US Elections 2016

Trump triumphant

Mr Trump's children (from left) Donald Jr, Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany celebrating after their father officially won the Republican presidential nomination during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday.
Mr Trump's children (from left) Donald Jr, Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany celebrating after their father officially won the Republican presidential nomination during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday. PHOTO: REUTERS
Mr Trump delivering an address via video to delegates on the second day of the Republican National Convention.
Mr Trump delivering an address via video to delegates on the second day of the Republican National Convention.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Tycoon seals Republican nomination for president amid cracks in unity at convention

Mr Donald Trump's anointment as the Republican Party's nominee for president kicked off a day when party leaders sought to get the convention back on script.

The first day of the Republican National Convention had been marred by a messy floor fight and a controversy over Mrs Melania Trump's speech.

Their efforts on the second day were only partially successful.

Though there was nothing like the earlier chaos, there were few signs of true reconciliation either.

Most of the moments of unity were achieved by speakers seeking to rally the crowd against the common enemy - presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Indeed, the evening session featured speech after speech attacking her on everything from her e-mail scandal to her time as secretary of state.

One speaker failed to mention Mr Trump at all, preferring to focus on prosecuting the opponent rather than praising the candidate.

House Speaker Paul Ryan did little better, mentioning Mr Trump only twice in a 12-minute address. It was indicative of his continued uneasiness with his own endorsement of the man even as he made strong calls for the party to unite.

He lobbed a volley of attacks at Mrs Clinton and Democrats before beseeching the crowd: "What do you say we unify this party at this crucial moment when unity is everything? Let's take our fight to our opponents with better ideas. Let's get on the offensive and let's stay there," he said.

Even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, one of the first leading Republicans to back Mr Trump, reserved nearly all of his comments for Mrs Clinton.

He crafted his speech as a call- and-answer, with him as prosecutor and the audience as jury. He laid out arguments on everything from her foreign policy as secretary of state to her e-mail scandal, ending each item with a question to the audience: "Guilty or not guilty?"

"Guilty!" the attendees roared back in unison each time.

Some of the attacks were somewhat bizarre. Dr Ben Carson, one of the failed contenders, had pundits scratching their heads when he sought to connect Mrs Clinton obliquely to Satan.

However, the cracks in unity were evident whenever the Clintons were not the issue at hand.

There were boos from sections of the crowd each time Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stepped on stage, and the roll-call vote to confirm Mr Trump was punctuated by isolated booing and heckling.

Many of the invited guests and alternate delegates did not even bother to attend the historic roll-call vote, with the upper decks of the arena largely deserted.

A telling moment of the mood came midway through the voting when the Michigan delegation passed instead of announcing their votes for Mr Trump. Without realising the move was meant to allow Mr Trump's home state of New York to deliver the deciding votes, some of the floor could be heard yelling "cowards" at the delegation.

The decisive moment itself was well choreographed.

With his siblings beaming beside him, Mr Trump's son Donald Trump Jr announced the votes on behalf of the New York delegation.

"It is my honour to be able to throw Donald Trump over the top tonight. Congratulations Dad, we love you!" he said.

And when the votes were confirmed, the gigantic screen at the back of the stage flashed the words "Over the Top" in gold as the song New York, New York played.

A triumphant Mr Trump addressed the convention late from New York, his face beamed onto the huge screens in the arena.

"What we did getting the party's nomination, I will never forget it," he said. "With your vote today, this stage of the presidential process has come to a close. Together, we have achieved historic results." He is due to officially accept the nomination during his speech tonight.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2016, with the headline 'Trump triumphant'. Print Edition | Subscribe