campaign highlighted Trump's past praise for Hillary:
The campaign also embarrassed Christie with this clip on Snapchat (click for video):
Here's a funny video of a South Dakota delegate as his state awarded its delegates to Trump:
The Onion poked fun at the New Jersey governor, too:
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said of Clinton: "Lock her up, I love that":
Seth Meyers took a closer look at the convention's rocky start:
Jimmy Fallon walked through the convention's pros and cons:
Fallon also brought back his Trump impression:
Watch as this woman sees color for the first time:
Finally, video of that Pokemon Go player crashing into a cop car: