CLEVELAND (AP) — Cementing an extraordinary political takeover, Republicans nominated Donald Trump Tuesday night as their presidential standard-bearer, hitching their hopes of keeping Democrat Hillary Clinton out of the White House on an unorthodox candidate who has sown divisions within the party and across the nation.
While it was Trump’s night, Clinton was frequently the focus.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie energized the crowd with a full-throated takedown of Clinton, imploring delegates to shout “Guilty!” as he ticked through numerous accusations of wrongdoing.
Trump addressed the convention briefly in videotaped remarks, thanking them for formally nominating him as the party’s White House candidate. ”
“This is a movement, but we have to go all the way,” he said.
For Trump, the celebrations were a much-needed opportunity to regroup after a chaotic convention kickoff that included a plagiarism charge involving wife Melania Trump’s address on opening night. There were no big missteps Tuesday, but the event was void of the glitzy, Hollywood touch Trump promised, with a series of Republican officials parading on stage to level sharp, but repetitive, criticisms of Clinton.
The evening’s program ended on an unusual note, with an actress-turned-avocado farmer delivering the closing speech — a spot normally reserved for prominent speakers.
Trump’s family again took center stage, underscoring the campaign’s urgent task to reshape the image of a candidate seen by large swaths of voters as harsh and divisive. Two of Trump’s children testified to his character, casting him as a man undeterred by challenges.
“For my father, impossible is just the starting point,” said Donald Trump Jr., the oldest of the Republican nominee’s five children. Questions about plagiarism surfaced for a second day in a row, this time in the eldest son’s speech. But F.H. Buckley, the writer behind the original work in question this time — an article in The American Conservative — said he was a principal speechwriter for the younger Trump and said the campaign did nothing wrong.
For some Republicans, the night also offered a glimpse of what could have been. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who resisted calls to jump into the presidential race, made a vigorous call for party unity — though his message focused more on the risks of letting Democrats keep the White House and make gains in Congress than a rationale for Trump.
“Let’s compete in every part of America, and turn out at the polls like every last vote matters, because it will,” Ryan said.
Many Republican leaders stayed away from the convention, still wary of being associated with the divisive candidate and unsure how his nomination impacts their own political futures.
The crowd gathered in the cavernous convention hall reflected the growing dissatisfaction among some Republicans with party elites. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been a lukewarm supporter of Trump, was greeted with a smattering of boos as he took the stage.
It was one of the occasional flurries of dissent on the convention floor, including jeers as states that Trump did not win recorded their votes during the nominating roll call vote. Still, Trump far outdistanced his primary rivals, and his vice presidential pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, was also formally nominated.
Trump was put over the top by his home state of New York. Four of his children joined the state’s delegation on the convention floor for the historic moment and appeared overwhelmed with emotion.
Tiffany Trump, the candidate’s 22-year-old daughter with ex-wife Marla Maples, sprinkled her remarks with rarely heard anecdotes about her father, including the handwritten notes he left on her childhood report cards.
“My dad is a natural born encourager, the last person to ever tell you to lower your sights,” she said.
Melania Trump was praised for making progress in highlighting her husband’s personal qualities during her Monday night address. She spoke of his “simple goodness” and his loyalty and love of family — while noting the “drama” that comes with Trump in politics.
But her speech was quickly overtaken by charges that it included two passages– each 30 words or longer — that matched a 2008 Democratic convention address by Michelle Obama nearly word-for-word.
Trump’s campaign offered no apologies, with top adviser Paul Manafort telling The Associated Press the matter had been “totally blown out of proportion.”
Still, the plagiarism controversy and other unforced errors by the campaign cast a shadow over the convention and raised fresh questions about Trump’s oversight of his campaign, which gives voters a window into how a candidate might handle the pressures of the presidency.
Clinton pounced on the tumult, saying the Republican gathering had so far been “surreal,” comparing it to the classic fantasy film “Wizard of Oz.”
“When you pull back the curtain, it was just Donald Trump with nothing to offer to the American people,” Clinton said during a speech in Las Vegas.
Trump’s campaign did succeed in tamping down late efforts by dissident delegates to derail the convention, including during Tuesday’s roll call vote. Campaign officials invested significant time arguing to delegates about the importance of presenting a unite front during the televised convention.
“United we stand, divided we fall,” said Johnny McMahan, a Trump delegate from Arkansas.
But Colorado’s Kendal Unruh, a leader of the anti-Trump forces, called the convention a “sham” and warned party leaders that their efforts to silence opposition would keep some Republicans on the sidelines in the fall campaign against Clinton.
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