RNC Convention – Day One Live Blog

Ok final thought…As bizarre as that entire first night was, I still think that what happened before the prime time speeches was actualyl more important. First, Manafort picked a fight with the Republican Governor of Ohio. Then, the Chairman of the convention shut down a movement led by conservatives in Colorado, Utah, and Virginia to open a debate on the rules of the convention. Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, Utah – three of those are swing states that could determine the outcome of the election, and the fourth is one of the most die-hard Republican states in the union. If Trump is to have a shot at winning the general, he’ll need the grassroots activists in each of these states serving as foot soldiers in this campaign. Voter enthusiasm is a wildly overrated concept, but the importance of grassroots activist enthusiasm can’t be overstated. Picking a fight with the grassroots activists in four crucial states seems…well…not terribly helpful?

All for tonight….more tomorrow! 

11:23p OK so I was sitting here wondering why this speech from Ernst was scheduled for so late in the evening given that it’s filled with all of the best lines of attack on Hillary, and then it hit me: if Trump can’t stand Hillary’s yelling, then there’s no way Ernst  was going on while Trump was in the building. I don’t think that was an accident at all, no matter how much it will be portrayed that way.

11:17p I’m sorry but Sen. Ernst is so boring I couldn’t think of what to write. But then she said the three magic words about terrorism and I woke up! “Yes…boo!” Also….if you don’t like the way Hillary delivers speeches, how can you possibly like her?

11:00p “That’s right! Lock her up! Use hashtag #NeverHillary.”

10:59p Flynn is now blaming Obama for hiding the truth about bin Laden. Well, I suppose it is true that Obama hid bin Laden at the bottom of the ocean.

10:54p Gen Flynn says “War is about winning” and that we need to call failed tyrants by their names. He’s claiming a complete lack military preparedness, and yet he spent his whole life as an officer responsible for preparing the military to do battle. Uh…. Oh now we get to “Obama is to blame for ISISf” without any reference to Bush or the Iraq war. And the silence in the room is deafening.

10:50p Josh Marsahll on Rudy: “”It’s like Giuliani has spent the last fifteen years living together with 9/11 in a two bedroom apartment of his mind. It’s a dark picture.”

10:48p Wait no….the headliner wasn’t last! Hog castratin’ Sen Earnst yet to come.

10:42p And thus ends day one, I think. Huh. That was….weird? Careening from one out of context to the next, from happy to sad to scared to…good god that was strange. As one of my good friends said early on, “These are not my people.” That’s never been more clear to me than tonight.         

10:36p “You judge a society by how it treats its citizens.” Well, I mean yes, but…this is supposed to be a deep thought? Also, this speech is much funnier when you replace “this nation” and “this great nation” with “my boobies.” Yes, it’s childish, but try it. You won’t be able to stop laughing once you do.

10:32p Have you noticed that Melania does Blue Steel each time she pauses? Also, come to think of it, so does Trump!

10:29p She’s now assuring us that Trump loves his country and will never give us up or let us down. Sing it with me!

10:24p Well…here’s comes Melania. She’s going to squint at us now I’m sure. 

10:17p Trump will lead by leading! They’re coming to kill us!!! BE AFRAID!!!  There’s no more elections!!!! THIS IS IT!!!! DONALD TRUMP. IS THE AGENT OF CHANGE!!! IM WAVING MY ARMS WILDLY AND YELLInG AT YOU!!!! ALSO REAAAAAAGAAAAAAAN!!!!!!!! GREATNESSSSSSSSSSSS USAAAAAAAAAAAAA YEAAARGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!

10:14p Wait…so Hillary is responsible for the chaos in Libya because we deposed that tyrant, but Republicans aren’t responsible for the chaos in Iraq because…what…because Obama? Do these people even think through what they are saying?

10:11p Rudy has said the margic words! Our enemies see us as weak because we won’t sue the right words? On a night of unhinged rants, this is something special.

10:03p Oh god…here comes Rudy. Be afraid! Which I swear I wrote before he started ranting about people being afraid. The endless desire of these people to live in glorious time amidst a glorious fight really never ceases to amaze me. And wow….I forgot how weird Rudy is. “One America! AMERICA!!! WHERE DID IT GO?!?! HOW DID IT FLOAT AWAY?!!?”

9:59p As bad as Tom Cotton is as a speaker, Jeff Sessons is worse. “These are extreme numbers.” Down with extreme numbers! And down with things that Obama and Clinton have never actualyl opposed!

9:53p Our enemies define the world in which we live? Our rules of engagement are ludicrous? Do these people realize we have no idea what they are talking about? Yes, unshackle our soldiers, unbind  them from the rule of law! Huh…apparently Trump isn’t opposed to fighting more and better wars?

