For weeks, rumors that rump Republicans dissatisfied with the idea of Donald Trump as the party's presidential nominee would stage a protest vote swirled. On Monday, those disgruntled Republicans made good on their pledge — sort of.
The fight happened just after 4 p.m. eastern — three hours after the convention was gaveled in on its first day. At issue was the approval of the rules package that sets the parameters for the four-day convention. Pro-Trump forces tried to push through the package on a voice vote. Then this happened:
"Roll call vote" was the chant of the anti-Trump forces, a desire to have each state, one by one, announce their support or opposition not only for the rules package but, more broadly, for Trump.
Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack was — unfortunately for him — tasked with overseeing this chaos. The first time he tried to declare that the "ayes" (pro-Trump) votes had it, he was shouted down and left the stage. Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a leading voice of the anti-Trump movement, called that decision to flee "surreal" and admitted that he had no idea what would come next.
What came next was a return by Womack to the stage and a repetition of the voice vote. After declaring that the "ayes" had it (again), Womack noted that only six of the nine states demanding a roll call vote had stood firm. Seven states were needed.
And, scene. The Iowa and Colorado delegations walked off the floor. Boos cascaded down. But it was over.
For Republicans desperately hoping that unity would be the word of the day and the week here in Cleveland, however, the damage was done. The images of unhappy Republicans shouting for a chance to show their dissatisfaction with Trump and then walking out makes for just the sort of images out of this week that Republicans were hoping to avoid.
It showed, powerfully and with the eyes of the national media watching, that the idea that the GOP was rapidly uniting behind Trump is a pipe dream. And that divisions — real and serious ones — remain, no matter the rhetorical attempts to paper them over.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, once a potential Trump VP, took the stage soon after the eruption. She spent her time touting the party's unity and the inclusive process of building the party platform. But no one was listening. Everyone was still talking about how the "Never Trump" forces went down in a blaze of glory.