By Amrit Singh
When Donald Trump looks back at his Cleveland coming out party, will he think about the night's chants that momentarily derailed this Convention? Or that his wife's speech bears substantial similarity to the one Michelle Obama gave in 2008? Or how strong a look it was when he came out as a dark figure against a bright lightboard? Time will tell!
For now, here's the night's big moments, presented as Highlights or Lowlights, depending on whether they were good or not-so-good moments for the soon-to-be nominee of the GOP.
HIGHLIGHT: Trump took the stage memorably, as a black silhouette against a white-lit backdrop. In a world of political optics, he managed something iconic. And very pro wrestling. (Which, in fairness, is a world he knows well.)
LOWLIGHT: Donald's wife Melania gave a speech which aimed to humanize him, and wound up delivering lines that were identical to a speech the First Lady gave about her own husband, turning what should have been a warm moment (and Melania's big public speaking debut!) into a blemishing plagiarism brouhaha. If this were tennis, they'd call it an unforced error. (As mentioned, I'm calling it a blemishing plagiarism brouhaha.) Now, this isn't the sort of that that makes or breaks a voting decision, but it is a distracting note to hit on night one. You can run the lines yourself here, see if you're more of a Melania or a Michelle. The Trump campaign's official stance, per campaign manager Paul Manafort: THERE IS NO SPOON.
MEDIUMLIGHT: The theme of the night was "Make America Safe Again," underscored by multiple speeches on Benghazi (the botched military operation which yielded multiple investigations into Hillary Clinton), anecdotes from "victims of illegal immigration," and a talk from Milwaukee sheriff David Clarke, an African-American who decried the Black Lives Matter movement while offering that Blue Lives Matter. This was grim stuff, not exactly feel-good programming, and it wasn't exactly "inclusive," either. Is this what America needs to hear? Trump's betting on it.
MEDIUMLIGHT: Alongside the theme-appropriate speeches, there were celebrity testimonials from the like of Scott Baio (Bob Loblaw on Arrested Development, or Charles from Charles In Charge, depending on how deep your sitcom knowledge goes), Antonio Sabato, Jr. (the '90s soap star who stated that in his heart he "knows Obama is a Muslim") and Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson. Never let it be said that Trump's playing a common rule book.
LOWLIGHT: Speaking of rule books! The movement to "Stop Trump" had its last stand, in the form of impassioned chants for a "roll call vote" to change the rules for nominating Donald—a literal "revolt to vote." It didn't succeed, but it did cause an inconvenient ruckus. We were on the floor at the time, here's what it felt like above.
HIGHLIGHT: Rudy Giuliani delivered an animated speech that roused the crowd. Future presidential candidate Tom Cotton got some podium shine, too. Again, not big on inclusivity (social, racial, or otherwise), but these are powerful and ascendant GOP figures, respectively, and Rudy's rhetoric must have been music to Donald's ears.
LOWLIGHT: On that inclusivity front, the Washington Post reports there are just 18 black delegates here at the Republican National Convention, out of a total 2,472. That's 0.17%! And that's down from 4.1% in 2008 (when there were 85, at the RNC in Philly). Trump didn't choose this, but it's a lowlight, no matter who's doing.
Whether the light is high or low today, your intrepid REVOLT political team is on the ground in Cleveland, inside the halls and outside in those streets, too. More updates throughout the week here, on our socials (@revolttv), and in the ether.