Republicans Focus Day 2 Of Their Convention On Jobs Tuesday's theme was Make America Work Again. Steve Inskeep examines economic realities with Kyle Kondik, author of The Bellwether: Why Ohio Picks the President. NPR's Mara Liasson wraps up the night.
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Republicans Focus Day 2 Of Their Convention On Jobs

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Republicans Focus Day 2 Of Their Convention On Jobs

Republicans Focus Day 2 Of Their Convention On Jobs

Republicans Focus Day 2 Of Their Convention On Jobs

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/486709645/486709646" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Tuesday's theme was Make America Work Again. Steve Inskeep examines economic realities with Kyle Kondik, author of The Bellwether: Why Ohio Picks the President. NPR's Mara Liasson wraps up the night.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's hear a prelude to a notable moment in American history. We walked onto the floor of the Republican convention yesterday.

OK, so we're walking out onto the floor of Quicken Loans Arena. Hey, good afternoon, sir. Oh, here's the pass.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Thank you. Thank you very much.

INSKEEP: Of course. Stand here a moment and take it all in. We're over here near the Arizona delegation. Some of the seats are beginning to fill up. And in a short time, Donald Trump will formally be nominated for president.

We met some Arizona delegates, including Gabby Saucedo Mercer. She's an immigrant from Mexico, now a U.S. citizen and a supporter of Donald Trump, including his views on immigration. She says she came here legally and is concerned about those who did not.

GABBY SAUCEDO MERCER: The bottom line, to me, when you come to this country illegally you become, in an essence, a slave because you are living in the shadows. You cannot get a good job. So that's not living.

INSKEEP: And what do you think of some of the remarks that Mr. Trump has made saying that Mexico's not sending their best people, saying that Mexicans are rapists, saying that a Mexican-American judge is Mexican, (unintelligible) as biased (unintelligible) Mexican?

MERCER: Well, if you're - let me say about the judge (laughter). He was right. I mean, the guy - he could not be unbiased. I'm sorry?

INSKEEP: Because you're Mexican-American, could you be unbiased?

MERCER: I'm not a Mexican-American. I am an American by choice. I have renounced my Mexican citizenship.

INSKEEP: But do you think you could be unbiased in that situation?

MERCER: No - well, you - nobody - a Mexican could not be unbiased because of the things that he said and...

INSKEEP: And she agrees with many other Trump statements.

MERCER: I know he made a blanket statement. And not all Mexicans are rapists. Not all Mexicans are drug dealers. Not all Mexicans are lazy, but a lot of them are.

INSKEEP: She says that description just does not fit her. Mercer was decked out in red, white and blue. The buttons on her outfit said Trump, Marine mom, I support law enforcement, and God is not dead. She was cheerful while awaiting Trump's nomination. A few yards away in the Utah delegation, Scott Hawkins was not. He's joined a minority movement that failed to contest the nomination.

Why do you think there's so much concern about Trump among Republicans in Utah particularly?

SCOTT HAWKINS: He doesn't share our values. He made a mockery of a federal judge because the guy had a Hispanic surname. That's crazy.

INSKEEP: But it was too late for Hawkins. Soon after we said goodbye to him, the music kicked in.

(SOUNDBITE OF REO SPEEDWAGON SONG, "ROLL WITH THE CHANGES")

INSKEEP: "Roll With The Changes" by REO Speedwagon.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JEFF SESSIONS: Mr. Speaker - Mr. Speaker, it is my distinct honor and great pleasure to nominate Donald J. Trump for the office of president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

SESSIONS: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Trump received votes from state after state. And then speakers rose to promote his election. Here's NPR's Mara Liasson.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Donald Trump's home state put him over the top. Over the top was a pretty good description of his entire improbable campaign. And last night, as the roll call got him to the number of delegates he needed, over the top was emblazoned on every Jumbotron screen in the arena as disco lights flashed in celebration.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP JR: And it is my honor to be able to throw Donald Trump over the top in the delegate count tonight with 89 delegates.

(APPLAUSE)

D. TRUMP JR: And another six for John Kasich. Congratulations, Dad. We love you.

LIASSON: It's official. Donald Trump is now the Republican nominee for president. After all the division and the attempts to derail him, Donald Trump's son, Donald Jr., stood with the New York delegation to announce this milestone. After a rocky first day that ended with the news that Trump's campaign appeared to have lifted, verbatim, parts of Melania Trump's speech from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention address, the second day went smoother.

More than 700 delegates cast their votes for other candidates, more than at any other Republican convention since 1976. But that didn't stop Trump from easily securing the nomination. The theme of last night's program was make America work again. But instead of rolling out details of Donald Trump's economic agenda, last night had a parade of Republican leaders, many of whom had criticized Trump and struggled with the decision to support him. House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Trump but also called his rhetoric racist. Last night, Ryan mentioned Trump only in passing as he made an appeal for party unity.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PAUL RYAN: Let's take our fight to our opponents with better ideas. Let's get on the offensive, and let's stay there.

