CLEVELAND — The Republican convention’s theme on its second night was “Make America Work Again,” but while some speakers focused on issues of interest to retailers and the fashion industry, most of the night could instead have been themed “The Trial of Hillary Clinton.”
Playing to a less-than-full house at the Quicken Loans Arena, speakers whipped up the delegates into a frenzy over Clinton. At one point, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie read a long list of alleged indictments against Clinton, asking the crowd: “Guilty or Not Guilty?”
The arrows aimed at Clinton and Christie’s tone had some reportedly likening it to the Salem Witch Trials. The crowd erupted into chants of “Lock her up.”
The two top Republican leaders in Congress spoke, appearing to focus more on their accomplishments and the Republican party and its principles than candidate Donald Trump, who has alienated several lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
The night culminated in a strident speech given by Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who outlined his father’s business credentials and strengths.
The younger Trump, as well as business owners, entrepreneurs and athletes, took to the stage to support Trump’s vision for the economy and reviving American manufacturing.
Several women, including an ex-actress-turned-avocado-farmer and a professional golfer, shared personal stories about running businesses and getting inspiration from Trump, while rejecting the notion that there is a war against women or that the candidate denigrates women.
Here, a quick look at who said what:
• Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of the Trump Organization, played up his father’s strengths as a businessman and railed against Democrats on overregulation and immigration, a topic that has gotten his father into a heap of trouble with not only immigrant communities but also Macy’s, which dropped his signature Donald J. Trump suithttp://wwd.com/retail-news/department-stores/macys-drops-donald-trump-merchandise-10174113/ and tie collection last year after Trump made disparaging comments about Mexicans.
Trump Jr. was almost caught up in another speech controversy when “The Daily Show” claimed a portion of his speech was plagiarized. It would have been a second bad day for the Trump campaign, had it panned out. The campaign spent most of Tuesday deflecting criticism that a portion of Melania Trump’s speech was lifted from a speech that Michelle Obama gave at the Democratic convention in 2008. But the writer, F.H. Buckley, of the original essay with the passage in question from Donald Trump Jr.’s speech, told Business Insider they were his own words and that he was working as a speechwriter for the Trump campaign.
Trump undoubtedly scored points with the business community, tapping into what many retailers have felt under the Obama administration — an overzealous regulatory policy, particularly with the National Labor Relations Board.
“The other party gave us a regulatory state on steroids. Dodd-Frank was a thousand pages long and it’s already spun off 22,000 pages in regulations,” he said. “Imagine trying to digest all that before you even open your doors for business. That doesn’t help consumers. What it does is destroy small business in favor of big businesses who can afford the vast number of lawyers and accountants needed to comply. Dodd-Frank is consumer protection for billionaires.”
• Tiffany Trump, the less visible daughter of Donald Trump and ex-wife Marla Maples, added a softer touch to her father’s character. She recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and is a half-sibling to Ivanka, Eric, Donald Jr., Eric and Barron.
Trump, who is active on Instagram with 173,000 followers, said she keeps all of her report cards dating back to kindergarten, because she likes to “look back and see the sweet notes he [Donald Trump] 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 to my teachers.…Donald Trump has never done anything halfway, least of all as a parent.”
• Kimberlin Brown, a former soap opera actress who starred in “The Young and the Restless” and “Bold and the Beautiful,” among other shows, talked trade at the convention last night. Now an avocado farmer who also runs a sport fishing business, retail operations and rental operations with her husband, trade policy is critical.
“I’ve seen first-hand the impact of high taxes, over-regulation, and suspect trade deals,” Brown said. “I have seen television and movie productions move out of the country. If you were an A-lister like Leonardo DiCaprio or an owner of a studio, you were okay. But if you were a cameraman, sound tech, boom operator or did any one of the many jobs in a production, you were out of luck.”
She said the domestic market is flooded with imports that harm local farmers and drive some out of business. And she believes Trump will “make trade deals that benefit working men and women and their families right in America.”
• Professional golfer Natalie Gulbis said she has played golf with Trump on occasion and shared two things with him the first time they played together in 2005.
“I shared two things that I’d told countless ceo’s, billionaires and politicians before him: One, I had a dream to open up a Boys and Girls Club; and two, I was deeply frustrated about being treated differently as a woman, overlooked and underpaid in business. These words previously fell on deaf, all-be-it well-intentioned ears…but that day was different. They finally fell on ears that cared enough to take action.”
Gulbis said she complained to Trump about being treated unfairly as a woman and said he rejected that notion, giving her advice that “changed her life forever.”
Trump told her to “never fear challenging the status quo.”
• Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who was often forced to rebut Trump’s incendiary comments on issues such as immigration in the run-up to the convention and who now appears to reluctantly support the candidate, was on hand to deliver a speech that appealed to the establishment and conservative wing of the party.
He awkwardly reminded delegates and the viewing public that he had been on the national stage four years ago as Mitt Romney’s running mate. While they were defeated by the Obama-Biden ticket, Ryan pointed out that “he found other things to keep me busy,” namely that of Speaker of the House, which is one challenging job that has tested his stewardship of a fractious Republican party in the House.
Ryan spoke about democracy being a “series of choices.”
The Republican party, he vowed, will “offer a better way for America, with ideas that actually work.”
Ryan said the party will offer a reformed tax code, something retailers are pressing for, that “rewards” free enterprise, a reformed health-care system and a renewed commitment to building up the military.
“The whole economy feels stuck. And for millions of Americans, middle-class security is now just a memory,” Ryan said. “Progressives like our president talk forever about poverty in America. And if high-sounding talk did any good, we’d have overcome these deep problems long ago.”
• Delegates inexplicably booed Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as he took the stage. McConnell ticked off the items that Senate Republicans have put forward, many of which have stalled or been vetoed by Obama, such as a repeal of his signature health-care legislation, which Republicans have tried numerous times to repeal, a bill to defund Planned Parenthood and a bill to build the Keystone Pipeline.