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Night No. 3 of the Republican National Convention turned out to be a doozy. Mike Pence just finished a well-delivered speech, but most everyone tomorrow will likely only be talking about Ted Cruz, his speech and the boo-filled response he got from Republican delegates.
If you missed all the craziness, experience it by starting at the bottom of this live blog and reading chronologically. We’ll also have more analysis of tonight’s wild events Thursday morning (including an emergency edition of our elections podcast).
In the meantime, thanks for spending the evening with us. We’ll see you back here tomorrow for the final night of the GOP convention.
More evidence for the case that Cruz intentionally tried to undermine Trump: His Twitter account just retweeted an article from Conservative Review’s Amanda Carpenter that praised his convention speech and contained the following line:
Cruz stayed true and gave those concerned with Trump a reminder of what the other members of the Republican Party can and should stand for even though unworthy leader looms among us.
Carpenter has frequently used the #NeverTrump hashtag and, earlier this evening, said that the Trump kids were “not a reason to make Trump commander-in-chief.”
Just to answer a question we’ve been getting on Twitter a lot: Heck yes, the Cruz speech (and the booing) merits an emergency elections podcast. Check your feeds first thing in the morning.
Pence made an obligatory jab at the media, saying that the press would do “half the work” for Clinton in her race against Trump/Pence. But an analysis by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center of coverage from January to June, during the primary season, found that Trump fared far better in both quantity and favorability of media coverage than Clinton.
I don’t know if you could hear it on television, but a portion of the crowd just erupted with “lock her up!” Pence, unlike other speakers, ignored them.
Part of the reason that Pence may have accepted the vice-presidential nomination is that he wasn’t popular as governor in Indiana. He had an approval rating of just 40 percent in a Bellwether Research & Consulting poll in May and led his Democratic opponent in this year’s gubernatorial race by just a 40 percent to 36 percent margin.
Nate, yes, his speech is a bit stilted. But who would have thought Mike Pence would bring (a couple, self-deprecating) jokes to an otherwise focused-on-threats night? I think it leavens things a bit.
OK, I went down to the floor to get both sides of the story on the reaction to Cruz’s speech — New York vs. Texas. Nicholas Langworthy from Buffalo, New York, was sitting front row, center and called the situation “pretty contentious” when the delegation didn’t hear Cruz endorse Trump. He also said their booing response was “pretty organic.” He said he had presumed Cruz would endorse in a prime-time speech, just as former rival Scott Walker did. Instead, Langworthy said, “Ted served himself.”
Over on the other side of the floor, Texan Johnny Lopez from Irving actually seemed to agree with the disappointed New Yorker. “I think it was a general consensus of people who were booing,” he said, indicating that it came from all around the floor. “There were even some here in the Texas delegation that were booing.” Lopez was sympathetic to Cruz’s defiant stance, though. “I would be hurt too if someone talked about my wife like that,” he said, referring to Trump’s derogatory comments about Heidi Cruz. “But that’s politics.”
I thought Mike Pence was a relatively good choice for Trump, given his alternatives. And I suppose this is a conventionally effective political speech. But it’s so aww-shucks earnest and hokey, a speech that could have been delivered 10 or 20 or 50 years ago, that it squares very oddly with Trump’s post-modern approach to politics. Maybe Trump and Pence can be effective individually, but their joint appearances have gone pretty awkwardly, and it’s easy to understand why.
We’ve heard many times over the campaign that Trump won a lot of votes during the primary. We just heard it from Pence. Indeed, he did win 14 million votes. Clinton, however, won nearly 17 million. In the last general election, President Obama won nearly 66 million votes. In other words, both Clinton and Trump will need a lot more voters than they got in the primary to win the general election.
As Harry wrote last week, Mike Pence is an extremely conservative choice for VP and could be a smart one for Trump, as the nominee consistently lost to Ted Cruz among very conservative voters during the primaries.
But Pence is still pretty unknown to voters, and at this point, is disliked as far as VP candidates go.
|OPINION OF CANDIDATE|
|YEAR||PARTY||VP CANDIDATE||FAVORABLE||UNFAVORABLE||NET FAV.||HAVE AN OPINION|
|1980||R||George H.W. Bush||25||23||+2||48|
Can someone explain to me why the Trump people allowed Cruz to talk tonight? They knew Cruz wasn’t going to endorse Trump. They — and we — had Cruz’s prepared remarks. Did Trump’s people think that Cruz was going to have a change of heart? I’m not sure why the Trump campaign would bank on that. There are Cruz’s ideological disagreements with Trump, but it’s also worth remembering that Trump intimated that Cruz’s father was involved in the John F. Kennedy assassination and attacked Cruz’s wife.
