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Spotlight turns to Pence as rocky GOP convention rolls on

July 21,2016 07:10

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Donald Trump arrived here in dramatic fashion Wednesday to take control of the Republican National Convention amid a flap over his wife's partially plagiarized speech and deep divisions tempered only by a shared loathing of his rival ...


John Bacon and Richard Wolf, USA TODAY , WCSH
5:51 PM. EST July 20, 2016

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Donald Trump arrived here in dramatic fashion Wednesday to take control of the Republican National Convention amid a flap over his wife's partially plagiarized speech and deep divisions tempered only by a shared loathing of his rival, Hillary Clinton.Fresh from his official nomination as the party's presidential candidate on Tuesday, the billionaire builder stepped off a "Trump"-emblazoned helicopter to greet his vice presidential running-mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who was to headline the evening's program at Quicken Loans Arena.Despite Pence's much-anticipated debut and speeches from two spurned Republicans -- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who finished second in the GOP primaries, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who lost out in the vice presidential sweepstakes -- Trump continued to command center stage leading up to his acceptance speech Thursday night. "This is really an honor, and we're going to win Ohio," Trump told supporters at a brief arrival ceremony where he was greeted by Pence. "We're going to win Ohio, we're going to win it all."But first, his campaign attempted to put to rest a flap over Melania Trump's speech earlier in the week. The campaign issued a statement from Trump Organization staffer Meredith McIver, who apologized for writing passages into the address taken from a speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention by Michelle Obama.A resignation was offered, rejected, and the convention moves on."The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania's speech than the FBI spent on Hillary's emails," Donald Trump tweeted, referencing the FBI investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state.  Protests, which had been mostly calm this week, heated up Wednesday. A flag-burning demonstration turned chaotic and at least five people were arrested and two officers suffered minor injuries.Inside the arena, the theme for the night is "Make America First Again." Organizers say speakers will "discuss the Republican vision for a new century of American leadership and excellence." The headliner is Pence, who when greeting Trump on Wednesday afternoon promised that what begins in Cleveland "will end in the White House."Pence will get to make his case with the prime-time cameras rolling. In addition to dishing on Clinton, Pence's podium moment will provide the opportunity to further smooth over differences between himself and Trump on such issues as trade, the war in Iraq and whether Muslims should be banned from entering the United States.Pence's solid conservative credentials, however, represent a boon for Trump as he works to consolidate support among his party's right-wing doubters.Cruz ranks among the highest-profile Republican politicians to take the podium this week. Both presidents Bush and the last two GOP presidential candidates — Mitt Romney and Arizona Sen. John McCain — are not participating. Cruz, runner-up to Trump in the bruising nomination battle, is expected to shelve past references to Trump such as “pathological liar” and “utterly amoral."Not that Trump didn't match Cruz's scorn. "Lyin' Ted" was a familiar Trump refrain. But that was then. Now, a direct endorsement, something Cruz has declined to provide since shutting down his campaign in May, would be a big plus. Cruz could also use the high-profile speech as a gateway to another presidential run in four or even eight years.Other scheduled speakers include former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich, Trump Organization vice president and Trump son Eric, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose own presidential hopes at least for this cycle were dashed early in the hunt.An energetic evening could help quell the uproar over the passages from Michelle Obama's 2008 speech that surfaced in Melania Trump's speech Monday. McIver admitted in her statement that the apparent plagiarism “was my mistake.” She said Melania Trump told her she had always admired Michelle Obama and read passages from the speech as examples."I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech. I did not check Mrs. Obama’s speeches," the statement said. "This was my mistake, and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama. No harm was meant."McIver's admission came after Trump campaign officials, including Paul Manafort, spent Tuesday denying there was any plagiarism in Melania Trump's speech.On Tuesday, delegates formally selected Trump and Pence as their candidates. The traditional alphabetical roll call of the states reached a crescendo when Trump's home state of New York was slipped in out of order — also a tradition — put him over the 1,237 needed to claim the GOP crown."It is my honor to throw Donald Trump over the top tonight," his son Donald Trump Jr., a New York delegate, said to cheers. "Congratulations, dad. We love you."Pence was nominated by acclamation, and a long line of speakers took turns ripping Clinton, sometime to shouts of "lock her up."Contributing: Rick Jervis, Maureen Groppe Copyright 2016 WCSH

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