Editor's Note: Below is a brief excerpt from Hedgeye Potomac Chief Political Strategist JT Taylor's Capital Brief sent to institutional clients each morning. For more information on how you can access our institutional research please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I have noticed that nothing I never said ever did me any harm.”
The highly anticipated Republican convention kicked off last night with a solid celebrity B-list group of speakers and headlined by none other than Donald Trump’s wife, Melania - whose well-received maiden speech is now mired in controversy given stark similarities to Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic convention speech.
But this convention was supposed to be different – we all expected that - and instead of the usual emphasis on celebrities, the focus would then be centered on politicians who typically serve to give testimonials to the nominee and represent a passing of the torch for the party, but that is in short supply in Cleveland. Despite the, well, uneven start (more below), expect Donald Trump to grab the torch on his own and run with it.
The #NeverTrump crowd’s last-ditch effort to invite discord and derail Trump’s nomination was squashed after their attempt to force a roll call vote on the convention rules failed. The group submitted signatures from a majority of delegates in more than the required seven states to force a recorded vote from all 2,472 delegates. However, a number of delegates under pressure from the party reportedly removed their names, allowing the rules package to pass by a chaotic voice vote.
#NeverTrump hoped to unbind pledged delegates from voting according to their state’s primary or caucus result and allow them to vote independently. Despite its failure, the spectacle of #NeverTrump’s last stand exposed the lack of unity in the Republican party, embarrassing Trump and diverting media attention away from his message and primetime speeches.
The ten billion dollar question heading into this week’s events is: can the party survive the convention and emerge unified and enthusiastic while scores of Republicans refrain from endorsing (or even mentioning) the nominee? Speaking to the Wisconsin delegation, Speaker Paul Ryan intimated that the party still needed to come together without mentioning Trump’s name once and while TX Senator Ted Cruz is set to participate in the festivities, we understand he will not endorse.
Top that off with OH Governor John Kasich’s very public dissing of Trump and the convention in his own backyard - which happens to be a battleground state. In fact, the only former Republican presidential nominee to attend is former Senator Bob Dole – the nominee from 1996. We haven’t mentioned the litany of excuses Members of Congress are using to stay away - from hiking the Grand Canyon to cutting the grass or even taking their kids to watch dumpster fires.