CLEVELAND — The Republican National Convention started off with a bang — or a debacle, according to your point of view. Donald Trump must hope that Day 2 hews a little closer to the script.
A day after an angry convention-floor eruption laid bare how many Republicans are still reluctant to nominate Trump, his team lined up a roster of supporters eager to showcase their belief that the flashy business mogul should be president. Among them: Trump’s son, Donald J. Trump Jr., and two fellow White House hopefuls he defeated in the primary.
That’s not to say there may not be some awkward moments, especially as Trump is feted by party luminaries who have walked a tightrope this year trying to show support for the presumptive nominee without embracing his more provocative positions.
What to watch for at the convention on Tuesday:
NEVER TRUMP, NEVERMORE?
On the opening day, GOP leaders approved rules for the convention over furious objections. Anti-Trump delegates had tried to force a state-by-state roll call vote on the rules, which to their dismay require delegates to vote for a nominee based on their state primaries and caucuses. Despite what initially appeared to be a successful attempt to force a full vote, Republican leaders proceeded with a quick voice vote and Trump’s team declared the “dump Trump” movement vanquished.
Indeed, with Trump laying claim to a solid majority of delegates, the anti-Trump movement appears all but defeated. But that doesn’t mean they’ll go quietly.
CALL THE ROLL
If there is a last-gasp flare-up, it’ll almost certainly come Tuesday when Republicans hold their formal roll call for the nomination, in which every state gets to say how its delegates are voting — and to throw in a few plugs for the state. Watch for the most die-hard anti-Trump delegates to cause a ruckus, and expect plenty of corny references to a state’s famous foods or prized natural wonders.
THE HOUSE SPEAKER SPEAKS
Though he’s the official chairman of the convention, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin didn’t appear publicly on Monday. But he’ll give a speech Tuesday that will be closely watched to see how he’ll handle his delicate relationship with Trump.
Reluctantly, and only after long deliberation, Ryan endorsed Trump, saying that he’d be better than Hillary Clinton and that it was important that the speaker back the party’s nominee. Yet Ryan has continued to criticize Trump for his positions on trade and Muslim immigration, even accusing Trump of using “textbook” racist language. In an appearance Monday with his home-state delegation, Ryan never mentioned Trump, but focused on poverty and economic issues — themes he plans to hit in his speech.
CHRISTIE’S FALL FROM GRACE
Four years ago, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was honoured by being tapped to give the keynote speech at the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida, reflecting his up-and-comer status in the party at the time. Yet he was criticized for giving a lacklustre speech that focused on himself and barely mentioned the nominee, Mitt Romney.
The past few months have been harsh on Christie, who ran against Trump in the primary, sharply criticized him, lost, endorsed him, then appeared diminished as he played Trump’s sidekick at campaign events. Christie lobbied hard to be Trump’s vice-presidential pick but was passed over, just as his “Bridgegate” political retribution scandal continues to evolve.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS
Tuesday’s stated theme is “Make America Work Again.” Trump hopes the day will cast him as the successful businessman who can create jobs for the whole country. It’s a theme that taps into the deep economic anxiety that many Americans are feeling — especially Trump’s supporters.
But the argument may be complicated by the fact that America is already going back to work _ at least judging by unemployment. Under President Barack Obama, the jobless rate has fallen from close to 10 per cent at the height of the recession to under 5 per cent.
UNDER THE GUN
Chris Cox, the top lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, will take the stage at a time of deep unease about gun violence and shootings both by and against police. The day before the convention opened, three officers were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where weeks earlier the fatal police shooting of a black man had sparked a national outcry.
Expect Trump’s supporters to voice overwhelming support for police officers and overwhelming opposition to stricter gun control measures, in line with the NRA. Yet that full-throated call will come just as Trump is working to expand his appeal to Democrats and Clinton supporters who by and large want to see new gun laws in the wake of mass shootings like the recent one in Orlando, Florida.