After four long days of speeches and spectacle, the Republican delegates assembled in Cleveland finally got what they came here for — a night centered on party unity, balloon drops, and a full fledged appearance by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Before the man himself took the stage, though, there was a full menu of speakers to build up to him. Tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel gave a short speech endorsing Trump and obliquely warning the Republicans that if they continue to focus on social issues like gay marriage and transgender bathroom rights, they will miss what really matters — issues like the economy and foreign policy. Though Thiel may not be as well known as some other speakers, his inclusion in prime time could prove to be a shrewd move. Thiel is something of a libertarian hero. Given that Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson is doing better than expected in the polls, the presence of Thiel could help win over some from that wing of the party.
Other than the candidate himself, the most well-received speech of the night came from Trump’s daughter, Ivanka. Her speech introducing her father was more policy focused than many of the other addresses on Thursday evening — though that policy was mostly about childcare and the gender wage gap, not bread-and-butter Republican issues.
Though the final night of the convention will not completely erase the chaos of the first three, it was certainly a better look than what Trump and the Republican National Committee had offered so far.
Next week, the Democrats will host their own convention. Given the discipline of the Clinton campaign, it is likely to be the exact opposite of this week’s shindig — it will be focus-group tested and punctual, perhaps even over-managed. In what has thus far been a highly unpredictable election season, it’s unclear which event will appeal more to voters: Trump’s unpredictability or Clinton’s perfectionism.