Day One of the Republican National Convention didn’t go quite the way Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee would have liked.
The party was hoping to begin coalescing around the ticket of Trump and Mike Pence, with the primary fight and its associated hurt feelings finally put to rest. Instead, it got a fight on the floor between rebellious delegates hoping to voice their disapproval of Trump and the party establishment, which wanted to end intra-party squabbling in the main stretch toward the general election.
There was a fight to have the convention’s rules package voted on by a roll call vote. Such a move could have given anti-Trump forces greater ability to voice their dissent. Through some politicking, that plan wasn’t approved, leading to massive chants of “roll call!” by disaffected delegates, countered with “We Want Trump!” chants from others. The rules package was ultimately put to a voice vote, and while the convention chair decided that the ayes outweighed the nays, it seemed to be way too close to call, with both sides announcing their presence loudly.
The spectacle prompted considerable dissection from the news media. Party division seems likely to be an issue going forward at the convention.
The evening portion of the RNC — the part that most people sitting at home watched — was much more in line with the well-manicured infomercial we have come to associate with political conventions. Speakers by politicians including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Tom Cotton got the crowd excited, as did appearances by veterans including “Lone Survivor” Marcus Luttrell.
There was a healthy focus on issues like Benghazi, immigration, and law enforcement, all of which offered political red meat for the assembled delegates, whether they were pro-Trump or not. The evening program was a masterclass in Hillary Clinton-bashing, with the crowd responding viscerally to anything negative said about the presumptive Democratic nominee. In a particularly emphatic address, Giuliani called out Clinton for her role in Benghazi and its aftermath.
There was also some celebrity juice, with Willie Robertson from Duck Dynasty and Scott Baio from Happy Days making appearances early on Monday evening.
And there was even an appearance by the candidate himself, to introduce his wife Melania Trump.
It isn’t going to be the evening portion of the event that people remember, though. It is going to be the afternoon, the continued civil war that wages between the Trump campaign and many of the conservative movement’s most active warriors. Though there won’t be too many more chances for the anti-Trump crowd to vocally express its displeasure with the party’s nominee, the chants and the boos will echo for the rest of the week, and possibly throughout the campaign.