Trump clinches GOP nomination

2016-07-20 01:28
Delegates cheer as Donald Trump is confirmed as GOP presidential candidate.  (Jim Watson, AFP)

Delegates cheer as Donald Trump is confirmed as GOP presidential candidate. (Jim Watson, AFP)

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Awks! Melania Trump cribs Michelle Obama's speech

2016-07-19 11:23

Melania Trump lifted a segment of a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama.WATCH

Cleveland - United for a night, Republicans nominated Donald Trump on Tuesday night as their presidential standard-bearer, capping the billionaire businessman's stunning takeover of the GOP and propelling him into a November face-off 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 kick-off, including a plagiarism charge involving Melania Trump's address on opening night.

Alabama Senator 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 Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor 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.

Rocky start

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 centre 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 Melania Trump's address. The matter consumed news coverage from Cleveland, obscuring 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 organisational undertakings, with thousands of attendees to manage and dozens of speakers to oversee. But the week long gathering pales in comparison to the scope of a president's responsibilities as head of the US government.

Hopes for a strong show of unity

Republican leaders hoping to leave Cleveland with a strong show of party unity also found themselves answering unwelcome questions. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said he "probably" would have fired his own speech writers under similar circumstances and acknowledged the matter was a distraction.

It was unclear whether the controversy would have any bearing on how voters view Trump. The businessman has survived numerous politically perilous moments that might have doomed other candidates.

Manafort, a longtime Republican operative, has emerged as a controversial and pivotal figure in Trump's Cleveland operations. He led efforts to successfully tamp down a rebellion on the convention floor on Monday, though the campaign still had to contend with angry outbursts from anti-Trump delegates.

The campaign chairman also upended Republicans' unity message by slamming Ohio Governor John Kasich in his home state. He called Kasich "petulant" and "embarrassing" for not endorsing Trump or attending the convention, drawing quick condemnation from other GOP leaders worried about angering the popular governor of one of the most important election states.

Following the roll call vote, a parade of Trump's former campaign rivals, Republican leaders who are lukewarm about his nomination and more family members are scheduled to take centre stage. Republicans will be closely watching House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has endorsed Trump despite disagreeing with him on numerous issues.

Tiffany Trump, the candidate's 22-year-old daughter from his marriage to Marla Maples, and Donald Trump jnr, his eldest son and an executive vice president at The Trump Organisation, were scheduled to speak. Both were expected to highlight a more personal side of their father than is often seen in public.

Speaking to reporters on the convention floor, Trump jnr said he was proud of Melania Trump's speech, but said he imagined there were people "who should have cleaned it up better".

Trump was widely praised for her success in doing just that, despite the plagiarism charges. She spoke of her husband's "simple goodness" and his loyalty and love of family - while noting the "drama" that comes with Trump in politics.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us  |  us 2016 elections

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