CLEVELAND ― Donald Trump made his hostile takeover of the Republican Party official Tuesday, with convention delegates casting their votes to make a bombastic, thrice-married New Yorker with a checkered business history their choice for president.
Trump earned the 1,237 bound delegates necessary to secure the party’s nomination in early June. The chairs of each state delegation expressed their vote totals and support for Trump in a roll call vote during the second day of the Republican National Convention.
Despite having won the primary outright, many of the party’s leading figures have refused to endorse Trump. All four of the GOP’s most recent presidents and presidential nominees are absent from the convention, as are scores of the party’s senators.
The delegates who had for weeks pushed to overthrow Trump at the convention saw their last attempts end with a whimper.
Though the Free the Delegates and Delegates Unbound groups had discussed staging walkouts or contesting the delegate totals as they were announced state by state, neither of those things happened.
Colorado was the home of Free the Delegates founder Kendal Unruh, as well as the largest anti-Trump contingent. Its delegates showed their unhappiness with Trump by largely remaining seated while much of the rest of the convention hall stood to cheer Trump’s mention in nominating speeches. But when it came time to announce the totals, state Chairman Steve House read off the 31 votes for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, two abstentions and four for Trump.
“That’s all the message we can send right now,” Unruh said on the floor as the vote continued, blaming the Republican National Committee’s interpretations of the rules for blocking individual delegates from voicing their objections.
The lack of enthusiasm for Trump even revealed itself as New York’s delegates put him over the threshold needed to secure the nomination. As “New York, New York” blared over the speakers and spotlights played and delegates from New York, Pennsylvania and California stood and swayed, whole delegations at the sides and back of the convention hall remained largely seated.
Trump’s unorthodox approach to politics and divisive rhetoric have made for a campaign that is unprecedented in modern presidential politics. The political newcomer defeated 16 primary opponents, including experienced, well-funded candidates such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
The candidate’s brash, devil-may-care style, honed in the real estate business and on reality TV, has endeared him to the more than 10 million supporters who voted for him in primaries across the nation. Trump has especially appealed to white, working-class voters, many of whom are afraid of demographic and economic change in the U.S.
Since launching his campaign last June, Trump has accused Mexican immigrants of being rapists, called for a blanket ban on Muslims entering the U.S., advocated for the use of torture, encouraged supporters to physically attack protesters, praised murderous dictators, threatened U.S. allies and publicly repeated scores of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies.
Along the way, he has also rewritten the book on how to run a political campaign in the digital age. He funded most of his campaign himself, and employed a skeletal staff for most of the primary. Rather than rely on advisers and campaign surrogates, Trump has made nearly all the major campaign decisions himself, and has used Twitter to communicate directly with the public.
With the nomination in hand, Trump now faces the daunting prospect of competing against Hillary Clinton’s well-organized and well-funded campaign, which intends to make Trump’s character and his business record key issues in the fall campaign.