Five Reasons the GOP Convention Was A Failure
The Republican National Convention is over and it was a failure for the Trump campaign. Donald Trump needed the semblance of party unity and to set out a clear vision for America.
He failed on both accounts.
Instead, the convention will be remembered, if at all, for the things that went wrong rather than for the things that went right.
1. Disorganized and No Consistent Message
From the beginning, the convention had a disjointed feel. The scheduled start times seemed more like suggestions with speakers often starting many minutes late.
Embarrassing equipment failures often dominated otherwise solid speeches.
With the noted exceptions of the Trump children and a few speakers, most of the speeches were delivered by people who lacked star power.
And then there was the messaging.
The RNC cleverly themed each day of the convention by playing off of Trump’s central theme of Make America Great Again.
Themes like “Make America Safe Again,” “Make America Work Again,” and “Make America One Again” were designed to highlight core principles of the conservative message. Unfortunately, those themes largely got lost, if referenced at all, and the speeches didn’t build to a coherent message.
The disorganization at the convention and the incoherent message was largely a self-reflection of the Trump’s campaign.
2. Republican Establishment Takes a Pass
The last two Republican Presidents and Presidential nominees were no-shows at the convention. This was not the RNC’s fault, but rather it is a reflection on Trump.
In an election cycle where change is the topic du jour, it is fine to break away from the past.
But the lack of party leaders was symbolic of the disconnect that exists between traditional conservatives and Trump’s political philosophy and style.
Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t help matters much when he proclaimed that Trump was not his brand of conservative just days before the convention.
3. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michelle Obama
If the first day of the convention was dominated by anticipation for Melania Trump’s big-stage premier, the second day was dominated by her obvious plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech.
Whatever the cause, it was inexcusable and detracted from an otherwise decent speech.
Perhaps more devastating was that it reinforced a perception that the Trump campaign was disorganized and undisciplined.
4. Ted Cruz Throws Shade
And then night 3 happened.
There is plenty of blame to go around — Trump for allowing Ted Cruz to take the stage, and Ted Cruz for not just passing on the invitation.
Ted Cruz’s non-endorsement, “vote your conscious” speech, was an unmitigated disaster for Cruz and Trump.
Soundly rebuked by Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Charles Krauthammer, and just about everyone else, Cruz’s speech was largely seen as sour grapes and a thumb-in-the-eye to the party.
Cruz could have just passed up the invitation or he could have avoided the issue altogether with a few simple sentences: “It’s no secret Donald Trump and I disagree on personal and policy issues. We had a grueling and often heated campaign. But I know that Hillary Clinton would be disastrous for our Country. And while we don’t agree on everything, I’m voting for our party’s nominee, and I encourage you to do the same.”
That would have put the issue to rest. But he didn’t, and by not doing so, he played into the narrative so many other politicians have painted for him.
For Trump, the diss overshadowed a wonderful speech by Vice Presidential candidate, Gov. Mike Pence. On any other night, soundbites of his speech would have dominated the news for the next day. As it was, Pence’s speech became nothing more than a footnote on the night.
5. Trump’s Meandering Speech
After three nights of a largely ineffective convention, Trump needed a big win.
Trump started off strong, showing a degree of discipline in style and tone not customarily seen on the campaign trail.
But after the first 20 minutes or so, the speech started meandering between topics and ultimately failed to build into a crescendo to close the convention on a high note.
If Trump had hoped to make undecideds take another look at him, he needed to set out a compelling vision for America and explain what it means to Make America Great Again.
Trump would have done well to organize his speech around the daily themes of the convention and build on the messages from the prior three days if only there had been messages to build on.
He made a good case for Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy failures as Secretary of State and correctly noted how minority groups have taken the brunt of President Obama’s economic policies.
But that was followed by a slew of non-traditional, and many non-conservative topics. He talked a lot about all that a Trump government would do, but not much about what the individual could do with less government in their lives.
The bar was set low for Trump. All he needed to do was exceed expectations.
In the end, portions of his speech might appeal to non-traditional Republican voters, but he could have done so much more to give undecideds confidence that he has the vision and temperament to be President.