First day of RNC marked by powerful speeches, rules confusion

CLEVELAND — The Republican National Convention kicked off Monday afternoon to handle official business and hear from a litany of speakers ranging from Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, to Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, who was introduced by Trump himself.
Even though the business did not commence until early afternoon, the convention site was buzzing with activity from the early morning hours. Politicians and celebrities worked “Media Row,” immediately adjacent to the Quicken Loans Arena — where the convention is being held and the home of the 2016 NBA champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Media Row is actually housed in a parking garage, though from inside it is completely unrecognizable as such. The whole second level was built out with floors, walls and windows to accommodate some of the thousands of media covering the convention.
When event operations vehicles transited the other levels of the garage, the floor would shake, reminding everyone they were, in fact, in a parking garage.
As the start time for the day’s business approached, delegates worked their way through security lines under the watchful eye of law enforcement. The layers of protection provided for this event cannot go unnoticed, but is audibly appreciated by the delegates and guests. Officers are thanked for their service by convention goers at every turn.
The heightened security atmosphere matched very well with the day’s theme: Make America Safe Again.
Speakers during the evening session focused on the need to combat Islamist terrorism and ideology, lambasted presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for her alleged failings related to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, and highlighted the dangers posed by illegal immigration.
The afternoon, however, included votes on party rules and platforms. That yielded a mild level of controversy. Though it was reportedly widely in media outlets that a vote on rules about the binding of delegate votes caused a stir on the floor, several delegates said it was more confusion than controversy.
James Snyder, a North Carolina delegate at large from Raleigh, said the media may have made a mountain out of a molehill.
“I think it was much more about having everyone’s voice heard,” said Snyder. “Some of the things that were going on on the other side of the floor we didn’t know about too much until we either saw it on Twitter or heard it from another delegation.”
Despite a bitter primary season, Snyder thinks party unity is taking hold.
“It’s clear that 99 percent of us want to beat Hillary,” said Snyder.
According to convention insiders, the voice vote on rules had to deal with multiple rules, but none of them were on unbinding delegates. One of the rules, however, dealt with making state primaries closed nationwide. After a voice vote seemed to favor one side, but was called for the other, some frustrations emerged.
Delegates from at least nine states requested a roll call vote to consider the motion once more with a full count, but when three of those state’s withdrew their request the effort was tabled according to convention rules.
While there was a moderate amount of griping and a healthy amount of confusion by delegates and media alike, the convention moved on from the issue with little consequence or drama.
The real controversy to emerge from Monday’s events has been allegations that Melania Trump plagiarized much of her speech from a Michelle Obama speech given at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The text comparisons lend merit to those accusations, but Melania Trump’s speech was warmly accepted by the delegates.
Donald Trump’s brief appearance on the first day of the convention to introduce his wife was a small break from tradition, but his entrance was more akin to a rock show than a political nomination.
Trump’s silhouette appeared in front of bright lights, seemingly emerging from mist, while Queen’s “We Are The Champions” rocked the Quicken Loans Arena. The crowd too played their part in the rock star entry, cheering wildly for their candidate as he commanded the stage.
It was a mere taste of things to come as the week wears on and Trump makes more significant appearances in front of the convention crowd. Tuesday’s session begins at 5:30 PM, after state delegations enjoy breakfast and lunch events with notable speakers and friendly delegations from across other states get together to enjoy what Cleveland has to offer.
North State Journal is in Cleveland all week. Click here for photos of some of Tuesday’s early events.