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Trump clinches GOP ticket, struggles to rally party

Donald Trump formally has clinched the Republican presidential nomination amid persisting signs of discord in a party that has yet to fully embrace his polarising candidacy.

world Updated: Jul 20, 2016 21:27 IST
Yashwant Raj
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks on screen during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Tuesday. The Republican Party formally nominated Trump for president.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks on screen during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Tuesday. The Republican Party formally nominated Trump for president. (AFP)

Donald Trump formally clinched the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday amid persisting signs of discord in a party that has yet to fully embrace his polarising candidacy.

In a roll-call of delegates on the floor of the convention, 721 votes went to candidates other than Trump, in one of the most significant expressions of discord in the party’s recent history.

But Trump easily acquired the 1,237 required to win the nomination, clinching it with New York delegates delivered to him ceremonially by his eldest son Donald Trump Jr.

As giant television screens hanging from the high ceiling of the venue, a sporting arena, flashed “Over the top”, Trump’s family joined supporters chanting “Trump, Trump, Trump”.

Donald Trump's children (left to right): Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, Eric Trump's wife Lara Yunaska and Tiffany Trump, celebrate after announcing the votes of the New York delegation to put their father over the top to win the Republican presidential nomination during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Tuesday. (Reuters)

“Together we’ve achieved historic results,” Trump said, beaming live from New York. “This is a movement, but we have to go all the way . . . We’ll win the presidency and bring real change.”

The real estate magnate is scheduled to appear at the convention on Wednesday with his running mate, Indiana governor Mike Pence, and then on Thursday to accept his nomination.

Getting the party fully behind him, however, remains a challenge. Many leaders have stayed away from the convention or extended formulaic and tepid support if they did show up.

New Mexico governor Susana Martinez, who has been at odds with Trump, led her state delegation on the floor to vote for Trump, but had someone else make the formal announcement.

John Kasich, governor of Ohio, which is hosting the convention, continued to stay away and his state's delegates cheered every vote he picked up during the roll-call on the floor.

Eric Trump (centre), son of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, arrives on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Tuesday. The Republican Party formally nominated Donald Trump for president of the US, capping a rollercoaster campaign that saw the billionaire defeat 16 rivals. (AFP)

Prominent leaders also staying away included George H W Bush and George W Bush, the only two living Republican presidents. They are not supporting Trump, they have said.

Even those who showed up have seemed noticeably lacking in enthusiasm. Speaker Paul Ryan, who was late to endorse Trump, has remained a reluctant backer, stoic and soldierly.

He called Trump “not my kind of conservative” just days before the convention, and on Tuesday told the convention, “Have we had our arguments this year? Sure we have.”

“You know what I call those?” he asked. “Signs of life. Signs of a party that’s not just going through the motions, not just mouthing new words for the same old stuff.”

Ryan, the senior-most elected Republican in the country, barely even mentioned Trump in his speech — twice, that’s all. And in none of those instances was it about the nominee’s vision or policies.

Even early Trump backer Chris Christie, who delivered the most exciting speech of the night, made the case for the nominee more by slamming his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Christie conducted a mock trial of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state (2009-2012) and held her guilty on every charge, prompting the crowd to chant, “Lock her up, Lock her up.”

Trump received the stronger character testimonials from his children — Trump Jr portrayed him as a man who spent his life and career among “regular Americans” and not behind a desk. Tiffany Trump, his daughter from his second marriage, called her father “a natural-born encourager, the last person who will ever tell you to lower your sights”.

The Trump campaign has deployed the nominee’s family to present him to the country as the man it did not know. Melania Trump, his wife, started that process on Monday.

That didn’t go too well as her speech was found to contain sentences and paragraphs lifted from a 2008 campaign speech by Michelle Obama. The Trumps fared better on Tuesday.