ANALYSIS: Trump Convention in Search of Unity – and Energy

Trump’s convention is lacking a certain energy.

ByRick Klein
July 20, 2016, 12:00 AM

— -- CLEVELAND – The Trump takeover of the Republican Party was formalized on Tuesday, amid some folded arms on the floor of a Republican National Convention that has lacked unity, energy, and emotional heft.

It all occurred in the exact same place that Donald J. Trump famously raised his hand in a gesture that hedged on party loyalty, just about a year ago. That moment was electric in a way that nothing that’s happened in Cleveland this week has come close to matching.

While Trump earned the Republican nomination, he did not and has not earned a united party. Little that’s happened through a sometimes flat first two days of his convention nudged things in that direction –- to say nothing of the wider nation he hopes to lead.

The party’s wounds were on display even in a speaking lineup designed to convey healing. Tuesday was a night for congressional leaders and former opponents to take the stage before two of Trump’s children.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earned a smattering of boos when he was introduced. He, like most of the night’s other speakers, attacked Hillary Clinton -– but some of his words were easy enough to turn on his own party.

“Why in the world would Democrats put forward such a candidate?” McConnell asked.

House Speaker Paul Ryan used his speaking slot to remind his fellow Republicans that they “have made our choice.”

“Let the other party go on and on with its constant dividing up of people,” Ryan said as part of his plea for unity.

Gov. Chris Christie, a vice-presidential runner-up, auditioned for attorney general by preparing an indictment of Clinton, rather than a rousing endorsement of Trump.

“Lock her up!” the crowd chanted.

“Give ya a few more minutes, we’ll get there,” said Christie.

Even the larger-than-life visage of Trump himself, towering over the convention on two giant video screens, didn’t make the big tent seem any larger.

It was left to two of his grown children, Tiffany and Donald Jr., to inject some humanity and unity into the room. They were among the few speakers to talk directly and personally about the man who would be president.

Donald Trump has never done anything halfway, least of all as a parent,” Tiffany Trump said.

Arguably, Trump is more than halfway to party unity. His campaign isn’t acting, though, like it needs to get much further -– a strong-arming of rogue delegates and bad-mouthing of Ohio’s Republican governor, John Kasich, has made clear.

As for the broader unity a potential president might seek out, that’s not Trump. Since before that first debate in Cleveland, the question has been whether Trump is capable of growing and changing as a candidate.

He’s found new lines and new ways to insult his Democratic opponent. But Trump’s convention is lacking a certain energy that might only come from making a turn toward a positive vision – one that’s missing two nights in.

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