It’s official: Donald Trump is the Republican nominee
The Republican National Convention wrapped up Thursday night, culminating with a speech by Donald Trump, the party’s nominees for president of the United States. FSRN’s Jacob Resneck spoke with Alice Ollstein, a political reporter for ThinkProgress, who has been covering the convention in Cleveland.
Jacob Resneck: Tell us, you saw the speech by Donald Trump, what were your takeaways from that address?
Alice Ollstein: Well, it was a big hit with the crowd, although it did drag so long that he did begin to lose people. But besides sort of the superficialities, there was a lot in the speech that was not true, and my colleagues did a good job fact checking some of that and that is up on our website. His statistics about crime – specifically, killings of police officers – were wildly inaccurate; the implication that immigration – undocumented people crossing the borders, specifically – is at a higher level than before is not true; some of the issues around refugees and the vetting of refugees was very misleadingly represented, there’s in fact a very rigorous process for vetting refugees who come to the United States. But you can read all of that up on our website. I think that’s perfectly in keeping the kind of campaign he’s run, in which he has doubled down on a lot of untrue statements and untrue characterizations of where the country’s at.
JR: We’ve heard and read a lot about dissension within the Republican Party itself. I mean, notably, when Senator Ted Cruz refused to endorse him from the podium. What were you seeing on the convention floor? Any evidence of that sort of thing?
AC: Yes, I was right on the convention floor when that happened and it was startling. What made it more startling was that throughout most of Ted Cruz’s speech, the audience was listening to him in rapt silence and cheering and just very supportive of Senator Cruz, and then, as the speech drew to a close without an endorsement for Donald Trump, they just turned on him very quickly. People around me were screaming and booing, they were chanting “Say his name!” and “Endorse Trump!” People were leaping on their chairs and doing an angry thumbs down. I talked to delegates on the floor and they said they were disappointed. They called Ted Cruz a traitor, they said it’s important to unify the party. They hit him for coming to the convention and then presenting this embarrassing moment for Trump, as opposed to just staying away as so many high profile Republicans have. We’re missing major former presidents, we’re missing major members of Congress who just completely stayed away from the convention. Ted Cruz decided to come speak, but not endorse, and that angered a lot of people. However, I did find some delegates who were impressed with Ted Cruz and said it took guts to do what he did, and they saw it as a rejection of Trump-ism and demagoguery – those were their words.
JR: And so then, looking forward, what’d you see in Cleveland that you think might hand the Democratic Party some political fodder, when they convene their convention next week in Philadelphia?
AC: Well, there was a lot made of the lack of diversity among delegates, although I will say that it was not a completely lily-white set of people. I was down on the floor talking to a great deal, and there was some diversity, both in age and in race and in sexual orientation. However, it will diversity we’re going to see in Philadelphia, that will be certain. So I think that’s going to be a big theme about who is welcome in the Democratic Party versus who is welcome in the Republican Party right now. I also think that there is going to be a big contrast to the fire and brimstone, the world is falling apart, we should be afraid message that we heard on multiple nights here at the Republican Convention. And there’s going to be a portrayal of the Obama administration as solving a lot of problems; there’s going to be a lot of talk of all of the people who have gained health care through the Affordable Care Act; there’s going to be a lot of talk of drawing down wars overseas and making the country safer. So I think there’s going to be an effort to spin a positive, optimistic message to contrast with what we saw here.
Alice Ollstein is a politics reporter for ThinkProgress. She spoke with FSRN from Cleveland.