9:48p It’s amazing that we’re nearly two hours in and the former Republican President Bush has not been mentioned once. VP Cheney just got his first shout out, but not Bush. These people act like the times before Obama were fantastic, but the times before Obama were the times of Bush. We all remember this, don’t we?

9:28p Republicans now cheering the idea of respecting and deferring to authority. What happened to the bloody tree of Liberty? Peaceful protest leads to anarchy? What happened to the love of the Bill of Rights? What happened to the love for the actual Tea Party?

9:24p “Blue Lives Matter in America.” Well yes, of course they do. No one denies this. In fact, as we all know, we value their lives so much that we make it almost impossible to prosecute them when they break the law. But good god, no…I don’t want to get into this fight, because this fight hurts my head. We can value both the lives of cops and of average citizens. All reasonable people know this, no matter their political party. So please just stop pretending like this is an either/or proposition. At the very least, please go back to All Lives Matter, k?

9:20p “Am I safer than I was 8 years ago,” they ask. Well…I don’t feel more unsafe than I did for years ago, but if I did, would I want Trump to be president? No. I suppose I’m not the audience for this question, but… Also, whomever this McCaul dude is, he’s an awful speaker.          

9:18p Hillary Clinton is +62 among Hispanics, but Trump is planning an outreach tour, so….no, that won’t change.

9:13p “Trump is sent from God.” Is the point of tonight to show people whose children were tragically killed? The theme of the night death?

9:09p Talking heads pointlessly blatering….here’s some video of the chaos that broke out over the rules fight earlier today. And here’s video of a former US Senator calling this fascism and complaining about brown shirts.

9:00p Thinking more….I think it was just stupidity. Why would he bigfoot this on Fox and not on CNN? That speech was perfectly designed to motivate the Fox audience and he bumped it from the air. I can’t even…

8:56p OK so…apparently Trump preempted not just the Benghazi film but also the super-emotional and storage speech by the grieving mother. This was either an admission that the speech was backfiring and thus a deliberate attempt to get it off the air, or it was even more clueless than I had thought. I’m guessing the former, but I wouldn’t bet against the later.

8:50p Props to Andrea Mitchell for pointing out that most of the controversy around Benghazi comes from the fact that it was a CIA Annex, and that the administration went out of its way at the request of the CIA to hide that fact. AS THEY SHOULD HAVE, BECAUSE IT WAS A SECRET CIA ANNEX IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR ZONE. Everything that happened during the attack and since flows directly from that fact. Oh, and for the record, the Republican Committee investigating Benghazi found no evidence for any of these theories of stand-down orders. The committee tried for YEARS to connect Hillary to the events that night and they could not do it. Does anyone honestly believe that conservative Republicans in congress are hiding this evidence?

8:49p Don’t forget that Andrew Sullivan is back for the week and live blogging. That was always when he was at his best. Weirdly, I remembered that just after unknowingly making an identical point as him.

8:33p OK I’m not going to comment on the presentation of the grieving mother, other than to say that my best guess is that most people have no idea what she’s talking about, and that the claim that Hillary is personally responsible for the death will seem utterly bizarre to most. But leaving that aside…the RNC is currently showing its film on Benghazi, and not only is it not being covered on CNN or MSNBC, but Trump just preempted it’s airing on Fox by calling in to Bill O’Reilly’s and doing a phone interview. The presumptive nominee is preempting his own convention!

And finally, for the record: can you imagine what would’ve happened had a speaker at the Democratic convention said they hold Geroge Bush or Condi Rice personally responsible for the death of their son in Iraq? If a speaker had said that Condi should be in prison because of that death? Republicans would’ve rightly lost their minds.

8:27p I’m sure this Navy SEAL did something epic, but he’s coming across as somewhat unhinged.

8:00p OK let’s get at this

6:33p Some Politico headlines right now: Cuccinelli on rules rebuff: ‘This is disgusting’; Chaos erupts on GOP convention floor after voice vote shuts down Never Trump forces; Trump, Ohio GOP at war as Cleveland convention begins; Sen. Mike Lee: ‘We are now in uncharted territory‘; Anti-Trump delegate promises ‘more insurgency

6:05p The Colorado delegation is PISSED at what the RNC has done. Colorado is a very key state in the upcoming election, and the coverage of this within that state is going to be really interesting to watch. And good luck getting the party die-hards in the state to work for the campaign. Some of the North Dakota delegates who were previously all-in on Trump are now out. One of the members of his finance committee in ND has just resigned his position. “If they were going to lose, just let them lose and let off steam…these are volunteers, and they’ve been crushed.” Yikes!

