The four-day conclave in Cleveland had no shortage of odd turns.
The Republican convention wrapped up Thursday night in Cleveland with a lengthy speech from nominee Donald Trump and a requisite balloon drop. But the four-day long conclave also included plenty of drama, chaos and displays of party disunity.
Below are the 10 most unforgettable moments of the convention.
Clashing With Kasich
The coronation week kicked off on Monday with sniping between Donald Trump’s top adviser and popular hometown Republican governor John Kasich. At a Bloomberg Politics breakfast Monday, Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort accused Kasich of being “petulant” in refusing to speak at the convention, and said his decision was “dumb.” Kasich’s team responded with a wave of fierce attacks, with chief adviser John Weaver labeling Trump’s convention a “clown show.”
Just hours after the convention kicked off on Monday, a faction of states, driven by anti-Trump delegates, created a ruckus on the floor by demanding a roll-call vote on a rules change aimed at embarrassing Trump. The chair shut them down by a brusque voice vote and briefly paralyzed the convention. Shortly after, the same sequence occurred. Some delegates walked out. Then the convention moved on.
Trump Upstages His Own Convention
On the opening night of his convention, Trump called in to Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” during prime time and took valuable air time away from his own convention, upstaging the mother of a victim of the Benghazi attacks as she was offering a searing indictment of Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state at the time.
Trump’s Smoky Entrance
The man of the week made his first appearance in characteristically dramatic fashion, emerging onto the stage in a cloud of blue smoke to introduce his wife.
Melania Trump’s Familiar Lines
Shortly after Melania Trump gave a widely-praised speech about her husband, a Twitter user named Jarrett Hill noticed an oddity: chunks of her speech appeared to be lifted from Michelle Obama address at the 2008 Democratic convention. Immediately it caused a stir, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the following morning he’d “probably” fire the speechwriter if he were Trump.
After dismissing a wave of plagiarism allegations for a day and a half, Trump’s campaign released a statement identifying a staffer who works for the Trump Organization named Meredith McIver as responsible for the cribbed lines. She offered her resignation, but he declined.
Ernst’s Empty Arena
In a bout of poor organizing, Senator Joni Ernst, a young up-and-comer in the party from swing-state Iowa, was haphazardly pushed off prime time into a speaking slot late Monday night. Perhaps predictably, the crowd had thinned to the point that Ernst ended up speaking to a mostly empty arena.
Ted Cruz’s Revenge
The boos and jeers from the pro-Trump crowd grew louder as Ted Cruz’s prime time speech Wednesday wore on and made clear he wasn’t going to endorse the nominee. The GOP runner-up’s refusal to get in line sparked a firestorm among delegates and donors—and upstaged vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence’s big speech. It exacerbated feelings of party disunity at a convention chock-full of it.
Cruz’s snub continued to reverberate the next morning, and he refused to apologize. “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” the Texan said, adding that he won’t be a “servile puppy dog” to Trump. It was a high-stakes strategic gamble: Cruz is betting Trump will lose, and that he’ll emerge prophetic and untainted by being among the few Republicans who refused to associate himself with it.
Trump Shakes NATO
On the eve of his keynote speech, Trump gave an interview to the New York Times in which he declined to commit to protecting the Baltic States from potential Russian aggression, as obliged by a treaty under NATO.
It sparked a backlash among Trump’s fellow Republicans, many of whom rushed to reassure the states that the U.S. wouldn’t abandon them. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed it as a “rookie mistake” in a Times interview and, seemingly mixing up the chain of command, argued it wouldn’t be a problem because Trump’s administration officials wouldn’t support such an idea.
Ivanka Trump: I’m Not a Republican
Trump’s daughter Ivanka, arguably his most talented surrogate, saw fit to tell the ultimate Republican crowd that she doesn’t quite share the party label. “I do not consider myself categorically Republican or Democrat,” Ivanka Trump said in a speech introducing her father. She didn’t sound like one either when discussing policy: she promised Donald Trump would fight for “equal pay for equal work” and affordable child care, two issues he has shown scant interest in, but which presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton discusses regularly.
‘Lock Her Up’
A recurring theme in the four-day convention was chants of “lock her up!” in the heavily anti-Clinton crowd, a reference to her use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state that sparked an FBI investigation which didn’t lead to an indictment. The Republican angst was a natural outgrowth of prominent party figures spending the past year raising expectations that she’d go to prison. One speaker, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, basked in the chant during her remarks Wednesday. “Lock her up—I love that!” she said. It made many observers outside the convention deeply uneasy—American leaders don’t send their political opponents to jail, they noted.
Ironically, it was Trump who opted to take the high road rather than feed the “lock her up!” chants that inevitably resurfaced during his speech. He paused as they grew louder. Then he said, “Let’s defeat her in November.”
The crowd broke into applause.