LIASSON: Chris Christie, on the other hand, has been loyally by Trump's side since dropping out of the race himself. Last night, he praised Trump as caring, genuine and decent. And then he led the crowd in a mock show trial of Hillary Clinton.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRIS CHRISTIE: So let's do something fun tonight. Tonight, as a former federal prosecutor, I welcome the opportunity to hold Hillary Rodham Clinton accountable for her performance and her character.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Lock her up. Lock her up.

LIASSON: The crowd chanted, lock her up, lock her up and enthusiastically participated in Christie's call-and-response prosecution.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRISTIE: Hillary Clinton, as a failure for ruining Libya and creating a nest for terrorist activity by ISIS - answer me now - is she guilty or not guilty?

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Guilty.

CHRISTIE: Hillary Clinton, lying to the American people about her selfish, awful judgment in making our secrets vulnerable, what's your verdict? Guilty or not guilty?

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Guilty.

LIASSON: After Christie's brutal takedown of Clinton, two of Trump's children spoke. Just as Melania Trump did on Monday, Trump's daughter Tiffany served as a character witness for her father, describing him as kind and caring.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TIFFANY TRUMP: I still keep all of my report cards, some dating back to kindergarten, because I like to look back and see the sweet notes he wrote on each and every one of them. Contrary to what you might expect from someone who places an emphasis on results, my dad's comments referred, often, to the sentiments expressed by my teachers, just not even focusing on the letter grades themselves.

LIASSON: Donald Trump Jr. also testified about his father's character.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

D. TRUMP JR: I know that when someone tells him that something is impossible, that's what triggers him into action. When people told him it was impossible for a boy from Queens to go to Manhattan and take on developers in the big city, rather than give up, he changed the skyline of New York.

LIASSON: That's a nice, humanizing story. But most boys from Queens don't show up in Manhattan with only $35 million in their pocket. Donald Jr. also said Trump had spent his career hanging out with regular Americans, hanging sheet rock and pouring concrete. He said Trump had his children apprentice with blue-collar workers.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

D. TRUMP JR: We didn't learn from MBAs. We learned from people who had doctorates in common sense, guys like Vinny Stellio, who taught us how to drive heavy equipment, operate tractors and chainsaws, who worked his way through the ranks to become a trusted adviser of my father. It's why we're the only children of billionaires as comfortable in a D10 Caterpillar as we are in our own cars.

LIASSON: Today, the convention hears from vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, who was also nominated last night.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Mara Liasson. Now let's look at the political situation for Trump and Pence in the state where the convention's being held. Kyle Kondik wrote "The Bellwether: Why Ohio Picks The President." He's in our studios. Good morning.

KYLE KONDIK: Good morning.

INSKEEP: Thanks for coming in wearing a suit. Really appreciate that.

KONDIK: (Laughter).

INSKEEP: Looks good on the radio. Ohio's a vital swing state. Everybody knows that. But is it Trump territory?

KONDIK: So in the primary, Trump did really well in Appalachia. So the areas along the Ohio River and the eastern border with Pennsylvania. Trump did not do well outside of Appalachia. And I think a lot of people think of Ohio as kind of this, you know, giant, rusted-out old factory or something.

INSKEEP: Yeah.

KONDIK: But there are lots of parts of the state that are really doing pretty well economically, kind of rich suburban areas. Trump did very poorly in those places. Those are places with a lot of John Kasich voters. So not only does Trump need to do better than Mitt Romney did in Appalachia, but he also needs to maintain Romney's big margins in the Republican suburbs of Ohio.

INSKEEP: You make an interesting point. There are lots of different kinds of people in Ohio, as you write, lots of different regions of the state. And you have to have many different messages to appeal to everybody.

KONDIK: That's right. So Ohio - some have referred to it as the first American state because settlement patterns, back in the early 1800s when it was founded, you had, you know, New Englanders in the northeastern part of the state. You had Southerners in the southern part of the state. It was a collection of the nation, as it was, in the 1800s. And as the nation changed, Ohio changed, too. And so it's always been this good microcosm of the nation. And none of those distinct regions and distinct political cultures have ever really dominated the state, which I think explains why it votes so close to the national average all the time.

INSKEEP: Which is why you end up saying it's a bellwether state...

KONDIK: Right.

INSKEEP: ...As your book would suggest. Now, in surveys, at least so far, Hillary Clinton has had, in many of them anyway, an edge in Ohio, with still some time to go. But as you watch the messages Republicans are crafting in this convention, do you say, wow, that's going to work in Ohio?

KONDIK: So I think if these messages work nationally, if Donald Trump gets a bump after the convention, he'll probably get it in Ohio, too. You know, I don't think that Ohio has a particular special political issue that animates its voting. I think we very much take on - I think our campaigns are essentially nationalized. And so Ohio is typically a little bit more Republican than the nation, which is why no Republican has ever won the White House without it. You'd expect a Republican who'd get a national majority could could win Ohio. So, you know, we'll see. I definitely think Trump has a path in Ohio, and he has to if he wants to win the White House.

INSKEEP: Kyle Kondik, thanks very much for coming by this morning. I really appreciate it.

KONDIK: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Kyle Kondik is author of "The Bellwether: Why Ohio Picks The President."

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