The difficulty for the party here is that this movement isn’t really about Trump. The people that appear to be most angered here are some really die-hard, grassroots conservatives, the people the state parties rely on to raise money, knock on doors, make phone calls, hold rallies, and whatnot. They are the heart and soul of the party, and at least at this moment, even many of the ones who supported Trump are furious at the campaign’s attempts to centralize power. And they would be, right? The genuine conservatives in the party really do truly hate the consolidation of power, and they’ve been working for years, in some cases decades, to decentralize power inside their party. Many of them had hoped Trump would be a vehicle for that decentralization, but over the last few weeks they’ve begun to catch on to the fact that Trump has no interest in pushing their agenda. They had hoped to use convention rules to push forward their reform agenda today, but the RNC and the Trump campaign worked together to essentially ignore the rules and shut them down. If I had to guess, I’d say this has few serious short-term consequences at the convention but lots of serious long-term ones for the party. But we’ll see…

5:55p “It is a weird way to start the day, but it is very Trump-like.” Well, yes. People continue to be amazed by the fact that this election is close, but it’s not hard to understand once you accept the power of partisanship in American elections. People don’t change their minds. They never have. Elections have never been about persuasion. They’ve always and only been about turnout. I realize that this doesn’t fit with most of the narratives that you’ve been sold over the course of your lives, but I promise you, there’s a mountain of research that backs up my claims. Politics is based on tribes, not issues, so no, Trump’s craziness isn’t altering things much because there’s almost nothing that would alter things much. All that really matters is who turns out in November, and who turns out is driven by a combination of internal factors like GOTV campaigns and external factors like extreme economic shocks.

5:45p Here’s Bloomberg’s take on the floor fight: http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-07-18/republican-rules-panel-said-to-quash-anti-trump-effort. Again, not saying this will alter the outcome of either the convention or the election, rather recording what’s happening as it happens for those who care. This very rarely happens at conventions, so whether there are short-term, long-term, or non-term consequences for this, it’s worth noting in and of itself.

5:40p Kaisich is laughing off Manafort’s comments from this AM calling him an “embarrassment.” Manafort is obviously “moving forward,” since he like Trump never apologizes and never back peddles. Some say this makes them both “master persuaders,” but those are people who confuse bullshitters for persuaders.

5:26p The RNC has said it will NOT be releasing the names of the people who withdrew. Given that we already know the states that withdrew their support for the petition — Iowa, Minnesota, Maine, and DC — it won’t be long until we find out in each delegation handled this. And as you’d expect, so far this is the only thing anyone on either CNN or MSNBC is talking about. I don’t need to turn on Fox to know they aren’t talking about it.

5:08p Some details – the petitions from several states were withdrawn under the theory that some of the people who signed them didn’t understand what they were signing. Given that the petitions called for nothing more than an on-the-record vote, this seems….unlikely.

5:00p “This is not a sanctioned protest” are not words that should ever be uttered in America.

4:55 Trump’s surrogates just said this will all be good for ratings, and that its all just “disgruntled Romney-ites”. That’s…an odd defense…

4:45p Getting to this a bit late, but here we go…

The day started with a huge fight between the Trump campaign and the Governor of Ohio, John Kaisich. Manafort called him “an embarrassment” to the party, which is an odd thing to do given that he’s very popular in Ohio and that Republicans can’t win the White House without winning Ohio.

Then, a pretty big fight broke out over the convention rules. Two different movements had come together in advance of the convention – the Stop Trump people, led by US Senator Mike Lee of Utah, and the grassroots reform people, led by Virginia’s Ken Cuccinelli. I’ll post a review of the later when I have time to find one, but in the short-term let’s stick to the convention itself. Over the past few days this group had been gathering signatures to force a roll call vote on the convention rules, but after submitting the necessary signatures to the Chair, the Chair used some back-channel maneuvering to throw out some of the signatures and deny the vote. In reaction to this move: the floor erupted into a chaos of boos; the Colorado delegation walked out of the convention; a delegate from NH who once was a US Senator calls the move by the convention chair “fascism”; Ken Cuccinelli declared himself to be “furious,” said it was “cheating,” and compared it to not following the constitution.

Senator Mike Lee of Utah is now meeting with leaders of both movements to strategize their next move.  Honestly, I’ve no idea why they decided to take this hard line approach to dissent. Right now, there are very few people watching this convention, and if they’d gotten all of this relatively meaningless dissent out of the way today, it would never have been a story. And yes, it absolutely might yet still all go away. But it also might not, so stay tuned….

And FWIW: No, I don’t think this will lead to Trump not getting the nomination. But yes, this will be one of many things that shapes the narrative that comes out of the week. Because no, these people aren’t going away.

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