Live from the GOP Convention in Cleveland

     (CN) – Donald Trump will make what is likely the most important speech of his presidential campaign Thursday night, his last best hope of convincing GOP skeptics and the American public that he has the goods and the temperament to be the 45th president of the United States.
     10:21 p.m.
     CLEVELAND (CN) – Ivanka Trump introduced her father Thursday night in a highly anticipated speech where she painted the Republican nominee as a compassionate man and caring father.
     “For more than a year Donald Trump has been the people’s champion and tonight he is the people’s nominee,” Ivanka Trump said.
     On Sunday Trump campaign head Paul Manafort told reporters one focus of the convention was going to be presenting a more complete picture of Trump as a man and Ivanka Trump’s speech followed that plan.
     She cast Trump as a man of the people who will fight for disadvantaged people and fix the problems that ail the country.
     “This is the fighter, the doer that you have chosen as your nominee,” Ivanka Trump said after detailing her father’s success in business.
     She also spent a large portion of the address on equal pay and gender discrimination issues, saying her father would be a champion of women and mothers in the workplace.
     “He is color blind and gender neutral” Ivanka Trump said of her father’s practices in business.
     9:38 p.m.
     CLEVELAND (CN) – PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel told the Republican National Convention Thursday he is “proud to be gay,” drawing a loud cheer from the audience.
     “I don’t pretend to agree with every plank of our party’s platform but fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline,” Thiel said.
     Thiel is the first openly gay man to speak at a Republican National Convention.
     He used his speech Thursday to lament the decline of innovation in the United States and called the government and economy “broken.”
     He also took on Wall Street for “building bubbles” and preventing average people from being able to attain the American dream. – Tim Ryan
     9:23 p.m.
     CLEVELAND (CN) – Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus Thursday night painted the Republican party as the “party of the open door” and held up Donald Trump as the only option to defeat Hillary Clinton.
     “We are the party of new ideas in a changing and faster world than ever before,” Priebus told a cheering Republican National Convention audience Thursday night.
     One night after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declined to endorse Trump for president, Priebus called for Republicans to fall behind Trump to stop Clinton from being able to stack the Supreme Court with “activist” judges.
     He also took played to the crowd and bashed Clinton for her foreign policy choices as secretary of state and for the Clinton Foundation’s suspect ties to foreign governments, both of which have been major points of criticism for a party laser focused on defeating her.
     “For Hillary Clinton the Oval Office is just another cash cow,” Priebus said.
     The RNC head told delegates that Clinton “lied” and cast Trump as an outsider who would bring about a government new government free of special interests.
     “This election is our chance to stop it and Donald Trump is the right man to lead the charge,” Priebus said.
     8:53 p.m.
     (CN) – Hundreds of demonstrators who had gathered in Cleveland’s Public Square have scattered ahead of Donald Trump’s prime-time acceptance speech on the last night of the Republican convention.
     Shouting matches and scuffles among the groups came to a halt Thursday once they were outnumbered by hundreds of police officers who streamed into the square.
     Groups included anarchists, anti-Muslim protesters and Bikers for Trump. Later Thursday evening, kids played in Public Square fountains and a group gave out free hugs.
     Though still gathered in large numbers, police seemed more relaxed as the evening went on.
     Gone were protesters yelling into bullhorns and a stage set up for demonstrators was empty for the first time all week.
     8:05 p.m.
     CLEVELAND (CN) – Delegates at the Republican National Convention hope to hear a message of unity and policy from Donald Trump when he accepts the party nomination Thursday evening.
     “We want to see the entire arena unified to support Donald Trump for president,” Hawaii delegate Larraine Shin told Courthouse News.
     The speech Trump is set to deliver, on which multiple media outlets have broken the embargo, seems to aim to do some of that. It touts Trump as the “law and order” candidate, while promising he will speak for people who have lost their jobs or struggled in the recent economy.
     Multiple delegates told Courthouse News they would like to hear more policy from Trump during his speech Thursday night, and the prepared remarks feature Trump touching on law enforcement, race relations, foreign policy, trade and immigration, though without many concrete details.
     But beyond looking for more policy specifics, delegates hope Trump will deliver a message of unity to a convention still reeling from Wednesday night, when Sen. Ted Cruz pointedly failed to endorse the Republican nominee.
     “I would like something that will unify the party, although I know that’s asking an awful lot,” Texas delegate Ann Kate told Courthouse News. “I want something that would make us enthusiastic and something that will make us proud of our nominee so that we can go out and promote him.”
     But delegates disagreed on what Trump would have to do to get that unity. Some said he would need to offer more concrete policy to win over those still holding out against him, while others said the unification could happen without help from the podium as voters realize the only real alternative is Hillary Clinton.
