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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Emily Stephenson and Amy Tennery

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – Thirteen months after launching an improbable bid for the White House, Donald Trump captured the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday, having vanquished 16 party rivals, warred with much of its establishment and provoked controversy at every turn.

His eldest child, Donald Trump Jr., announced the support of New York, their home state, during a roll-call vote at the Republican National Convention, ensuring Trump had the majority of delegates – 1,237 – needed to contest the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

With three of the candidate’s other children at his side, the younger Trump said: “It is my honor to be able to throw Donald Trump over the top in the delegate count tonight.”

“Congratulations, Dad. We love you,” he said.

Trump’s Democratic rival, Clinton, who has been the target of withering verbal attacks during the convention, was quick to respond to the vote, tweeting: “Donald Trump just became the Republican nominee. Chip in now to make sure he never steps foot in the Oval Office.”

Trump won with 1,725 delegates, followed by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas with 475 delegates, Ohio Governor John Kasich with 120 and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida with 114. Three other candidates emerged with a total of 12 delegates.

After the presidential nominating vote, the convention by voice vote nominated Indiana Governor Mike Pence, 57, Trump’s choice for his vice presidential running mate.

TV CELEBRITY

Speaking to the convention for the first time since winning the nomination, Trump appeared on a video screen from New York promising to win the election in November, create jobs, strengthen the military, safeguard U.S. borders and “restore law and order” in the United States.

The state-by-state vote to put Trump’s name in nomination took place a day after opponents staged a failed attempt to force a vote opposing his candidacy at the start of the four-day convention, and after a speech by his wife, Melania, drew accusations of plagiarism.

A wealthy New York real estate developer best known to Americans for his starring role in a long-running TV show, “The Apprentice,” where his catchphrase was “You’re fired,” the 70-year-old Trump was a long shot when he entered the race for the Republican nomination more than a year ago, having never held elected office.

On Tuesday, under the headline “Make America Work Again,” speakers at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans basketball arena were meant to assail Democratic President Barack Obama’s record on the economy during his nearly eight years in power.

Instead, speaker after speaker took aim at Clinton, presenting her as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans and the inheritor of Obama’s “oppressive” administration.

A former secretary of state under Obama, Clinton, 68, was due to be formally nominated at the Democratic National Convention next week in Philadelphia.

Trump trails Clinton in many opinion polls after a bruising Republican primary season. Trump narrowed his deficit against her to 7 percentage points from 15 points late last week, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.

COMMANDING LEAD

Trump initially refused to rule out an independent run should he fail to win the Republican nomination.

Within weeks of announcing his candidacy at Trump Tower in New York on June 16, 2015, Trump had taken a commanding lead in the Republican race, defying pundits who were quick to write him off and eclipsing the man many had thought would be crowned on Tuesday night – former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, part of a Republican political dynasty.

In a campaign marked by insults and inflammatory rhetoric, Trump tapped into a deep vein of unhappiness running through white Middle America, giving voice to millions who felt left behind in the rush to globalization and who eschewed traditional establishment Republicans like Bush in favor of a brash political outsider who promised to “Make America Great Again”.

“We’ve lost the confidence in our leaders and the faith in our institutions,” Donald Trump Jr. said in a convention speech. “We’re still Americans. We’re still one country and we’re going to get it all back.”

“I know we’ll get it back because I know my father,” Trump Jr. said.

Opponents brand Trump a bigot with his calls to temporarily ban the entry of Muslims and to build a border wall with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants.

Underscoring the problems Trump has faced with U.S. allies abroad, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Trump threatened U.S. and world security with his “politics of fear and isolation.”

Steinmeier told Reuters in a written interview that he was concerned about what he called Trump’s ambiguous vows to “make America strong again,” while simultaneously reducing its engagement overseas.

FOCUS ON ECONOMY, SECURITY

Party officials hope to use the convention to smooth out some of Trump’s rough edges and present him as a job creator and a strong hand to combat security threats at home and abroad.

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, an early backer of Trump, placed his name in nomination, calling him “a warrior and a winner.”

Two senior Republicans, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, spoke in favor of Trump. Republicans need Trump to do well in the November election as they seek to preserve Republican majorities in Congress.

Security forces were on high alert in Cleveland. But police said late on Tuesday there had been only five arrests since the convention began on Monday.

Wright State University, a public university near Dayton, Ohio, said on Tuesday it had decided not to host the first U.S. presidential debate scheduled for Sept. 26, citing mounting costs and security concerns. The event will now be held at Hofstra University in New York.

