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Trump yanks back the spotlight

July 22,2016 18:06

Donald Trump gives his convention an enthusiastic two thumbs up. Hours after he formally accepted the Republican Party's nomination for president, the real estate mogul was back to his freewheeling, jocular form, boasting that his four-day party was ...



Donald Trump gives his convention an enthusiastic two thumbs up.
Hours after he formally accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president, the real estate mogul was back to his freewheeling, jocular form, boasting that his four-day party was “one of the most beautiful, one of the most love-filled conventions in the history of conventions” and a tremendous display of “unity.” Story Continued Below
It was a stunning departure from the most reviews of the chaotic convention, which was marred by a plagiarism scandal, delegate mutinies, and Ted Cruz’s defiant speech urging Americans to “vote your conscience."
"We had one of the best conventions ever. In terms of enthusiasm, in terms of I think what it represents, getting our word out, Ivanka was incredible last night. She did an incredible job," Trump said at a campaign event in Cleveland, flanked by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. "So many of the speakers were so amazing and groundsetting. I mean, really groundsetting. It was just something very, very special. We're even getting good marks on television. Can you believe this? Hard to believe. Oh, they'll change, don't worry. But it has been just an incredible four days."
That was not the main takeaway from national media outlets that covered the quadrennial confab and dwelled on its dark, apocalyptic overtones.
Thanking the people of Cleveland and Ohio, Trump alluded to media reports of potential protests and violence, none of which materialized in a major way over the last week.
"We read two, three weeks ago, oh, ‘this is going to be horrible. We're going to have riots. We're going to have problems.’ Everything was a problem, a problem. This was probably one of the most peaceful, one of the most beautiful," Trump said.
"And when they talk about unity, that was unity. That was unity, right? I saw you last night. That was unity. That was amazing. And the party has just come together. The party has come together. And the few people that aren't there, it's OK," Trump said. "You got to understand. I ran as an outsider. I didn't want anybody. Now I have got guys like Mike Pence. I mean this isn't supposed to happen."
Trump joked, "See, now if I don't win, I'm gonna blame Mike, right? We have to blame Mike."
Standing behind Trump, Pence chuckled, flashing grins throughout his running mate’s riff session.

For as disciplined and largely on-script Trump had been Thursday night, the newly minted Republican nominee’s frenetic, bombastic and frank public comments just hours later Friday suggests that Trump doesn’t want to abandon a winning formula. True to form, Trump held nothing back, simultaneously stoking the embers of a smoldering primary season with Cruz while poking at Hillary Clinton, all while reassuring his audience that everyone was unified.
Ever the showman, Trump lauded the "most beautiful set I think I've ever seen not only for conventions but for anything," while also making a gesture toward the people who built it.
"And the folks that worked on that, especially the carpenters, the electricians, you know, we forget about — we forget about this stuff," Trump said. "Those sheetrockers were up there, they did a heck of a job. You got to wrap that sheetrock. He said, yes, Mr. Trump. I said, I know what you do but we don't see it very much."
Trump delighted in proving the haters and pundits wrong, and even the fact that his marathon speech forced networks to scramble their schedules.
“I get a kick out of CNN,” Trump said, mocking the network, “’I don't know if this is a successful convention. I don't know."
“In the meantime, all they talk about is Trump and the convention, right? And I have to tell you, Melania did a great job. What a great speech. What a great speech,” Trump said. What a great speech. And the presentation is still being talked about. What a beautiful speech. Ivanka last night, unbelievable. Unbelievable. Unbelievable. To have that kind of an introduction. And Tiffany, who's never done it, the biggest group she's ever been in front of is probably 22 people in the classroom. Tiffany was amazing and Eric and Don — I just don't want them running for political office because somebody's got to stay behind and run the business. We can't go crazy.”
Trump predicted dismal ratings for the Democratic convention next week.
“I'm going to have a hard time watching her final speech. No. 1, I know her too well. No. 2, boring. Boring. Very boring,” Trump said. “Now it wasn't my fault, but I think it went like an hour and 25 minutes.” (The speech was approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes.) “And the networks didn't know what to do because they had all of their programming, big programs, the local news is a very big factor on television. You never ever move your local news. They all moved it. They said to heck with the local news, Mike. They said we're moving it. And Kimmel and Fallon and the show, they all went back a long way because they weren’t going to miss this convention. I love that, you know. I love it.”
But the speech itself was not the reason for that, Trump explained.
“What happened is the applause were so long and so crazy,” he continued. “It really was. If you look, the speech was fine but the applause were longer than the speech. So it was amazing. There was great love in that room. Honestly, that was all about unity.”
While Trump called it “unity,” that view was far from universal. The gaping wound that ailed the GOP after a brutal primary season never had a true chance to heal before the party tried to cauterize it in Cleveland, with the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee calling out the likes of Cruz and of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who skipped his home-state’s gathering altogether. By Thursday, a top official did not dispute that he might call Cruz an “a—hole,” as Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) described him after the speech.
Trump riffed for several minutes on controversies from months ago resurfaced Thursday by Cruz as his rationale for not backing Trump. First, Trump declared Cruz’s wife “beautiful” and denounced a pro-Cruz super PAC’s re-publication of a photo of his then-girlfriend Melania posing nude for GQ, which, he made sure to note, was “not Penthouse.”
Responding to Cruz’s second beef over his allegation that Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Trump commented, “I don't know his father. I met him once. I think he's a lovely guy.”
“All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast,” he continued, noting that the National Enquirer had broken two major stories: details on O.J. Simpson’s 1994 murder trial and John Edwards’ affair.
“This was a magazine that, in many respects, should be well respected,” Trump said. “I mean if that was The New York Times, they would have gotten Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting.”
Trump, for all his issues with Cruz, suggested ambivalence and even disdain for the senator’s endorsement, should it ever come.
"He's fine. I don't want his endorsement. If he gives it, I will not accept it, just so you understand. I will not accept it," Trump said. "It won't matter. Honestly, he should have done it. Because nobody cares. And he would have been in better shape for four years from now. I don't see him winning anyway, frankly. But if he did, it's fine."

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