U.S. Republicans formally nominated real-estate tycoon Donald Trump to be their presidential candidate amid a struggle to overcome the party's bitter primary fight and doubts about Trump’s suitability as a standard bearer.
The July 19 vote by delegates attending the party’s convention in Cleveland, Ohio, was the capstone to an extraordinary nominating fight in state primary elections in which Trump edged out 16 other candidates, many with extensive elective experience.
“Together we have achieved historic results, with the largest vote total in the history of the Republican Party. This is a movement, but we have to go all the way,” Trump said in a videotaped message just minutes after the completion of the state-by-state roll-call vote giving him the nomination.
“This is going to be leadership, by the way, that puts the American people first. We’re going to bring back our jobs,” he said.
“We’re going to rebuild our depleted military and take care of our great veterans. We’re going to have strong borders. We’re going to get rid of [Islamic State]. And we’re going to restore law and order. We have to restore, and quickly, law and order, among many, and just so many other things,” he said.
Trump is expected to face Hillary Clinton in the November 8 general election, the former secretary of state who is due to receive the Democratic nomination next week in Philadelphia.
The billionaire developer from New York has run an extraordinary campaign that has upended most expectations of the race to succeed Barack Obama in the White House.
But his calls to bar Muslims from entering the country, build a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants, and comments about women have been decried as divisive and offensive, not only by Democrats but even by many senior Republicans such as former presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush.
The opposition he’s garnered has cast a pall over the effort to unify the party at the convention.
The roster of speakers on July 19, the second of the convention’s four nights, was notably absent of many of the Republican Party’s up-and-coming politicians and elder statesmen.
Several of the speakers were obscure or merely unusual, including a former daytime soap-opera actress turned avocado farmer; the founder of a New York City waterproofing company; the president of the popular Ultimate Fighting Championship franchise; and the head of Trump’s own branded winery in Virginia.
The highest elected Republican in the United States --House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan -- called for party unity but made scant mention of Trump in his speech, and notably didn’t explicitly call for his election.
“What do you say that we unify this party at this crucial moment when unity is everything? Let’s take our fight to our opponents with better ideas. Let’s get on the offensive and let’s stay there! Let’s compete in every part of America! Let’s turn it out at the polls like every last poll matters, because it will,” he said.
Many of the speeches attacked Clinton directly. Chris Christie, the Republican governor whom Trump defeated in the primary race and who had angled to be Trump’s running mate, raked Clinton over the coals, listing off a litany of foreign policy issues that he argued indicated her unsuitability to be president.
“We cannot reward incompetence and deceit,” he said as delegates chanted “Lock Her Up! Lock Her Up!”
“We need to demand more than what Hillary Clinton offers for America, because, see, we know what four years of Hillary Clinton will bring: all the failures of the Obama years with less charm and more lies,” Christie said.
Clinton has been heavily criticized by Republicans for her involvement in a scandal surrounding her use of a personal e-mail server in her home while she was secretary of state on which many classified e-mails were sent and received.
Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who also ran against Trump in the primary race, tied Clinton to an activist who Carson said had "acknowledged" the devil.
The second night of the convention followed a first night when Trump critics staged a public, and ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to secure a symbolic vote demonstrating their opposition to his candidacy.
Opening night was also overshadowed by accusations that Trump's wife, Melania, plagiarized parts of a speech by Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle, in 2008. Two passages of Melania’s speech to the convention on July 18 -- each 30 words or longer -- matched Michelle’s address to the 2008 Democratic convention, when her husband was first running for the presidency.
Outside the arena, police deployed hundreds of officers and tactical teams, on guard against potential terrorist threats but also street protests and unrest of the sort that has plagued Trump’s campaign throughout the primary season.
A few blocks from the arena on July 19, police broke up scuffles between groups of demonstrators. There were no arrests, despite tense moments that saw officers step in between protesters pushing and shouting.
At one point, videos circulating online showed officers on bicycles forming a line to separate a conservative religious group from a communist-leaning organization carrying a sign that read, "America Was Never Great."
The demonstrators on July 19 included anti-Muslim protesters, religious conservatives, and marchers decrying racism and "murder by police," but they appeared outnumbered by law officers and members of the media.