It was Donald Trump’s moment to make his case to the country — and to the many rattled doubters in his own party.
The most important speech of his presidential campaign was set to bring down the balloons Thursday night on a convention marked by divided loyalties and unwanted distractions.
Trump did a walk-through Thursday afternoon at the Cleveland arena where he would accept the Republican Party’s nomination for President.
He walked on stage at the Quicken Loans Arena and stood at the microphone for several minutes, pointing to various spots in the building.
The Republican presidential nominee briefly spoke, joking that he loved the media before then paying tribute to the host city and the Cleveland police.
He was joined by his daughter, Ivanka, who was set to introduce him as part of the convention’s grand finale.
Trump flashed a thumbs-up at photographers snapping away at his appearance.
The lighting in the arena changed to bathe the stage in gold, likely previewing its appearance when Trump speaks.
Competing passions were sharply on display Wednesday night when Trump’s fiercest primary rival, Ted Cruz, stopped far short of endorsing the nominee and drew loud boos.
But according to Trump, forget what you may be hearing about booing and Ted Cruz’s non-endorsement as Trump tweeted that inside the hall in Cleveland, the party is “VERY united. Great love in the arena!”
The discord around Cruz continued Thursday when Cruz told the Texas delegation that he would not endorse Trump in part because the billionaire had insulted his father and wife during the raucous GOP primary.
In his tweet, Trump attributed any opposition to “a small group of people who have suffered massive and embarrassing losses.”
Cruz’s ‘bad judgment’
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says the Republican Party is coming together even though one-time presidential candidate Ted Cruz refused to endorse Donald Trump at the party’s convention.
The GOP vice presidential nominee told Fox News Thursday that he is grateful Cruz came to the convention noted that the Texas senator did congratulate Trump on winning a hard-fought campaign.
Boos filled the convention hall on Wednesday night after Cruz declined to endorse Trump in his prime time speech and urged Republicans to vote their conscience.
Pence said he is “absolutely confident that in the days ahead you’re going to see this party come together and present the choice to the American people.”
Donald Trump’s top adviser said former rival Cruz “used very bad judgment” when he addressed the GOP convention without endorsing its presidential nominee.
Paul Manafort told NBC’s “Today” Thursday that Trump invited his primary opponents to address the convention in Cleveland because “he views the primary process as over.” Convention delegates formally nominated Trump on Tuesday.
Manafort added that the Republican Party is coming together, despite the Texas senator’s failure to endorse Trump during his primetime address late Wednesday.
But he believes Cruz “used very bad judgment,” adding that “he was not respectful to the invitation by the convention to come and speak.”
Manafort said that Cruz “understood what the responsibilities are, someone in his position.”
Trump tweeted about Cruz’s speech: “No big deal!”
He said he saw the text of Cruz’s speech two hours before it was delivered but thought, “let him speak anyway.”
Former House Speaker John Boehner says, “Lucifer is back.”
That comment from the Ohio Republican, reported on Twitter by his spokesman, was a reference to Ted Cruz, the Texas senator and former GOP presidential candidate who has incensed Republican delegates for speaking to the convention but refusing to endorse nominee Donald Trump.
Boehner’s remark harks back to a comment he made in April, when he told an audience at Stanford University that he considered Cruz, “Lucifer in the flesh.”
He elaborated, according to Stanford Daily, by saying he has never “worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”
GOP delegates booed Cruz offstage Wednesday night when it became clear his speech to the convention would not include an endorsement of Trump. Cruz on Wednesday cast his decision as deeply personal, saying he refuses to fall in line, “like a servile puppy dog.”
Pence: Trump with NATO
Mike Pence says he’s confident that GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump would stand by the nation’s NATO allies, but insisted those countries “must pay their fair share.”
The vice presidential nominee on Thursday was reacting to Trump’s comments that if Russia attacked the Baltic States, he would consider defending them only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.” Trump’s comments were published in Thursday’s New York Times.
His position is at odds with longstanding U.S. foreign policy. The 28 nations that are part of the NATO alliance have all signed a treaty pledging to automatically come to the aid of any member country that is attacked.
Pence told Fox News that a Trump administration would tell U.S. allies “the time has come for them and for their citizens to begin to carry the financial costs of these international obligations.”
Sen. Rob Portman says NATO is the “most important military alliance” but says Trump is right that its members should contribute more to honor the agreement.
The Ohio Republican said Thursday that “we need to stand by our allies” but added that Trump’s “point that we would like our NATO partners to contribute more to NATO and to their own defense is absolutely accurate.”
Trump said in an interview with the New York Times that he would decide whether to protect the Baltic republics against Russian aggression based on whether those countries “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”
Portman said he has a “little disagreement” with Republican colleagues on what the U.S. contributes to Ukraine in its current conflict and acknowledged a push for a new “lead from the front.”
“That doesn’t mean we’re the world’s policemen,” Portman said. “It may mean we’re more like the world’s sheriff where you bring a posse together.”
Ivanka proud of Melania speech
Donald Trump’s oldest daughter says she is “proud” of her father’s wife for the speech she delivered at the Republican National Convention, despite controversy that the address in some places mirrored First Lady Michelle Obama’s words.
Ivanka Trump tells NBC’s “Today” that, “I love Melania so much.”
She added that her stepmother is “a very private person, and for her to come out on stage and speak from the heart” is significant.
Trump Organization staff writer Meredith McIver released a statement Wednesday apologizing for the mistake, saying she submitted her resignation to Donald Trump, but he refused to accept it.
Looking ahead to her own speech Thursday night, Ivanka Trump joked in the interview joked that her biggest hope is that she doesn’t trip on stage.
Trump: Cloud removed
Donald Trump says he’s pleased that the staffer who wrote Michelle Obama’s words into Melania Trump’s speech has removed “that cloud” shadowing his wife’s otherwise well-received address.
The GOP presidential nominee told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday that he appreciated Meredith McIver’s apology. He said it’s “terrific” that McIver, who is an employee of the Trump Organization, admitted inadvertently lifting the first lady’s phrasing from her 2008 convention speech word-for-word. He added that “now that cloud is lifted off” Mrs. Trump.
Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort had led a chorus the candidate’s surrogates denying Mrs. Trump’s speech contained any plagiarism, despite clear evidence to the contrary. McIver released a statement Wednesday saying that she had inadvertently included some phrases from Mrs. Obama’s speech into Mrs. Trump’s address and offered her resignation. Trump refused to accept it. He told ABC that “people make mistakes.”
Jr.: Kasich was considered
Donald Trump Jr. says that Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has boycotted the Republican National Convention, was briefly a prospect to be his father’s vice presidential running mate.
The younger Trump tells MSNBC “we talked about it as a potential,” but said nothing came of it and that Kasich never directly discussed it with Donald Trump.
Donald Trump Jr. says the talk of Kasich possibly joining the ticket took place last spring, well before his father started building momentum for the nomination the convention bestowed on him Tuesday night.
Kasich has refused to endorse Trump and the governor has refused to go to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland where the convention was taking place, although he has made public appearances in the area.