The Republican convention delivered on most counts Monday. There was rancor, bombastic attacks on Hillary Clinton and plenty of controversy thanks to Melania Trump appearing to lift an entire paragraph from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech.
CodePink demonstrators protest Monday at an anti-Donald Trump rally in Cleveland, Ohio. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
But the raging protests in the streets never materialized. Several protest zones I passed by were mostly empty. There were quite a few Code Pinkers around and lots of people urging Republicans to – and everybody else – to repent. I think recognized a few of them from Super Bowl 50.
But I didn’t see skinheads or white nationalists or anything that looked close to spiraling out of control on streets that were patrolled by offers from as far away as Asutin.
Above was scene at one protest zone right before the convention’s prime time lineup was about to begin. I’d play the video I shot, but the anti-police protesters were dropping f-bomb after f-bomb.
Tim Clark is Donald Trump’s California State Director and he is about as folksy and friendly as Donald Trump is brash and belligerent. So when Clark let me know last night that he didn’t like my story about how quite a few Trump delegates were not exactly do-or-die Trumpers, it went down pretty easy.
It noted that Clark, for good reason, filled quite a few delegate slots with GOP activists and donors, who had given far more money to Trump’s rival for the Republican nomination than Trump himself.
Clark pointed out that California’s delegation on Monday was boisterously pro-Trump especially when some rogue delegates tried to grind the convention to a halt by demanding a roll call to approve the convention rules.
He’s right on that count, but quite a few of the delegates I talked Monday freely acknowledged that Trump was not their first choice –- or even their second.
Vanila Singh, a delegate from Silicon Valley (shown below), had actually first been selected as a delegate for Tim Cruz.
But she said she supports him now and so does Luis Buhler, a Cupertino resident and GOP operative that Alameda County Republican Party Chairman David Erlich didn’t think belonged as a Trump delegate.
Buhler wasn’t extolling Trump’s virtues Monday night. But he said he joined with the entire delegation in raising their voices to beat back the mini-insurrection earlier in the day.
“It made me very proud to be a Trump delegate,” he said. “What the Trump team is doing is preserving the connection between the millions of voters and the delegates here.”
The seating chart is out for the Republican National Convention here in Cleveland, and California’s 172 delegates will be right up front with their peers from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Alabama.
Not a bad consolation prize given that California delegates were placed at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, OH, which is nearly halfway between Cleveland and Toledo — about an hour’s drive from the action.
Why such good seats? For one, Trump handpicked the delegation, so even though a few of them are recent converts, they won’t be caught on camera giving him the stink eye or cooing for Ted Cruz. Also, they are a diverse lot, especially when compared to Trump’s prime time speakers.
That diversity is on display here in Sandusky, home of the GOP elephant towel:
I shared a bus over here with an Indo-American”Rockerfeller Republican” entertainment lawyer from LA, a Latino “law and order” couple from Rialto an the leader of tea party group in Fontana, who literally was dressed patriotically from head to toe.
The delegates I’ve met so far have been friendly, but most are following orders not to talk on the record to reporters. The Trump campaign wants its California delegates to be on message at all times (unlike their candidate) so they’ve picked who they want talking. Here is the memo that went out to delegates in June from Time Clark, Trump’s California state director.