GOP Convention Formally Votes For Trump As Party's Presidential Nominee
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Months of brutal campaigning for president concluded with a quaint American tradition last night. State delegations cast their ballots for president at the Republican National Convention. It's a chance to promote your candidate for the nomination, and also your state.
(SOUNDBITE OF REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: The great state of Alabama, the home of national champion football teams Alabama and Auburn, the home of the Saturn 5 rocket that took us to the moon, is proud to cast 36 votes for the next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Arkansas, the land of opportunity and birthplace of Johnny Cash and Al Green. We got the best duck hunting on Earth. We're number one in rice production. We cast our lines for world-class trout. We cast 25 votes for the next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: North Carolina is a party which was funded and founded by blacks and whites. Ten percent of all the historically black colleges and universities are within this border. We proudly cast 29 votes for the next president of the United States, the honorable Donald John Trump.
INSKEEP: Some of the state's casting ballots at the Republican Convention yesterday. The result was widely expected. Trump won the nomination. Although, not far at all beneath the surface - in fact, not beneath the surface at all - was a lot of Republican Party angst. So let's talk it through with NPR political reporter Scott Detrow, who's with us all week, as well as Jonah Goldberg joining us now, senior editor of the National Review and a columnist for the L.A. Times. Good morning, sir.
JONAH GOLDBERG: Great to be here.
INSKEEP: So my impression walking around the convention floor yesterday was people were kind of enthused - not overwhelmingly so - and not fully united. What do you see?
GOLDBERG: Oh, I think that's right. I think, of the delegates who are here, there's a good deal of enthusiasm, I think. But it's very hard to track the enthusiasm of the delegates who are not here.
INSKEEP: Oh, because there are people who refused to come to this convention.
GOLDBERG: Yeah. I mean, just look at the roster of politicians who didn't come here. And I think one of the things that people forget is that the original role of the political convention wasn't to pick the person with 51 percent of the delegates. It was to unify the party and to find a consensus candidate that was the least objectionable to the most people. And instead, what we've - because we've internally democratized the party - this is the first time it has not worked out where the entire party can rally around someone. And there's a lot of grumbling about it.
INSKEEP: Trump clearly won, but didn't win over everybody, at least not yet. Scott Detrow?
SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: I think what was so remarkable about yesterday was how unremarkable it was. It was kind of a - an average day two of a convention. You heard - you had the roll call vote. You had speakers like Paul Ryan and Chris Christie. And after the Monday the Republicans had, when basically everything went wrong, I think this was kind of putting them on the right track for the rest of the week.
INSKEEP: Well, let's get a taste of a couple of the speeches - particularly interesting ones. One of them was House Speaker Paul Ryan, who presided over yesterday's proceedings. And he had this say when he spoke in primetime.
(SOUNDBITE OF REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION)
PAUL RYAN: Democracy is a series of choices. We Republicans have made our choice. Have we had our arguments this year? Sure we have. You know what I call those? Signs of life. Here we are, at a time when men and women in both parties so clearly, so undeniably want a big change in direction for America, a clean break from a failed system. And what does the Democratic Party establishment offer? What is their idea of a clean break? They are offering a third Obama term brought to you by another Clinton. And you're supposed to be excited about that. For a country so ready for change, it feels like we've been cleared for takeoff, and then somebody announced we're all going back to the gate.
INSKEEP: House speaker Paul Ryan last night. His closing line was, quote, "let's do this thing." I mean, clearly against Hillary Clinton there, but do you think he believes in Donald Trump?
GOLDBERG: Personally, and from what I've - can report, I do not believe he believes in Donald Trump. I feel that, if you look closely at the video on C-SPAN website, you'll see him blinking torture in Morse code.
GOLDBERG: And I wonder if they had - if Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign manager, had to release Paul's family from their hiding place after he delivered that speech. It was a major exercise in box-checking for him.
DETROW: Choice was the key word. This was more about not electing Hillary Clinton than electing Donald Trump. And Ryan kept broadening it out to conservative movements as a whole and Congress in broader terms than Donald Trump.
INSKEEP: Now, there were some passionate speeches against Hillary Clinton and also in support of Donald Trump. Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, after being turned down for vice president, was there and speaking very fiercely.
DETROW: He was, and that had the crowd whipped up more than anything else that happened last night, and maybe even more than Rudy Giuliani on the first night. They were chanting lock her up. They were chanting guilty. This was a crowd, like the Republican Party as a whole, that does not like Hillary Clinton, does not want her to be president.
GOLDBERG: No, that's absolutely right. The one thing that unifies the party, including people like me - full disclosure, I'm not a big fan of Donald Trump - is that we're also really not fans of Hillary Clinton. And that is the one galvanizing thing that everyone can fall back on.
