CLEVELAND — So visions of the Monday afternoon fight over the rules of the Republican National Convention were supposed to be erased by a night of emotional speeches – first by those done wrong by the Obama administration in general and Democrat Hillary Clinton in particular, then by Melania Trump.
She did very well. And then at midnight, the bottom dropped out – and this morning, the Donald Trump campaign is still struggling to find the right response. Early this morning, top aide Paul Manafort hinted that Melania Trump herself was responsible for lifting passages of her speech from one given by Michelle Obama in 2008. Now we have this from the Associated Press:
The Trump campaign on Tuesday dismissed criticism that Melania Trump directly lifted two passages nearly word-for-word from the speech that first lady Michelle Obama delivered in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention, calling the complaints “just absurd.”
“There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech,” Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, said Tuesday morning in a CNN interview. “Certainly, there’s no feeling on her part that she did it,” he said. “What she did was use words that are common words.”
Manafort also hinted that Clinton was behind this. From CNN:
“I mean, it’s so — I mean, this is, once again, an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work.”
Also from the Associated Press:
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus says he would “probably” fire his speechwriters if they lifted passages from someone else’s remarks.
However, Priebus says he doesn’t “have a view yet” on whether Melania Trump’s convention speech included plagiarized sentences from a 2008 Michelle Obama address. Priebus praised Mrs. Trump for her “inspirational” remarks, particularly her story of immigrating from Slovenia.
He acknowledged the controversy was a “distraction” but said he expected the convention to get back on message Tuesday.
Then there was Debbie Wasserman-Schultz on CNN:
“Certainly, Melania Trump deserves credit for delivering a very nice speech and comported herself well in front of the American people last night. The Trump Organization is going to have to answer for the content of that speech, and the side by side is pretty clear, and the evidence, as you said, really isn’t in dispute, and so we’ll leave it to them to answer for the similarities between other individuals who have delivered speeches on that.”
In the grand scheme of things, having some campaign aide (that’s almost certainly who’s responsible) cut and paste and barely edit a couple of paragraphs of a speech isn’t the end of the world — even if, as one Georgia delegate joked, they could have at least stolen from Nancy Reagan instead of a Democrat. Heck, the list of reasons to be wary of a Trump presidency gets extremely long before one arrives at “wife’s convention speech includes plagiarism.”
But that’s kind of the point: The list of examples of amateurism and wrong-headedness and fact deficiency and so on isn’t supposed to be so long for the campaign of a man who could actually become president of the United States. Setting aside things like philosophy and temperament, there’s a certain degree of professionalism we’re accustomed to seeing pretty consistently from the presidential campaigns of major-party nominees. We’re still not seeing it from Trump.
If you wanted to see the Georgia delegation on the RNC floor last night, your best bet was MSNBC. We’re looking at you, B.J. Van Gundy of Gwinnett County.
One day after that lightning-fast floor fight over rules for the Republican National Convention, Kendel Unruh, leader of the Colorado delegation and the anti-Trump movement, was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today. She was asked if she planned to walk out on Donald Trump’s acceptance speech on Thursday. Said Unruh:
“I know others are planning to walk out. We’re actually going to do [something]a little more dramatic. We’re not going to walk out, because I don’t want our seats filled with alternates. So we’re going to be reading ‘The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.’”
There are probably not enough copies of the book in all of Cleveland. What she probably meant was that the Colorado delegation intended to sit on its hands during Trump’s victory speech.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has come to personify centrist objections to Donald Trump’s ascension as the Republican presidential nominee, has a number of appearances in and around Cleveland today. On Monday, on NBC, the Ohio governor was asked if Trump could say anything to win his support. Said Kasich:
“Well, no. He’d have to change everything that he says. We can’t be attacking Muslims and Hispanics, and trying to shut down trade, and not caring about the debt. Those are all problems for me. And so it’s not–I don’t hold any personal animus towards Donald Trump. We just are two companies that have different values, different directions, and different philosophies.”
