What’s up at the RNC?: Law Street’s Day 1 Coverage
This year, Law Street Media is attending both the RNC and DNC conventions, and bringing Law Street readers the inside scoop. We’ll be doing day-by-day rundowns and exclusive features. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat for even more content.
Here’s a look at the first day of the festivities, courtesy of Law Street reporters Kevin Rizzo and Alec Siegel:
Day 1’s theme was Making America Safe Again. And the Republican National Convention in Cleveland started off with an unusual bout of excitement. In a day filled with a range of speakers, from senators, to Melania Trump, and even Scott Baio, a lot of the excitement happened before the prime time speakers took stage.
The Rules Fight
In a last ditch effort to thwart the nomination of Donald Trump, a group of delegates attempted to force a roll call vote instead of a voice vote to accept the party rules. Chants erupted on the convention floor after three state delegations reportedly dropped their support of a measure to change the voting procedure used to approve the party rules.
Although the effort had little chance of success, it amounted to a rare show of disunity and chaos on the convention floor. It also wasn’t the only time a voice vote caused an uproar on Monday. In a largely symbolic vote to make Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell temporary chairman, the “nays” appeared to have outbid the “ayes,” yet Reince Priebus, the acting chair, concluded that the “ayes” won.
in a voice vote just now to name Mitch McConnell temporary chairman, the Nays were arguably louder. Priebus said the Ayes won.
— Tim Carney (@TPCarney) July 18, 2016
Alec Has a Weird Pierogi Run In
Monday evening, reporters were still scrambling over the grounds on the perimeter, scrounging for last-minute food before the dive into Quicken Loans. Pierogi–pillows of dough filled with cheese–were being sold at one popular concession tent, a nod to Cleveland’s large Polish population. A moment that seems to sum up the caffeine fueled, sleep-less nature of the convention: a reporter from a TV outlet stumbled up to me–overcome by the smell of my delicious pierogi–and asked where he could get some. I told him I was the last sale of the night. Tears welling up in his eyes, he said, “I’m gonna pass out if I don’t eat,” and ambled off, mic and camera cord dragging behind him.
We Weren’t Allowed to Bring our Drones in
Rudy Giuliani Gets the Crowd Going
All of Monday night’s speakers were well received by the audience, but no one got the crowd louder than former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. The theme was “Make America Safe Again” and Giuliani touched on the Republicans’ greatest hits. From a full-throated defense of American police officers to a long tirade decrying radical islamic terrorism, everyone in the crowd stood as he spoke.
— Kevin Rizzo (@kevinrizzo10) July 19, 2016
While it was certainly an exciting speech, it’s also important to take a closer look at what many of the speakers were describing on Monday night. The theme was “Make America Safe Again” and with that came many references to crime rates and policing. But what many might not recognize is that violent crime has dropped precipitously over the past several decades. The United States today has considerably less violent crime than it did a couple decades ago.
Here’s a graph from Gallup that shows how public opinion and the reality of crime rates are often far apart. For years, many people believed that violent crime was increasing while, in fact, it was consistently going down. So the convention speakers’ calls for law and order may be doing more to evoke emotion than accurately describing the facts on the ground.
Liberal Bashing was Visible
There were plenty of jabs at Hillary, too.
“Hillary Clinton wants to be the president of Hillary Clinton”-Scott Baio #RNCinCLE
— Alec Siegel (@beardedbard92) July 19, 2016
“Hillary loves her pantsuits…but we should send her an email saying she deserves an orange jumpsuit” #RNCinCLE
— Alec Siegel (@beardedbard92) July 19, 2016
A Little Bit of Plagiarism?
Melania Trump was the headline speaker on Monday night, even receiving an introduction from none other than Donald Trump. Also of note, Trump’s intro may have been his shortest public speaking appearance yet in the campaign. While brief, Trump’s appearance came with his fair share of fanfare–he walked out to “We Are the Champions” and exclaimed “we’re gonna win so big” upon taking the podium. But everyone was there to see Mrs. Trump, a point that became clear as the crowd almost immediately filed out when she was done speaking.
Although Melania Trump’s speech appeared to go off without a hitch, a short while after after her speech some “striking similarities” were recognized between her remarks and Michelle Obama’s famous address at the Democratic Convention in 2008. You can see for yourself:
So that’s pretty blatant, right? pic.twitter.com/EPnHME7afV
— Mike Hearn (@mikehearn) July 19, 2016
Texas’s Delegates Win Alec’s Fashion Awards for Day 1
Texas state delegates were hard to miss. They showed up in their state costume: a cowboy hat and a red, white, and blue collared shirt. Some wore jeans. Toward the end of the night, one Texas cowboy walked off into the night in a cowboy hat and skirt. A red, white and blue skirt, to be specific, and he had his dog at his side, also decked out in patriotic hues.
— DLW (@Dlw20161950) July 18, 2016
You Couldn’t Miss the Police Presence
And in what is probably convention tradition, but especially amplified in light of the last few tumultuous weeks, sheriffs and police certainly made their presence known on Day 1. Brawny clumps of men with badges and sheriffs hats watched the proceedings from the perimeter on the TV screen. After Melania Trump spoke, most of the attendees spilled out from the “Q” (The cordoned off area where reporters and delegates are allowed–Quicken Loans and its perimeter).
The mass of us wound through a fenced off maze, finally spilling out onto East Fourth Street, an alleyway of restaurants and bars, many rented out for the week from news outlets like CNN and The Washington Post. Police formed a human boundary on both sides as we made our way from the “Q,” into the Cleveland night, off to get some sleep for day two.