     Oklahoma delegate Mike Edwards told Courthouse News he hoped Trump would resist the temptation to go after Cruz for his speech from the night before.
     “I think it would be good for him to just pass it and not add more fuel to that fire and try to get us back on track,” Edwards said. — Tim Ryan
     7:04 p.m.
     CLEVELAND (CN) – Even after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz pointedly neglected to endorse Donald Trump Wednesday night, delegates at the Republican National Convention insist their party is unified.
     “I’m old enough to remember 1976,” Illinois delegate Jack McInerney told Courthouse News. “It was ugly back then. We’re way more unified than that.”
     On Wednesday night, Cruz, one of Trump’s fiercest rivals through the primary season, told voters to “vote your conscience” rather than throwing his support behind the party nominee. The speech drew loud boos and raised questions about how unified the Republican Party actually is, even after a week of chanting and cheering in Cleveland.
     But most delegates refute the idea that the party is split. Tim Page, a North Carolina delegate, told Courthouse News he knows many Cruz delegates who have come into Trump’s camp during the week, after getting to know the candidate better, especially through the speeches his family gave.
     “They’re getting more behind him now because everybody’s coming to realize that we have to unify so we don’t have another Clinton administration,” Page said.
     David Stall, a Texas delegate, told Courthouse News he has experienced similar things with Cruz delegates in his state.
     “Having family squabbles is nothing if you come from a large family,” Texas delegate Chuck Cazalas told Courthouse News.
     The Republican National Convention has been full of Hillary Clinton bashing, with chants of “lock her up” becoming more and more common as the week has dragged on.
     The vitriol many Republicans feel towards the presumptive Democratic nominee may have helped to bring the party closer together, even without the full support of some of its most prominent lawmakers.
     “If you were a Texas Republican would you vote for Hillary?” McInerney said. “Not a yellow dog’s chance in hell.”
     He also dismissed the possibility that Trump holdouts might go instead for a third party candidate like Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson.
     “A vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Hillary,” McInerney said.
     Still, there are those who think the Cruz non-endorsement damaged the party’s attempts to get behind a single candidate in November.
     “We were all very enthusiastic, cheering for the same people,” Texas delegate Ann Kate told Courthouse News. “We cheered for Donald Trump when he was here, but then last night just kind of messed things up.”
     But even Kate was confident he party would eventually fall behind Trump and come back together.
     “We seem to do that a lot in Texas,” Kate said. — Tim Ryan
     5:38 p.m.
     CLEVELAND (CN) – Delegates supporting Sen. Ted Cruz at the Republican National Convention are denying rumors that supporters of the Texan plan to stage a walkout when Donald Trump accepts the party’s nomination Thursday night.
     “They better not,” Texas delegate and Cruz supporter Ruby Manen told Courthouse News.
     She said there are “probably a few” within her delegation who would think about it, but added that party leaders told the Texas delegation to “stay in those chairs” after taking their seats at the convention on Thursday.
     Other Cruz delegates from other states have also denied rumors of a walkout and said they would not be in favor of such a move from others in their camp.
     Cruz did not endorse Trump in his Wednesday night speech, drawing loud boos from those assembled in the arena housing the Republican National Convention. The Texas senator’s failure to throw his weight behind the party’s nominee raised new questions of how unified the Republican party actually is, even after four days in Cleveland meant to do just that. – Tim Ryan.
     3:42 p.m.
     Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her party entered July with nearly $11 million more on hand than her Republican counterpart’s operations, a strong showing of fundraising as both campaigns dive into the general election.
     Republican nominee Donald Trump also wiped out his campaign debt, forgiving the more than $47 million in personal loans he’s made to his own campaign since last year. Trump and the Republican Party, which officially selected Trump as its White House contender Tuesday, had $41 million cash on hand compared with Clinton and the Democrats’ $52 million.
     New campaign finance reports released Wednesday reveal the state of the 2016 money race as candidates and their supportive groups turn their attention to the November election. Fundraising has historically been a key metric in a campaign’s financial health, with funds paying campaign staffers and pricey TV ads.
     While Clinton outraised Trump, she also spent more, burning through $34 million in June compared to Trump’s$7.8 million. On Wednesday, Trump delighted in his low campaign spending rate.
     “Hillary is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in ads. You know what I’ve spent so far? Nothing. Nothing. I saved money,” Trump said in an interview with ABC News in which he also said he wouldn’t be advertising any time soon. – AP
     3:18 p.m.
