The US Republican National Convention (RNC)’s first day has been marked with division amid attempts by some of Donald Trump’s opponents to block his presidential nomination, while many others protested outside the venue.
The convention, which is set to nominate Trump, kicked off in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday, and soon turned into a floor fight after it was hit by a wave of discord and dissent by a group of delegates, referred to as the Never Trump movement.
Earlier in the day, Delegates Unbound, a group working to free delegates from their pledge to vote for Trump, said it had garnered enough support to force a roll call vote.
Chanting “Roll call vote! Roll call vote!” the group tried to set in motion a vote by all 2,472 delegates to formally start the event, hoping the lengthy process would embarrass Trump by delaying the opening speeches.
However, they failed to overcome the majority who countered the move by with their own noisy slogans in support of Trump.
Finally, after a few minutes of confusion, coupled with several musical breaks, the party leaders managed to put down the protest by calling a voice vote on whether to have a roll call vote, at which point the “no” votes prevailed.
The group issued a statement afterwards, accusing convention managers of “strong-arming delegates and skirting the rules” to silence critics.
Initially at least nine states showed willingness for a roll call, well above the 7-state threshold set by the party rules. However, Trump’s campaign showed its organizational might by convincing delegates to flip their votes one after another and let the event began.
Trump breaks tradition
Switching from the long-time convention protocol of not taking the stage on the first night, Trump went behind the microphone to introduce his wife, Melania Trump.
“We’re going to win so big, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. We’re going to win so big,” Trump said and went on to describe his wife as “an amazing mother, an incredible woman.”
The potential first lady then took to the podium in support of her husband, whom she heralded as a fighter for his family, his business enterprises and his country.
“If you want someone to fight for you and your country, I can assure you, he’s the guy,” she said. “He will never, ever give up, and most assuredly, he will never, ever let you down.”
Focusing on national security
With “Make America Safe Again” as its slogan, a series of speakers addressed the large crowd in the Quicken Loans Arena while focusing on topics like war and peace overseas, illegal immigration along the border, law enforcement in American cities and presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s track record.
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (seen below) directed some of the heaviest attacks at Clinton and President Obama, saying “I am sick and tired of the defamation of Donald Trump by the media and by the Clinton campaign.”
Obama endorsed Clinton early in June and has joined her in several campaign events to boost her faltering support among voters.
Retired Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, the Pentagon’s former intelligence czar, also trashed Clinton by saying America does not need a “reckless president who believes she is above the law.”
The next speaker was Patricia Smith, mother of one of the four Americans who were killed in the 2012 terrorist attack on US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son,” she said of the then secretary of state whose mismanagement is widely viewed by Americans as a main cause of the attack.
Mark Geist, a Benghazi survivor, then shared his story on the stage, saying, “We have to elect someone who will have our backs, someone who will bring our guys home, won’t leave anybody behind.”
The event will go on for four days and Trump is expected to be nominated on Tuesday, nearly two months after securing the required delegates to win the nomination.