INSKEEP: Well, let's listen to a bit of Ben Carson, the former presidential candidate, who spoke later in the night and went off script.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
BEN CARSON: This is a nation where our Pledge of Allegiance says we are one nation under God. This is a nation...
CARSON: This is a nation where every coin in our pocket and every bill in our wallet says in God we trust. So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that.
INSKEEP: I really didn't expect someone to play the Lucifer card in primetime. But he's a guy who got the crowd going. I mean, we do have - we do have a representation of what you're saying there, Jonah Goldberg. There's a lot of unhappiness with Hillary Clinton.
GOLDBERG: Absolutely. And, you know, one of my favorite New Yorker cartoons has two dogs sitting at a bar in pinstripe suits. And one dog says to the other, it's not good enough that dogs succeed; cats must also fail.
GOLDBERG: And I think that is the safe argument for all these guys.
INSKEEP: Can I just ask one thing, though? During that roll call of states that we started with, a number of the states emphasized how good their economies were. Arizona - we're the number-one in job growth. Arkansas - lowest unemployment rate in history. Indiana - home of Mike Pence, more jobs than in the 200-year history of the state. Is that a bit of a challenge for Republicans because they are campaigning at a time when times are not great, but the economy has improved?
DETROW: Well, I think what they go back to is that things have been steadily moving in the right direction, but very slowly. And that's been a problem for Barack Obama to sell his entire presidency. It could have been worse - the recession could have been worse is not something that really excites people and that you can run a campaign on.
INSKEEP: Although the numbers are getting better in many states. Now, let's talk about some other news here. Very big implications here - possibly for the Republican Party and for the media world - involving the future of Roger Ailes, chairman of Fox News, major Republican figure for decades. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik is also here in our Cleveland studios at WCPN Ideastream. Hi, David.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Hey, Steve.
INSKEEP: What's the news?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, two sources at Fox News tell me that Roger Ailes is, you know, being forced to confront the end of an era, that the Murdoch family, which controls the parent company, 21st Century Fox, is - its representatives are negotiating his exit with his representatives. And it's as a result of the fallout from this incredible sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox host and - and anchor Gretchen Carlson.
INSKEEP: And let's remember, she made allegations of sexual harassment. Other women then came forward. Some of them spoke on the record to you.
FOLKENFLIK: That's right.
INSKEEP: We've heard them here on MORNING EDITION. Megyn Kelly's name has now been brought into this - perhaps the most famous - or one of the most famous Fox News anchors.
FOLKENFLIK: Right, not incidentally either, you know? She has been very quiet. People have said what does Megyn Kelly have to say about this - because a number of very prominent Fox figures - and some not-so-prominent - have come forward to vouch for Roger Ailes, saying either this is not the man I know or he isn't like this; he wouldn't do this. Well, Megyn Kelly stayed silent. She's one of their two top stars. She's certainly their most prominent female figure - you know, became perhaps even more prominent when she questioned Donald Trump so sharply and so smartly, I thought, at the opening August debate for the Republican primary season last - last year.
And she apparently not only has been cooperating with lawyers who are doing an internal investigation of Roger - excuse me - an external investigation of Roger Ailes, but she told them that a decade ago as a young reporter in the Fox News bureau, that she, too, had been harassed. Fox has put out a statement for Roger Ailes saying he did not sexually harass her. But nonetheless, it seemed like the blow that felled a sequoia because you soon learned that Fox's parent company was saying this guy has to get out.
INSKEEP: Now let me get words from your story at npr.org. This is a 21st Century Fox statement that says - all present tense here - Roger is at work. The review is ongoing. The only agreement that is in place is his existing employment agreement. That's not actually denying what you're reporting, that they're negotiating his ouster.
FOLKENFLIK: Well, it's certainly consistent with the fact that the deal hasn't been arrived at yet. There's this astonishing moment where the Drudge Report posted what appeared to be a contract on which they were working to get him out. And it would involve the transfer of $40 million from 21st Century Fox to Roger Ailes.
INSKEEP: Severance payment.
FOLKENFLIK: Severance pay - not bad pay for a guy accused of things that usually would get an employee, you know, fired for cause.
INSKEEP: OK, just got a few seconds left. I got a note that Jonah Goldberg of National Review, LA Times also is a Fox News contributor. Jonah, what has Roger Ailes' place been in the Republican firmament, very briefly?
GOLDBERG: Oh, Roger Ailes is a colossal figure. And he - the list of people who owe their careers to Roger Ailes is very, very long, including many politicians. And this is a thunder clap, and we don't know where it's going to go, but it's complicated.
INSKEEP: OK. All right, Jonah, thanks very much. Thanks also to NPR's David Folkenflik.
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