While in Cleveland, Trump ally Chris Christie said on Tuesday that should Trump win the presidency, he would seek to purge the federal government of officials appointed by Obama and could ask Congress to pass legislation making it easier to dismiss public workers.

Christie, who is governor of New Jersey and leads Trump’s White House transition team, told dozens of donors the campaign was drawing up a list of federal government employees to fire if Trump defeats Clinton.

 

Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen, Amanda Becker, Richard Cowan, Emily Flitter, Ginger Gibson, Steve Holland, Angela Moon and Eric Walsh; Writing by Howard Goller; Editing by Ross Colvin and Peter Cooney

Photo: U.S. Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump is shown on video monitors as he speaks live to the crowd from New York at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016.   REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Trump speaking at Londonderry, NH rally

Screenshot from YouTube

Donald Trump once again baselessly claimed on Sunday that the COVID-19 pandemic was "going to be over" soon, just hours after his chief of staff suggested the administration was unable to get it under control.

"Now we have the best tests, and we are coming around, we're rounding the turn," Trump said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. "We have the vaccines, we have everything. We're rounding the turn. Even without the vaccines, we're rounding the turn, it's going to be over."

Trump has made similar claims on repeated occasions in the past, stating early on in the pandemic that the coronavirus would go away on its own, then with the return of warmer weather.

That has not happened: Over the past several weeks, multiple states have seen a surge in cases of COVID-19, with some places, including Utah, Texas, and Wisconsin, setting up overflow hospital units to accommodate the rapidly growing number of patients.

Hours earlier on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to contradict Trump, telling CNN that there was no point in trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus because it was, for all intents and purposes, out of their control.

"We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," he said. "Because it is a contagious virus, just like the flu."

Meadows doubled own on Monday, telling reporters, "We're going to defeat the virus; we're not going to control it."

"We will try to contain it as best we can, but if you look at the full context of what I was talking about, we need to make sure that we have therapeutics and vaccines, we may need to make sure that when people get sick, that, that they have the kind of therapies that the president of the United States had," he added.Public health experts, including those in Trump's own administration, have made it clear that there are two major things that could curb the pandemic's spread: mask wearing and social distancing.

But Trump has repeatedly undermined both, expressing doubt about the efficacy of masks and repeatedly ignoring social distancing and other safety rules — even when doing so violated local and state laws.

Trump, who recently recovered from COVID-19 himself, openly mocked a reporter on Friday for wearing a mask at the White House — which continues to be a hotspot for the virus and which was the location of a superspreader event late last month that led to dozens of cases. "He's got a mask on that's the largest mask I think I've ever seen. So I don't know if you can hear him," Trump said as his maskless staff laughed alongside him.

At the Manchester rally on Sunday, Trump also bragged of "unbelievable" crowd sizes at his mass campaign events. "There are thousands of people there," he claimed, before bashing former Vice President Joe Biden for holding socially distant campaign events that followed COVID safety protocols.

"They had 42 people," he said of a recent Biden campaign event featuring former President Barack Obama. "He drew flies, did you ever hear the expression?"

Last Monday, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) endorsed Biden's approach to the pandemic as better than Trump's, without "any doubt."

"The more we go down the road resisting masks and distance and tracing and the things that the scientists are telling us, I think the more concerned I get about our management of the COVID situation," he told CNN.

In his final debate against Biden last Thursday, Trump was asked what his plan was to end the pandemic. His answer made it clear that, aside from waiting for a vaccine, he does not have one.

"There is a spike, there was a spike in Florida and it's now gone. There was a very big spike in Texas — it's now gone. There was a spike in Arizona, it is now gone. There are spikes and surges in other places — they will soon be gone," he boasted. "We have a vaccine that is ready and it will be announced within weeks and it's going to be delivered. We have Operation Warp Speed, which is the military is going to distribute the vaccine."

Experts have said a safe vaccine will likely not be ready until the end of the year at the earliest, and that most people will not be able to be vaccinated until next year.

Trump also bragged Sunday that he had been "congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we have been able to do," without laying out any other strategy for going forward.

Nationally, new cases set a single-day record this weekend, with roughly 84,000 people testing positive each day. More than 8.5 million Americans have now contracted the virus and about 225,000 have died.

Trump, by contrast, tweeted on Monday that he has "made tremendous progress" with the virus, while suggesting that it should be illegal for the media to report on it before the election.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.