CLEVELAND (AP) — United for a night, Republicans nominated Donald Trump Tuesday night as their presidential standard-bearer, capping the billionaire businessman’s stunning takeover of the GOP and propelling him into a November faceoff with Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s campaign hoped the formal nomination would both end the discord surging through the Republican Party and overshadow the convention’s chaotic kickoff, including a plagiarism charge involving Melania Trump’s address on opening night.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions opened the nominating process with a hearty endorsement of Trump, declaring him “a warrior and a winner.” There were flurries of dissent on the convention floor as state that Trump did not win recorded their votes, but he far outdistanced his primary rivals.
He was put over the top by his home state of New York.
Convention officials gave some delegates won by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to Trump, including all 19 from the District of Columbia. A delegate from the district accused the party of trying to quiet anti-Trump dissent.
This week’s four-day convention is Trump’s highest-profile opportunity to convince voters that he’s better suited for the presidency than Clinton, who will be officially nominated at next week’s Democratic gathering. But the rocky start raises fresh questions about his oversight of his campaign, which gives voters a window into how a candidate might handle the pressures of the presidency.
The plagiarism accusations center on Monday night’s speech by Trump’s wife. Two passages from Mrs. Trump’s address — each 30 words or longer — matched a 2008 Democratic convention address by Michelle Obama nearly word-for-word.
Trump’s campaign managed only to keep the controversy alive on Day 2 of the convention by insisting there was no evidence of plagiarism, while offering no explanation for how the strikingly similar passages wound up in Mrs. Trump’s address. The matter consumed news coverage from Cleveland, obscuring Mrs. Trump’s broader effort to show her husband’s softer side.
Clinton pounced on the tumult, saying the Republican gathering had so far been “surreal,” comparing it to the classic fantasy film “Wizard of Oz.”
“When you pull back the curtain, it was just Donald Trump with nothing to offer to the American people,” Clinton said during a speech in Las Vegas.
Top Trump adviser Paul Manafort said the matter had been “totally blown out of proportion.”
“They’re not even sentences. They’re literally phrases. I was impressed somebody did their homework to think that that could be possibly done,” Manafort told The Associated Press.
Conventions are massive organizational undertakings, with thousands of attendees to manage and dozens of speakers to oversee. But the weeklong gathering pales in comparison to the scope of a president’s responsibilities as head of the U.S. government.