So, why give Cruz a prime-time speaking slot?
Newt Gingrich’s speech emphasized that LGBTQ Americans, among others, would be worse off in other nations. This construction of the nature of freedom in American identity, here in reference to Muslim fundamentalist governments, is reminiscent of the anti-Soviet framing during the Reagan era. Here, Gingrich is emphasizing comparative freedom versus talking about what freedom means in terms of the Republican platform for LGBTQ Americans, for example. As a side note, Gingrich lobbied hard to become Trump’s VP. He’s staked a lot on his dreams of higher office. According to Bloomberg, the FEC postponed a debt resettlement plan designed to spur Gingrich’s repayment of $4.6 million in debts from past campaigns.
When Harry Enten and I spoke to Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe today, Roe suggested that if Trump lost to Clinton, it would come to be seen as a black swan event and that the Republican Party might return to relatively familiar ground in 2020. Whereas a Trump win in November would be more transformational.
One can agree or disagree with Roe’s analytical point. In our view here at FiveThirtyEight, there’s a substantial chance that the Republican Party is forever changed, whether or not Trump wins. But given that Cruz represents the Reagan-esque, movement conservative wing of the GOP, you wonder if Cruz wouldn’t prefer for the party to return to where it was before Trump descended that escalator last June.
It really does feel like the air has been let out of the hall here. Newt Gingrich is speaking, and I can hear a woman speaking in the next section and a few rows behind me. If Cruz’s goal was to disrupt this convention, he achieved it.
Modern conventions are so carefully stage-managed — with planned “spontaneous” demonstrations and crescendos timed for the networks — that a truly spontaneous moment like the one we just saw on the floor seems all the more shocking. Delegates practically booed an ultraconservative United States senator off the stage, not so much for what he said but for what he refused to say. It should not have been a surprise — Cruz never promised to endorse Trump, and the convention staff obviously knew from his prepared text that he would not do so — but Cruz’s decision, coming after more conciliatory speeches by other failed candidates, was clearly seen by delegates as a raised fist in opposition to their smiley-faced unity.
But the moment would have been familiar to veterans of conventions in previous generations. There was plenty of chair-throwing and shoving at conventions through the mid-20th century, and in the last contested convention, when Republicans gathered in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1976, delegates from the warring Ford and Reagan camps even booed the spouses of their opponents. As our documentary recounts, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller ripped a Reagan sign out of a supporter’s hands and tore it up, and a Reagan delegate then pulled Rocky’s phone out of the wall. Those things don’t happen anymore, and they may never do so again, but we just got a taste of the rancor that still underlies a good political feud.
Micah, I don’t know if it will help or hurt Cruz. We’re a loooong way away from 2020. What I do believe: That speech is how Cruz truly feels, and that in itself is worth a lot.
Lots of debate on Twitter about whether Cruz’s speech helps or hurts his chances in 2020 — any thoughts?
Some of the largest applause of the evening here came as Eric Trump wrapped by calling his father “his hero” and “the next president of the United States.”
It’s somewhat ironic that Eric Trump made a point of talking about the unimpeachable ethics of his foundation when his father’s charitable giving has been widely criticized. As The Associated Press wrote about challenging Trump’s claims that he had given millions to veterans’ groups: “Phone calls to all 41 of the groups by The Associated Press brought more than two dozen responses Tuesday. About half reported checks from Trump within the past week, typically dated May 24, the day The Washington Post published a story questioning whether he had distributed all of the money.” Again, this does not reflect on Eric Trump’s foundation, but rhetorically, it’s a questionable choice of emphasis.
I’m tempted to make a Simpsons-esque “they’re not booing, they’re saying Crooooz” joke, but that’s just as bad. But seriously, I disagree with Nate — I thought the speech was playing well at first and then completely went off the rails. I’ve never seen anything like it.
I should point out that Cruz’s non-endorsement of Trump doesn’t mean most Republicans aren’t behind the nominee. For instance, the latest CBS News and Marist polls have Trump defeating Clinton among Republicans by an average of 77 percent to 7 percent when Libertarian Gary Johnson is included. As I pointed out after Trump clinched the nomination, he’s winning about the same percentage of Republicans that most Republican presidential candidates do.
I’m still a bit dazed by how badly that Cruz speech played out, at least from Trump’s perspective. My initial instinct was that Cruz played it too cute, but obviously the other possibility is that Cruz knew exactly what he was doing and wanted to shiv Trump.
As if God has a wicked sense of humor, the video screen behind the speakers was breaking as Cruz spoke and is now completely out of service.
I have never been in a convention hall at one of these events before tonight. I understand, though, that I just witnessed something special. Cruz basically gave a giant middle finger to Trump as the major networks came on the air for convention coverage.