Here are the highlights of tonight’s session, as posted by the RNC:
— Remarks by Dana White, President, Ultimate Fighting Championship
— Remarks by Michael Mukasey, Former U.S. Attorney General
— Remarks by Andy Wist, Founder and CEO of Standard Waterproofing Corporation
— Remarks by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
— Remarks by U.S. House Speaker Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI)
— Remarks by Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey
— Remarks by Tiffany Trump, Daughter to Donald Trump
— Remarks by Donald Trump Jr., Executive Vice President at The Trump Organization
— Remarks by Ben Carson, Retired Neurosurgeon
— Remarks by Kimberlin Brown, Actress and Small Business Owner
A bit lost in the shuffle of the chaos on Monday afternoon: Republicans endorsed a platform that defends “traditional marriage,” backs a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and supports English as the official language. From The New York Times:
CLEVELAND — The Republican Party on Monday adopted perhaps its most socially conservative platform ever, one that offers a harsh portrayal of homosexuality and a strong defense of the “natural” family unit. But in other places it takes a less traditionally conservative approach, such as a call for less rigid criminal statutes. It calls for a wall along the southern border and for English to be designated the country’s official language. It advocates opening up more public land to energy exploration. And it urges Congress to impeach more judges.
Don’t be fooled by Democrat Jim Barksdale’s quiet quest for a U.S. Senate seat. That’s the message U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is reminding his supporters as he campaigns for a third-term in November.
The Republican said Monday he’s planning a fly-around shortly after the convention, speaking to us during a quick stop in Cleveland before a fundraising trip to Chicago. Barksdale, meanwhile, has waged an understated campaign so far, but the investment manager has already pumped more than $1 million into his campaign and could pour in millions of dollars more. Said Isakson:
“There’s a long time before Nov. 8. I’ve been all over the state and will continue to be. I’m taking as much time as I can to be capitalized and organized so that when y-e-t is over, and we know what we’re dealing with, we’re prepared for whatever it takes.”
Libertarian Allen Buckley is also in the race.
Newt Gingrich gave one interview to Fox News on Monday that spawned two very different headlines.
Newt Gingrich: Melania proves that Trump is not ‘anti-immigrant’
Donald Trump’s marriage to Slovenian model Melania Trump proves he is not “anti-immigrant,” according to former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).
“Melania is not only very, very attractive as a supermodel, but she’s also living proof that Donald Trump is not anti-immigrant,” Gingrich said of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee in a Fox News interview on Monday. “He’s just for legal immigrants.”
Newt Gingrich: Donald Trump’s Hot Wife Is Proof He Doesn’t Hate Immigrants
“Melania is not only very, very attractive as a supermodel, but she’s also living proof that Donald Trump is not anti-immigrant,” said Gingrich, according to The Hill. “He’s just for legal immigrants.”
Who also happen to be Eastern European models, it seems.
We know of one person who isn’t in Cleveland this week, and he’s the son of an aide to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. From the Dayton Daily News:
DAYTON — Thomas DiMassimo admitted violating a condition of his pretrial release, but a federal judge didn’t revoke his bond and also warned him, “You’re not going to Cleveland.”
DiMassimo, 22, was charged with a federal misdemeanor for illegally entering a “cordoned off and otherwise restricted area where a person protected by the Secret Service was temporarily visiting” when he jumped a barrier and rushed the stage March 12 during a Donald Trump rally at Dayton International Airport.
At a Monday hearing in Dayton’s U.S. District Court, DiMassimo told pretrial services he was visiting an academic advisor on July 11 when the electronic monitoring company notified authorities of an unexcused absence from 12:47 p.m. until 1:38 p.m.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Sharon Ovington had earlier denied DiMassimo’s request to leave the Southern District of Ohio so he could protest at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Back home, this letter from DeKalb Commissioner Sharon Sutton-Barnes is making the rounds, and she’s calling her opponent in the July 26 runoff, Steve Bradshaw, a “sellout” and a closet Republican. See for yourself:
Hundreds of thousands of dollars from Washington groups are flowing into the Third Congressional District, inundating voters with mailers and attack ads ahead of next week’s GOP runoff for the congressional seat being vacated by Lynn Westmoreland.
While former West Point mayor Drew Ferguson has the backing of the Chamber of Congress, which has promised to pour six figures into the race, state Sen. Mike Crane has received a similar boost from the Club for Growth, which has shelled out for attack ads and a new set of mailers accusing Ferguson of being too liberal. Check them out: