The second-to-last night of the Republican National Convention promised a more politically leaning lineup of speakers than prior nights where headliners included lesser-known celebrities such as Scott Baio and Antonio Sabato Jr.
Still, there was a sprinkling of D-listers circulating the delegate floor, including boxing promoter Don King, who wore a faded denim jacket with a large patch of the settlers playing flutes and marching drums in front of a map of the United States on his back, and actor Robert Davi. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s probably because he hasn’t had a major acting role since playing the villain in “Licence to Kill,” the 1989 James Bond film starring Timothy Dalton.
Meanwhile, NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, clad in a turquoise dress paired with sneakers, roamed the floor with her camera crew, making a stop to talk to a friend, who asked her if she’s asked her if she’s “enjoying” the convention.
Mitchell grimaced and nodded with relief at the suggestion that “it’s almost over.”
As Mitchell made her way through the crowded delegate floor, Laura Ingraham, the conservative radio host, kicked off the night with a speech that jolted the crowd and targeted the media.
“To all my friends up there in the press, you all know why, in your heart, Donald Trump won the Republican nomination. You know it,” Ingraham said. “You know why he won it? Because he dared to call out the phonies, the frauds and the corruption that has gone unexposed and uncovered for too long.”
“Do your job,” Ingraham criticized the media. “Doing your job is a novel concept.”
Members from the Texas delegation turned to face the booth where CNN reporters broadcast their report in the Quicken Loans Arena, and echoed Ingraham, shouting: “Do your job!”
Although she called for party unity, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) delivered a now-infamous speech, in which he sang the praises of the Conservative movement without endorsing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
As his speech wound down, the New York delegation began to “boo” loudly. Their attention was soon redirected to Trump, who made his way to his family’s box in the arena. Trump waved and gave a thumbs-up before taking a seat between son Donald Jr. and daughter, Ivanka.
Media outlets capitalized on the moment, questioning whether it was staged by the Trump campaign to do away with the Melania Trump plagiarism story that dominated headlines since late Monday night. Trump’s wife lifted passages from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech.
CBS’ Charlie Rose told WWD that he didn’t know if it was staged, but that it did help quash the Melania story.
“I can’t read Donald Trump’s mind,” he said. “Consensus is that [the Trump campaign] should have said earlier what they said later. If they’d done that, it would have gone away…more people are talking about the Cruz [thing today].”
Yesterday, a Trump speechwriter took the blame for Melania’s cribbed words.
At the heart of the Cruz speech is the question of party unity. Rose explained that tonight’s speech by Trump is “the most important thing” to take place this week.
The journalist emphasized that Trump must lay out his plan on “where he wants to take the country.”
“This has been a very different convention. This is his night,” Rose said. “A general election is very different than a primary…you’re trying to reach broader voters. It’s a much bigger challenge.”
One thing Rose and his colleagues are looking to is Ivanka Trump’s speech introducing her father.
“She’s important to him,” Rose offered. “His family has been impressive.”
Chuck Todd, NBC News political director and moderator of “Meet the Press” added: “This will likely be the longest prepared speech Trump has ever given as a candidate. Can he stay on his script? Does he go a bit rogue and send a message to Cruz? Can he broaden his appeal beyond his die-hard supporters? Bottom line: I have a lot more questions than answers. I do know this: so far, this convention has been a complete mess. But bad conventions can be turned around with one good speech by the nominee. And tonight, Trump needs to deliver the speech of his life.”