     As the start of the last night of the Republican National Convention approaches, attendees continued to be roiled by Texas Sen Ted Cruz’s non-endrosement of Donald Trump, and Trump’s suggestion to a New York Times reporter that he would decide, on a case by case basis whether to intervene if Russia attacked a member of NATO.
     Susan Hutchison, chair of the Washington State Republican Party, said today that she bumped into Cruz near an elevator shortly after he was booed off the stage Wednesday evening for his refusal to endorse the party’s presidential nominee.
     Hutchison said she identified herself to the Texas senator, and then launched a blistering criticism.
     “I said that I thought what he did was inexcusable and that he was a traitor to the party,” Hutchison told KUOW Radio of Seattle.
     Hutchison said Cruz looked surprised, and that his wife Heidi told Hutchison she was wrong.
     “I said ‘No, your husband is wrong,'” Hutchison said.
     The Washington state delegation was dominated by Cruz supporters, even though Trump won the state’s GOP primary.
     As for Trump’s comments on supporting NATO allies, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN that he “totally” disagrees with Trump’s suggestion that U.S. support could be conditional, adding on a Facebook Live that NATO is “the most successful military alliance in the history of the world.”
     Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said the U.S. is required under the alliance to defend its allies against possible Russian aggression. He tells The Associated Press that his “sense is that Mr.Trump was trying to place emphasis on the importance of all countries honoring their commitments.”
     McConnell said on Facebook that when it comes to Trump’s NATO remarks, he was willing to “chalk it up to a rookie mistake.
     To return to the Cruz flap for a moment, it turns out there was a surprising, nonhuman player in how things went down at the end of the senator’s speech last night.
     In addition to the two standard teleprompters that flank the podium at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, a larger screen is at the back of the hall is visible to many in the crowd.
     Some delegates on the floor realized they could see what Cruz was about to say by turning to face the screen.
     Evidently, they got excited with Cruz went off-script near the end of his remarks, hopeful that he was about to make a surprise endorsement. Excited for a moment that didn’t come, they booed heartily when he did not.
     1:42 p.m.
     Donald Trump is doing a walk-through at the Cleveland arena where he will accept the Republican Party’s nomination for President Thursday night.
     Trump walked on stage at the Quicken Loans Arena and stood at the microphone for several minutes, pointing to various spots in the building.
     The Republican presidential nominee briefly spoke, joking that he loved the media before then paying tribute to the host city and the Cleveland police.
     He was joined by his daughter, Ivanka, who will introduce him as part of the convention’s grand finale.
     Trump flashed a thumbs-up at photographers snapping away at his appearance.
     The lighting in the arena changed to bathe the stage in gold, likely previewing its appearance when Trump speaks.
     10:06 a.m.
     CLEVELAND (CN) – Donald Trump’s campaign head Thursday morning criticized Sen. Ted Cruz for withholding his endorsement of the Republican presidential nominee.
     “Everybody knew about the pledges, they knew what that meant, what obligation that put on them and how they interpret their obligation,” Paul Manafort told reporters at a news conference Thursday morning. “Senator Cruz, a strict constitutionalist, chose not to accept the strict terms of the pledge that he signed.”
     Cruz, a Texas senator who was one of Trump’s last remaining challengers in the race to earn the presidential nomination, stunned conventiongoers Wednesday night by telling voters to go to the polls in November and “vote your conscience,” rather than throwing his support behind Trump.
     “If you love our country and love your children as much as I know you do, stand and speak and vote your conscience and vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution,” Cruz told the convention audience.
     Loud boos followed Cruz off the stage and his wife, Heidi, reportedly had to be escorted off the floor with the help of former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
     Manafort told reporters Thursday that Trump invited Cruz to speak just like he invited all of his other former rivals in the crowded Republican primary field.
     Manafort also denied that he caused the video boards to malfunction in Quicken Loans Arena last night, which some Cruz supporters had suggested.
     Trump took to Twitter last night to hit Cruz for holding off on an endorsement and to say he saw the speech before Cruz gave it.
     “Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn’t honor the pledge!” Trump wrote. “I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!”
     While some Trump holdouts like Ohio Gov. John Kasich simply avoided the convention, Cruz was the most prominent speaker to only mention the party’s nominee in passing during his address.
     While the boos seemed to disrupt the message of unity that the party insists it has been building during the convention, Manafort insisted just the opposite.
     “The party is definitely more unified,” Manafort said. “There are a number of Cruz delegates who were on the floor today, or last night, who disagreed with what Senator Cruz did, including in Ted’s home state of Texas, and who unprompted were coming up to us saying that this wasn’t right of Cruz and they are supporting the Trump Pence ticket.” – Tim Ryan

%d bloggers like this: